Every time I turn on the news I hear about some group who is trying to strip God out of the culture. They don’t want prayer in school, God on our money, the 10 commandments in court rooms, Christian clubs to meet on college campuses (but Sex Week is fine), manger scenes on lawns, I could go on and on.., but you get the point. To me, this just defies logic! I have to wonder what is in the heart of someone who wants to take Christianity out of the culture.
The core tenets of Christianity, if lived out as Christ prescribed, only make people better. Love is the most important principle of the Christian faith–we love God and then love each other. Service to others, living a moral life and not hurting your neighbor are all good things. We don’t want to kill people who don’t believe like we do. We don’t force people to become Christians and we live side by side with those who think differently. Yes, we may have different moral positions, but those positions guide our lives and allow others to live theirs. So why do people try so desperately to rid the culture of such a positive force? If even you don’t want to be a Christian, this is not a group that is going to harm you. Christians help society, not hurt it.
Before you tell me your horror story of some person claiming to be Christian, hold off. Jesus said only a good tree can bear good fruit. Those who claim to be good, but bear bad fruit are not His.
I realize that some Christians don’t represent Christ well, and that periods of our history are marked by bloody battles, all done in the name of Christianity. I get that some people hide behind the label and hate gays or shoot at abortion clinics. But these people are not following the words of Christ to love one another, bless those who curse you and pray for those who despitefully use you. In the Christian faith, love is supposed to win the day. Jesus said, they will know you by your love.
We need a fresh understanding of what Christianity stands for and means in a person’s life. It doesn’t mean that we agree with every culture position. When we disagree, that disagreement should be respectful.
I challenge you, study Christianity and you will find it hard to have objections. Separate the people who abuse the label from the heart of the religion. When you really understand what Christians are supposed to be like, you would want them in your places of employment, as your neighbors and friends. Are Christians perfect, no. They are broken and flawed and don’t always get it right, but they are trying to do better through a relationship with Jesus Christ. They don’t always represent well, and don’t always act in love. That makes them human. But the intent of the heart is to love and treat our neighbor as ourselves. Hopefully, we are at least on the path.
Christianity gets a bad rap in our culture because those who use the name and don’t represent Christ are are always featured in the spotlight. To quote Bonjovi, [They] …”give love a bad name.”
If you want to war against something, choose sex trafficking, poverty, hate, prejudice, greed, malice, etc., A war against Christianity will only take the light out of a great deal of darkness. Do we really want to go there?
People tell me in therapy that they have or want to find their soulmate. I’m really not sure what that means. Murray’s new book, The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead defines soulmate as your closest friend to whom you are sexually attracted.
I like this definition because of the importance it places on finding a friend, not just a lover. We know that relationships not built on a foundation of friendship have problems. If you marry only for passion and then realize you don’t like the person, the relationship is going to have major problems.
In a good relationship, you don’t have to be alike on all fronts, but you should like the personal habits of the other person. Jacques Barzun, cultural critic who died in 2012, says that if you differ on areas of punctuality, orderliness and thriftiness, you are headed for trouble. Apparently, those areas just eat away at relationships. You know, the constant complaints of, “She’s always late for dinner.” “He’s such a slob around the house.” “She spends too much on herself.” Yes, these are touch points for many people, but they are also criticism, a relationship killer.
Those three areas represent a deeper issue of not liking the person, because people who like someone and feel very positive about the person overall, can overlook a late comer or impulsive spender. There is too much positive in the relationship to make those things an issue. The positives are built on friendship–knowing, liking, and admiring the person. Without the friendship, you are easily annoyed.
So, to find your soulmate, ask yourself:
Is this person someone I would want to be with if there was no sexual attraction?
Do I feel better when I am with this person?
Do I like his or her personality?
Do I have shared meaning with this person?
Am I in spiritual unity with this person?
Can I create a life together with the same values and goals or am I constantly fighting about the deeper meaning of life?
Soulmates share your fundamental beliefs and values. Your desire to be with them is because of who they are.
If you don’t like the person you are dating, run for the hills. Don’t overlook his contentious nature, the out of control temper, her controlling personality, or her obsession with self. These are deal breakers when it comes to a soulmate. Look beyond attraction and liking someone to the deeper values and beliefs that are held.
But is marrying young a good idea?
Well, for me it obviously worked. I’m about to celebrate 40 years of marriage this year. Yes, we had a lot of growing up to do. And maybe that is the point. We grew together. We were too young to be set in our ways and basically had to learn how to get along with each other and create our “We” from our “I”. Marriage helped us understand ourselves better. Growing up together can form a powerful union.
Marrying young, we had to build our careers and watch our money. We saved, ate mac and cheese multiple times a week (5 for dollar back then) and worked at achieving goals together. We shared our music, learned to appreciate art and developed a spiritual life.
The down side of course was that we, (mostly me), were immature and didn’t always handle things well. We made mistakes, lost money on bad decisions and learned things the hard way at times. Mostly though, we had a lot of fun working our way through graduate schools and finding cheap ways to entertain ourselves (so thankful for college hockey!). During those early years, both of us became more focused in graduate school because we didn’t have all the distractions of dating. Our grades went up!
I know the average age of marriage has risen to 29 for men and 27 for women. But those who wait into their late 20s and early 30s also struggle more with depression, drinking and feeling less satisfied with partners. And certainly the sexual temptation is always present the longer you wait to marry.
So here is my take on marrying young, if you feel you met the right person, know you will struggle some, but have the attitude of building something together and stay spiritually sound, you will probably be fine. The spiritual part is key because there are too many voices in the culture telling you to satisfy yourself and be dissatisfied with everything else. Keep your eyes on Christ, pray together and make your spiritual lives vibrant. That spiritual unity is most important when it comes to preventing divorce and growing together.
Do you sometimes feel as if your life is lived in a perpetual Good Friday mode? Like the movie, Ground Hog Day, it seems you are replaying the same bad day over and over, fighting despair and struggling. Disease, broken relationships, prodigal children…the landscape looks bleak and can easily lead to despair.
But Good Friday reminds us that all our suffering and struggles will one day end. One day there will be no more tears, no death, no mourning or pain. All things will be made new.
Easter is not about the bunnies or all the candy. Easter is about Hope. No matter how bleak Good Friday seems, Easter reminds us that one day disease will be erased, wrongs will be righted, and brokenness will be healed.
We are created for that hope and long for that day.
Psalm 39:7 reminds us, “My hope is in Him,” not circumstances or people. Psalm 119:147 says, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.” On Good Friday, cry for help, but remember Christ is risen! Our living God is our constant source of hope. He defeated the darkness.
This Easter season chose hope. Refuse to give in to despair. “Love never gives us, never loses faith is always HOPEFUL, and endures every circumstance ” (I Corinthians 13:7).
Yes, Good Friday is here, but Easter is coming.