The Old vs The Young: The Battle of the Ages

Haha, silly old man,” were the mental words I muttered as I watched the elderly gentleman performing awfully-sluggish lunges in front of me.  “Silly old man, what are you doing in the gym? You can barely move as it is. What has your life come? Simple drudgery. Your wrinkled old skin and fragile bones… What you need to do is go backwards in age about 50 years and then copy me. Silly man.

Over a five-second time span, those were the literal thoughts that formed in my mind as I glanced at the 70-year-old man working out. It’s scary how hurtfully prideful and sinful my initial thoughts were. Suddenly, my attention shifted to his facial expression. He had a sharply keen stare in his eyes – as if he were remiss to the workout machines and people surrounding him. It was as if he truly believed that he was the only person present in the gym. Even the gym itself seemed to not have been anywhere on his radar. My common sense finally appeared and it then dawned on me that he surely must have been there for a reason. Maybe he’s had a recent health scare and is at the gym by doctor’s orders. Maybe he wants to get in shape to show his wife that he “still has it” at his age. Maybe he has no one and nothing in his life and just wants to feel something again. Then I realized that that day of old age, regardless of circumstance, is coming for me with just a blink of an eye. With just…the blink of an eye.

It was only a few days ago that I was in Kindergarten learning how to write my home address and Mrs. Hill told me how well I was doing. I remember the layout of the classroom, where I sat, and the excitement I felt. What is it about youthfulness that blinds our eyes from seeing just how fragile and short life is? Psalm 39:5 and 101:15 are going to compare our lives to a single breath and our days to grass in the field. The latter verse further says that the wind blows the grass away and the ground remembers its place no more. What it’s saying is that as people age, the generation underneath them will begin to disregard and neglect them more and more. As much as I love my parents, my future children will not have that same tangible love for them and will not care to be around them as much. In a few generations after me, they will not even remember my name. Such a truthful picture that the Bible paints. That doesn’t really make us feel warm inside, but hopefully that does clear up some blinders.

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But silly me. Silly us. Here’s the thing about old age…here’s how the Bible is going to  portray old age…it consistently glorifies it. The entire Bible says that wisdom comes with years. Proverbs 22:15 will say that folly is in the heart of a child. Why do we fear aging so much? Why do we ignore the wisdom and companionship of the older generations? Oh how Satan has twisted our society so that we have a natural divide amongst generations.

For almost a year now I have been in a small group with a predominantly older crew. In this group, I have realized that I am a lot more dumb than I am wise. I know theology – I can chat church history or apologetics, switch to politics or engineering and sprinkle it with sports … but every time I am around them, their wisdom blows me away and greatly humbles my prideful ignorance. It reminds me of how much I have yet to live through and learn. As a wise pastor once said, “Nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing teaches like LIFE.” We can read all the books we want, we can watch all the Youtube videos and BBC documentaries, we can get all the face-lifts and take all the youth pills we need, we can do everything right externally – but in the end, what matters is the internal. Wisdom. Character. Courage. The Heart. Spiritual depth. And only years of living life teach all of that.

To paraphrase King Solomon’s candor in Ecclesiastes 7, he says “Who cares how many likes you get on Instagram if at the end of the day you’re pretending as if you’re not drowning on the inside. The Wise hang out with people that will encourage, rebuke, guide them closer to Christ. While the Fools surround themselves with people that are stuck in the same ditch that they are currently in.” Even though I wrote a blog on Christian dating a few weeks ago… it was only a few months prior that I was very close to asking an unbeliever out on a date. Biblically, I know the tremendous stumbles it could cause. I have even warned my own friends away from this a few times. However, things were different when the shoes were on my foot. I mean, this girl had a cute smile and could dance! Stick a fork in me, I’m easily done. Well, when I confronted the men in my small group about my plans, each of them lovingly told me how stupid that idea was.  And here’s the thing, I had a legit plan and even scripturally spoke on how it could work. But they shut it down immediately and I came back to my senses. See, I needed that because I already had myself deceived. We may never verbally say it, but we definitely act like we’re invincible and that we know everything. But King Solomon would say that it would be wise to have older, godly friends sometimes … because they can see things that we are blind in seeing.

Older men and older women, we need you. Please come into our lives. Otherwise we are bound to make the same cyclic-mistakes as the generations before us.  Lord knows we need to do life together. Imagine the spiritual growth that would take place from the integration. Think of the amount of vitality that it could bring to the older generation. I pray that this happens. May Christ be glorified through it all. May his Spirit guide us in our youth and sustain us through our old age.

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5 Reasons Why Christian Males Almost NEVER ASK GIRLS OUT On Dates Anymore

At some point during mid-college, my compass switched from having predominantly guy friends toward a large influx of females friends. For some time now, many conversations with those girls have turned into their wonder of “why Christian men rarely ask them out on dates”.  I have had numerous heart-to-heart conversations with awesome, intelligent, Jesus-loving, beautifully single young ladies that pour out their frustrated hearts at why this is so.

Of course, from the male perspective, there are blinders that hinder me from fully empathizing. But in those moments…as I listen to them…I can’t help but see it in their eyes. The fearful angst in the crackling of their voice. Their stare of credulity as they wait to hear your response of hope. They’ve been taught to rest in Christ and have faith in his sovereign plan. Taught to be content with their singleness until the right man comes along. Ooookay…true, but tell that to the girl that has only been on 1 date in the past 3 years. Or to the girl that is 30 years old and still waiting. If we honestly pay attention we would begin to see a steep decline in the rate at which men are dating. After months of pondering and diving deep into this massive topic, I have five reasons why this “asking out” rate has decreased. These will be generalizations, of course, but what I have on my side is the Bible and a little bit of psychological binoculars.

1)  The Social Media Effect: Welcome to the glamorous world of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! These three entities have transformed the way that we men view the pressures of finding a girlfriend/wife. Historically a man had, roughly, less than 10 female friends on his radar. From that amount, his choices were limited and there was a certain “weight” or “pressure” he’d feel to find a mate. Today, I have almost 3000 Facebook friends. From those Facebook friends I can see photos and their friends of friends. This naturally gives way to thoughts that develop in my mind that I have an opportunity to date these girls. What was once knowing less than 10 girls has now exponentially increased to thousands for me AND my male counterparts. This gives us a false sense of satisfaction that takes away any weight on our shoulders that we need to pursue a woman right now. Who needs to pursue immediately…we’re content in our gigantically-fictional plethora of options.

2)  A Feminized Jesus & the Nice Guy Complex: I am not sure when exactly this happened, but somewhere along the lines in our recent church history we began to view Jesus is a very feminine manner. He became no longer a God who was authoritative, had supreme leadership over all, filled with passion for His Father’s glory and likeness, and bold in his worldviews and lifestyle. For at least the past 40 years we have shifted focus solely on his love attributes. He is a God with a perm in his hair who spreads pixie dust of love all throughout the Gospels. He never yells, he never rebukes, never upsets others. He is all about love love love! Here’s why this teaching is so catastrophically damaging in this context: Colossians 1:15 says that ‘Jesus is the image of the Invisible God’.  Men are image bearers of God since we were all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Since the Fall, we have lost that perfect view of God’s image. Now we have Jesus to look to in order to get back to what we were created for. However, with us males looking at a feminized Christ, we begin to reflect these new feminine traits that have been attributed to him. If we are a projector….we project onto a blank screen whatever is shown through us. While seeing a feminized Jesus we’ve, in turn, automatically projected more passivity, less in our boldness, and are more inclined to play a super nice guy role. This nice guy generally doesn’t what to risk boldness but instead wants to play it safe. Most importantly, as we’ve obtained this feminine worldview, we’ve lost some of our male skill/desire/trait to pursue the woman. God’s intended design for the male is being skewed. Very scary stuff. Very scary stuff.

3)  Watered Down GOSPEL Teaching: Similar to before, many churches over the years have become afraid to talk about the “hard” things of the Bible. The things that may scare people or rub them wrongly. Many churches and pastors became more focused on growing their church attendance and pleasing people rather than following thousands of years of church history and preaching for God with God’s word. They rarely teach on sin anymore. The cross and Jesus’ bloody death are rarely deeply studied and reflected on. If the Bible were a movie, many churches have pushed to cross and sin back to the ending credits. And no one pays attention the ending credits.  Ignoring these biblical concepts retard our CONCRETE UNDERSTANDING of Jesus’ pursuit of the church (His people). The Gospel should not only be the focus of the movie but should also be a real-life every day experience. Instead, this has weakened the male’s view in how and what it means to pursue a wife.

4)  Girls, some blame is on you as well: We sometimes feel that when we ask you out, you take expectations too far too quickly. A coffee date becomes an expectation of marriage from your eyes. We understand that we are dating-to-marry, but that pressure makes us uncomfortable at times. It becomes that if things fail to work out then you and your friends blame us for leading you on. We become the evil coffee bandits.

5)  Satan Never Sleeps: Hey, the dude is smart and wise. Satan has culture tugging on our neck collars. Diminishing our number of men in the church. He has society whispering in our ears. The definition of love has changed from a Biblical definition to the cultural “what makes me feel good at the moment”.

So what now; I mean, this is heavy stuff. I have to be honest with you and say these things because I’m more afraid not to point these things out. The reason why I have this insight is because…ding ding ding…I’m in some of these categories. And have close friends in all 5. So what do we do now? The funny thing about being young is that it’s easy to point out a problem. The funnier thing is that in our youth we rarely have the answers. Still, one common sense answer is obvious –  we need to get back to the discussing the nature and character of the triune God of the universe. This is what sustains us as a people. In the context of this blog, that is what will guide us men into the way he designed our relationships to flow. There is a reason why the Apostle Paul pleads with us to stay away from weak teaching and to seek good doctrine (1 & 2 Timothy). We can do that or we can continue to aim for high church numbers with cheap 5-minute salvations, weak teaching, and a feminized Jesus. But that’s a silly trade if we are losing our Godly men. What are we going to do men? Women? Pastors?

……..”Father, may our generation get back to your true reflection. Jesus, forgive us for mocking your image. I pray for those who hear this…really hear this. I pray for the hearts of our sisters. I pray for the strength of our brothers”…….

What Dancing Secretly Reveals About The Opposite Sex…

There is something about the art of partner dancing that transcends itself past the dancing itself. Past the swings, past the dips. Beyond the sweaty moments and the awkward small talks. Beyond the skillful moves. Past the variety of personalities or cultural backgrounds. For the past three years my passion has been both swing dancing and contra dancing. It seems that the longer I dance, the more God alters my eyesight in a way that I am able to see the picture that He is showing us within the art of dancing.   ImageWhen you think about the concept of dancing, it is a weird deal. Think about it; complete strangers attempting to interact on the dance floor and wiggling their bodies??? Going into an even deeper layer, you realize that each person is going through some legitimate pain, struggle, or happiness. They have come to the dance floor, seeking answers. Looking for a fun-loving, joyful time! Contra dances display this picture very well. Where else will you find a woman in her 60s dancing with a young man in his 20s? Where else can you see a Taylor Swift fanatic dance with a nerdy businessman wearing a kilt. The further beauty of it is that.they.really.are.having.fun. You can see it in the way their mouths openly smile, their entire body laughs, their head tilts, the silly ways they mess up together during moves…they are having a ball together; along with everyone else on the floor.

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What has more specifically caught my eye as of late, is the picture of a true biblical relationship that can be seen through dancing. If you read my older blog post, “Girls Are Cute And Atheism Is Strange (https://earnestbjohnson.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/girls-are-cute-and-atheism-is-weird/)”, you would know that I very staunchly believe that girls are the most adorable beings on the earth. That being said, I have learned a great deal of the opposite sex simply through dancing with them. Swing/contra dancing requires the male to lead the female throughout the dance. The responsibility lies on him to make sure that not only does she have an awesome time, but that she does not bleed in the process. With the same token, it is the females job to simply submit to that leadership and trust that the male will lead her into a good time. ImageHowever, this does not happen easily. Lord knows it does not happen easy, ha. Dancing requires 3 key elements:  (1) touch, (2) listening to the music, (3) and trust. I can dance with certain women and literally feel from her touch just how much she trusts me, and vice versa. I can also feel how susceptible she is to follow my lead. It is quite interesting. There is a certain tension/weight given that is felt when performing moves that tells me how she is feeling at the moment (good or bad). My favorite is when I can feel that extra tension, but can tell that she is trying her best to trust me and follow. Then, as the dance goes on, I can feel her tension and tightness lighten (Gosh girls are so cute) and her trust and laughter increase. On the other hand, where she gives too much tightness or sudden resistance, something is off basis there.

Why is that?

Well in Genesis 3:17-19, after the Fall, God tells Adam that everything man attempts to do will now “war” against him. So we were designed in God’s image to be builders, creators, and cultivators….. but with that “warring against”, it will not be easy. This hints that the tension that I sometimes feel when dipping a woman…that hesitation given by her….is a shadow of the “warring against”.

But how do we as men, still follow through with leading the women when dancing? How do we become the full cultivators and leaders that God created us to be in a fallen world? To answer that Biblically and through a swing dancing lens, the answer can be translated from God’s call on man in Ephesians 5. When I get married within the next 10 months to 40 years, God’s call on me will be to love my wife like Christ loved the church…..regardless of her response. As we dive into the historical beauty of how Christ initiated the loving pursuit and salvation of His bride, i.e. the Church,…. it reveals that our call to a female is to initiate initiate initiate. The scriptures are absolutely clear on this. In our society, women have begun to carry the burden of being the initiators and that’s not how God designed them. On the dance floor, things flow much smoother when the males are correctly playing their God-given role. When a girl decides to not trust me or to go her own way during a dance, it is my duty to go after her and lovingly guide her back into the flow of the dance. From my dancing experience I can admit that this is not as easy as it sounds – but it does work and can yield a warm response. The Bible does not hide this difficulty either. Proverbs 27 is going to describe moments like that as grabbing oil. Accordingly, that text is then followed by the entire comforting book of The Songs of Solomon, which describes the beauty of cherishing the woman and the fruit that come from it.

Too many Christian men have lost this concept. We must fight to get this concept back into our culture and society. Our Christian sisters are left sitting around waiting for the men to man-up and ask them to dance. All they want to do is to be led and experience the joy of the dance. They were wired for it. But until we get the guts, myself included, we are leaving our gorgeous sisters to stay in their metaphorical claim of contentment. We are such punks in this area and Satan is winning. If I pursued and led a girl like I pursue Kobe Bryant, I’d probably have that girl’s parents weeping of joy right now. This is something we must work for. The more unified that we men are in this, the exponentially easier it will be. As a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Act like men. Be strong and courageous. Stand firm in the faith.”

Lets fix our society from one that objectifies women, into a society that sees the soul of a woman and chooses to protect that soul and lead it toward happiness. Happiness can be found on the dance floor, sure. But something better, everlasting joy, is found in our Creator God. We must lead them closer to Him. The true, celestial treasure.

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