Sunday, January 27, 2013

Snapshot: Life in Campus Ministry

Campus ministry is a huge part of me and my husband's life.  Not everyone understands what my husband Chris does for a living, so I thought I'd share some of the incredible joys that come from working with college students.  Within the first three weeks of this Spring semester,  we've watched God move in their lives.  We've talked to students who are breaking addictions, getting out of unhealthy relationships, pursuing God-honoring relationships, and learning the Bible for the first time.  Students who have had little-to-no church background are hungry for someone to teach them--in fact, one learned that Jesus was God's son only a few short months ago.

Perhaps the most exciting part of Chris' job is mobilizing students to be on mission, to have lives that are not only healthy, but beneficial to the world and community.  I could tell several stories to illustrate this, but I want to focus in on a girl named Bree.  Meet Bree and hear her testimony:

"I came into college with no real religious thoughts in my head at all, except that I didn't like Christians because I was sure they were all just hypocrites. I had met a girl at orientation, and although she liked a lot of the same things I did, I was rather disappointed to find out she was a Christian. Before we really started hanging out, I told her that it was fine that she was a Christian, but that I would appreciate her not trying to convert me. I went to the BCM Freshman Survival Night with her because, hey, free food right? I didn't like it at all because I didn't fit in, so when {my friend} asked if I would go to the first worship service of the semester, I was...not so excited. Now looking back on it, I can see God working on that night in August 2011..... I found myself surrounded by people my age that were raising their hands in praise to songs that I could relate to, people that were there by their own choice. Wow! Chris spoke from Ephesians, and it was then that I was aware for the first time that I was dead in trespasses, and that I was walking in sin. So I made the decision that I needed God; I needed Jesus in my life!"

Exciting, right?  But God was not done. Bree wasn't content to sit on her salvation.  We got to watch her get baptized into a local church, and lead others into practical, life-changing ministries.  Last semester, Bree led a team of students on what they called the "Set Her Free" project.  They adopted an IMB OneLife initiative to help women trapped in sex slavery.  The project raised awareness of human sex trafficing and raised money that provided food, clothing, shelther and job training needed to free a woman from a life of modern-day slavery.  Imagine walking across your public institution to scenes like this:

Their goal was to raise $500 to change one woman's life forever.  At the end of the day, students not only collected $1000, but they had dozens of spiritual conversations with fellow students and professors.  People that didn't even believe in Christianity stopped to contribute and commended the group on living out their faith. 
I know there is a lot going on in our world that is concerning, alarming, frightening, or maddening.  But what I see nearly every day in the lives of students gives me hope that God is not absent at all.  Students like Bree are boldly finding innovative ways to make a difference by sharing the love of Christ.  She's only been a believer for a year-and-a-half, but is already making plans for long-term mission work in Asia by majoring in international studies.  I'm so glad that God is at work among our future leaders! 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weeding out Mr. Wrong: how to dump a guy in 8 ways

What do you do with Mr. Wrong?  And do you even know how to identify him?

I’m not saying Mr. Wrong is an automatic, no-good scoundrel who needs kicked to the curb.  There's no reason to be mean or condescending with a man who’s just not the right guy for you.  I've known many women (myself included) who were flattered by someone they didn't like, but quickly floundered on how to say “no” to the offer of an unwanted date, get flustered about ending an unneeded relationship, or become frustrated by a man’s inability to take their hints and leave them alone.

Many sharp, goal-oriented, head-strong women suddenly weaken their will when it comes to men.  It is my desire to teach younger women what took me too long to learn: how to be a little bolder, a little more frank, much more witty, and much less na├»ve.  With that said, here are 8 practical ways to turn the wrong men away:

1) Give a "Compliment Sandwich".

Bread: Specifically name one or two good qualities about the guy.
Meat: Tell him you are not attracted to him in that way.
Bread:  Give him another compliment.

The reason this is so hard for women is because saying this requires honesty.  Honesty is hard for some women because it doesn't feel “nice”, but it is the kindest thing you can do for a man you don’t envision a future with.  Most of the time, guys do not want to be lied to, led on, or ignored--they just want the truth.

2)  "It's not me, it's you."

One of the best things that ever happened to me was the way one of my boyfriends ended our relationship. After dating for a while, he realized I was not the girl he could marry and told me why. He keenly pointed out a flaw in my character that would keep me from being a godly wife. He said it with respect, all the while affirming the good qualities about me. I appreciated his words and I worked on my shortcomings. Soon after that relationship, I dated my future husband who still benefits from my ex-boyfriend’s wisdom and honesty.

Don't tell a guy there is nothing wrong with him if there really is. What holds him back in life?  Why does he get rejected? It's appropriate and the most helpful thing you could do for his future spouse to let him know how to be a better man. Even if it hurts, most guys will benefit most from people who are honest with them. For example:

     * "I need someone more confident. I want someone who knows how to make decisions."

     * "You don't seem to know where you're going in life. I really don't want to be hanging around while you figure it out. But you have so many other awesome qualities, I'm confident you will be a great husband when you find your niche."

     * "I like to talk and you don't like to listen. It's just not going to work out."

3) Get a little personal.

A couple of years ago, I was hit on by a guy at the gym. He was the player type, and it was clear he had more muscle than he had job.  I mentioned my husband in our conversation, but that did not deter him. I talked about Jesus and he was still interested. But as soon as I mentioned the demands of 3 children, the difficulty of scheduling work-out time among their many appointments, and the fact I had 1 hour to get my kid's poop samples from my purse to the gastroenterologist (true story), he avoided me like the plague.

Most of you single ladies don't have children of your own in which to talk about.  So think about your cousins, nieces, nephews, or kids in the church nursery and take this little tip from Tonya: a man who is thinking about your body can not handle the mention of bodily excrements. A little discussion about puke, poop, and post-nasal drip will make even the "manliest" of men squirm and turn, leaving you with the satisfaction of a role well played.

4) Get the last word.

Though I believe this un-gentleman was playing around, I was once asked "How much?" and then given a dollar amount as if I would render my "services" for cash. This is the time to get snippy and witty ladies. Tell him plainly that he could never afford you. Then snap those fingers, let the Jesus Juke well up within you and retort, "Jesus already bought this body and it's not yours for the taking.” 

If you receive an ever-so-brash, indecent remark that comes unexpectedly, that is not the time to blush, be sheepish, or let a man get one over on you.

 5) "Let's not even be friends."

I have one friend who can't make a pursuer believe that she is not interested in him.  She has been blunt.  She has been offensive, but she does keep talking to him.  She replies to his text messages.  She told me the other day that the only option she has left is to tell him she is never speaking to him again, and that is exactly what she needs to do.

If you know a guy likes you, but you don't like him--watch the way you act around him.  Don't be too interested in his life.  Don't ask him lots of questions.  Be careful with your eyes--they speak volumes without uttering a word.  If you don't like a guy, don't look him in the eye.

6)  Have your standard in mind.

Mr. Wrong asks, "hey, you wanna go to dinner and a movie?"
Your reply: "well, I want to, but _____ ______ (insert name) has never asked me."

That statement is tongue-and-cheek, but no self-respecting man wants to be second-fiddle.  He will soon realize he is not the "one".

7) Ain't no kissin' til there's some committin'.

I am stunned at how many strong, able-bodied women turn to putty when a guy she’s not in a relationship with tries to kiss her. We all played dodge-ball as kids--use those skills ladies!!! Even if you are slightly interested in a guy, you should not let him "try you out" before he at least asks you out (Even then, be very careful how physical you get.  You'll have plenty of time once you're married.)  If this motto is not good enough for the guy interested in you, you can know for sure he does not have your best interests in mind.

8) Don’t cave, CHALLENGE!

I don’t think women ought to make it unfairly hard for a man to ask her out, but most women don’t hold men to a high enough standard.  Guys ought to be the initiators.  They ought to have a plan.  They ought to make their intentions known.  Do not answer “Hey, want to hang out sometime?” with an automatic yes, especially if you are not sure you really like him.  Ask him to clarify.  Ask him what he has in mind.  A girl I know was recently asked by a passive guy “so when are we gonna hang out?”  It may seem like a harmless, charming question, but that is the first sign of a man who is content to shift his God-given responsibilities to a woman.  If she is important to him, he can show forethought and intentionality. So I told her to respond with: “maybe when you get a plan together and ask me out on a real date.”


If the guy you know can’t step up to the plate after a confrontation or challenge, take heart my friends.  You don't have to worry or feel guilty when you leave him out in the cold--most waste management systems have curbside pickup.