#12in12: Naked Women: Where Are You?

Ed. Note: Happy Holidays, Quarterlifers! We’re really excited about QM’s new look; I hope you are as well. In honor of a great 2012 and and even better 2013 to come, we are doing #12in12, a tribute to the twelve best stories of this year. If you have an opinion of what you liked, let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

–Thanks, JS


 

3. Naked Women: Where Are You?

by Jayson Schmidt – December 30, 2011

Although published two days before 2012, this post still makes the cut. Purity is a struggle for any man, myself included. This was an introspective look at how I deal with naked imagery and if you struggle with that too, you need to read this.


As a man, I have always struggled with purity.

Though never sexually active–––unless, like me, you struggle to define what ‘sexually active’ truly is… and then maybe I was–––I have always struggled with the flesh. I’m sure you have too.

For awhile, I had no idea what purity truly was. I knew not to have sex… but I didn’t know why not to have sex.

And then I learned. I learned that what I will share with my future wife is one of the most intimate things that God has created for this earth. I also learned that this intimacy is multiplied if you’ve stayed true to your future wife… and not gone hooking up with other women like rabbits.

Here’s the cool thing:

 

Read more.

 

#12in12: Knights in Shining Armor Need Not Apply

Ed. Note: Happy Holidays, Quarterlifers! We’re really excited about QM’s new look; I hope you are as well. In honor of a great 2012 and and even better 2013 to come, we are doing #12in12, a tribute to the twelve best stories of this year. If you have an opinion of what you liked, let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

–Thanks, JS


 

9. Knights in Shining Armor Need Not Apply

by Brittany Miller – January 12, 2012

This article, published last January, was the first from ‘ole B. She graduated from this great piece to our Coffee Shop Talk feature, which we all dearly miss. Enjoy what lies below and send her some encouragement!


All of us ladies have been told since we were little to hold out for our “Prince Charming,” to be swept away on a valiant steed by our “Knight in Shining Armor.”

Well, I’m about to rip the flood gates open on that load of crap… so gentlemen, pay close attention.

If we’re going to be honest, we have to start at the very beginning and get one thing straight.Girls are brain washed and delusional. You can thank Walt Disney and the first slumber party for that. We sit and watch these movies where the woman leads such a tragic life and magically a man makes it all better with a single kiss before the last rose petal falls.

Read more.

#12in12: Men Are Complicated, Women Are Complicated

Ed. Note: Happy Holidays, Quarterlifers! We’re really excited about QM’s new look; I hope you are as well. In honor of a great 2012 and and even better 2013 to come, we are doing #12in12, a tribute to the twelve best stories of this year. If you have an opinion of what you liked, let us know via Facebook or Twitter.

–Thanks, JS


 

11. Men Are Complicated, Women Are Complicated

by Aliza Rosen – February 14, 2012

Aliza’s post came to us via the female perspective and killed it. This #ValentinesWeek post was one of the many gems that came out of that week, which is why we’re excited to do it again this year.


Note: I feel prompted to paint a scenario that is descriptive enough to make a difference. Our generation was taught what ‘not to do’ in churches, but often the ‘why’ was left unanswered. This article is simply a step toward redeeming the mentality of this generation by pumping culturally relevant truth into the dialogue, with the sincere hope for a resuscitation of our values for the sake of our God.

We have it backwards. We all do. Sex and relationships in this culture makes for some serious confusion. The mixed messages make it seem impossible to do the relationship thing the “right” way. We bargain with God and ourselves. And when we bargain, we lose ground.

Many guys I’ve spoken with about the subject will generally admit that if they cross major physical boundaries with a girl, they lose interest in having a serious relationship with them. Well, what sparks the loss of interest? This physical act downgrades the ‘good girl’ he’s pursued and considered introducing to his parents, and strips her down to some chick he doesn’t want to take 5 seconds to text back because he wants her off his back…

Read more.

In His Image – The Importance of Gender Equality

In Genesis, there is a pattern of God creating and then announcing, “it was good.”

First, He created light and dark, day and night, and it was good (Genesis 1:3-5). Next, He created the land and the sea, and it was good (1:9&10). Then, He created plants, trees, and fruit, and it was good (1:11&12). Then, the sun and the moon, and it was good (1:14-18). Then, the fish and the birds, and it was good (1:20&21). Then, the animals, and it was good (1:24&25). Finally, God created Man, in His own image, and announced, “It Is NOT good for the man to be alone.” (2:18 NIV, emphasis added)

Instead, we are told, “So God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; MALE AND FEMALE He created THEM.”(1:27 NIV, emphasis added) After this, God observed all He had created and saw that “it was VERY good.”(1:31 NIV emphasis added)

 

Mankind was created to be in the image of God.

An aspect of this truth, which deserves further thought, is that God is triune in nature.  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, serve as the ultimate example of perfect, unified relationship; one in nature, yet three in persons. God is, in and of Himself, a never-ending relationship of love, respect, honor, and glory; He is a picture of mutual submission, elevation, and exaltation. He, Himself, is an endless source of relationship for Himself. The implication of this is that man was not, is not, the image of God without woman. Because God is single in nature, yet multiple in persons, to adhere to the image of God, mankind must be the same.

Male and female are to be equally viewed as essential pieces of the image of their Creator.  To elevate one above the other is to distort the image of relationship, as modeled by the three persons of God.

 

We were created to be one in essence.

Man cannot exist without woman, and woman cannot exist without man. Each is but one half of the same being. Male and female are to serve as a reflection of different persons with a single nature, who work together through mutual respect, honor, submission, elevation, and self-giving love. Each is to complement the image of God in the other. Any act that belittles the honor of the other, is a rejection of God’s image, and will only serve to dehumanize both sexes. To reject the equality of man and woman is to reject the fundamental essence of mankind.

The relationship between male and female is central to mankind’s very nature and is, therefore, one of the most important aspects of reality needing to be reconciled.  As we take part in the new creation, the Church must be at the forefront of a movement that seeks the equality and empowerment of all, and it must start with the communion of male and female.  How can we strive to mend our abusive relationship with the planet, or reconcile our twisted vision of hierarchy and power which oppresses those we deem as less because of class or race, if we first do not seek to reconcile with the other half of our being?

[alert style=”info”]Sound Off: Do you struggle to be one in essence with the other sex? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]

When We Decide To Be Indecisive

[alert style=”info”]Editor’s Note: This is a post that I wrote for my personal blog in 2011. It’s too good not to share. [/alert]

I hate going to Chick-fil-A.

Well, maybe not. I hate the process.

I hate ordering at Chick-fil-A. It turns into decision overload. There’s always that one central moment (and why is it when there are 90 people behind you?) when you step to the front of the line and have no idea what to order.

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I’ll have a #1.
Wait. No.
A 4-count nugget… with an ice cream.
In a cup.
Wait. A cone… definitely a cone.
And a Coke.
Wait. Lemonade.
Wait. A sweet tea.

Despite the fact that I would never-ever order a sweet tea, I still really feel for the those poor Chick-fil-A employees.

 

We’re the same way with women…

…and if there’s one area that we need to deviate, as men in our culture, it’s here. There are way too many men (boys, really) galavanting around, treating women like garbage and assuming there are ZERO consequences for their actions. Now, I know what you’re about to say:

“Hey Schmidt. I’m not some horrible person. I don’t run around having sex and making horrible decisions!”

Yes, I know. You’re not having sex; you’re leading a ‘good’ life.

Your actions still have consequences. How many girls have you lead on because you loved the attention? If you’re anything like me, it’s probably billions, but guess what: every day those women think of (or have thought of) you repeatedly and it’s not in the oh-he’s-a-really-great-friend kind of way.

Sidenote: If you weren’t about to say that you’re not making horrible decisions… and it’s because you are having sex, you need to stop and type ‘purity’ into the search bar up top. Just saying.

It’s our indecision, as men, as leaders, that has a crippling effect on Godly relationships. Have you ever heard that all of the great Christian women are wondering where the great Christian men are? This is through our indecision and it happens in two ways:

 

1. Pre-Relational Indecision.

I will begin with the following: if you like her and think she’s supa-fine… ASK HER OUT. Somewhere along the line, it became perfectly justifiable in Christian culture to stick a certain part of your body between your legs and not be a man. BE. A. MAN.

If you know her pretty well and you’re spending enough time together, it’s redundant to lead her on. She likes ya, bro. Also, despite gender-equity in all areas of 21st-Century life, she’s still a woman, and that woman wants her Boaz. I won’t pretend like I know women internally, but I will go out on a limb and say that the women who pursue men themselves are few and far between. She will put herself in front of you, very much like Ruth did, but it’s your job to take the football and score.

0251

 

2. Inter-Relational Indecision.

I referenced this briefly just a moment ago. It’s inevitable that you will meet and get to know some very cute lady friends. In secular society, you are a man by virtue of the sheer amount of women on your arm. If you want to achieve a different result, you need to do something different. You’re a man because God ordained you to follow him and lead others (including your girlfriend/fiancé/wife).

Let’s go back to the “friend” you might be leading on. If you don’t like her or don’t think she’s supa-fine… ASK HER OUT. (Just checking to make  sure you’re paying attention.)

Seriously though, if you can’t see yourself dating her, stop playing games. Nothing good ever came from leading someone on. She’s already emotionally vested in your relationship (even if it may be just a friendship), and most of the time, those feelings will only increase.

 

So how can we counteract this indecision?

I’m glad you asked. I eluded to it before: you need to be decisive. The Bible says to “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’;” (Matt 5:37). It’s much easier said than done, but here’s one helpful guideline that should help your situation dramatically:

Talk to her. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised. So often, her expectations are higher than your intentions, or vice versa. If you’re communicating well, there will be no miscommunication on where you’re at relationally. Tell her, “I want to be intentional on getting to know you better,” or, “I think you’re really special and I want to date you.” If you’re not thinking like that, tell her this:

“Listen [girl], I think you’re awesome, but I don’t want to compromise the relationship you’ll have with your future husband. I cannot be that man for you and it’s unfair to both of you to be occupying your time.”

Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor. 13:11). You are a man, so when interacting with women, be real. She will appreciate your honesty in the long run. God has created us to be bold and stouthearted (Psalm 138:3), so we should attack our relationships with that same vigor.

One Final, Parting Thought: She knows you’re indecisive when you say that you are “waiting on God.” You have two choices… commit to a season of singleness or get moving with the ladies. They’re all out there… and they’re waiting for some real men.
[alert style=”info”]Sound Off: How do you deal with indecisiveness? What’s your worst story of indecisiveness? Let us know in the comments below.[/alert]

Coffee Shop Talk: Serving Others, Missionary Dating, and Being Equally Yoked

[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 and enjoy the Friday version of Coffee Shop Talk![/box_light]

[divider]

What does it mean to you to serve others?

Serving others can look so many different ways. It could be helping out with projects or helping clean up… maybe organizing events (etc. etc.). For me, personally, defining what serving others is is simple.

Love them.

If I am focused on loving others the way Christ loves them, I will want to give my time, my talents, my money, my abilities to serve them. It’s going to look different for every person, but one thing that should look the same is love. God is love and He’s the whole reason why we serve.

[divider]

What are you thoughts on “missionary” dating?

First, for those of you who were just as confused by this question as I was when I first read it–––let me clarify. This question is asking what my thoughts are on dating someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus with the intention of trying to bring them to salvation. Now, please don’t take this as the “be all, end all” of answers. I’m not God and He can do whatever He likes and can use whatever and whoever He wants to bring people to Him. Could that be through a relationship? Definitely. With that being said, be very, very careful.

In every relationship, I would encourage you to enter into serious prayer first, seeking the heart and will of God before doing anything. My thoughts, however, are this:

Do not date people who do not love the Lord.

If you are a God-fearing man [or woman] and you are seeking the face of God and desiring the things of Him–––wouldn’t you want to be with someone who is seeking the same things? If you want to grow and dream God-sized dreams and see His Kingdom come in this generation alongside a woman [or man] in a relationship, don’t you want them to love God too? God is everything to me and the most important person in my life. I don’t understand how I could date someone who doesn’t love Him too. [I don’t want to get ahead of myself though. We’ll talk about that in the next question.]

The saying goes, “look at their friends and you’ll see who they are.” It’s true. We adapt and change dependent on who we surround ourselves with. “Bad company corrupts good character.” I don’t think I need to list examples or details. I’m sure you can all think of situations and instances where you’ve seen this. These two phrases carry over into the dating world too.

God can definitely use you to bring someone to Him in a relationship… so be their friend. You don’t need to date someone to save them. Only God can save them anyway. And more times than not, Satan uses those types of relationships to keep the one who loves Jesus stagnant in their faith or completely fall away from God. So please, be very very careful.

Once again, I don’t have all the answers, but I know God does. He says,

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
–2 Corinthians 6:14, ESV

[divider]

Where is the line drawn on being equally yoked?

Obviously, this question is closely related to the one above, but I think this question is dealing moreso with two Christians dating. This again, comes down to time in prayer and seeking the will of God.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
–Proverbs 27:17, NLT

As believers, when we are all seeking and actively pursuing God, we will be challenged and sharpened by the fellow believers around us doing the same. The same is true in a relationship… the key though, is the pursuit.

Are both people actively and willingly seeking more and more of God individually before they seek together? 

That is my key question to all of you. If the person you are dating doesn’t want to seek God on their own, chances are they’ll be gritting their teeth when you want to seek Him together. Both people need to be strong in who they are in Christ before they can be in a relationship. God didn’t create relationships so that we could “complete” each other. Only God can complete us. God created relationships to sharpen us and strengthen us for HIS glory and to lift HIS name high.

If your relationship isn’t doing the one thing it was designed for, chances are you are unequally yoked.

In everything guys, pray. Pray continually for wisdom and guidance when it comes to relationships. Hearts are on the line. Don’t break someone else’s and guard yours from being broken.

[divider]

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]

Men: Stop Trying and Start Being

I’m going back a bit, but one of my favorite movies is The Matrix. It revolutionized action movies. Just think, how many countless times has the “bullet time” been copied? It was cool, action packed, thought provoking, and had an amazing style (let’s just pretend the sequels didn’t ruin the franchise).

One of my favorite scenes will always be where Neo is placed in the chair, hooked up to the Matrix, downloaded with information, and announces, “I know Kung Fu.” To which Morpheus replies, “Show me”. They are then launched into a sparing program to battle it out. The scene has some of my favorite quotes.

A few seconds after they begin to fight, Morpheus tells Neo, “Good. Adaptation… …improvisation… …but your weakness is not your technique.”  The fight continues, escalates, and Morpheus calls out, “Come on, Stop trying to hit me and hit me.”

[divider]

Guys, it’s time to stop being like Neo.

In the world of relationships and dating, too much focus is placed on technique and trying. I know what you’re thinking, “It’s a bit of a stretch to go from the Matrix and Kung Fu, to dating and relationships.” To which I’d say, “True, but go with me here.”

Most guys spend a lot of time worried about trying to impress women. They worry about looking right, acting smooth enough, impressing them with their wit, charm, and the perfect pick-up line. But the problem is not your technique (though for some, it definitely may not be helping). The problem is when we spend so much time trying to look like the perfect guy, that we completely neglect becoming the men we should be.

[divider]

“Stop trying to hit me and hit me.”

Stop trying to look good and start being good.

I don’t claim to have everything figured out. If we met, it wouldn’t take very long for you to realize that I’m far from perfect.  I’m no Brad Pitt, I am a bit of a nerd. Cheesy jokes are perfectly acceptable forms of humor in my world. I did reach a point in life, however, when I became comfortable with who I was (at least, as comfortable as anyone can be).

I quit worrying about who I thought everyone wanted me to be and started trying to become the man I believed I should become.  Though I have made, and continue to make plenty of mistakes along the way, it was when I shifted to this focus that I met my wife.

[divider]

The Shift

The first part to the shift is that there is a bit of an ironic paradox. I met my wife… when I stopped trying so hard to find my wife.

I previously wrote an article (look back at The Joy of Going Stag) on the truth that being single is not a bad thing. It’s a perfect time to focus on becoming who you should. When you’re single, you have the complete freedom to pursue all of your goals, chase any dreams, and focus solely on bettering your character.

To become the man you are meant to be, focus on being the man God created you to be. Study the Bible, pray for God’s will to be carried out in your life, and start searching for ways to become involved in furthering His kingdom here on Earth.

Finally, stop trying to impress women and start being a man who respects, honors, and protects. Do nothing that belittles their worth. Do nothing that attempts to take advantage. Take part in nothing (thoughts, speech, or actions) which dehumanizes… treating them as though they are a trophy to be acquired or a goal to be accomplished. Treat them with the respect we all deserve.

Whether you are single and content, single and searching, dating, in a serious relationship, or married, the focus should be the same.  Strive to always be the man God intends for you to be. Be a man of respect, honor, loyalty, truthfulness, and love. Be a man who cherishes and protects the value of women. Be a man who sets aside selfish desires and seeks to serve. Strive to be a man worthy of a woman.

If you truly want to impress women, stop trying and start being.

[box_help]Sound Off: Do you wait for perfection… in yourself and in others? How does this effect how you treat the opposite sex? Let us know in the comments.[/box_help]

Coffee Shop Talk: 3 Big Fears, Questionable Media, and Being Used

[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]

[divider]

What are your three biggest fears?

I was going to just say dumb things like spiders and roller coasters and janky feet, but I feel like I need to be honest with myself and should talk about three fears that truly weigh on my heart some times.

Fear #1

Three and a half years ago was the first time I was ever in a relationship that I could somewhat see moving forward. I had never dated anyone longer than 2 months at this point because by a month and a half I would already know if I could see myself marrying him. Well, long story short, we had made it to almost 4 months. This was huge for me. I never told him “I love you” and I wasn’t even sure if I did at the time. [I didn’t.] The possibilities were there, though.

And then–––out of no where–––he left for another girl. I was shattered in so many ways for so many different reasons that I won’t get into now. But, if I’m being honest–––which I want to be–––I pray through this fear more than I’d like to.

I have a fear that the next man I date [which I believe will be the man I marry] will do the exact same thing to me. He will leave me for someone he sees as more beautiful, worthy, or more godly. I know how silly and insecure it is to fear this… and I believe with all my heart that it won’t happen if the man I am with (and myself) are constantly seeking to live in the will of God. Even so, it cripples me at times when I imagine one day waking up and he tells me he wants someone else. Just like three and a half years ago–––one day I woke up and he changed his mind.

Fear #2

The second fear I have is that I will never be bold enough for Christ. I want to fight each day so hard for the hearts around me; especially my family and those people who are close to me. I fail Jesus so many times. The fear in this is that at the end of my life when we all stand before Christ that the people I care most about will be standing to my right and to my left and I’ll have to listen as God says, “Get away from me. I never knew you.” It rips my heart out to think that there are so many people I know who are skating by on a “get out of hell free card” and that’s the extent of their relationship with God. And to think that they’re okay with it. I fear that I will stand in my own way and allow Satan to cripple me into silence. Each day I fight and pray against this fear because I refuse to allow the devil to steal the hearts I love.

Fear #3

One of the other fears I have is that my children [God willing if I have them] won’t love the Lord. I know it is mine and my husband’s responsibility to raise/direct our children in the way they should go, yet, I see so many godly men and women who are so on fire for Christ and their children are lost in darkness. There are so many different reasons and circumstances, but I fear that even if I do the best I can in raising my children in the Lord, they will choose to walk away.

I pray for them already. (Yes, I’m that crazy girl who prays for her nonexistent children… back off!) I pray God gives my husband and I wisdom and patience in our home with our kids. I pray that they will be men & women after God’s own heart. That they will be the David and Joshua and Esther of their generation.

These things I fear at the moments when I take my eyes of Christ… but then, I recall this to mind, and in THIS I have hope:

GOD IS STRONGER.

[divider]

Where do you draw the line concerning questionable media (like TV/music/etc)?

This is an area that causes so many issues for Christian men and women more than we even allow ourselves to see.

The things we listen to and see and pour into ourselves directly effects our thoughts and our attitudes. I’ve come to realize for myself that it directly effects my walk with the Lord. There’s such truth in the phrase that says, “You can’t be poured out for God if you’re not first filled by Him.” How can we be filled by Him if we are already filling ourselves with the things of the world?

God has been laying onto my heart how much garbage this world tries to feed us. How slowly over time, the church (as a whole) has allowed these lies to slowly creep into our hearts and we don’t even realize it. We live as Christians and Christ followers that try to honor God in all we do, yet we are filling our ears and eyes with things that completely contradict it. If music curses or uses the Lord’s name in vain or is sexually suggestive, why listen to it? Is it really worth compromising the honor of the Lord for a song with a few good beats and catchy melody?

“And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”
–James 3:10

Movies and TV crossed the “honorable” line a LONG time ago. Take a second and think back to the 90’s with me. The movies that were rated R then are movies that are a “mild” PG-13 movie now.

The conviction the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart over censoring this area of my life has been heart wrenching. I have allowed the world to taint my standards. The world has convinced me that somehow I need to be okay with them taking the name of the God I love and serve and say it so flippantly. I can’t hear those words or phrases anymore without my skin turning.

If I know watching movies filled with sex scenes and swearing are going to cloud my judgement and my heart and cause me to stumble–––I have to avoid them. I still listen to secular music and watch TV and movies, but I’m much more conscious of the choices I make.

I won’t write this and tell you to only listen to Jesus Culture and Hillsong and only watch Veggie Tales. That’s extreme and ridiculous. At the end of the day, we all need to stop and examine our hearts and what we are filling it with. We need to start being a generation that doesn’t tolerate the dishonorable things that are filling the media.

Bonus: I want to just encourage all of you to pray over this. Allow the Spirit to move in you and show you areas that may need to be refined and pruned in your life.

[divider]

I’ve had a lot of sexual sin in the past and at times feel “too far gone.” Can God really use me?

Absolutely.

That feeling of being “too far gone” is Satan and his lies. God’s hand stretches farther than any distance. We are never too far to be out of God’s reach. In the Bible, God uses “the least of these” time and time again to accomplish His work. He specifically chooses people that you wouldn’t expect to accomplish His plan for His glory.

Think of Rahab. She was a prostitute. She was continually involved in sexual sin and yet God used her. Rahab hid the spies that Joshua had sent into scout the land of Jericho. She not only risked her own life by lying to the king, but she also risked the lives of her entire family. She knew that the God those men served was the One True God and that the Israelites would take over the land.

“I know the Lord has given you this land…For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens and the earth below.”
–Joshua 2:9,11

Not only did God use Rahab to further His plan for His chosen people, but God also blessed Rahab. Rahab would be in the direct line of Jesus Christ. Rahab was the mother of Boaz, who was the father of Obed, who was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of king David; whose line Christ would come. (Matthew 1:5) Rahab had every reason to feel like God could never use her or love her because of her past sin. God not only showed His power in how He used Rahab, but through the blessing He poured upon her and her family, God showed Rahab His love for her.

God loves us. He is jealous for us and our hearts more than we can even fathom or imagine. We are NEVER too far gone to be used by the Lord. His power and love runs so much deeper than any of our mistakes. Paul says it perfectly in Ephesians 3. We can feel like the worst of sinners, yet God is greater and His grace cannot be contained or bound. Nothing I say will ever matter or convince you of this truth… so I just want to close with this:

[box_light]By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.

Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone[a] this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.

10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.

12 Because of Christ and our faith in him,[b] we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. 13 So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[c] 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[d] 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

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(Ephesians 3:17-21, NLT; emphasis added)

until our next chat,

B.

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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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[Previous post]

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]

Coffee Shop Talk: Non-Christian Men, Standing for Truth, and Total Darkness

[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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Why do Christian women react to the behaviors of men?

This is a very vague question so I’ll try and hone in on a certain idea to elaborate upon:

I think Christian women react to the behavior of ungodly men because we are “fixers.” We hold men to this ridiculous standard that we set up in our minds [you can thank romantic comedies for these thoughts] that you will all act like the fictional hero we see on screen. The men who always say the right thing at just the right time…

HELLO! It’s scripted!

Yet, there we go again, believing that men will step up and do all these things. We root for the bad guy who draws us in and then hope that we can change him. “He’s different with me.” is the sad excuse we feed our friends and family for why we stay with the jerk. And yet, we are appalled when worldly men don’t change and behave in the exact opposite way we are hoping them to go.

We stick around for the small moments of break through we see; and blind ourselves to the behavior that should be signaling us to RUN!

Christian women fall into the trap of believing that being in relationships with ungodly men is our godly duty to bring them to pray the prayer of salvation. I know this question could be taken so many different ways. I just felt pulled to write a little about this.

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What does it mean to have a generation of men standing for truth?

First, and foremost, I pray continually that this will ring true of the men in our generation.

What does this mean? It means that we would have men stepping up and out for the cause of Christ. Men who threw off the godlessness of the world and all that it tries to tell them to be. We would have men taking the lead in purity. Living in such a way that is truly honorable in a generation that is so lost and far from it. Men who actively seek the heart of the Father over the desires of their flesh are men who stand for Truth. The brothers I have surrounding me, I am so proud to say, are men who stand for truth. They are amazing examples of what this means and looks like.

They are men like Daniel. Drenching themselves in the Word and in prayer. The faith and obedience they have like Abraham. Even when they don’t understand what God is calling them to or even if it requires sacrifice–––they are obedient. Men like Joseph. True visionaries for this Kingdom and all the different avenues God can use our gifts. Men that stand for truth stand for Christ and live lives that reflect Him. Like David, they are men after God’s own heart and His desires for them.

Something I think a generation of men standing for truth will be identified by is courage. More than anything else, it takes courage to stand against the world. Men like Joshua. Young men leading the way into battle and taking a stand for God.

“This is my command–––Be strong and very courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

–Joshua 1:9

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What do you do when you’re far from God?

I absolutely hate those moments in my life.

I look back at the times I let Satan, my selfish desires and laziness slowly pull me further and further from God. Yet, at the very same time these are some of the greatest moments in my walk with Him. My faith and relationship with the Father are deepened and strengthened through the days spent wandering in the desert. I wish I could say that I knew how to pull myself out of the pits when I’m lost and without direction. I sincerely hope and pray that those of you reading this don’t struggle to push through the dark and numb stages of life as difficultly as I do. The moments when I’m far from God I feel like I just want to shut down.

It is actually easier to just stop caring, to stop fighting, and let Satan pull me into the pit and allow my self pity to swallow me whole.

The truths of God and His love are the lighthouse that pull me through the dark.

Even when the last thing I want to do is pray–––or read the Word–––or worship, I make myself. I press in. And I praise the Lord that He is faithful to me even when I am unfaithful to Him. The moments I must completely break His heart by allowing defeat to over take me–––He still comes running when I call. He still carries me when my weak little legs give out. My fickle heart needs His love constantly beating and propelling me forward.

I’m a talker too. Well, generally. Unless I’m very, very, very, upset–––I’ll talk it out with someone. I have a close knit group of brothers and sisters that I can sit down and pour out to. They keep me pointed on Christ and make me see when I’m allowing Satan to blind me and when I’m allowing my selfish desires to keep me from moving forward. I am so blessed by them.

“If we are unfaithful He will remain faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.”

–2 Timothy 2:13

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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]