Monday, April 30, 2012

One Reason Women can't find a Good Man.

I have reached a point in life where I'm still fairly young but have been around long enough that I'm able to begin to see a few patterns. One of the interesting things that I have noticed as I've gotten a little older is how differently my single, female, peers look at men. I hear it often asked by single women, friends and strangers alike, where all the good men have gone? This seems especially true for those in the post 30 age groups. That is a good question really. Where have all the good men gone? Why is it getting so hard for women to find a worthy partner? As a father of a little girl, this is becoming a more and more important issue for even me. Well, I have a bit of an observation to make. I don't think the "good" men have gone anywhere. Men have become exactly what we've asked them to.

For several generations now, jr. high and high school aged boys watched as the bad boy's got all the girls. During their rebellious years, girls would deify their parents, especially their fathers, and pursue the most opposite personality from Pop that they could find. Most of these girls would tell you that they had no interest in marrying a guy like this, they just wanted to have fun for awhile. Well, as time has moved on, more and more boys have learned that if you want to get the hot chicks, you got to be a bad ass. During the most formative years of their lives in regards to their perspectives on relationships, boy's learn that girls do not value them based on their hard work and personal values. What most boys were, and are, too dumb to figure out is that this is the kind of guy girls only wanted to have fun with, not stick with. Boys are being taught that the flunk out, defiant, punk is what girls like. Yet as they get older, they are almost over night asked to transform magically into hard working, stable, family men with good jobs. The problem is that by this time, the've already dropped out of school or at least failed to develop any sort of appreciation for hard work, good character, or loyalty.

Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad if society didn't perpetuate this problem by constantly worshiping men of low esteem. If boys could see that adults value character, perhaps they would also understand that this type of rebel attitude needs to be a temporary stage. But instead, we turn on the T.V. to see adults like The Situation surrounded by beautiful women. Every where these boys look, the rappers, the actors, the athletes, well into their 30's, 40's, and 50's, are not worshiped by their character, but they ability to be "players."

Boys will become exactly what we ask them to, and unfortunately, as a society, they have done exactly that, we taught them that getting high is more important that getting the grade. As fatherless households continue to increase, this problem will only get worse for our sons.

Ladies, I ask you honestly, who was the guy you dated when you were younger? What was it that you looked for? I'd be willing to bet, you can still find a million guys that fit those characteristics today, the problem is your priorities have changed and the guys did not. They remained exactly what we asked them to be. Suddenly the nice guys that nobody wanted in high school are the kind girls want when they get older. Only the nice guys learned that being nice only got them ignored, so many of them changed and lost the characteristics that would be coveted in them later on.

Like turning an aircraft carrier, this will take awhile, but it is so important that we do. We need to do it for our sons and our daughters alike. We need to do our best to instill in our kids that character and values really do matter. We need to stop letting reality TV shows that worship dysfunction dominate the ratings. The good men are still there, they just learned the wrong lessons, and they learned them too well.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Thought on Trayvon

I am placing this post out there in search of feedback from the rest of you. I found myself very upset today over a news story about two young black teens who randomly beat up a white teen as an act of revenge for Travon Martin. What upset me about this story wasn't really what these kids did, what upset me was that the media chose to run the story on a national news network. I understand that when injustice is taking place, it is important that as many people as possible be made aware of such atrocities so they are not swept under the rug. For much of our national history there has been great injustice done as the result of racial tension. But at what point does media coverage move from informing to preserving? It seems to me that for anything to die, there has to come a point where we have to stop giving it the attention it doesn't deserve. I am wondering if our nation is reaching a point with racial issues that instead of quelling the the final breaths of this beast, we are instead providing CPR by media networks jumping on any racial incident that takes place. When I read the story covered today, the first question I asked was, "What good can possibly come from having aired this?" I can't help but feel that, while this may have indeed been a prejudice decision, it was still a decision made by a couple of KIDS. Does this really warrant national news coverage? Will we let the poor choices of KIDS continue to fuel a centuries old problem?

If you read the blog you already know my feelings about the media, and this is just another example of a story that I feel was meant to incite more than to heal. I'm afraid that racial tension is just too good of a ratings boost for the media to let it die.

So this is my question to all: Can sensitive issues reach a point that continuing to point them out does more harm than good? Thoughts?

Monday, April 23, 2012

To Be Insecure

My life changed drastically the day I figured out that almost everyone on Earth is insecure, and that to be insecure is to be human. What was so fascinating is that most of us are so acutely aware of it in ourselves, but for some reason seem to struggle with the fact that others are as well. We all play the game, the game that I'm fine, the game that I don't doubt myself, but in reality, we know deep inside our greatest hope is that nobody will realize who we really are.

Now most of us have at least one attribute about ourselves that we are secure in. Some people might have two or three. We tend to call these things "strengths." Typically these are first places we will take refuge when we need to. For some it is that they are smart, for others its to be funny, some people are pretty, others are athletic, whatever it is, it is here that we turn to find self worth, all they while fully aware of all the other parts of our persona that don't measure up.

Strangely, it is these common insecurities that would unite us the most as they are the most vulnerable things about us. We end up hiding the very things that make us all alike. Perhaps this is what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he discovered it was really his weaknesses that made him strong. Perhaps he discovered that he was able to connect with people in new and deeper ways once he learned just to be transparent and honest about his inadequacies. Former addicts will often talk of the relief that came with revealing their dark secret and admitting their weakness to the world. For many, that was the first time they found the strength to win their war with addiction. Perhaps it is when we discover the courage to be transparent to all about our weakness that we can truly connect with others. A weak man with the admiration of many is very powerful.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Marital Experiment

Gentlemen, have you ever found yourself sweetly taking on a task around the house for your lovely bride, such as making the bed or doing the dishes, only to have her call out from the next room and ask you to do exactly what you are already doing?  I HATE that!!  It's like I have this nice little surprise I'm leaving for her and now it just became a task........a task in which I will get absolutely no credit for as being a thoughtful and wonderful husband.   You can't really surprise her with a kind gesture if she asked for it, and since she asked for it, you look like an idiot if you try to explain that you had already decided to do this for her.

I've decided I'm going to try a new strategy from now on.  Next time I'm doing something nice for her and she asks me to do that exact thing, I'm going to scream out, "You got two legs and arms, why don't you get your lazy self in here and do it yourself!"  That way, she will still think she has to do the task.  Then, when she later walks in and finds it done for her, it will have the same impact as if she had never asked.  I know, it's brilliant isn't it!

I'll be sure to tell you all how it goes!

Chapter 11 "True Love"

Chapter 11 Small Group Study Questions

"True Love"

1.  What is your definition of "love?"

2.  How do we develop heathy perspectives on love when society and the media demonstrate so much dysfunction?

3.  What are your thoughts about the idea that love is a decision more than an emotion?

4.  What are your thoughts about the Prophet Hosea and how he handled his situation?

5.  In your opinion, how is love different between romantic, family, children, and friendship relationships?

6.  How do we, or can we even, maintain a love for someone who has hurt or betrayed us?

7.  In your opinion, is there any real benefit to loving our enemies or is it just being a martyr?

8.  How do we learn to discover if we really love someone or if we are just in love with the way they make us feel?

9.  With divorce/ break up rates what they are, what do you think is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to love?

10.  In your opinion, what are the biggest insecurities people have when it comes to love?

As always, feel free to add your own.  Only one more chapter to go!  Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Real Enemy of Peace in America

Imagine a large family composed of a number of children, all of different genders, ages, and ethnicities. Imagine this family had the capacity to love each other deeply, that they embraced their similarities and appreciated their differences.  And let's suppose, because they are a family, occasionally different family members might not always get along all the time, but in time they would work out their differences and forgive each other.  They are family after all.  But let's suppose during one of the fights between family members that one of the other family members recorded it and placed it on the internet as a joke.  And lets suppose that fight got a lot of attention, not just on the internet but even television, so much so that people offered the sibbling money for any other videos they might be able to share online of family members fighting due to the sheer entertainment value.  The worse the fight, the more people watch, the more money this family member would make.

 In that situation, this particular member of the family would have a financial incentive overriding the overall health of the family because of the great personal benefit from discord in the family. That personal benefit might cause this person to actually initiate strife within the family however they could so as to make more money. That person might say or do things to divide the family and even inject things that were not necessarily true, in order to be more inflammatory. But this person would also have a great incentive to be subtle in their actions so as not to be dismissed from the family and not be obvious as to their intentions.  This person would want to appear as being a caring and concerned member of the family so as to obtain the greatest impact.

As a result of this, the entire family would suffer greatly until they learned not to buy into the things that this particular member of the family was espousing. The family can not control the fact that there is a public demand for their disfunction, but they could come to learn that their dysfunction was harmful to them and that ultimately, the family bond is much more important than public entertainment. It would be only when the family learned to stop listening to this divisive member that they will begin to grow in harmony. At the same time, the family must remember that even though this member is to be heard with a skeptical ear, as a member of the family, this person must still be loved.

By the way, that family member's name is "Media."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

When To Be Quiet

There have been a few occasions in my life where I had the very unfortunate task of sharing terrible news. A death, a bad accident, a horrible injury, it's a strange realization that somebody is having the worst day of their life and they won't even know it until I tell them. 

Its followed by that awkward moment when the realization sets in and all the air is sucked out of the room.  When I watch their world fall apart, and all the walls of life come crashing down leaving behind a crushed and broken person.  

It can be uncomfortable to be around true genuineness. Normally when we ask people how they are we really don't want to know. When I am confronted with such raw and genuine emotion it is hard not to feel fake, as I guard myself from trying to sweep the situation under the rug with a foolish, "It will be okay" or "God has a plan for this." I've learned that the temptation to say such things comes from my discomfort not theirs. It has taken me years to learn to just be quiet and let them be real for a bit. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Chapter 10 "What If God Has a Treasure?"

Small Group Questions for Chapter 10:

1. Since we are created in God's image, do the teachings God gives us in the Bible apply to Him as well?

2. Do you agree that how we spend our time is a testament to what we value most?

3. If that is the case, then was how Jesus spent His time an indicator of what was most important to Him?

4. What are your thoughts on the idea that you are God's greatest treasure? Do you agree/disagree?

5. Do you think that God tries to preserve the freedom of man or do you think He limits our freedoms for our own good?

As aways, these are simply meant to be some starter questions. Again, feel free to add your own questions or strike the questions you don't like for your particular groups!

Monday, April 9, 2012

When Should I Disobey God?

During the course of this past Easter Weekend, I got to pondering the idea of "world peace." This is an idea people have pondered since time began but for some reason we have yet to figure out that all that is needed to attain this lofty goal is just for everyone to agree to leave each other alone. That's when an interesting thought hit me. There are people in this world who believe it is the will of their God to eradicate any and all who believe differently than them. Since that is the case, for world peace ever to exist, these people would have to actually defy their God.

To put this in better perspective, for people who come from a Judeo-Christian belief system, the book of Joshua chronicles the story of a Biblical hero who led the Israelites on a march of conquest over evil nations to reclaim the land of God's chosen people. But, if you do not come from a Judeo-Christian background, the story of Joshua looks nothing short of a reign of terror over the region as the Israelites eradicated city and nation killing men, women, children, infants, and even the animals. I wonder how Joshua would have been viewed had he looked his God in the face and said, "No, for the sake of peace, I will not destroy these people." Imagine the implications of that! Yet, it is the exact same thing we are asking others to do right now. In the name of world peace would you please tell your God "no" and just leave me alone.

Now, Christians and Jews might quickly make the case that Joshua went out and destroyed "evil" nations who had all kinds of horrid practices, some even sacrificed their children on altars. But I think it would be pretty narrow minded of us not to see how radical followers of other belief systems might view us here in America as equally "evil." Pro-choice or pro-life, we would have to admit that when you lead the world in abortions, its not a stretch for someone to believe, based on their system of values, that we are just as bad.

Imagine the stir that Jesus created when He corrected the Old Testament teaching of and eye for an eye saying instead we should "love our enemies." When Jesus says stuff like this, it kinda makes you wonder if Joshua heard God right. That's a pretty big contrast. And when I see the contrast between what Jesus taught and some of the things that took place in the Old Testament, I honestly struggle. If world peace was ever going to be reached in the day and age of Joshua then he would have had to defy God just like if world peace is going to be reached in this day and age radical Muslims would have to defy Allah, and any other radical groups out there would have to defy their gods or teachings.

The only two ways to attain world peace are either to follow your God all the way and eradicate any and all who oppose you, or to defy your God if he is calling for the destruction of others and love your enemies. There are really no other options. So, for world peace to be attained, someone, somewhere, at some time is going to have to defy their God and if I'm going to ask them to, the question then becomes, could I?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why Most Relationships Fail

First off, let me clarify that I'm not saying that most marriages fail, even though we all know half of them do, but most relationships do actually fail.  For the vast majority of us, if we are with someone now, they are probably not the first and only person with which we have ever had relationship.  Thus, in order for us to reach the person we are with now, other relationships had to fail.  Why?  What is it that causes this?

I've had a bit of an epiphany lately in regards to this and it occurred to me as I was walking around a high school and watched a number of young couples walk the halls.  It was interesting to me that a number of these young men walked with their arms on the shoulder of their girlfriend in a near headlock as they headed from class to class.  For some reason that resonated with me as it was a huge testament to the lack of confidence these boys had in the fact that their girl would stay with them.  It's almost like they didn't trust her to walk next to them or hold their hand, so they hovered over her to the point of actually hooking their arms about her neck to keep her close.  

It got me wondering just how insecure are most of us with our relationships?  You see, for most of us, the relationship is really more about us and how that person makes us feel than it is about the person.  If this person makes me feel good, then I don't want to lose them because I don't want to lose the feelings that accompany them and I become jealous of anything that might take their attention from me.  But what if there is someone out there that is actually a better fit for them than me?  Am I willing to allow that possibility?  If I manipulate someone into remaining in a relationship with me, I will forever be insecure in that relationship because I will know in my heart that I am manipulating them, either by force or by situation.  But what if I gained the personal fortitude to let go of that person and make it clear to them that they could always leave if they wanted to?  What then?  Well, as strange as that sounds, I think that would add to the security of the situation because everyday I woke up and they were still with me, I could rest assured it is because they actually want to be with me.  The fact is, if I really, truly love someone, then shouldn't I want what is best for them?  And if I want what's best for them and that best is somewhere else, then shouldn't I want that for them? If I don't, then perhaps I have to ask myself if the person I'm most in love with is really myself.  

As I'm discovering with so many other things in life, freedom, really is the key to happiness.  If I believe that I really am the best fit for somebody then (and I'm primarily talking in the dating stage here) should it threaten me if they want to date others?  Shouldn't I be secure in the fact that if I really can love them better than any other, they will find the rest of the world lacking?  Wouldn't leaving them free to pursue others actually make me more appealing as they will now have the chance to realize how much better for them I am than anyone else is?  Isn't that what God has done with us?  Jesus never forced anyone to follow Him.  They were free to explore any other believe they wanted to, but when it came down to it He knew that love would trump all.  That's still the case today.  I'm now confident that the love Christ taught is so superior to anything else I actually encourage people who are questioning to explore any other faith.  Go for it, look and see, nothing out there can hold a candle to the love that Jesus taught and displayed.  Unfortunately, that goes for most of His followers as well.  

Love at its purest form is not possessive or oppressive.  It only provides freedom.  And in that freedom comes security, the security of knowing that the reason someone loves us and stays with us is because they really want to, because we have left them free to leave at any time.    

God is free to leave us as well you know.  Just like we are free to leave any relationship we get into.  It might cause some damage, it might create pain, but we are free to leave.  I've come to a place where I value the love of both my God and my wife like never before as I finally understand that both could leave at anytime which means the reason they stay is because they want to.  That my friends makes you feel loved!  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dear Civil Rights leaders named "Reverend"

Dear Reverend (Insert name here),

I can appreciate the fact that there is still prejudice and bigotry in this world and because of that, gross injustices still can and do occur.  Unfortunately, I'm afraid that the actions of many of our civil rights "leaders" are actually making things worse and I'm afraid it is intentional.  I'm afraid that most of these leaders are self appointed and have discovered that if they can preserve the negative effects of racism, they can continue to maintain a platform of power and attention.  It is not in their personal best interest for racism to die as they have made millions off the industry.  If this is the case these people are worst than racists, they are traitors!  Traitors to their own people as they exploit their own for personal benefit and gain.  Can I say I know this for sure?  No, but if it looks like a duck....... 

Now, the obvious question for me is how I could possibly know another person's heart, and the answer is that I can't and don't.  But I do know this, I know what it means to be a "reverend" and  I know the teachings of the Man that these men claim to model their movements after, which makes it a lot easier to pick out a fraud.  Yes, prejudice and bigotry still do exist in this country and I can't believe that these men actually want it to go away when I can see that they have been given a proven 2,000 year old method to end these issues and refuse to follow it.

As a friend of mine so accurately put it, prejudice is a learned behavior.  It is handed down from one generation to the next.  Children are not racist or bigoted, they have to be taught to hate based on skin color and the like.  A person is taught to hate a race, creed, or religion and then they begin to look for reasons to reinforce what they believe.  So "reverends" when you stand up on your platform and begin to cry out for chaos in the wake of "injustices" then are you not simply reinforcing the negative emotions you are trying to over come?

After all, if color, race, and religion are what we are trying to unite, then why don't we speak out towards any injustice to any man?  When we only represent a certain group then are we not actually perpetuating the separation?  The problem I have is that I know these men are intelligent and because they are "reverends" they know, or at least should know, these truths.  So, the only two options left are that they either are prejudice themselves and therefore want the hatred to continue or are grossly out of touch with what they claim to believe.

Because we are all human we all are connected and as a human it should be possible to find something to be appreciated in any other human on this Earth.  It really is difficult to hate someone who loves you but it's easy to hate someone who you think is only being nice to you so as to manipulate.  It's even easier to hate someone who lashes out at you with venom.

So please, to anyone who truly wants to improve our world, lets learn to stick up for each other no matter race, creed, or religion.  Rather than just taking care of our own, let's learn to see everybody as "our own."