But there’s no way I’ll ever take a real risk as long as my sense of worth is tied up in what others think of me. And that includes a girlfriend, or even a wife. It’s only as I put my trust in God and his unconditional acceptance of me through the atoning death of Jesus Christ that I can ever take up God’s calling to be a leader. It’s only when I’m confident of God’s love for me that I can stop manipulating the woman I’m interested in, and instead love and honor her by shouldering the risks of the relationship myself.
Some of you men are thinking at this point, “Wait a minute. Are you saying that all the risk is mine?” Yes, I am. “Doesn’t that mean that she can just tell me no and leave me twisting in the wind?” Yes, it does. Welcome to leadership. Welcome to trusting God. Welcome to being a man. Your cards belong on the table. Your intentions and your feelings, to the extent that you can discern them and it is appropriate for you to share them, should be clear. Part of your role even at this early stage is to protect the woman of your interest from unnecessary risk and vulnerability by providing a safe context in which she can respond.
Twenty years ago, when I finally worked up the courage to have the DTR, I didn’t do everything right. I wasn’t clear enough on my intentions. I certainly didn’t give her a sense of what was next. That led to problems along the way. And additional DTRs. But by God’s grace, I did risk myself. And I learned that God can be trusted, with my love life, with my manhood, with everything.
A lot of great observations:
Things I have learned along the way…
I have been in pastoral ministry for over 21 years now. I started my first pastorate when I was 17-years-old, still a senior in high school. I served Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles for almost 18 years. And it has been my privilege to serve the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville for a little more than 3 years now.
I have learned a lot about pastoral ministry over these years. Of course, I still have quite a bit to learn. I hope to be a lifelong learner. But I am not a rookie anymore, either.
I recently began to list things I have learned over the years. These are not deep, theological, doctrinal truths. Just personal conclusions I have made about ministry through two decades of observation and experience.
The definition of relevant is: “having a bearing on or connection with the matter at hand.” When it comes to church, what is the matter at hand? The matter at hand should be the covenant renewal ceremony of God’s people. The climax of this ceremony is the preached word.
Unfortunately, when the word relevant is used for church, the matter at hand is usually a reference to an individual’s life–is it relevant to me? And so, when we accuse a church of not being relevant, we mean that there are not enough messages about my struggles in work, marriage, sexuality, and finances. We mean that the music is so 19thcentury. Maybe we want it updated to the 21st century; or maybe we want it more like the 5th century. Either way, the matter at hand is what will get me out of bed on Sunday morning.
Should the church cater to these whims of preference in worship? Is the matter at hand the potential types of people walking through their doors, or is it faithfulness to the Word of God? What shapes our worship service?
Yes, it is important that we remind fellow believers that the Cross of our faith was a device of death, torment, and humiliation; a symbol of great offense. That is why the electric chair comparison just doesn’t work. Nor does the noose, the gas chamber, or the lethal syringe.
There is no parallel symbol to speak of what our Savior suffered and endured for each of us. And that is why the cross is the primary and universal symbol for our faith. It is a peerless and powerful reminder of the dramatic extent of Christ’s love. And it makes Christianity unique and powerful beyond compare.
A humorous FAQ indeed.
C. Michael Patton dives into biblical context in order to clarify and point out the mistake in invoking Matthew 18:20 during things like prayer meetings, etc:
But one of the reasons why I got hara about this the other day was because of how misleading this can be. When we say that Christ is present in our midst when we are praying with two or three others, we imply something terrible about personal prayer: that he is not present when we pray alone. This is not true. Christ’s presence cannot be any greater in one situation than another. He does not hear you better when you have others with you. He is not more inclined to listen to your cries as long as you have a couple of buddies holding your hands saying “umm” and “amen.” There is simply no way to have more of Christ’s ear than you do right now. He is in your midst now because, being omnipresent, he is always in the immediate presence of everything in all creation.
“Lord, you promised that when two or three people are gathered in your name, you will be in our midst. Well, here we are. Because of this we call upon you to bless us and answer our prayer.” This prayer is the very essence of idolatry. Now, take that statement in the context of my realization that we all commit idolatry more often than we realize. But this misunderstood prayer invokes the presence of our God through a formulaic incantation, which is empty of any power and resembles the manipulative schemes of a polytheistic system which is continually dependent on the physical presence of their gods if blessing is to occur. We are not limited to such. Our God is bigger than that. So think again before you pray in such a way.
All we do is brag brag brag no matter what:
Clearly, the Internet has given us a global audience for our bombast, and social media sites encourage it. We’re all expected to be perfect all the time. The result is more people carefully stage-managing their online image.
Boasting isn’t just a problem on the Internet. In a society of unrelenting competition—where reality-show contestants duke it out for the approval of aging celebrities and pastors have publicists—is it any wonder we market ourselves relentlessly?
Thanks to Scott, I am now coming to understand that this is not true. Thanks to Scott, I am now coming to understand that anyone, even the most neurotic of souls, can lessen and even elude anxiety, so long as he heeds a simple dictum: Don’t be an idiot.
I should define “idiot” for our purposes. I don’t mean someone of low I.Q. or poor academic abilities. Intelligence as commonly conceived has nothing to do with it. By “idiot,” I mean exactly what my brother meant when he tagged me with the epithet: an impractical and unreasonable person, a person who tends to forget all the important lessons, essentially a fool, one who willfully ignores all that he has learned about how to come to his own aid. A person who is so fixated on the fact that he is in a hole that he fails to climb out of the hole. An idiot, in short, is someone who is self-defeatingly lazy.
One of Goethe’s most radical points was a refutation of Newton’s ideas about the color spectrum, suggesting instead that darkness is an active ingredient rather than the mere passive absence of light.
But perhaps his most fascinating theories explore the psychological impact of different colors on mood and emotion — ideas derived by the poet’s intuition, which are part entertaining accounts bordering on superstition, part prescient insights corroborated by hard science some two centuries later, and part purely delightful manifestations of the beauty of language.
Paul Miller reflects on how life without internet has been 3 months into his 1 year project/experiment.
In a word, cool:
Photographer Janne Parviainen (previously) has been experimenting with a fun form of photographic light painting that resembles 3D topographical maps. Exposure times can take over 30 minutes as he carefully moves through the room with a light “tracing” every surface and object. See more in his light topography gallery.
HAHAHA. #2 and #20.