Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Things to Consider Before Starting a Relationship (intended for single male readers)

I want to be alone because I’m selfish and I want to be with someone because I’m selfish!

Do you think you are gifted with celibacy?
“Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (NIV 1 Cor. 7:1-7).

Should I date my best friend?
What does the Bible say about this?
What are some good things about your friends, male or female? Communication, good times, fun, easy to be around, low maintenance…
·         What about chemistry? Physical attraction is obviously necessary, but where do you draw the line?
·         Would you ever choose a woman who ignores your needs? Is deceptive, critical or controlling?
Do opposites attract?
Ruth: the only Biblical account that comes to mind where there is any mention of a friendship (of any sort) before marriage (see the book of Ruth).

Five aspects that should be thought about when seeking a mate:
·         Spiritual: for example, is it ok that she practices Islam, and you are Christian? Aside from the obvious differences of 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (NIV 2 Co 6:14), in other words, you just shouldn’t date someone who is not a Christian, you have to think of the situation. Read 1 Kings 11:1-6. Solomon’s heart turned from the Lord because his wives’ influence.
·         Social: we discussed this one in an earlier blog: Proper Treatment of a Suitable Helper (intended for male readers).

·         Intellectual: Is she smarter than you and are you ok with that? Or, on the other side, is she really dumb? Can you see working through financial problems with her in your life? What if your child breaks his arm, would you be ok with her knowing how to fix the situation without your help, or again, would you be ok with her not knowing anything?
·         Emotional: personally, I find this one most important psychologically speaking. We know that problems will come up in marriage and we have already discovered that the only goal of dating should be marriage. So then, the question becomes, will I be able to handle how she reacts to these problems in the relationship. In other words, will she handle things ok? Will she stress me out of my mind? Does she make HUGE deals out of things you wouldn’t blink an eye at? Is she making you lose your mind?
·         Physical: The dessert. This should be saved for last in discovering these five aspects, not that the first four have any order, but this one definitely needs to be last. Think about it. We all know that most of us don’t have the gift of celibacy. Because of this, we know that in time, the pressure gets higher. The problem with having sex before you discover the first four aspects of compatibility, as we’ll call it, is that sex causes a physical/natural/emotional tie to the other person. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh” (NIV 1 Co 6:15-16). In any event, sex will blind a person from the other aspects of compatibility, because of this physical/emotional tie. Why do you think it is good to consummate the marriage? YOU STRENGTHEN THE BOND.

Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus

The Holy Bible: New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984).

Man's place in finding a wife (intended for male readers)

                I once felt lead into asking a girl out by the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. Yet, I feel like I took over the leading and that is when I lost her after a month of dating. To this day, I feel like God had led me to her in that manner. At first, our dates were good. I feel that because of my past, however (meaning that I was stuck in my behavior patterns), that I took things into my own hands when we were dating. The times were so enjoyable for both of us at first that I just wanted to have longer periods of them, as often as possible. Needless to say, things started to fall out of my control as time went on.
                I talked with my dad about a man I have known practically since birth whom I found out was a heavy equipment operator and I asked my dad if he was working (because times are tough and it happened to be winter months at the time) and he didn’t believe he was. I then asked him if he was a good operator and my dad replied that he doesn’t do what the bosses want him to do, and that could be why he doesn’t work all the time. I told my dad that I am regretfully the same way. I like to do things my way. God seems to sometimes allow a person to get into situations in order to teach them. 

                The Holy Spirit is telling me that I must not only do things His way, or the way of others, but that I must not do things MY way:

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures...

 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (NIV James 4).

And again:
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

   “God opposes the proud
   but shows favor to the humble.”

 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV 1 Peter 5).

See also Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.”

                Can God fill the woman shaped hole in our lives? YES! "Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mathew 4:4). If God can fill our stomachs without food, the same logic applies. Compare with Phil. 4:11-12. In other words, we as men might recognize this "woman shaped hole" as such, but in the end, God is all we need. He provides for our every need.

"This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (NIV Jer. 17:5-8).

 Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus

Proper Treatment of a Suitable Helper (intended for male readers)

                “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (NIV Ge 2:18). I want you to keep this verse in mind for many reasons. In this section, I want you to think of it like God is the one who blessed us with her. In other words, she is from God.
                “But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man (Treat her as your own flesh), and he brought her to the man (GOD brought her to him/you).
                The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (NIV Ge 2:20-24). Becoming one flesh is not something that instantly happens, as we see from the word “become.” This word implies a process of something, or that the concept of being one flesh takes time. One would naturally think that to become one flesh would most likely involve time, patience, good and bad times, etc. Psychologically speaking, there are five things one should keep in mind while seeking a mate. I’ll explain one of those right now, just to elaborate a bit on “good and bad times.”
                The aspect of one’s social life comes to mind. It is really quite simple: The idea is that when a person has a mate in mind, he or she is advised to consider how the other person will fit into their life socially. It would seem right to ask oneself a few questions in order to understand the logic of this madness. “Since I am an extrovert (for example), am I ok with my girlfriend being an introvert?” In other words, will I be ok with her desire to be at home all the time, when I am out living it up with my buddies, and on the other hand, will she be ok with the same thing? The thing is there is no wrong answer. It is all decided by the couple and the individual. So, to become one, a person would have to go through the process of understanding whether or not he or she is comfortable with the love interest’s position in a social setting. Sometimes going through these processes can seem good or bad or both.
“The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (NIV 1 Co 7:3-5).
·                                       “The words “kata gnĊsin” translated “considerate” (more lit., “according to knowledge” or “with understanding”) points out that husbands should understand and be considerate of their wives’ spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.
                Eph 5:22-33 = husbands responsibility to protect and care for his wife. “Just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (NIV Eph 5:25-27). Peter further elaborates on treatment of a spouse: "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers" (NIV 1 Pet. 3:7).
·                                         With this combination of scripture passages, it is clear about how a married man is to treat his wife. Now the question becomes, how are we supposed to treat girls that are not our wives, or how are we supposed to treat girls if we are single?

How to Treat Young women in the Body of Christ:

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity” (NIV 1 Ti 5:1-2).

                 Paul adds a caution about the younger women, where the maintenance of purity in relationships is essential.
What does this mean to treat them like sisters? In what manner? How does a man treat his sister? How have you treated your sisters in the past? As a kid?
                The maintenance of purity in a relationship is essential! The members of the body of Christ, your sisters for example, are to be treated like sisters if they are a young girl, and if they are an older member of the church in the body of Christ, they are to be treated like mothers… what is the underlying attitudes here towards woman? Respect.  The idea here is, the epitome of the way we, as Christian men, should treat the opposite sex is in a gentleman’s fashion. That is to say that we as men treat them with full respect and complete consideration.
                “Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess” (Deut 19:14). What does it mean to have boundaries? Respect is something that comes to mind. So then the question becomes, “how do we explain this respect?” It seems to make sense in the minds of several different men that there are two types of women (as viewed through their eyes) concerning respect: Those women that are easily respected and those that are easily disrespected. This “lady”, for example, may be both respected and disrespected by two different men. What I am saying is that one man might respect a certain lady, while another man might not have respect for the same lady.
                A woman you do not respect is the easy part to figure out. She wears very little, while what she does wear, it is skin tight—practically painted on her; she has promiscuous tendencies and a behavior that resembles a child’s. On the other hand, the woman you do respect might not catch your eye at first, or if she did, you might not think of her like that. You might not see her through lenses of lust. You may however, think of her as someone who is out of your league, because she is nothing like the other girls that you are attracted to. She is a dedicated, innocent (in its true meaning), loyal, interesting, intelligent, hard working person that people look up to, and have reason to do so. This is the woman that you would probably find it easy to respect. If she is easy to respect, it will be easier to draw these boundaries.
                Why are these boundaries important? Aside from the verse mentioned above that shows how we are to treat younger women with absolute purity, what is another reason, or further elaboration, that explains why boundaries are healthy not only mentally, but spiritually as well? “Men move boundary stones; they pasture flocks they have stolen” (NIV Job 24:2). It seems that the key word here is “stolen.” In other words, it is obvious that we are to leave the boundaries where they exist. You definitely know when you are in your neighbor’s yard, you can see your neighbor’s yard, there is nothing stopping you from entering your neighbor’s yard (even fences don’t stop neighbors), but you definitely know that their yard is not yours. You may not know exactly where the boundary line is per se, but you definitely know when you crossed it (Cloud).
                How do we stop ourselves from pushing the boundary stone? We have already seen the allusion that answers this question above: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (NIV Matthew 22:39: see also Matthew 7:12). Does the man who moves the boundary stone to pasture stolen flocks love his neighbor? He definitely does not. Respect her and love her.

Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus

Works Cited
                Cloud, Henry. Boundaries in Dating: making dating work. Henry Cloud and John Townsend (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2000).

God's Man (intended for single male readers)

               “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (NIV Gen. 2:18; see also Gen. 2:20). What does this say? Among many other things, it says that we need help! So, when do we need help? It is needed when our focus is on God’s plan for our lives and not when we are being selfish; we need help when we are in God’s will. Let's take this study further.
                What was God’s will for Adam? “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (NIV Gen 2:15). God’s will for Adam was clear. It was to take care of the Garden of Eden and name the animals (verse 19). However, God saw, as we see in verse eighteen underlined above, that it wasn’t good for man to be alone; not because God messed up the way He initially desired to create man and have him be solely dependent, but because this way has always been His plan. Keep in mind that we are seeing this Biblical account from man’s perspective on earth, as opposed to seeing it from God’s perspective in heaven (For instance, chapter 1 in Genesis is clearly written from God’s perspective, looking down at the earth).
                So, it seems, when God shows us His will, then will we be blessed by Him with a ‘helper.’ “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (NIV Pr 19:14). Consider also that “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (NIV Pr 18:22). Does that mean that single men do not find favor with God? Clearly not! “I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord” (NIV 1 Co 7:32-35). In other words, both ways are pleasing to the Lord, just in different manners. It almost seems to be speaking to two different audiences: those that do not have the gift of celibacy, versus those that do. Both are pleasing to the Lord (see 1 Cor. 7:38).
                When Adam was in the garden, it wasn’t that he couldn’t complete the tasks assigned, but it was that he couldn’t complete them well. Since God is the one who assigned the tasks, He would also have to be the one to assign the helper.
                The tasks: what is God’s will for your life? I have heard it said that a person is supposed to ask their self two questions on deciphering what God’s will is. The first one sounds like this: “What is my passion?” In other words, what is it that you love to do?  
                The other question a person is supposed to ask oneself goes something like this: “What do people tell me I am good at?” In other words, what is it that people compliment you on often? These two questions have been seemingly the answer to God’s will by using the first layer of psychology. To give you an example, I remember these questions being asked to me when I was nineteen years old. Do you know what my answer was? It was playing bass guitar in a Christian rock band. If you know me now, you know that is CLEARLY not God’s will for my life. Although I did believe that it was my passion (because it was) and I was pretty good at it (and still am), I have come to the conclusion that my real passion wasn’t fully developed yet.
                What does the Bible say what God’s will is? Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors, they succeed.” In theology, there are pretty much two types of God’s will. They are the general will, and the special will. The general will is what you see in the Bible. The Ten Commandments would be a classic example; The Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. The special will is what a missionary hears from God before they go on the mission field.
                Was God’s will to Adam a special will or a general will? Actually it was both. Since he was the first human and since God revealed to Adam His desires, it was a special will. Since hindsight showed Adam that working in the Garden turned out to be a way of life, it was a general will. In other words, Adam saw that he did this day in and day out. There was a pattern to it. Just like there is a pattern to God’s general will. When God gives a person a task, if the task assigned requires a suitable helper (in God’s eyes), is it then and only then when we find a suitable helper?
                “When do we need help?” It seems that a special will for Adam was to “go forth and multiply.” Since this message was passed to Adam before the fall, which meant that “God saw that this was good.” God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (NIV Ge 1:28). Don’t take this the wrong way, we obviously (all jokes aside), as men, need help in the conception of children, but we also definitely need help raising children. It is obvious that God’s desire was not for us to impregnate any and every woman that we can in order to multiply (see Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:6). Since we are to become “one flesh” with another being, it is obvious that when flesh separates from itself, injury results. Clearly, the Bible calls us to multiply as one flesh, meaning, two people that God has joined together.
                This brings us to another corner in the building of understanding: Since the story of multiplying doesn’t end at the initial multiplication, what is God’s will for us as men in bringing up children, generally speaking? “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil” (NIV Ge 4:1-2; Emphasis mine). Hmmm… I wonder where the kids learned to do this. I’m sure that both parents had a part in teaching them how to keep flocks and work the soil, which God has called them, but we can see in Genesis 2:15 that the Lord took the man and put him in the Garden to work and take care of it. Then, chronologically, in verse eighteen, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’” Adam was clearly in the Garden before Eve, therefore he had more experience. It is unknown how much time went by when Adam was single, but I would like to think that it would be enough time for God to see that “it was not good for man to be alone,” since God speaks to us in our language, and it is clear that He is omniscient (Psalms 139:4; Jeremiah 1:5). The point here is that multiplying children must also include raising them.
                 On a concluding note, we can see that God is the one who decided that it was not good for His man to be alone. Therefore, we must trust Him alone with our time, energy and life situation concerning a suitable helper. This is what needs to be most understood. It all boils down to God and His will for your life. Of course you can be out of His will by going after meaningless relationships, but happiness is achieved only from Him. So, then, find peace from Him looking for peace from anything else might be borderline idolatry! "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (NIV Phil. 4:6-7).

Proverbs 12:4 “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that makes him ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

 Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus