Of Love & Order Part 5: Men’s Preparation For Courtship

This world is not a place merely to live in, nor a place in which to do certain kinds of business; it is a great workshop in which to make godly men. J.R. Miller

Prayer makes a godly man and puts within him “the mind of Christ,” the mind of humility, of self-surrender, of service, of pity, and of prayer. If we really pray, we will become more like God, or else we will quit praying. Edward McKendree Bounds

If you want to know if I’m a Godly man, follow me home. Andy Stanley

The Preparation Process
The sad truth in this subject matter is how it is not merely overlooked but not even considered in the first place. Every time one talks about dating or courting, the necessity of preparation should come both as a no-brainer, and principal fact, not as an after-thought. Of course, the act of preparing in and of itself is not appealing because of the gruesome stages that take place. The question that needs to be asked is How does one expect to succeed in a season they are about to enter if they are not prepared for it? In the same way that the transition to manhood from boyhood requires preparation so does the transition from singleness to courtship.

The following points are taken from this video which I found very insightful and are thus repackaged to be presented from my point of view. You are free to see the original content before continuing here or compare what I say to the video’s after you are done here.

The three questions to answer during your period of preparation as a Godly man are:

  1. Who am I as a man?
  2. Whose am I as a person?
  3. What do I have to offer?

Before getting into them understand that the preparation process for anything is the absolute longest in one’s lifetime. How many hours, days, weeks and months do you need when preparing for an exam? How many years of education and knowledge do you go through before pursuing your profession? Moses went through 40 years of preparation before he was able to lead the nation of Israel. John the Baptist did 15 years before he began his ministry and Jesus went through 30 years of preparation before He started His ministry. No matter what point in your life you meet your Godly woman, you are to prepare yourself for her.

Who am I as a man?
One of my favourite authors on the subject of manhood is John Eldredge who did an amazing job at defining who we are as men. There are loads of nuggets I picked up from his book. Here are some points from it and other resources I gathered.

There are plenty of males in this world, but very few men– Aimanvir Jhawar.

Being a man according to the world

What does one have to do? Well, all you need is a driver’s license at eighteen, the right to leave school at sixteen, an opportunity to join the army, permission to buy cigarettes and beer, admission to a pub and movies with age restrictions, pornographic books, and films etc.

That means to be a man you should be able to control a powerful machine, to kill others (the army), to masturbate, to destroy lungs and to get drunk and to have as much sex as possible.

Talk about a warped view-so far from what God intended! What about Christian men? How are they to live up to God’s standards for man? It is obvious you cannot hit a target you cannot see, neither can you reach your destination without a map and compass. So what Christian males need to do is transition to manhood from boyhood. The only thing is that they are not taken through the practical aspects of being a Christian boy, only theory from motivating stories in the Bible at Sunday school. Were the stories just there for fun? Were they something someone imagined as fiction, wrote it and left it alone? Certainly not! The process of masculinity is very seldom taught to Christian boys who need to grow up to be men.

The young boys in families, especially the youngest, is deemed to be “man of the house,” which also applies to boys in families consisting only of girls apart from themselves. In the mind of a boy, what does being a man entail?

What Christians have defined as a man
Men are shaped into various forms of pressure. They are told of the man they ought to be and sometimes that is presented as the man they are.  They are taught, “This is what a good husband/father/Christian/churchgoer ought to do. He is responsible, sensitive, disciplined, faithful, diligent, dutiful etc. These are good qualities. They have very good intentions. Remember, though, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The problem with these qualities is that they imply that a man is defined by what he does so that apart from them he is not a man. A person portrays who they are by what they do. Being responsible-amongst other things-are qualities that come as a result of already being a man, not (necessarily) to start becoming one. We are created to be human beings, not human doings.

The very crucial truth that needs to be grasped here is that men were not created to be domesticated.

The major problem with the general understanding (the popular belief) of what a man is, ignores what is deep and true to a man’s heart, his real passion. Men need something else. A deeper understanding of why they long for adventure and battles and a Beauty-and why God made them just like that. They need a deeper understanding of why women long to be fought for, to be swept up into adventure, and to be the Beauty. For that is how God made them as well.

In essence, men were created to live in adventure, that is why we go “looking for trouble”. It all comes down to the thrill of being the warrior that wears the crown of fulfillment, bearing the mark of a victor in his heart, all to accomplish one impactful purpose in his entire life: rescue the beauty.

Outside of that frame that encompasses everything a man is, a never ending search for his heart will cause him to fail to operate in his full capacity.

Whose am I as a person?
Very few people in the world know you better than you know yourself. One thing I love to say is that your life is a pizza box, it is made up of so many pieces. You have business/career, relationship/marital, recreational/fun time, workout/training, legacy, community, spiritual, and personal life. Balancing every aspect of these portions of life is crucial. I know a lot of gym fanatics whose whole lives are centered on fitness. Unless it is their job, that deprives them of living life as a complete being, the way they were created to be. Discovering who you are as a person first will help you set standards for recognizing whose you are. I recently heard a song with lines that said “kissing strangers till I find the one I love,” which saddened me because I realized there are people who search for love that desperately. The most important Person you are to belong to first and foremost is God, Who will guide, equip and prepare you for the woman who will be the right fit for you.

What do I have to offer?
Everything that embodies you as a man is unique and valuable to the right person. There are some people who will use you for your gifts, brain, personality, connections, prestige and so on, but to that one special individual, you will be appreciated for who you are, just as you are. With that in mind, know that you have more to offer than you realize. It transcends the general view of what a man is to the bigger picture. It relates to what you offer as a genuine article. You impact people in ways you might never know. You change the world of that one person who will always remember you. Your seemingly trivial talents or the ones you view in that manner, impress others and inspire them to pursue their passion. It comes down to thinking highly of everything you are as a man which impacts everything you do, that in turn, will have huge significance on the very character whose life blossoms in your field.

Conclusion
Breaking away from worldly standards for a man and, in general, learning to question popular thinking will enable you to search for truth in the correct places. When more time and resources are spent preparing for a wedding than for marriage, careful thought is to be given to that. Preparing yourself for courtship principally requires you to understand why before you consider how. When you progress through each day remember that every beauty is to be rescued by the right hero, her hero! Will you be the one?

 

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Of Love & Order part 3B: Looking At Similar Differences

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Courtesy of ginabind.com

Luke 6:37
Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven

Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger

Starting Matters
For as long as I can remember it has always been the popular belief that it’s not really starting that is important but finishing. Most people familiar with the Information Age (where the existence of being misinformed and disinformed increases the challenge with trust in all types of relationships), should respond to that belief in the same way as they would this one: Knowledge is Power, with Who Lied To You? You see your attitude at the beginning of a task determines its outcome more than anything else, therefore how you begin (in general) does in fact impact how you finish. Seeing that applied knowledge is power (impacting the consequences depending on how that power is used), commencing the right way in your relationship can actually greatly influence how it progresses later on. Too many times people are drawn to and seek out similarities as for hidden treasure to the point that differences are perceived as foreign objects!

Making Inadvertent Mistakes
There was a nice dating show that I watched a few years ago. It involved contestants competing in the jungle as automatically paired couples and later in the main ceremony, empowered with the choice to remain with the pair or choose someone else to be paired with. I remember a question in one of the episodes in season 2, I believe it was called Love In The Wild, a couple asked each other this very question which I know is extremely important for discussion:

What are the biggest mistakes men and women make in relationships?
Here is one for each gender that I thought was really interesting. For the men putting someone (or something) ahead of her is a recipe for disaster. I can personally relate to this. My partner (both in prayer and life), my shining light, my deputy commander, my vice captain, the wisdom of my ways and the love of my life, Nelly Sophia is the important individual I made this mistake with. The worst part was that it was an innocent (continual) action that I did not know was a mistake! She loves to talk every night for as long possible on the phone (because we only see each other once a week) and I would be engaging myself in a myriad of activities by the time she calls. From the moment I pick up the phone, part of my mind would be on the activity and the other part on her. Some friction arose every now and then as you can imagine. Sometimes I made the mistake of requesting for a “night off” so to speak completely unaware of the magnitude of what I was asking. Needless to say this created tension through the appearance of disinterest from the lack of attention given. I have learned that masculine energy is single-focused and targeted towards one purpose and goal, as such it is easy to ignore her (the women) and focus attention on somewhere else, particularly if it is work. Being sensitive to and cognizant of her feelings is not merely a habit that must be formed for creating balance, but a vital necessity.

Now for the women, the mistake they make more than any other (at least in my opinion) is being passive aggressive. Here is the thing on my part. There are times when I can pick this up with Nelly but then later take it as it is (simply because that’s what guys do) to avoid unnecessary assumptions. Having grown up with predominantly female friends I have tried to understand the concept of paradoxical terms with female logic. No means Yes, Yes means No, Maybe means No, We need to talk means I need to Complain, Sure go Ahead means I don’t want you To. This is a field I chose not to set foot on (in attempting to understand it) because I realized that life may possibly be complicated. That is definitely so in a relationship and women will do very well to acknowledge the easy-mindedness of the men and how very straightforward every word will be taken. The wisest move is to never under any circumstance be passive aggressive. Ladies say what you mean and mean what you say.

Different Is Not Wrong
To be honest I do not know why I titled the post what it is because I hate it when people use the term “same difference.” I thought I got a handle on it ever since coming across it the first time, but I wanted to really make sure that I had a good grip on it. It actually  is “an idiomatic oxymoron [Oxford Dictionary Online]. It effectively means. Whether these two choices are the same or different is immaterial to me.” There is an element of indifference in that which can spell DANGER should it ever so much as cross the minds of any individual in a relationship. The main factor to consider is that being different is not automatically a bad thing. To perceive it this way puts a whole new meaning to Opposites Attract. I personally am multicultural and I love this about myself because I get to see people appropriately differently than most would as a result of observing everything from a non ethnocentric point of view. Appreciating people for who they are just as they are and learning how they conduct themselves and honouring that by being a part of it for the sole purpose of maintaining a strong relationship is crucial. In an intimate heterosexual relationship that is standard. The key thing in moving forward in spite of differences is perspective. Get in your partners shoes, see things from their angle and learn from reflective thinking (taking the time to contemplate the situation logically [bird’s-eye view] not emotionally [stuck in traffic view]).

In her book Battlefield Of the Mind Joyce Meyer exemplifies (on overcoming  judgemental, critical and suspicious thinking) the value of my last point. She says

My husband and I are extremely different in our approach to many things. How to decorate a house would be one of those things. It isn’t that we don’t like anything the other one chooses, but if we go out to shop for household things together, it seems Dave always likes one thing and I like something else. Why? Simply because we are two different people. His opinion is just as good as mine, and mine is just as good as his; they are simply different.

If your friend/partner is from a country where they drive on the other side of the road from what you are used to, it’s not wrong! I cannot tell you how many times I have heard how Americans drive on the wrong side of the road and vice-versa towards Africans. Using chopsticks instead of regular cutlery is good. Fancy dining on the floor instead of a table? Even better.  I asked my friend if she ever had a relationship with someone who was the total opposite of her. She said that’s her best friend. Use your differences to your advantage. If you can’t get around them, jump over them or go under them, then go through them together!

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Of Love & Order part 1: What Happened To Love?

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Courtesy of completewellbeing.com

“When it’s gone, you’ll know what a gift love was. You’ll suffer like this. So go back and fight to keep it.” Ian McEwan Enduring Love

“I used to think that I could never lose anyone if I photographed them enough. In fact, my pictures show me how much I’ve lost.” Nan Goldin

Starting from the beginning
Things in my life are moving in a way that only God can orchestrate. From not knowing my purpose and passion, to having TV/Film skills. From only possessing video production skills to having design traits too.. From enjoying an ordinary relationship with God to an extraordinary one. From being single to being in a relationship!
Of course when I put it like this it sounds like everything is going smoothly, all according to plan. That is far from the case. I have had to learn patience, deep trust in God, and persistence especially through and in prayer in the process. The fact that I am even writing this right now is a testament to His goodness! With gloves off, hands rubbed, we are ready to get into highly likely the most exciting journey yet.

What it is about
What is love? No I am not talking about Haddaway’s song! I am sincerely bringing to mind the reality of the most impactful force ever to hit humankind. There seems to be a widespread knowledge or more accurately information, on the subject with it affecting each of us in a completely different way. If you ask one person what they believe love to be, you will get a completely different answer to what the next person will say. The question that eats me every time is if two people (man and woman) were always meant to be, how is it that there are cases where break up happens after 4 or more years? It truly is baffling to me. As I brushed up on my dating knowledge through so many various means including books, TV (talk) shows/series, movies, internet articles, music, conversations/discussions, seminars/conferences and CD’s,  I began to see a pattern between the thriving relationships and the ones that appear to be doomed for failure before they even start. No I am not claiming to be some expert or anything, there is still much for me to learn in spite of all I have already learned, I am merely putting forward my observations in the hopes that someone will have a good or better understanding of love. The point is to let the reader combine their knowledge, insight, wisdom and understanding with what they glean from here.
In case you are wondering Why “Of Love And Order?” It is simply based on this profound principle: Worthwhile relationships take work. Before diving into what I believe that entails, we will observe what I am of the opinion is the world’s standard for love.

Types of relationships
The info about to be displayed is an excerpt taken from a book by the world-renowned dating coach Nick Savoy, founder and CEO of Love Systems. In his journey to find love (married now), he came to discover 6 different kinds of relationships:

  • Traditional: One boy, one girl, no one dates anyone else.
  • Traditional Plus: Like traditional, but sometimes you involve other people in your sex life (not your emotional life). Usually this is when both you and her enjoy threesomes with other women.
  • Open: Your primary emotional commitment is to each other, but you are both free to date other people. Open relationships vary in intensity: some are much like Traditional Plus relationships while others are far more casual.
  • Multiple: You have a strong commitment to each other, but nothing theoretically limits what you can do with others.
  • Dating/Undefined: The rules of what you’re doing and where you’re going are unclear, but there is no explicit commitment. Often early in your relationship and usually the case before you sleep together.
  • Friends with Benefits: No significant emotional commitment. Relationship is primarily sexual.

You would be surprised to note that there is in fact a TV series called Friends With Benefits! Jaw-dropping I know. One can be rest assured that most people’s view of love would have been influenced by one or more of the above. What this therefore implies is that the relationship gets shaky right from the get go because it is established on an unstable foundation.

Aiming for the target
What this series hopes to zero in on is “popularizing” the notion of fighting for your relationship, first of all by learning more about why such a pure and precious thing has been tarnished not only by the world but by and with Christians as well, and coming back to what matters most, the only One qualified to define and execute exactly what love is. We have found that much of the reason for relationships going bad is because there is not much preparation made before entering into it and there are few, if any, boundaries put in place as well. This served as the introduction to the series, which could  have the subheading What happened to love? if you will. Links to stories that are moving, depressing and eye-opening, as well as stories from my own life will be covered in subsequent posts. The most important thing to realize is that outside God, there is little to none satisfaction and fulfillment in this life. No need to take my word for it, just ask Solomon (Book of Ecclesiastes)! Even he, in the fulness of the wisdom pouring forth from the wisest man who ever lived had this to say:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.

Intercession

I remember the teacher we had in our D.T.S (click the link to find out what that is) mentioned how this is a literal standing between God and the world or person or people. So you, in a sense, are trying to bring God closer to the person/people by standing in the gap and pulling, pushing etc them closer as much as possible. It takes effort to do that. Which is why intercession should never be taken lightly. The synonym to this word is intervene (to occur or be between two things; mediate).

The next time you pray for someone or a group of people, keep in mind that you are doing more than just praying on their behalf. You are bringing them towards God to the best of your abilities. It’s not easy carrying someone on your back or shoulders for long distances, especially when climbing hills! I like to picture it like that so that when God moves on their behalf, I can feel like I crossed a huge milestone!

Faith in a prayer-hearing God will make a prayer-loving Christian. —Andrew Murray

I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.—John Wesley

“When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart.” John Brunyan

Prayer is earthly permission for heavenly interference– Myles Monroe

I love this. I was really moved when I heard it:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Imagine being in battle and the enemy is invading your camp and tearing everything apart! To stand there and do nothing but simply watch (what was part of a huge part of your life, as) it all gets destroyed-valuables taken and very special and important people kidnapped (if fortunate)-is a tragedy too hard to bear. Where was/is your heart? Where was your mind? What were you feeling? Pain? Anger?

The value of prayer
I remember a teacher at a seminar I went to saying that people very often tell you that they will pray for you when you ask them to and end up, 9 times out of 10, not doing it. It’s both funny and sad, but more sad than funny.

Solomon was praying for God’s people, Israel, with regards to protocol (behaviour, procedure, attitude, the right way to do things) in the Temple he built. He asked God, in great detail, to be pleased with their offerings and also when they obeyed (observed and faithfully kept) His commandments, laws, precepts and statutes. Another request he made was for God to pardon and forgive any sin they would commit, both knowingly and unknowingly, should they realize it and decide to repent. This is how God responded:

2 Chronicles 7:14

 If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave,  and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

Taking prayer (intercession) seriously
One thing I love to say is: If you put so little heart into your prayer, you can’t expect God to put much heart into answering it.

I see prayer and intercession as part of giving and receiving. What you give God (as far as your heart is concerned) is what He will give to you (in response to how you approached Him). God will move in your life (give attention to your words, actions and whatever you need Him for at any time and any place) proportionate to the depth of the relationship you have with Him!

Let those words sink in. Personally the best example I can give is Job:

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who [reverently] feared God and abstained from and shunned evil [because it was wrong].

His sons used to go and feast in the house of each on his day (birthday) in turn, and they invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them.

 And when the days of their feasting were over, Job sent for them to purify and hallow them, and rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed or disowned God in their hearts. Thus did Job at all [such] times Job 1:1, 4-5

This was his habit! His habit translated into his character. It became a part of him. It wasn’t custom anymore. Watch what happens as a result of this continual practice:

 Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing?

Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. Job 1:9-10

All he did was pray for his children! Even if they did right in the sight of the Lord, just to make sure that they remained that way, Job prayed for them. Pay very close attention to this as I finish this post:

 After the Lord had spoken the previous words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as My servant Job has
Now therefore take seven bullocks and seven rams and go to My servant Job and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept [his prayer] that I deal not with you after your folly, in that you have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as My servant Job has
So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; and the Lord accepted [Job’s prayer].

And the Lord turned the captivity of Job and restored his fortunes, when he prayed for his friends; also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had beforeJob 42:7-10

Weekly Photo Challenge: Friendship

My boy DJPDOGG. We be representing the King and He is what lays the strong foundation between us:

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
― Albert Camus

 

Knowing what matters most

“When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want?

Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now?”
― Max Lucado

Looking at the future

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:11-13

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:14

 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him Hebrews 11:6

If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way.  For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith. Hebrews 4:2-4

Staying focused
It is so important that we stay alert and plan well for the whole year next year. There are a lot of things to look forward to. Most of the time, most of them will be good things. I can say that with confidence because of who the King is and also because of what I know about the number 12. I will put together a post about it on 01/01/12. It is not so much how we start something that matters but how we finish. So often our mindset before, during and at the end of the process determines how well we will do and how things turn out. Next year will be such a crucial year. For many a lot of opportunities will present themselves and if there is no preparation for them, will be tragically missed.

In this year 2011 it has undoubtedly been the roughest year yet. Of course on the one hand it is no surprise. The number 11 is the number of destruction, division, demotion, dethronement and chaos. That is why the natural disasters have been more intense than ever before. It is why the breakthroughs that were rightfully to be within our grasp, have been withheld and some times denied us. So many health challenges. Many financial challenges, relationship challenges and so on. On the other hand we have not been able to maintain enough discipline and have enough desire to see through our goals to the end. Most obstacles have proven to be serious and stubborn. That is why I am encouraging everyone to really sit down and use this week, the last part of this year, to think about the good things that have happened this year and how they can maintain that.

Coming up with new strategies
Whatever has not worked throughout this year, cancel it. In your list of goals, against those ones that have not been achieved, write down why. After that get together with family and friends and brainstorm new strategies, new ways to achieve your goals. What approach are you going to take this time? How are you going to handle the obstacles that appear before you? Even if it is a very simple goal you cannot rule out the possibility of an obstacle getting in the way. As you try to anticipate what it may be, write down how you will get past it and move on. Once you have your strategies down, get someone who is going to be accountable to you. I cannot emphasize the importance of being very serious about next year. It will be so wonderful!

Relationships and worship
For me the year 2012 will be about these two things. Some of my posts will be about Solomon and how he utilized the relationships he formed to get him further to his goal. I will be using 1 Kings 3-10 and the Proverbs. Then I will try study David for a while and see why the King was pleased with him to the point of calling him a man after His own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22). What does it mean to be a man/woman after God’s own heart? How did David get such an understanding of worship that he excelled though getting deep into it? My desire is to get to that level where I draw close to God as He draws close to me throughout the year (James 4:8).  All my other goals will fall under these two. That is my strategy for 2012. Establish a major goal and have all the others put in place to help reach the major one, one step at a time.

Look forward to success, take advantage of failure and then keep looking forward to success. Write down every answered prayer, it is a testimony. Cherish every relationship, they are vital to the fulfillment of your destiny. Learn from your own and other people’s mistakes. Have an open mind. Dare to be different. Challenge popular thinking, there is nothing worse than doing things because everyone else is doing it. Give more to live more. Do something you have never done before. Embrace every challenging moment as an opportunity to be a testimony to someone else.

In my post that I will write on 01/01/12, I will give some examples as to why 11 is such a bad number both in the natural and in the spiritual realm. I am actually looking forward to that post. May you all be blessed and be a blessing this Christmas week. This is the last week in 2011: the year of wisdom. James 3:13-18 was the theme for this year. Let’s finish it bold. Finish it strong. Finish it wise.