Christian

PAUPER CHRISTIAN

Fired Hired Sign

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.   Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Ghandi

Growing up, my mom always taught me not to use the word ‘hate’.  She would caution, “hate is such a strong, harsh, and unforgiving word…”  Bumper-to-bumper traffic, windshield wipers on overdrive, music off, with both hands on the steering wheel; ten-and-two.  Every thing inside me cringes at the thought of having to drive through Dallas in a storm.  And with all that it implies, I can honestly say that I hate driving in the rain.

A few weeks ago, while turning onto a residential street in Dallas, my reaction time was put to the test.  He came out of nowhere, in the middle of down-pour, and in front of my car…brake-check…they worked.  I missed him by what seemed like inches. I felt absolutely terrible.  As I rolled down my window to make sure he was okay, a very startled, elderly homeless man smiled and waved. He was carrying a bundle of clothes, and was wearing a tattered, white t-shirt. Ironically enough, the back of his shirt read, “Living The Dream.”  Who in their right mind would give a homeless man such a thing.  Was this some mean, practical joke?

I couldn’t help but think to myself: What an incredible visual aid. To some, this is what Christians must look like when we don’t walk in the authority and freedom we’ve been given.  Their picture of Jesus is nothing more than a Pauper Christian.

We sit in our cardboard boxes built of competition, depression, and shallow legalism.  We aimlessly walk around without a home, with grocery carts full of trash, in pauper clothing.  Carrying bitterness, ruining relationships, swimming in debt, cheating our neighbors, and drowning in emotional poverty. The world looks at us like we’re a practical joke. Why would they want our lives? What about a homeless man on the street looks appealing?  We promote Jesus like He’s the fix-all, end-all, solution-to-all.  We say one thing, but represent another.  Surely, we didn’t start out this way.  How did we get here? Why is our fruit so different from Christ’s?

I dare say that the problem isn’t God; it’s us.  Somehow, we’ve lost sight of who we are in Christ, forgotten His irreplaceable Love, neglected our place on earth, and abandoned our role in society.

And we aren’t fooling anyone.  You see, our generation is unlike any other. This generation doesn’t give into fake.  We struggle selling something that we won’t buy ourselves. We spend over 23% of our time interacting on “social” media. We want to be real.  To sum it up, our generation is relational.  Sure, you could say that we’ve lost our edge.  Ruined our reputation. Tainted the church. We’re more often the excuse instead of the example. The list goes on and on about how ‘Christians” have misrepresented Christ.

The good news is that Jesus can still get to hearts without our help.  And, I believe that there is a remnant arising. It’s not too late.  There is hope!  There is an army that yearns to represent Jesus Christ in every aspect of their lives: At home, amongst friends, in the workplace, and to strangers.  We desperately desire that everything about our life mirrors Christ for every thing that He is.  We want to walk in all that Christ has bought and made provision for.  We want to be like Him.  We desire to make His Name great in the earth.

When we keep our eyes on Christ, we can abide in unconditional Love, stand in freedom, and walk in authority.   So run to Jesus.  Throw off your pauper clothes. Rise above your present circumstances.  Stop wallowing in self-pity.  Love lives within you.  Look to Him for validation.  You were built to win.  You have a direct- line to Joy.  You were made to prosper.  Declare your freedom.  Change your perspective.  You were destined to reign.  You were made in His image. Your Daddy is King.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” John 13:35, Matt 28:18-20

PRAY, PURSUE, APPRECIATE

PRAY, PURSUE, APPRECIATE

When it comes to Christian girls; What works and what doesn’t? My little brothers, cousins and friends have asked me this.   Which is what has sparked this blog.  This is my attempt at explaining my personal opinions and feelings when it comes to guy+girl drama.  Please understand that I am by no means putting all the blame on men.  I’m simply addressing some of what I’ve personally experienced to be the problem.  So, on behalf of myself and some  (hopefully most) Christian girls;  I’ll attempt to break it down for you guys who might need a little extra practical help and encouragement.

It’s your job! Marriage is supposed to reflect the relationship between God and His church (Ephesians 5:25).  So,  just as God pursued us first, (1 John 4:19) it’s a boy’s job to pursue the girl.  I would also like to advise that girls who pursue men are usually bad news.  A girl who is confident and secure about who she is in Christ won’t go around throwing herself at men.  She’ll have enough self respect to sit back and wait to be pursued as she follows God.

Don’t be a flirt. I feel strongly about this one.  Girls are usually closely knit, and 80% of what we do is talk.  So, we pay attention to who you do or don’t talk to.  Don’t assume two different girls  are unassociated– They might be friends or even neighbors.  You’d be surprised how many friends of mine have been hit on by the same thoughtless guy.  It might be okay to some, but I personally  don’t want to date my roommate’s ex.  Just throwing this out there, but if I’ve seen you talk to a million girls, I’m going to assume that I’m no different.  DON’T message a gabazillion girls on facebook.  If you’re throwing out a ton of bait waiting for one to bite, I’d dare to say that you’re impatient and desperate. I don’t want to be the 5th “girl of the day”.   If you seem to go from girl to girl, I would suggest actually praying about a girl before talking to any.  God doesn’t to direct you to waste time with thirty different attractive females.  So, in doing so, you’re reflecting your prayer life- or lack thereof.

Eyecontact- for crying out loud! This should go without saying, but we also watch your eyes.  Like my mother likes to say;  “Don’t have have ‘loose eyes.'”  It baffles me how many times I’ve seen this happen.  We’re looking for someone who looks a girl in the eyes and doesn’t check others out while doing so. That being said, throw a few blinks in there while you’re talking to us.  Be casual, sincere, and responsive.  The more natural and comfortable you are, the more likely we are to let our walls down.  Talking to an awkward, non-blinking, stiff person is just–well, awkward.

Be patient, not pushy. If you leave us a voice mail, we might not return your call anywhere from 1hour-3 days.  If we don’t call after two weeks, I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’re not interested.  Sure, let us know that you’re thinking about us, but don’t give us reasons to think you’re obsessed.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a firm believer in playing “hard to get”.  But an interested girl will respond at the very least .  Please don’t be naggy in the midst of your insecurity and continue to blow up the various communication options if we haven’t responded.  Chances are that our phones are working and our facebooks are functioning.  Exercise  some self control, resist excessive contact and wait.  Otherwise, it’s awkward.  Trust that you won’t have to convince “the one” into liking you.

Ask questions. This shows us that you’re interested and not self absorbed.  There’s nothing more unattractive than a guy who’s obsessed with himself.  Ask caring, probing questions that don’t result in a yes or no answer.  For an example “How are you doing today?” as opposed to “You doin okay?”

Be consistent. Whether you’re interested, or actually dating someone.  Be consistent.  We want to know that you’re reliable.  If you’re interested, at least say hi if you cross paths.  Girls take mental notes of who does or doesn’t say hi.  Especially if we like you back!  So PLEASE, say hi!  It can’t hurt to simply smile and say hello.  Most girls won’t approach you first because we’re trying to give you an opportunity! Plus, if you eventually do ask us out, “all those times” you said hi will reassure us that you’ve thought about us before and been actively leading up to this moment.  Also, realize if you tell us that you’re going to do something– We’re expecting you to do it!  We and our elephant brains won’t forget what you promise–even if it’s an off the hand comment.  Being five minutes early speaks volumes about you.  Likewise, being five minutes late not only talks poorly about you, but it’s also a rude awakening that we don’t mean all that much to you.

Be yourself. Please, pretty, pretty please.  We aren’t looking for fakes and phonies.  Be yourself.  If you’re dating, I hope that you’re only doing so because you’re headed towards marriage.  So, be yourself, because we’d like to know what we’re getting ourselves into.  If you plan on being married for the rest of your life, you’d better believe we’ll eventually see the real you.  We want to have a grasp on your personality and the ways in which you cope.  The good.  The bad.  And the ugly.  Don’t fake it!

Honesty is a rarity. Which is why we’ll think the world of you if you respect us by being genuine.  We don’t want to be defensive, but a lot (if not most) of us have been hurt in the past.  So our hearts might be calloused and closed off because they’ve been stuck in survival mode.   Trust is earned. At the end of the day, one of our greatest desires is that we can lay all games aside and just be real.  This doesn’t come automatically.  We don’t want to have to walk on eggshells around you, but please let us in a little about whats going on in your brain. 

Be funny. According to a recent survey of over 700 women, only 30% appreciated romantic compliments.  I don’t know how true this is.  I have friends who are hopeless romantics and then others who are more like myself.  I personally don’t appreciate sappy comments such as “Your eyes have as many colors as the sky”.  My sarcastic response to this was– “Is it night time?  Because my eyes are definitely black.”   Please, make us smile.  I want to laugh until my stomach hurts.  I promise it’s not that hard.  If we like you, we’ll laugh even if it’s the most insanely dumb joke we’ve heard in our entire life.  Lighthearted conversations make my day.  Find a common denominator and have fun with it!  But don’t make fun of people, this paints a picture of insecurity.  Which brings me to my next thought:

Be confident! We don’t want to be the reason why you’re secure in yourself.  If you aren’t bold enough to approach us because you’re worried you don’t have what it takes, we’ll think you might be right.  At the same time, please don’t be cocky.  Pride and egos are a huge letdown.  You should be secure about who you are in Christ, but not so prideful that you think you have it made.  Be confident in asking us out, but don’t imply that it’s a give in or done deal to date you.  We want to know that you treasure us and don’t take us for granted as if you’re God’s gift to women.

Put God first. We want to know that you can lead.  Not just relationally, but spiritually.  We don’t want to be the center of your universe.  We want to follow you as you follow hard after God.  We shouldn’t take up all of your time, energy, or weekend.  Set some time aside to make sure you’re still cultivating your relationship with the Lord.  While we’re on the subject; not all of your time should be devoted to us.  Make sure you’re still setting time aside to do guy stuff.  You know, “man time” with your friends.  Try to pick a night when you can be with the boys and us ladies can have a girl’s night.  A confident girl will appreciate this.

Talk don’t text. If at all possible, talk to us in person.  Second resort should be on the phone.   Texting third, and facebook–LAST.  You should be MORE confident in person than in your texts or comments.  We don’t want you to cower behind a computer desk or on your cell phone. I feel like I can’t stress this enough; please, PLEASE, don’t ask us out on facebook- we didn’t sign up for an online dating service.

Be intentional in your relationships. I’ve heard so many guys say that they’re “just friends” with several so and so’s.  But realize that we’re looking for someone serious.  We’re not going to give you a fighting chance if we’re worried about coming in second, or even third place.   We are aware of your facebook comments, gestures and mannerisms.  A good question to ask yourself if you really are “just friends” with a girl is– “If I was married, would I still be friends with this person?”. If the answer is no, then you should either pray about pursuing the girl, make some changes, or say goodbye.  Uncommitted relationships with hidden motives are sloppy and lower your chances of actually being with the real deal.  The way I see it, you shouldn’t have to throw out a million “friendships”  once you get a girlfriend.  You should be all set to go and ready for commitment!

Avoid being an extremest. I know this one’s tough.  But please realize that not all girls are either flirts or jerks. Yes, there are many cases where girls are flirting and flaunting for all the wrong reasons and they shouldn’t be (this drives me crazy too).  But sometimes, girls are just being friendly not flirty.  I decided some time ago that I’d rather be considered “quiet and unfriendly” than “flirty and misleading”.  But then I found that guys were referring to me as “cold-hearted and rude”.  I wanted to scream– “I’M JUST SHY AND WAITING FOR MY HUSBAND!”  You get to choose who you talk to, we have to sort through the no’s to get to the yes. Sometimes, a girl’s just trying to be honest with you and tell you she’s not interested.  A girl denying you DOES NOT make her a jerk.  Give us a break! You might be the umpteenth guy to approach us that day.  Be understanding that it might be out of the blue for us.  Yes, it’s our job to let you down easy and be gracious, but we can be pretty taken back and clueless at times.  It’s not fair to say that we are either one or the other.  We shouldn’t have to pick.  Take a different perspective.  Be understanding.  Put yourself in our shoes.  Good luck walking in heels!

Men, it saves us ladies a lot of trouble if you’ll just pray, seek counsel, swallow your pride, and take a chance.  We can’t read minds, especially yours. Taking responsibility and being the guy frees us women to be the girl.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

EVERLASTING LOVE & FAIRY TALES

Fairy Tales & Everlasting Love

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. -Jeremiah 31:3b

I distinctly remember my first crush. Ah preschool; running around in a plaid shirt, coveralls, boots and a cowboy hat– his name was Riker. Throughout the duration of my preschool career, he was the only boy taller than me. From the moment I met him, he instantly caught my eye and I thought he was amazing. Despite the fact that he couldn’t spell, I whole-heartedly cherished his letters. I didn’t care that his mother had to translate over half of them. Reading them now, they honestly look more like finger-painted hieroglyphics. It was at this stage in life that I didn’t care about his spiritual beliefs, personality, calling, family, or background. I was more interested in regular playground activities; playing tag, making mud pies, and jumping rope. And he stood far above the rest when it came to them.

Despite our obvious connection; our relationship was cut short when he moved out of state. For a little while, I still received letters. It was an exciting “pen-pal” kind of relationship. While I’m sure long-distance relationships can work for others, in our case, the letters eventually stopped. I remember this gut-wrenching, heart-breaking reality. He was no longer mine. I seemed to be somewhat of a quiet drama queen- Holding my breath when I was angry, until I passed out. Writing depressing songs that consisted of phrases such as “all it is to you is another heart beating, another person breathing.” Yes, I was a rather odd child, crammed into a glass case of emotion, with no sense of reality, and a peculiar passion for life.

Though I may no longer be attracted to coveralls, care for mud pies, or pass out for attention, some things still remain the same.  After talking to some of my girlfriends, I’ve found a few feelings of ownership which we claim to have the right to. I’ve discovered, whether the dumper, or dumpie; we seem to think that the particular boy we are no longer with shouldn’t ever move on. As if, we are God’s special gift to them or something.

We think to ourselves; “Surely, they will never be blessed with another girl as good-or God forbid- better, than us.” For instance, if our best friend gets harshly (or nicely) dumped, we assure her that he has made a mistake. We convince our poor & miserable friend not to worry, that he will never find anyone as talented, beautiful, or caring. After talking to some of my small group girls, I found a few things we had in common. Whether we were responsible for the heartbreaking or not- in both scenarios we were still bitter and confused when they moved on. Over and over in our heads, we think to ourselves- “What, how could he move on just like that, that’s impossible, he’s not actually happy.”

We allow those around us to determine the weight of our self esteems. We build our confidence on people who were never created to define our value. Lets face it ladies, this is a pathetic attempt to justify building our worth on something which should never have been built on to begin with. We have a tendency to immediately compare and evaluate ourselves. Somehow, we weren’t enough; we didn’t cut it. Not pretty enough, not nice enough, not funny enough, not caring enough, not skinny enough, not talented enough, etc…Because if we were, he would be incapable of moving on and thus, he would still be madly in love with us until the day we die. This is painfully pitiful.

Or, maybe you were more like me in another sense; known to have “daddy issues” as a highschooler. I grew up with an abusive father who eventually walked out of my life completely. I lived trying to earn a father’s love and attention which seemed to come so easily for other girls. Growing up, this drastically influenced me to answer the question; “why am I unlovable, and what will make me likeable”. As a girl, this was a dangerous question to wrestle with- especially in our society.

At a young age, I realized that I wasn’t able to get my dad to love me but I could get guys to like me. I grew comfortable with wearing a mask on the outside which displayed an inaccurate picture of a girl whose life was perfect and had it all together. I became the unattainable tease that was never broken up with first. I vowed I would never be hurt again. I went to any length to be assured of it and have my way. Break up first; this was my motto. Unfortunately, just because I broke up first and hurt others, it never made me feel any better- or made life any easier. I was now the one hurting not only myself, but others as well. The fairy tales I read as a child- and my life had absolutely nothing in common.

I remember skipping meals, throwing up, and working out for hours at a time to keep up with models in the industry and the plastic barbies on TV. All this in hopes of being prettier, in order to gain power to get any guy I wanted. But then again, I also remember trying to gain acceptance from my own father. Dancing my heart out in order to receive approval from him. The few times he was able to make it to my performances, it made the 40-hour rehearsal weeks in point shoes worth it all. I was manipulating everything on the outside, in order to fix a deep wound on the inside.

Whether you’ve been hurt, hurt others, both, or are simply human. I believe we all feel the need to belong. We each desire to be wanted. This world shoves diet pills, sex, plastic surgery, and success, in our faces- implying that if we follow their easy step plan for lovability; we’ll be happy. However, at the end of the day, while our attempts at improvements might grow our likeability; true love’s essence is hard to come by. We eventually rationalize that we aren’t like the characters in a storybook. And, somehow, we are to blame for being unlovable.We forget that as humans, we are incapable of loving someone fully, extensively, and exclusively apart from God and His love. Unfortunately, because of our naivety, we still do our best to earn other’s love and approval by any and all means possible.

I believe that true Love doesn’t fade, grow weary, die, or ever give up. This is what it’s supposed to look like. And I believe True Love Himself, died on a cross in order to prove just how long suffering REAL LOVE is; any length, any width, any depth, any height. When we realize just how everlasting HIS love is for us, man’s version of fake and phony love pails in comparison. Cheap imitations aren’t and won’t ever be enough to fill the void. No person, job, fame, weight, hobby, or relationship will ever bring as much fulfillment as acknowledging and accepting His exclusive love. His love doesn’t hinge on our actions. He just simply loves us. Forever. It’s that simple. It’s this simplicity which makes God’s love so hard to understand. Why? Why, does He love us this way? He just does. Because He wants to. And that’s all there is to it.

I was set free when I recognized that He is the only one with the capabilities of this powerful love. It makes sense that others fail me. It is not because of what I am, or am not. It is because we are simply incapable of loving others unless we ask God for His innate ability to love. This agape love is the glue originally designed to hold marriages together. Marriages fail, not because they are supposed to, but because the relationship is most likely founded upon man’s feeble desires and indecisive “feelings”. While man’s heart can be fickle and untrustworthy at times, there is a Love worth absolutely everything in my being. This love chooses by its own will to love me steadfastly, exclusively, and despite any obstacle. When we accept that God is the only one capable of loving, and offering this kind of love—we take our eyes off of ourselves in having to earn love. I choose to rest in His unending, everlasting love that will stand against any and all odds. Who needs likeability when you have True Love?

I hope this has inspired you to embrace the One who will love you more than any one person ever will. Walk in confidence; you are loved with an everlasting love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7