Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Where are the men?

Many church leaders are trying to address the "Where are the men?" question that is going around. If you attend a church like mine you might have 3 men for every 10 women who are active. All of my previous mission trips have been around this ratio. So...where are the men? Many people believe it is because men portray Jesus as a hippie who loves to sing and play with baby sheep. Some think it is because the church is vulnerability/feelings based. Others think that men are just plain lazy. While I believe those (to some extent) are true, I believe I may have an alternate suggestion.

As a man I value certain things (as do all men). We want purpose, honor, respect, and task that we can tackle. If we don't have these, you might as well get a knife and neuter us.

When I first became a Christian I was thrust into leadership. I certainly wasn't ready for it yet but God made me ready pretty darn quick. It was a painful process but it was amazing. I grew so much in those years of leadership to the point where I was wondering why my fellow brothers didn't step it up and match my performance. This was rather unfair of me for several reasons but one of which I was put into leadership and they weren't.

Well now that I am getting married I have taken somewhat of a hiatus from ministry to focus on my marriage. In doing so I got shoved into a spiritual rut. Its so much harder to keep up with my spiritual disciplines now. I don't have a hunger to learn. I am constantly praying for a spark of passion; just something to get me where I used to be a year ago. My spiritual disciplines have slummed. This is not good.

Why is this? I believe it is because I am no longer in a formal leadership position. When I was discipling other men I had motivation to pray, read, study, memorize, meditate, ask advice, fast, etc. By taking this hiatus I have lost (not totally) my honor, respect, and a task that I can tackle. A few Sundays ago I had a brother at church ask me where I have been (pointing out that I am not seen as much as I used to be). Yikes! Am I becoming one of the men the church is wondering where I went?

On the contrary, somewhere in he middle of my "spiritual rut," I had a Mormon message me and ask if I'd like to hang out sometime and debate/talk. This thrilled me to no end. I can't explain to you the excitement I got in this moment. After replying back to him I prayed like I haven't prayed in months. I studied my bible and I did research to review my knowledge of Mormonism. God had sparked a passion in me. I had a task laid out before me and I wanted to aggressively take it by the horns.

While you chew on that, let me bring up another observation. In the past 4 years I was active in my fraternity. In a fraternity there are many leadership positions of which lead to honor and respect. If you didn't get a "stepping-stone" position then there was no way to prove yourself to move up which would soon lead to, for lack of a better word, depression. What I've observed is many of my fraternity brothers would bail out after getting initiated. This is crazy!! After working so hard to get into the fraternity (and hard it is) they are never to be seen again. After seeing my 5th or 6th initiation I could start to guess who would bail out and who would stick around. I noticed that if a new initiate wasn't given one of the (many) leadership positions in the fraternity they were almost certainly doomed to drop out.

God created us men to fight for something. We value honor and respect, both Christian and pagan alike. We want a task that is not too tough but not too easy. We want vision and a sense of accomplishment.

Getting back to our problem at hand, how can this be solved? My suggestion: Replace female leaders with male leaders and have only males as the go-to guys in the church. The church would need to motivate, pray for, and maybe force men into leadership. When men are given a leadership position they flourish. They now have a task that they can run with and make their own. They probably feel inadequate (much like I did) which drives them to prayer, fasting, and studying of the word. They feel they are being used by God which motivates them to do more for God. They feel wanted, needed, and depended on by their church which motivates them to stick around. Their hard work leads to honor and respect. Other men start to look up to them which adds motivation to persevere. I don't know about you men out there but I want to live like this.

There are several questions/concerns that probably come to your mind:

  • Should a man lead an all-woman bible study? No. I think it would be best to have a female leader lead all-woman events.
  • Should a new male Christian lead a bible study? A new male Christian probably shouldn't lead a Bible study. But he can be placed as head of the parking committee or something similar for starters.

In short, where there is vision and accomplishment, there you will find men. Men don't stick around because they aren't needed (or at least they don't feel or know they are needed). John Eldredge, in his popular book, Wild at Heart, pointed out that every boy wants to be told by his father, "You have got what it takes."

Am I right? Wrong? Maybe on to something? Tell me what you think.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Enchanted Escape or an Erring Escape?

About two months ago I remember Holly and I huddling up in her chilly Honda asking God to be sovereign over our apartment hunting. Yesterday we saw that prayer incarnated as I turned the key to our new apartment at Kingswood (with the self-proclaimed title "An Enchanted Escape"). Despite the odd smell, the minor apartment damages, and the 4 cops we saw over the course of the day (one of which was knocking on our neighbor's door) the apartment is really nice!! We love it. We really do.

Many might think that we are making a mistake moving into such a bad neighborhood but I would think different. This is an excellent opportunity to meet low-income families and share the love of Christ with them, not only in words but by meeting their practical needs as well. Yes we could meet low income families and still live in a glamorous neighborhood but I think there is something worthwhile in leaving comfort for something you love. Christ left his glamorous neighborhood (heaven) to live with us in our apartment complex (earth). Imagine what the world would be like if Jesus decided it wasn't worth the hassle (and a hassle it was!) to take on flesh and die for us.

Enchanting Escape it is.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

2 Weeks!

James and I are getting married in exactly 2 weeks from today!!  It's amazing how fast it has gone by, yet at the same time soo slow! haha.   But for the most part I can't believe that our wedding is finally right around the corner!  

We just came to the end of our family Christmas'.  7 to be exact (including us).  It was such an enjoyable week being surrounded by the one's we love.  We got to enjoy Christmas Eve with my dad and Peggy. Christmas day with my mom & Bob & brother & sis, as well as Sandie and Christina.  Then we got to spend the day after Christmas with David, Lisa, Ashley, and Christina, as well as the entire Faske family!  James and I so enjoyed spending time with family and catching up.  

To update on wedding things...thankfully most everything is done!  I just need to do a few small things in the next 2 weeks.  I got my dress ready for altering today and it will be done next Saturday!  I can't wait to wear it! :-)  

I have spent the evening packing up my room here at the Wilderness house.  Part of me is sad to leave a house of amazing godly girls and my best friend.  Yet most of me is so excited to get into James and I's apartment and decorate it to get it ready for James to move in.  Oh my 2 weeks I will be living with a BOY!  YIKES!  haha...i'm so excited though.  :-D  I am looking forward to living in the apartment by myself for about a week and 1/2 because that will probably be the last time I will ever live by myself again!  But I can't wait to begin this new chapter in my life, especially with a man like James...I couldn't have asked for anyone better.  

I will now get back to packing...but to all the parents, from James and I both, thank you SO much for all your flexibility with us and for the great times we spent with each and every one of you.  we love you!!  

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Bridge

This video reminds me of Isaiah 53:10 " pleased the Lord to crush Him..." When God sent His Son, Jesus, to die in our place it pleased Him because he would have a perfect relationship with us as a result.

Because Jesus took our sin upon himself, His righteousness was imparted to us in the process. As a result, God can now look on those who believe as perfect beings, just as Christ is perfect having never sinned. But Christ didn't just stay dead. He physically resurrected and remains alive today.

As a side note, I loved this video but I wouldn't say that it is 100% accurate. Christ, the Son of God, willingly gave his life to save sinners. It was no accident.

John 3:16 (with my emphasis added) "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

Its that easy. The work has already been done for us.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas music

Overall, I'm not a huge fan of Christmas music but some of the lyrics are AMAZING!! My (James) favorite Christmas song is O Holy Night for this very reason. As you read the lyrcis, ponder them. They are so weighty/meaty/solid!!

O holy night,
The stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of
Our dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world
In sin and error pining,
Till He appeared
And the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope,
The weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees,
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine,
O night when Christ was born!
O night divine, O night,
O night divine!

If your like me, you grew up going to church and heard the same old songs year after year but never really listened to what was being sung. Next time you hear a Christmas song, meditate on the lyrics for a minute or so. And no, I'm not talking about the secular Christmas songs where they try to replace Jesus with Santa (don't get me started).


we're getting married!

We are getting married in roughly 4 weeks (January 10th, 2008 to be more specific). You can see our wedding website here although it may be deleted about a month after our wedding. After the wedding we will head to Hubbard Hall for the reception and eventually to the Smoky Mountain Range to relax in our cabin in the woods for a week before the Spring semester begins.

Thank you to all the friends and family, especially the parents, who are sacrificing constantly to help us out. We love you all!