Up The Car, Up The Buyer (and vice-versa)

Note: this post is dedicated to my wife who lived virtue after virtue long before she knew me. I love you Ranae.

In the last 10 years, I’ve heard a lot of friends, family, co-workers and even strangers state and complain how there are not enough interesting people to start a relationship with. While there are plenty of people that anyone can start a relationship with, they are looking for someone better. Most Christian men are looking for a Proverbs 31 woman who is beautiful (even hot) inside and out. Most women are looking for someone who looks/acts like a (Biblical) David and walks with God like a Paul. Yet they have not found anyone who matches this desire. My answer?

To men: “Up the buyer, up the car.”

To women: “Up the car, up the buyer.”

After I make that comment, I am either given a look that implies confusion or a look that implies anger (that I would use a car anaolgy to parallel any type of relationship). So after they settle down, I ask this question:

Me: “Do you ever seen a poor college student (who comes from no money and has no money) shopping for a car in the BMW dealership?”

Them: “Ummm, no.”

Me: “Do you ever see a multi-millionaire shopping in a run-down used car lot?”

Them: “No.”

Me: “There you go. People choose things based on who they are. Up the car, up the buyer (and vice versa).”

Them: “Are you saying that the reason I can’t find someone of better qualities and character is because I’m not of that better quality and character?”

Me: “That’s right. Take time to improve yourself, refine your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Work harder developing better character.”

Them: ” {silence} “

It’s usually this point that they begin to look at themselves through other people’s eyes (particularly the other gender’s). They realize that they may be the reason they haven’t found anyone yet.

There are many amazing Godly, loving, funny and mature men and women who are ready and suitable for marriage. The truth is that many who complain at the “slim pickings” of potenial mates are themselves not potential mates for the types of people they want. (insert ouch here) It’s important to realize that although you may be looking for someone with certain attributes, they are too and they won’t be found by anyone who doesn’t have them.

Culture calls this as someone being “out of your league”, like it has something to do with your type of class. It’s not about class, it’s about character.

Some may argue that you’ll marry whoever God wants you to marry. I agree with this, but I also realize that God will not contradict His Word. He will not pair two together who are “unequally yoked”. He will give you someone who is on the same path around the same place as you are. I’m not saying that they will have the same faults and struggles as you, but people of like mind and heart are drawn together. They may be altogether different people in their desires and likes, but down on the heart level they are the same.

At the same time I warn people who are dating non-believers or immature believers that a wrong decision or mistake during their relationship could make them yoked together for life. I stress the importance of not lowering their standards just because someone is cute or because they are lonely. The Bible teaches us that we are to be an example to the lost people around us, the light of God in dark places.

What I do advise people to do is to change their character, which is something very Biblical. Here are a few pointers on exactly what to start doing.

TIPS FOR MEN:

  • Stop flirting with every girl!
  • Open the doors (for buildings and cars) for all women.
  • Practice good heathly habits (aka don’t smoke, don’t do drugs and stay out of bars).
  • Start practicing good financial habits and live by a budget.
  • Get a daily devotional life.
  • Kill all forms of lust in your life!!!
  • Model purity in word and deed.
  • Serve the church (and it’s individuals) as much as possible.
  • Show yourself faithful at your job and church.
  • Remove addiction to video games from your life (a little here or there is fine, but all-night week-long crusades on World of Warcraft probably aren’t).
  • Keep up good hygiene.
  • Start teaching what you are learning about improving your character.

TIPS FOR WOMEN:

  • Stop flirting with every guy!
  • Model purity in word and deed.
  • Stop gossiping, complaining and being argumentative.
  • Battle fear/worry and cultivate a gentle quiet spirit.
  • Learn to love and be patient.
  • Dress modesty (meaning don’t dress to flirt and seduce)
  • Honor, obey and respect your parents. It shows men what you’ll do when you get married.
  • Start practicing good financial habits and live by a budget.
  • Get a daily devotional life.
  • Practice good heathly habits (aka don’t smoke, don’t do drugs and stay out of bars)
  • Serve the church (and it’s individuals) as much as possible.
  • Show yourself faithful at your job and church.

I have done these in my personal life and I can tell you that they are all important and they all help to improve your character. You will also notice that very few of these things concern someone’s physical image. They are about character and habits, not outward beauty and class.

Woe if the best thing about you is your good looks.

The Bible states in Proverbs 31:

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30 ESV)

I think that verse can also apply to men. Let’s all start focusing on character and the matter of the heart and less on looks and charming personalities. Let’s devote ourselves to learning to fear and honor the Lord. If you do that, the spouse that the Lord will give you will make you speechless with wonder.

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Worship = Intercession = Our #1 Priority

What is a worship team’s first and main responsibility: engaging with God or leading people?

This question is probably the greatest and most argued question in the Christian worship world. Many sermons, commentaries and conferences spend their time debating whether worship teams and leaders should make their main focus seeking God or whether they should focus on the congregation they’re leading.

Before I try to answer this question, we must talk about the three kinds of worshipers that come to a church every service:

The white-hot worshiper

This is the person that comes to each service ready and prepared to worship. These worshipers are what I call “the worship team encouragers.” They are passionate, alive and in love with Jesus and whether they physically express it in their praise to God, their heart is engaging with God before the first note is played or sung.

The “smoking flax” worshiper

This is the person that comes to a service a bit unfocused and distracted or a little cold of heart and lacking in passion. This person will usually engage in worship by the end of the worship set, it just takes several songs before they’re heart comes alive. These people love Jesus greatly, but they struggle choosing to push through the worries, troubles and pressures of their lives in order to worship corporately.

The cold-hearted or unsaved

This is the person who either does not know Jesus or is so cold feeling towards Him. They come to church services either out of duty or to soothe their conscience. They may like or not like the music, the lights, sermon, songs, but regardless of what their opinions are, their hearts are unengaged.

(Note: It is not our job to judge what category each person that comes to church is in. We only need to be aware of the different categories for the sake of planning and prayer.)

Now upon looking at these three types of worshipers, we must ask what is the solution and answer for all three types. What is the answer for encouraging white-hot worshipers, re-igniting “smoking flax” worshipers and birthing love into those who are cold or unsaved? Lights aren’t the answer. New songs with driving guitars isn’t the answer. Using the best skill and talent available isn’t the answer. The only thing that can engage all three types of worshipers is the presence of God. Only an encounter with the Lord can encourage, re-ignite and break through to the heart of all types of worshipers.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8 ESV)

There’s a powerful thing that happens when we worship and draw near to God (whether indivdually or corporately). The Bible says that God draws near to us. His presence comes close to our hearts. The God who is a consuming fire, the fountain of joy and the healing balm comes close to us, engages and ministers to us when we worship Him. People who are struggling with addictions, shame or a host of other issues are set free when God draws near.

When a congregation seems not to be stirred to love and worship, the most loving/merciful thing a worship team can do is to love God without reserve; a love that removes all hinderances and distractions and focuses on God. Why? Because even if the worship team are the only ones truly loving God that service, God will still draw near to the entire congregation. That’s why we say in our church:

Worship is the highest form of intercession.

When we lead worship (instead of following people’s emotions for that service), we are reaching out to God asking Him to come and minister and touch His people. We are asking for the rain of the love of God to come and soften the hearts of His people to receive the Word that is to be preached that service. We are standing in the gap for those who are bound and can’t cry out for themselves.

I believe that you can focus on people during worship and still worship God as long as we are not taking ques from the congregation concerning how passionate we should be. Whether or not the congregation is stirred, we should give God our all, because after all is said and done, we are ministering to an audience of One. Our greatest hope and prayer should be that as we worship God with all that we are, He would draw near not only to us, but to all those who are following us. That is our #1 cry, hope and focus.