The Fuzziness of Being Faith-Based

Breakout sessions typically make me want to break out my smartphone or break out of the room. Rarely does the side stage stack up with the main act. But at a recent conference for human resources professionals, one breakout session was full of fireworks about a controversial subject—what it means to be a faith-based organization.

What the speaker shared, however, left me disheartened. There is no more imprecise label than faith-based. It holds a hundred meanings, each of them different than the next. For nonprofit organizations that wear this label, our interpretation of its implications varies even more. And these differences became clear in the session.

The presenter—let’s call her Sharon—hailed from a widely-known faith-based organization, one of the largest in the world. Her organization is consistently platformed at major evangelical churches and conferences across the country as an organization fulfilling Christ’s call to bring hope to the least and the lost. Sharon directed their global hiring efforts across 50 countries. As a member of the executive team and as “final say” on all senior leadership positions, her stamp carried significant credence. Sharon led a breakout session on recruitment and hiring, her domains of expertise.

She flipped through PowerPoint slides with ease, articulating how she screened job candidates and recruited for positions in remote countries. Sharon concluded her talk, and the audience thanked her with a round of gentle applause. And that’s when things got interesting.

The conference included folks of a swath of religious beliefs—apathetics, atheists, evangelicals, Muslims and everyone in between. One questioner, based on his tone, was likely a practicing antagonist, if you can call that a religion. I remember their exchange vividly.

 

Antagonist: You say you’re a Christian faith-based organization. Does that mean you only hire Christians?

Sharon: Well, we hire Christians for our senior leadership positions in the countries where we work, but let me state with absolute clarity: We have a strict non-evangelism policy and hire people of all faiths for entry and mid-level positions. We’re about helping people, not about telling them what they should believe.

Antagonist: So you do discriminate in your leadership roles. Well, how do you know if someone is a Christian?

Sharon: We don’t discriminate. When I say “Christian,” I mean we aim to hire leaders that exhibit the Golden Rule—that love their neighbors like themselves. Good people that exhibit kindness and humility. We look for those traits in interviewees.

Antagonist: OK, so say you do hire a Muslim or Hindu for a mid-level position: Could that person be promoted to a senior leadership role?

Sharon: Absolutely. We have numerous Muslims and Hindus, in fact, that serve as country directors for us across the globe.

 

The conversation continued for some time, the Antagonist and Sharon each feeling each other out, like boxers at the weigh-in ceremony. After their brief exchange, I replayed Sharon’s responses over and over again, attempting to reconcile what she said with the assumptions I had about her organization. Some might read that exchange and be encouraged by it. I felt betrayed.

I was certain she wouldn’t have repeated this to the Christian churches that support her organization. In fact, I’ve consistently heard a message from her colleagues that sharply contrasted it. But there she was, one of the organization’s senior leaders, castigating evangelism and repudiating efforts of other faith-based organizations that place importance on the beliefs of those they hire.

What I expected would be a blah breakout session became a personal watershed moment. The “faith-based” label was not one size fits all. Our world is better because of Sharon's organization, but they are not who I thought they were. And they are not who they set out to be. In our pluralist culture, the gravitational pull of secularism can feel irresistible. But there is fresh momentum building among many faith-based organizations that believe it's not.

This fresh momentum surfaces in surprising places. Even an adamant atheist pleaded for faith-based organizations to remain anchored to our faith. To hold fast to our foundation. Though many disagree with the message of Jesus, we all agree that a light under a basket is no light at all.

 

Photo: Marcos Fernandez Diaz (vj catmac)

The Best Broken System

There is a subtle, but at times blatant, message which has flowed from the pulpits and lecterns in our churches and universities. The message is this: Our world is increasingly poor, accelerated primarily by the rise of global capitalism and its chief culprit, “big business.”

An anthology of leading Christian thinkers described capitalist economies as a tyranny. The authors went further to indict capitalist economies as wholly “antithetical to the gospel.” One of the contributors, Marcelo Vargas, did not guise his critique:

In the beginning, [it] appeared to be a blessing, but it is a blessing that has been transformed into a curse.

It is really easy to throw stones at capitalism. Vargas and others cite stories of ruthless sweat shops, unbridled consumerism, Ponzi schemes, extreme income inequality, and gluttonous Wall Street executives. There are undeniable flaws, abuses and inequalities within our current economic system. However, if you are at all concerned about the poor; then this system is absolutely the best one we’ve got.

In spite of its flaws, many of which are heinous, the increasingly connected global marketplace is undeniably the best broken system–and its positive impact on the lives of the poor far exceed any system we have seen in our world’s history. The problem with many of the sweeping condemnations of capitalism is that they castigate capitalism based on its villains rather than by its record.

The most critical measure of success, a literal “life or death” statistic, is one that examines whether the world’s most vulnerable have escaped extreme poverty. To that point, and contrary to what many of the its loudest critics proclaim, extreme global poverty has been cut in half over the past 25 years and opportunities for the poor to progress have grown exponentially.

Source: 2009 World Development Indicators, World Bank

In a recent theology conference at Wheaton College, theologians Dr. Brian Walsh & Dr. Sylvia Keesmat described capitalism as “crucifixion economics” and went on to say that “Greater prosperity for [the United States] or its rich neighbors…will not and cannot result in a more peaceful planet.” They slammed global markets and encouraged Christians to withdraw, suggesting that when the rich get the richer, the poor will surely get poorer. I guess my question is this: Just who is being crucified in our current global system? Over 1.4 billion people have escaped extreme poverty over the past 25 years.

Global capitalism has provided unprecedented opportunities for innovative economic development and transformative missions.  Tens of millions of families have escaped extreme poverty on its back. Professor, Hans Rosling, statistician extraordinaire, articulates this progress beautifully in this four minute clip–illuminating that by every measure (child mortality, life expectancy, etc.), enormous progress has been made.

On the flip side, Rosling’s data highlights that the poor in the countries which have chosen to practice an anti-capitalist economic models (e.g., North Korea, Cuba) have not fared as well as they have in capitalist and pseudo-capitalist (e.g., China) economies. Even Fidel Castro admitted the failure of his system just two months ago, when he said, “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.” The poor in emerging capitalist economies like Rwanda and India have a different story to tell, as millions have bootstrapped their way out of extreme poverty.

Collectively, we have two options: We can vilify capitalism till the end of days, or, we can be citizens of redemption–salt and light–bringing healing to the brokenness which exists in our current broken system while also being honest about its incredible successes. We can start and run “best of class” global businesses, provide entrepreneurial opportunities to the poor, invest in businesses which do things right, and give generously to the vulnerable. This is the message which should resound from our pulpits and lecterns.
Originally posted at Smorgasblurb.

Who Are You Going to Be?

Photo: Jeremy Jenum

During your freshman year of college, the basic questions that anyone (and everyone) is bound to ask you are: Where are you from? What’s your major? What dorm do you live in?

During your senior year of college, the stakes seemed to be raised just a bit and the questions become: What’s your degree in? Are you going to grad school? What are you going to do? (Aka: Do you have a job? Where is it? How much money will you make?)

It is both humorous and frightening to recognize this difference and face the reality that what the world expects of you looks a lot more like a big paycheck and a lot less like a passionate life.

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I recently talked about this struggle with a dear friend of mine as she was planning her wedding. She shared how frustrated she was that people only seemed interested in knowing where she and her fiancé would live and work after the wedding. “It doesn’t matter what we do,” she lamented, “doesn’t anyone care who we are going to be?!”

Bingo.

You see, what you do is important because it’s how you choose to use the precious time that Jesus has given you on this earth. But I want to probe… who are you going to be? What is going to define your character? How are you going to be transformed into the likeness of Christ?

Deciding who you are going to be may sound a bit ridiculous. “No one really chooses these things, it just happens, right?” I would argue otherwise. For who you choose to be is the most important decision you will make, and it is a decision that you have complete control over. It’s like the cliché statement, “You don’t have control over what happens around you, but you have control over how you react to it.”

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When we not only heed the commands of Scripture that dictate what we do, but we allow the lifestyle of Jesus to shape our decisions and rewrite our habits, our character will begin to follow suit.

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“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everybody.”

Romans 12:9-18

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Imagine how different your life would look if you let this passage characterize your daily life? How would your relationships change? How would it transform your attitude?

Jonathan Edwards was a theologian who lived in the 18th Century. He took it upon himself to write a list of resolutions for his life. These resolutions were set to govern him in everything he did. Here’s an example: “Resolution 56: Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.” In layman’s terms: “I resolve to never stop fighting my sin, no matter how often I fail.” Not a bad goal to set, if you ask me.

Making a conscious decision to live for Jesus, walk in obedience, and pursue righteousness is by no means easy. It is far easier, and far more comfortable, to live for yourself and to delight in sin. But fighting for righteousness and following the commands of Jesus will develop character that enables you to “fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith” (2 Timothy 3:7).

I’ll be the first to speak of the importance of finding the thing you were made to do and pursuing it with all your heart – this matters immensely. It is important that you do your very best in school, find a job, and work as the best employee your workplace has ever seen…

But tonight, I want to challenge you to consider it of deeper importance and greater worth to not only know what you want to do, but to discover who you are going to be.

[box_help]Sound Off: What will it take to be who God called you to be? Consider that this might require a tough choice or two.[/box_help]

Coffee Shop Talk: Travel Spots, Testimonies, and How We Love

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

[box_light]Double ed. note: Thanks for your patience. We’re on the 2012 Quarterlife Ultimate #RoadTrip12 and we got a little carried away yesterday. Enjoy the Friday version of Coffee Shop Talk![/box_light]

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The Quarterlife Ultimate #RoadTrip12 is happening right now. Name one place in the United States you’d like to be TODAY.

If I could be anywhere today, I’d love to be on a beach in Florida or roaming the streets of Chicago. Both, I would have to say are like second homes to me. If I were to choose somewhere that I have never been, then my choice would probably be Nashville. My cousin goes to school there and says I would absolutely adore downtown Nashville–––my fear is that I would never leave!

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What’s the most powerful piece of your testimony?

I don’t know if I could pinpoint the most powerful piece of my testimony because honestly, my testimony really has nothing to do with me. If I had to say something, the most powerful piece of my testimony isn’t what… but who. God & His grace. The only reason I am here and not completely falling apart in this world is because of Him. Every detail of my story was woven and stitched together by God–––ultimate highs and the extreme lows–––all now used specifically by Him and for Him.

“By the blood of The Lamb and the words of our testimony, we will overcome.” [Desperation Band]

God knows the power that our stories hold. But only by the blood of Christ. Without the cross, our stories are just that–––stories. But when they are drenched in the grace and mercy of Jesus there is power. The most power.

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How do we love people better as a Christian community?

As a Christian community I think we all need to get on the same page.

So often you’ll hear, “I just don’t feel called to that.” And that’s often times referencing things like serving food to the homeless, volunteering at a fundraiser, donating money or items to those in need; the list goes on and on. Whatever the case may be, we are limiting how God wants us to love people. We put restrictions on who is worthy of our love and if we feel “called” to love them.

God tells us that the greatest commands are to love Him & love His people (personal paraphrase from Luke 10:27). Whether we would like to admit it our not–––reality check–––we are called to such things. Are they our big dreams & passions? Maybe, maybe not… and that’s okay, really.

We love and are the hands and feet of Jesus because He has commanded us to be His hands and feet. The Christian community is sorely lacking in this truth. We are so inwardly focused on having the best dramas, lights, music, or sermon series, that we forget about the sick and dying world–––and they’re right outside our doors. [I’m talking to myself as well in all of this.] The community as a whole needs a nice jolt to the heart. It’s time we allowed God to rub the paddles together and yell out “CLEAR!” and shock us back into what life is supposed to be: true living that is centered around Kingdom loving.

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until our next chat,

B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]

Coffee Shop Talk: When God is Missing, Video Games, and Chick-fil-A

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

[box_light]Double ed. note: Thanks for your patience. We’re on the 2012 Quarterlife Ultimate #RoadTrip12 and we got a little carried away yesterday. Enjoy the Friday version of Coffee Shop Talk![/box_light]

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What do you do when it seems like God is missing?

I wish I had a step by step answer for this question. Honestly, God’s grace saves me every time it seems like He is missing. A lot of times when I feel this way in my life, I tend to shut down. I am thankful I have a group of friends that won’t let me push back and completely give up. They fight for me and give me the kick in the butt I need to fight for myself.

Prayer definitely helps. Most times I can’t say much more than, “God–––I just need to feel you. I need more of You.” I praise Him that He is a God who draws near to us when we draw near to Him. I just need to take a step in His direction and He will come running.

A lot of times, I have to push myself. I force myself to show up at church, to pray, to worship, to read the Word. And those are all great things, but can we all get honest with ourselves for a hot second? We have all most likely gone through seasons when walking away seemed a lot easier and more appealing than fighting for someone who seemed to be missing. BUT God in His goodness and grace promises that NOTHING can take me from His hand. Not even my stubborn, selfish, lazy self. I have to press on and continue to be around people who will keep me accountable; people who genuinely love me and will listen without judgement but will also be the voice of reason I so often need.

Sitting in the silence and just getting desperate for God to move and break through helps. So often we run away. We search through life for a break or just break down. We need to seek the break through. God is waiting and constantly fighting for us. Jesus fights for me everyday. He fought for me all the way to the Cross and didn’t stop there. He fought death and won for me. Am I going to fight for Him?

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Do women really hate that men play video games?

I definitely cannot speak for all women on this because there are some hardcore “gamers” out there that represent for the female race, [Power on girls! *fist pump*] but if we were to generalize, I would have to say that it’s a love/hate relationship. It’s not that we hate that you play video games; we just don’t really want to hear about it.

It’s a lot like how men don’t like sitting around listening to our problems and our friends’ problems and the friends of our friends’ problems and so on. I can’t really say I know a lot of women (I don’t think I could even name three), who genuinely care what level you’re on in Halo or what guy in your Xbox chat time thing was talking trash (clearly, I don’t know the lingo).

It’s one of those things–––go ahead and play. Burn off steam. Have time with the guys. Go nuts. We ask for one simple thing: pause it when we talk to you. We will work on giving you your time and respecting the game, but when we are trying to talk just pause it and acknowledge our presence to indicate that you see us and hear us.

Also: every so often, ask us to play. We will most likely say ‘no’, but once in a blue moon, we will feel adventurous and say ‘yes’. And then ask you to show us how to move the head and body of the little blue guys at the same time while moving forward, while also pressing all the buttons to make the weapons appear and reappear. Seriously. That’s hard stuff right there.

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What’s your opinion on the Chick-fil-A controversy?

To be completely honest, if you were to ask me about 30 minutes ago what this was all about, I would have said “it’s something about chicken sandwiches and gay marriage.” I just finished reading a few articles to try and figure out what all the commotion is about and honestly–––it’s all completely heart breaking to me.

On one side, there is a man who is trying to be a light and a godly leader in this society, living his life based upon biblical truths and on the other side, there are gay men and women who are feeling broken down by both the company and the customers over comments made and implied (whether they happen to work for Chick-fil-A or not). In every article I read, it is clear to see that there are so many little battles that are being brought up in one major argument, even though they all need to be addressed separately.

I am proud of a fellow brother for standing behind the Word of God and living in a way that is honoring to the covenant of marriage and how God has intended it to be. In the process of how this issue has been addressed, though, so many people are being broken down and pushed further from the Truth. The world we live in today will never understand why we can’t just see and edify them in their “love” for each other and the choices they make.

We are living in a time when sin is thrown in the face of Christians and we are expected to accept it. No where does God tell us to accept the sin… but we are to LOVE His people. We need to love them as He loves them. See them as souls to be won for the Kingdom, not homosexuals to be converted. This whole thing has been blown out of proportion by both sides. I can’t really say I have a strong opinion on this alone. I have strong opinions on a lot of the smaller battles trying to be fought, but those are for another time.

All I can say is I have no problem eating an order of waffle fries no matter who serves them to me.

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until our next chat,

B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]

Chick-fil-A Debate About Economics, Not Gay Marriage

[box_light]Ed. note: Today we have a guest post from Debbie G. McKay. Enjoy the article and let us know your thoughts in the comments.[/box_light]

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After Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy said his company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family,” ordering a grilled chicken sandwich has become a political act.

Cathy unintentionally ignited a media firestorm across the country after espousing his Biblical worldview to the Baptist Press.

Media giant CNN was the first to pick up the interview and twist the original transcript to fit their agenda that painted Cathy into a corner as an intolerant, Christian bigot who was hurling anti-homosexual epithets around like waffle fries.

On the heels of CNN, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined the rallying cry against Chick-fil-A saying that he intends to block the chain from opening a second location in Chicago. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino also waded into the controversy, issuing a letter deriding Cathy for his recent “prejudiced statements,” and urging the fast food titan to “back out” of Boston.

Menino argued that it would be an insult to gay couples who came to Boston City Hall to get married if there was a Chick-fil-A across the street from that spot.

To Mayor Menino I say this: what’s insulting is your assault on free market capitalism and your emotional manipulation of the people you serve.

Through heated, demonstrative rhetoric that preys on the sensitivities of the people of Boston, Menino, Emanuel, and others who have jumped on the anti-Chick-Fil-a bandwagon have unwittingly fostered the very hate speech that they condemned Cathy for.

And it’s easy. My closest friend of twenty years is a lesbian. A kind, hardworking, introspective thinker who has always been there for me selflessly. A sensitive soul who works in a field that is devoted to helping the most helpless of people. The thought of her being denied any legal right that I am afforded or being looked down upon, shunned, judged, or forced to listen to someone’s anti-homosexual rant makes my stomach do somersaults and offends me to my core. (I can feel the bile now).

But when you take a step back from the heated emotions that surround any argument about gay marriage or traditional values you see the truth: Cathy was merely defending his worldview and exercising his First Amendment right. In fact, he wasn’t even deriding anyone!

The government does not have the power to punish someone for their words. Adam Schwartz, senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois broke it down into simple terms: “When an alderman refuses to allow a business to open because its owner has expressed a viewpoint the government disagrees with, the government is practicing viewpoint discrimination.”

The ACLU “strongly supports” same-sex marriage, Schwartz said, but astutely noted that if a government can exclude a business for being against same-sex marriage, it can also exclude a business for being in support of same-sex marriage – and that is the core of the issue.

The arrogant, misguided calls of two Mayors and their backers threaten the very framework of our constitution as set down by the Founding Fathers.

If a state starts a precedent of punishing companies for the views of their executives, what’s to say that a company that supports same sex marriage, or a company with an executive that is pro-choice, won’t be added to this exclusionary list?

The Chick-fil-A debate isn’t about gay marriage – not even close. And the longer that politicians and people in power can keep us thinking that it is, the more latitude they have to trample on our First Amendment freedoms.

If we are free only to say that which others want to hear, we are living in servitude.

[box_help]Sound Off: Do you agree with our writer? Will you eat at Chick-fil-A? Are our First Amendment freedoms in jeopardy… or is this just a case of righting inequality? Let us know in the comments.[/box_help]

Coffee Shop Talk: Women Pursuing Men and Men Pursuing Two Women

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

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How far should a woman go in pursuing a man?

Oh, how this question gets me riled up. About a year and a half ago, a sister and I got to talking about the things we were seeing at the church we were attending at the time. It was a 18-2o somethings age range, and the sight was heartbreaking. There were so many sisters throwing themselves before the men around us. Going out of their way to make it known they were single, and they were looking. They would initiate the texting every single time and call incessantly. They would try planning hang outs and dates. A few even told me, “I know he said I wasn’t the one, but he’s changed a lot and so have I, so I really think it could work now.”

My rage-o-meter was sky high.

I actually wrote a blog post back then to the women I’m describing and I figured I would just post that below. I think it’s clear from my previous writing that I do not feel a woman should go very far at all in pursuing a man. Yes, women need to show enough interest so that the man knows he is correct in pursuing her and asking her out. The reason I share what I wrote before is because so many brothers in Christ have told me how easily distracted they are from the heart and will of God, when a woman [attractive or not] pursues them.

In one situation [I’m referring back to the girl who said things were different and disregarded his statement that she wasn’t the one] she began falling back into her old habits of flirting and seeking him out and monopolizing his attention. He went along with it. He knew what God had told him about her, and knew he needed to guard his own heart and help her guard hers by keeping distance between them. But, he was distracted. Too distracted by the “thrill” of it all, that he didn’t even see how he was being disobedient to God. How he wasn’t living up to his call as a godly man, or as a sister in Christ’s future husband. It was heartbreaking to see.

Eventually, a brother brought to attention what he was doing and kept him accountable. But women–––we need to stop!

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Stop distracting the men of God.

Stop longing and pursuing their hearts. As women of God we are designed to be sought after, to be wanted, to be cherished. We are designed to care for, nurture and love others. Yet when we begin to pursue the heart of a man, we are leaving the heart of the Father. We have taken our eyes off of Christ, off of His heart, and His love for us. I don’t understand why we are wired to want relationships so desperately… but a small reason I do understand is that this want for a man should be magnified in our desperation for God. 

Wait for a godly man. Wait for the man that pursues your heart just as Christ pursues the church, His bride. “Just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy…” [Ephesians 5:25,26] It’s not about us pursuing him. God didn’t design us this way. He tells us that husbands will pursue, and protect, and fight for their wives. That we will become “one flesh.”

JUST WAIT.

Patiently wait for him, while actively pursuing God. Don’t lose sight of the only heart we should be seeking after. Do you not see when we actively pursue the heart of a man how our focus has shifted?

“Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such things have no place among God’s people.”
(Ephesians 5:3) 

Why are godly women becoming greedy after a godly man’s heart? Why are we allowing the lust and impurity to pollute our hearts and minds? Is it not enough to be encouraged through fellowship? Is it that difficult to look at a man of God and be so proud of the work God is doing in him and to simply encourage him without an agenda?

You are lusting after another sister in Christ’s husband.

A man that God has designed specifically for one heart–––and because you can’t be patient enough to trust God and His design and His timing, you are tainting what is meant for someone else. What is almost even more heartbreaking is that you’re hurting a fellow brother’s heart and distracting him from growing into the leader and spiritual warrior God so desires for him. You are twisting your own love story into something it shouldn’t be. You are not the pursuer, not a manipulator or deceiver to gain attention and love. If you are, RUN! Run so quickly in the other direction, because those things come only from one person–––the father of lies himself.

Brothers and sisters: Pray God would remove the veil that Satan has cast over your heart. The lies of making you think you have to seek a man’s heart in order for your love story to be fulfilled or that men–––you don’t need to step up and pursue a woman’s heart or help her guard it by being obedient to God in your actions.

How far from the truth! Ladies, a good godly man that you would WANT and DESERVE to be with, will honor and respect you for how you pursue the heart of God first, and are active in being obedient to that. Men, don’t fall for the women who make it easy. Who give a pretty smile and bat of their eye lashes and distract you. If a woman isn’t putting YOUR ministry and calling before her own desires, she isn’t the one for you. She will show you she’s interested, but fellas… the rest is up to you.

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There are two great Christian girls–––both friends and both dateable. Can I pursue both?

I think the first thing we need to look at for this question specifically is that you’re FRIENDS with both of these girls. This changes the situation completely. I know there are so many different scenarios you could throw at me, but for the sake of arguing, we’re going to assume that you are in active friendships with both of these girls (whether they are friends or not doesn’t matter).

It is definitely NOT okay to pursue both. Like I said in the question above, if you are thinking of pursuing a godly woman, then clearly she has shown some sort of interest in you. In this case, both have shown some form of interest if you are thinking of taking things to the next step. You WILL ruin both friendships if you do this. If you have taken the time to pray and seek God’s will over these two friends, I believe He will speak clearly enough to tell you “yes” or “no” to either one (or maybe even both girls). I would definitely say if you do decided to pursue one of these girls, you need to talk to the other.

And be honest.

Will the conversation be hard? Possibly even awkward? A thousand times yes. But women will respect your honesty and your courage in being up front with them and helping them guard their heart.

We don’t want to waste a guy’s time anymore than we want them to waste ours. In the process of letting her know where she stands with you, you have the opportunity to keep a friendship intact while pursuing the other girl. But you have to be honest. Keep all people in the loop. If you’re even the slightest bit unsure that if you pursue one of these women and you may change your mind and realize she isn’t for you–––don’t even go there. You’ll for sure lose her as a friend and the other will see what’s going on and most likely ditch you too.

Be a gentlemen. Don’t go after two girls at once.

Especially not two of your friends. It’s just trashy, really. Am I allowed to call it skanky? [Ed. note: Sure!] We’ll see if the editor leaves this in here.

Men: Boys mess with girls’ hearts and are fickle. We aren’t wanting to be pursued by boys. We left high school dating behind for a reason. Get honest, step up, and be real with your feelings.

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[Ed. note: Question three was edited for time, as the article word count was nearing 2200 total words. You can catch B’s three biggest fears in next week’s Coffee Shop Talk.]

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until our next chat,

B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]

You Can’t Replace Your Quiet Time

One of my worst “Christian” habits is trying to make deals with God, particularly, when it comes to what many call, “quiet time”. It’s the time when we just set the little things (that seem big within the circumstances of our life) aside for a moment to truly focus on the single most important thing in our lives: our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Sometimes in my head, I try to replace that time with other “Christian” things like serving, worshipping and leading small groups. I slip into this deadly works-based type of faith that’s anything but the gospel. When I have that free hour to spend time with him, I justify missing it it by thinking I have already done enough “good things” that day. I do this sometimes several times per week… and then wonder why I feel so out of touch with my savior.

Here’s what I’m trying to get at… personal time with Jesus is irreplaceable.

Corporate worship is awesome; I’m all for it. Bible study is remarkable. Podcasts are fantastic. Serving at my local church is a blessing. All of these things are great, but none of them can replace personal time with our savior. Our personal relationship with Jesus is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. When we miss out on that personal time with Jesus–––and replace it with other things that have to do with Jesus–––we end up knowing about Jesus, but not knowing Jesus.

Sometimes I find myself getting into seasons where I’m obsessed with knowing more about Jesus, and put knowing him to the wayside. ‘Cause lets be honest… it’s a lot easier to read a few books, listen to a few sermons and tune in to a few podcasts then it is to set time aside, be patient, and ease into the presence of God.

There are going to be times when we don’t feel anything in our quiet times, and that’s perfectly normal (Don’t believe me? Read a Psalm or two). But the more we do it, the easier it becomes. I’m not saying the days when we don’t feel anything are going to go away, but we are going to know Jesus because we spend more time with him. The more we enjoy him, the more we value our relationship with him. That’s what walking with Christ is all about.

When we all look back on our walks, the sweetest memories are going to be those personal times when we cried out to him, joyfully thanked him and trusted him knowing he was going to be there for us–––no matter what life brought. Don’t get me wrong: reading, worshipping in song, listening to podcasts and other spiritual things are going to help you appreciate him even more, but if you’re not spending time knowing Jesus, you’re truly missing out.

[box_help]Sound Off: How’s your personal life with Jesus? Do you tend to push him away for easier, more tangible things? Talk to us in the comments, and let us know what you do to get closest to God.[/box_help]