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Archive for the ‘Seminars & Conferences’ Category

Response to Men Prefer Debt Free Virgins without Tattoos

A few days ago, an article by one Lori Alexander hit Facebook with a storm and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why.

  • I think the inflammatory title helped. I think this is the main effective tool for creating attention.
  • I think the attractive young woman as the cover photo helped.
  • It could be how simplistic and short the article is (I could learn from that) and therefore something of a straw-man and easy to stack with other ugly Christian stereotypes.
  • I think mostly, this is due to people who disagree with the tenets of the article (or at least those indicated in the title) sharing and commenting on it.

It is actually just a copied note from “One woman (who) wrote me some more reasons that she thought of why women shouldn’t go to college” with the author’s comments and not really an article at all.

However, in the follow up (and re-titling of to “Godly Men Prefer Debt Free Virgins without Tattoos”) the article, Alexander claims to have gotten more than 90,000 posts on her article.  In this follow up, she mostly reposts some of the positive comments she has gotten in the midst of the others most of which, as she admits “hate it.”

Responding to people

Sadly, many women (and men) have responded in a way that is the strange hypocrisy of modern liberal feminism… because they disagree with her message, they attack her as a woman under the control of men.

This is a thinking person, married 38 years, who runs her own website and just managed to get more hits and comments on one article than I have with all of mine combined over a decade.

I think it is foolish and wrong (and possible sexist) to dismiss her just because she is a woman with an opinion I don’t agree with.

I respect her ability to create and hold and verbalize an opinion in more than a meme and a post on Social Media – something many others do not seem capable of.

So, in an effort to treat her and her article with dignity, I will respond:

When reading the introduction, I assumed that this woman (she claims to be 60 years old) was seeking to impress upon young women the importance of what she thinks is making wise (debt and tattoos) and moral (sex before marriage) decisions.

I assumed that she was using the motivation that “men prefer” women who have made these decisions.

I am not going to comment on those actual decisions here.  I already have articles published about what I believe the biblical perspective is on Tattoos and premarital sex.

A friend has posted more than one article on debt that I think are good ones – check them out.

As one friend of mine posted in response to the article “But wouldn’t both men and women prefer to marry debt-free virgins?”(maybe not sure about tattoos) – at least not “bad tattoos”).   Given the complete lack of any kind of statistics or even a survey in the article, I don’t feel the need to approach the question of accuracy for a question like this.

Anytime we talk about preferences, there are always going to be some people who prefer almost any trait.  If the implication was to be that ALL men do, then clearly this is patently wrong.

In her response, Alexander says that she should have entitled it “Godly men…”

It felt to me that in her follow up  article, she is actually now making these preferences a test for whether or not a man is godly.  (eg. If he prefers a girl with a tattoo, he must NOT be godly.).

As I will make clear at the end of this article, a godly man could certainly prefer a woman with or without any or all of these three things!

This was clearly not the meaning in the first article, which turns out NOT to be what I thought it would be – an attempt to motivate young women to wise or moral behavior…

But instead a stance taken against girls going to college.  Part 2

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Many on the other side of this case make the argument that the amendment limits their freedom of speech.  They say that it means that they cannot “speak their piece” in support of or in condemnation of a political candidate or party.

I would respond that of course they can, and legally.   At any point in their private or even public life they can, just not as the representative of the nonprofit’s opinion.

Or, if being able to speak openly in support of a candidate as the leader of their church, is extremely important to them, then they should just rescind their own non-profit status and talk openly about it!  Being a non-profit is not a right, but a privilege that appropriately comes with some restrictions and some accountability.

I would go so far as to say that if they believe God is calling them to speak openly in support of a candidate, or in opposition to one, as a non-profit entity, they are obligated to follow God’s leadership and do so!   Fortunately, our laws provide for a completely appropriate and legal way to do that – don’t be a 501(c)(3).

Also, the way the law is written makes it clear that we, as pastors, are still completely free to speak and teach what we believe the Bible teaches.

I looked and in the most recent elections, I could find no mention of Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump in the Bible.  However, I believe that the topics of abortion, divorce, infidelity, homosexuality, greed, paying taxes, loving enemies, hospitality, war, and the rejection of racism (along with almost every other aspect of life in America) are dealt with in scripture.

I see nothing in the law that restricts in any way my engaging with those topics openly from the pulpit.  More importantly, it clears my table to stay focused on “Christ and Him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).

I also feel confident that I do not want other religious leaders or “religious leaders” allowed to back a specific candidate by name under tax protection as a non-profit.  I think every pseudo-church that gives out licenses now will be accepting money then.

The good news that God loves us and has paid the price to adopt us is too important a message; we must be careful to not create the atmosphere of “Christianity and…” that CS Lewis warned us against.

I grant a point to those who are concerned about this law that it will become the restriction of biblical, moral, spiritual and life-topics, because they also happen to be political issues.

That eventuality, I would stand against to the death.  However, none of these are restricted in the current law.

On the other hand, I can imagine a day when what I see as protection is repealed.  I am approached by a generous person wishing to donate money to a valuable mission or project of the church, but also wants to make sure that I mention a certain candidate in an upcoming sermon.

This may sound nefarious, but this donor would know perfectly well that I support the platform of this politician, so why wouldn’t I?

At South Spring,we do not accept donations with strings attached in any way, so this would fall apart with us, but the pressure could be impressive.  Especially when the election seems close and the issues are life and death – which they are.

I prefer not to have to be regularly disappointing goodhearted people’s pleas for me to engage with politicians by name.  Passionate, well-intentioned people can get pretty desperate when they are afraid of what is happening to their country.  Further, even in the church, some people are present for poor motives or personal agendas.

I am convinced this is a small minority (and I am in this world every day), but that minority can be loud when they are on the warpath.  I prefer the world in which they have one less agenda issue to bring to me.

I do not think that pastors or churches should seek to be a-political, but I think the boundary of ALL non-profits being held to the standard of not supporting a specific candidate is reasonable.

Sadly, not all churches are as above board as mine about accepting donations.  Since churches do not file the complete paperwork for 501(c)(3) to the IRS that other non-profits do, some churches could support candidates financially as well, and it would be very hard to track.  I would hope that no “church” would do this, but I have to wonder if the temptation will be too strong for some to avoid.

I understand the complaint. There are times when being careful about this guideline seems restrictive – and is restrictive, but I see these restrictions and every bit as much a protection to speak freely as a limitation from doing so.

Perhaps some see this as an infringement on their rights, but as I understand it, so long as the enforcement isn’t ever abused (e.g., a pastor gets sued by the state for either voicing what they believe the Bible teaches about a topic that happens to also be a political one, or that they get sued by the state for voicing their opinion of a candidate in the church parking lot or foyer in a private conversation), then I see the amendment as allowing me to focus on the moral and eternal issues that it is my calling to focus on, without the distractions of people’s political agendas.

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Political issues

In general, I am a big fan of Christians being motivated by our faith to be involved in protecting the liberty via the political system.

I think it is vital that we understand how and why things work – even if they are not directly connected to scriptural issues – like raising or lowering taxes or gun control.

This conversation about the Johnson Amendment is an example of that, not a departure from it.  I think there are many excellent reasons for us to have an overt discussion on issues of freedom of speech from the pulpit and how that is matched with the protections offered by being a “non-profit.”

Non-profits and donations

Religious non-profits and churches in particular have a few advantages offered them over regular businesses.   The main one is that when people donate to a nonprofit (of almost any kind), the donor does not pay taxes on the money that they give away to a non-profit.

However, that also means that the person CANNOT delegate a specific person or political cause that the church should use that money for, nor can the donor receive any product or service directly for that money.

A person can donate to church and not pay taxes on that money they donated.  However, if a person pays for their kids going to youth camp, they do still have to pay taxes on that money (as income), since they are receiving a service directly for that money.

Sometimes it is a fine line, and the responsibility to manage these funds legally and morally are a big deal in churches.  A lot of energy goes to getting it right, so that those who give are able to avoid paying taxes on the money they earn that they then donate.

As most of you know, I am the Lead Pastor of a Baptist Church in the city that must be the little diamond on the rodeo cowboy on the buckle of the Bible belt.  It may seem odd that I would choose to write an article expressing my concerns, alongside many secular groups about repealing the Johnson Amendment.

As a Christian Pastor and someone who passionately holds to reasonable faith in Christ, I obviously disagree with nearly every aspect of the agenda of the secular organizations.   It isn’t my intent to strengthen those agendas on the whole.

In general, I am encouraged by that influence of Christianity in the USA, not concerned. I am a little concerned the direction that some Christian leaders are taking this issue.

The Johnson Amendment

When LBJ was a Senator, the amendment was passed on the US tax code prohibiting all non-profit (501(c)(3)) organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.  Specifically, it adds to the definition of such groups the phrases:  “…and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

I am under the impression that it didn’t draw much controversy at the time of its creation, and that does not surprise me.  The value of that addition to pastors is evident to me.

I am more surprised at the attention it has gotten recently.

Last year at about this time, Trump signed an executive order calling for the Treasury to be lenient in enforcing this amendment.  It is a law and the president cannot overturn a law by himself, but like Obama did with many laws, he has ordered the executive branch not to enforce a law – or at least to be lenient – or at least not to prioritize this amendment.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on legal matters, and I am not an expert on the Johnson Amendment, but I have never been troubled by it.

I have always assumed this rule was pushed into place by pastors and leaders of non-profits, so imagine my surprise when I see other pastors fighting to have it overturned.

We wrap up with Part 2 next week.

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http://cathykrafve.com/life-hacks-for-fathers/

My friend hosted me on her podcast this week.  It was time that went by shockingly quickly!  I think there is some fun stuff there!

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imagesCA6E2P0ZSometimes you hear people say that they are in a boring marriage.

They aren’t stimulated intellectually like they once were.

They aren’t as excited about spending time with their spouse anymore.

They just feel like they are both going through the motions, stuck in a rut, and just
fulfilling obligations.

Their heart just isn’t in it anymore…

It didnt start that way… how did it get that way now?

I used to wonder how things got that way for them.
Now I think I know.

First, my answers to this aren’t going to include all of the regular aspects of everyday
life that rise up and choke out a vibrant marriage.   I mention some of those in the article about
loving with limited resources that there are many things (http://phalanxmen.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/loving-with-limited-resources/ ).. things that consume our emotional energy  – kids, jobs, money stresses, sickness, burn-out, failure to exercise and much more.

However, I don’t think these alone fill in the puzzle of boring marriages.

But I have to tell you this before I can explain it:

t1larg.bored1One of the reasons that I am a follower of Jesus is that He doesn’t B.S. (can I say that?)  He tells it like it is.  For this reason, I get to listen to His words without having to constantly filter out the Political Correctness (even of His  day) and I don’t have to filter out some kind of incredulous, utopian-istic, humanistic gobblety gook.  Reading Jesus  isn’t at all like listening to Oprah’s guest of the day, or almost anyone in the field of psychology.

Jesus, when explaining how things are, actually explains how things are; when He is  saying how things should be, He explains how they should be.  How refreshing that He doesn’t mix those two things up.

When explaining how things are, too many people tell us how they think things should be.

Not Jesus.

Here is one of my favorite examples, and I think the solution is hidden here:

“ …for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:21)

Catch that?

In most of our touchy-feely feel good self help junk it would be cuter and more prosaic.  It would read:  “Wherever you heart is, there shall you put your treasure…”

See the subtle difference?  The non-Jesus way  makes it sounds like our treasure follows our hearts.

Today, the only measure of sincerity our culture accepts is emotions – the heart.  I shouldn’t do anything unless my “heart is in it” right? That wouldn’t be sincere, or authentic, or some other such absurdity.

Imagine that we have now made sincerity and authenticity (two static and stable things) dependent on emotions (mercurial, dynamic, and constantly changing things)!  Screwtape was right in thinking that the “horror of the same old thing” has taken hold.

Sincerity is about being what you seem and claim to be… and so is authenticity.  These are raw choice.  I cannot fully choose what I feel (I am, of course, responsible for what I do in response to what I feel and even responsible to create the right environment for feeling what I want or ought.)  Emotions are largely our biochemical and  soul-level reaction to our situation.

I cannot choose to feel desire – I can only choose to create the conditions to encourage  it or avoid it.

My choices have the power to lead my emotions.

The truth is that my heart follows my treasure… as Jesus said.

Now, Jesus was talking about investing treasures in eternal things – in His Kingdom.  However, I think He is also revealing a general truth that can be applied here as well.

If your heart is not in your marriage, then, I assume that it must be because you have  stopped putting your treasure there.  Your heart has no treasure to follow.

Remember when you were dating and you would spend hours thinking about your girlfriend,  and hundreds or thousands of dollars pursuing her, and dozens of hours doing sweet things for her?  Remember how hard it was for something to divert your attention from her?  Remember the poems, the letters, the love-notes, the creativity, or even just the dates?

These are treasures…

Time

Money

Attention

Creativity

Thought

Strategizing

Sacrifice

Pursuit

Listening

yawningSo, if you are in a boring marriage, recognize that it is because you are a boring husband who is investing so little treasure in your woman that your own heart isn’t even inspired toward her.

Solution?  Plan a weekend away.  Plan it for at least a month from now, but don’t tell her until you have to.  Make it all about her getting what she loves the most.  Remember her favorite places to go, things to do, etc.  Stare into her eyes as you plan it and try to remember what she loves the best.  (this idea works for wives too)

Do it right, spare as little expense as you can, in time, strategy, and money.  Start writing a card and write one thing you are thankful about each day in preparation for your trip.

Enjoy the experience of your heart chasing your treasure, even though she doesn’t even know about all the planning.    If your treasure is in it, your heart will follow.

If you need some thoughts on planning, look over at some of the other articles for ideas.

And hey!…
after you plan it, post here and let us know where you went and rate it for us…
remember, We are all in this together.

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Switches or Dials

In the psychological world, there is an area of diagnosis called “personality disorders.” These include Narcissism, Borderline, Avoidant, Dependent, Paranoid, etc. There are 10 of three types (clusters).

The American Psychiatric Association describes Personality disorders as “ways of thinking, feeling and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.”

The pattern includes at least two of these:

  • Way of thinking about oneself and others
  • Way of responding emotionally
  • Way of relating to other people
  • Way of controlling one’s behavior

I have done extensive work and writing on one of them, Narcissism. And, each year when I do training for future ministers, I teach about Borderline. Hopefully, I will be able to write about that material soon, as well.

There is something I dislike about Psychological diagnosis – and that is the false impression of diagnosis speaking identity into people.   At most, any diagnosis is a descriptor, not an identifier… and really all that a diagnosis is, is a shorthand for internal communication.

Medical professionals and insurance companies out there, please refrain from defining, cursing, or incarcerating someone with a diagnosis – psychological or otherwise.

Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, poses near the Wankel T. rex, in Fort Peck, Mont., in June 1990. Researchers estimate the dinosaur weighed between 6 and 7 tons.

Imagine a group of Paleontologists who get tired of saying “Hey, I found another one of those really big dinosaurs with big teeth, little front legs, really big hind legs…” So, they gave that dinosaur a name: T-Rex.

In the same way, mental health professionals got tired of saying “I saw another client today with a poor sense of identity and a sever fixation on abandonment and extreme emotional and relational responses…” and they gave that combination of traits a name: Borderline Personality Disorder.

Anyway, that was my two cents about diagnosis. They are nothing more than useful shorthand.  No extra charge.

Many of us – heck, maybe all of us – have some traits from the lists. The most severe problems come when a single person has multiple of the traits. That is what a personality disorder is.

Pretty much every personality disorder shares a tendency that I think is worth all of us examining in our own lives.

Do we have dials or switches when it comes to our own emotional responses? What about in our relationships?

If you are all-in with a friendship until that person disappoints you, and then you are all out, you are engaging with a switch, not a dial. A switch is either off or on. A dial can be turned up or down incrementally.

If a family member hurts me, I can draw a slightly tighter boundary around the relationship… or I can just cut that person off and stop speaking to them. Dial. Switch.

Dials are generally healthier.

When I hire a new employee, certain that they are the perfect person for the job, I can get behind them, be excited about them… the switch fully in the “on” position. 100% positive.

What happens when it turns out they aren’t the perfect person for the job (because there is no such thing)? A person with a dial mentality can continue to support them at 90% or 70% positive.   A person with a switch mentality is done.

Apply that to friendships and marriage.

I once read that we all marry an ideal person, but turn out to be married to a real person. In the end, we have divorce the ideal and stay married to the real, or we divorce the real and keep searching for the ideal.

But, there is more to come: part II

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https://hunterbeless.com/new-blog/2017/7/ep28-on-understanding-sexuality

I got to be a part of a great podcast a few days ago.  This expresses some of the roots – going WAAAAAYYYY back (in time and in philosophy) for the issues of sexual identity that we face as a culture today.  Check it out!

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