The following is a post by my friend Ann White. We both decided to take a topic and write our opinions on the subject without consulting the other. So to see my opinion on Friendlationships, click here. We might have to do this guest blogging thing again - it's kinda fun.

"So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female he created them."
-Genesis 1:27

At the pinnacle of God's creative work, he created man and woman, and together they are a reflection of his image. I don't think I begin to understand the depth to which male and female combine, compliment, and come together to produce this union that reflects the fullness of the Lord.

But.. one of the wisest sentiments I've ever heard is that for every good gift the Lord gives us, Satan has produced a counterfeit.

The fact is that the general American population is waiting longer to get married. There are many advantages to that, but there are also pitfalls. Despite the fact that we are waiting until we're older to get married, we still have an innate drawing for that type of relational (not to mention physical) intimacy that a member of the opposite sex provides.

Same sex friendships are so important and I believe is where a lot of our character is formed and foundation laid. Friendships with the opposite sex are also so critical. We can learn how to treat each other with respect as brothers and sisters in Christ and experience some level of the balance that men and women were designed to strike together.

But like I mentioned before, for every good thing God gives us, Satan manipulates. Enter the friendlationship. This term is used to describe an increasingly common phenomenon where boundaries become confused in male/female friendships. I will admit that this is an area that I have screwed up more than my fair share of times.

Slowly and in small ways, male/female relationships can go from healthy to inappropriate. And by that I don't necessarily mean physically inappropriate, but perhaps the more dangerous emotionally inappropriate. Emotional inappropriateness can take many forms, ranging the span of all our human frailties: co-dependency, selfishness, jealousy, idolatry.

The keys to avoiding these pitfalls seem trite and cliche, but they're all too true- prayer, honesty, communication, self-discipline and restraint. Respecting and loving one another appropriately is one of the most basic and difficult lessons of life, and relationships with the opposite sex that seek to remain holy and righteous are a gift of an opportunity that God gives us to learn and grow.


Boondock Saints

Last night I watched the movie Boondock Saints with my friend Kari. It was a fascinating and entertaining film. Granted it was late, so I fell asleep about ten times, but what I saw I thoroughly enjoyed. And between saying the f-word more times than I've heard in the past year in under two hours, the movie had an interesting question to offer: is it ok for vigilantes to take justice into their own hands as long as the people they are killing are universally accepted as evil?

But I am ahead of myself. The plot goes like this: Two guys, we are led to believe they are deeply spiritual, hear the voice of God one day that tells them to avenge the helpless in the world by killing the wicked. This is their "calling", if you will. So they begin attacking some of the big players in the Russian and Italian mafia with their sidekick, "The Funny Man". By the end of the story they have become local heroes, and are dubbed "The Saints" for their "laudable actions".

The people they kill are undoubtedly the wickedest men in the city they live in. I must have fallen asleep when they mentioned the town name, but I'm thinking Boston. And so we are left with the ethical dilemma - are their actions justified? These aren't vigilantes with a questionable cause. Everyone would agree that the men they killed at the minimum deserved life-sentences in prison, if not capital punishment. But because of the power these men held, getting them in prison by law enforcement is a near impossible task. So the Saints simplify the process.

During my days of religiously watching Law and Order I always sided with Jack McCoy who believed that justice was for the courts. If we allowed others to dole out justice, our system would eventually crumble and anarchy would ensue. Or so his line of reasoning would lead us to believe. This belief was so black and white, that even in the case of the Boondock Saints, he would still think that why their deeds were necessary they still needed to be punished.

After some thought, I'm going to have to say that I still agree with Jack. While the Saints killed people that would be thought of as evil by all of society, letting people carry out the law in their own hands would ultimately lead to chaos. The reason is that punishment is still an arbitrary question after a certain point. Sure, we all think rapists, child molesters, human traffickers all prey on the helpless but we all have our own opinions too. What if my family was robbed, and I suddenly viewed theft as a crime worthy of capital punishment? What gives me the right to decide what is truly evil beyond the universal laws?

Those are some of my thoughts. They aren't worthy of scrutiny in court, that's for sure. What do you think?


Politically Correct Bedtime Stories

I saw a Book-Off today. I had to go in. I was never really sure what Book-Off meant in Japan, and just chalked it up to one more classic case of Jenglish (Japanese-English). But, today's Book-Off located in Vancouver, brought back pleasant memories so I decided to go in for nostalgic reasons.

Good thing I did! I found the most amazing book. The title? Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. Here is an excerpt from a rendition of Snow White:

Once there was a young princess who was not at all unpleasant to look at and had a temperament that many found to be more pleasant than most other people's. Her nickname was Snow White, indicative of the discriminatory notions of associating pleasant or attractive qualities with light, and unpleasant or unattractive qualities with darkness. Thus, at an early age, Snow White was an unwitting if fortunate target for this type of colorist thinking.

Now that's what I call balanced, politically correct writing. It's about time there was a bit more sensitivity shown in fairy, excuse me, "individual diety proxy" tales. I promise to never read to my children those biased, antiquated tales any longer. I think its time we all live up to the author's charge:

"If, through omission or comission, I have inadvertently displayed any sexist, racist, culturalist, nationalist, regionalist, aegist, lookist, ableist, sizeist, speciesist, intellectualist, socioeconomicist, ethnocentrist, phallocentrist, heteropatriachalist, or other type of bias as yet unnamed, I apologize and encourage your suggestions for rectification. In the quest to develop meaningful literature that is totally free from bias and purged from the influences of its flawed cultural past, I doubtless have made some mistakes."

May this blog live up to the same calling.


My Fear

I'm afraid of knowing God. I think I've had this fear before, but now this fear seems stronger than ever.

This may sound strange. Especially if you know me. I love God. I love going to church. I love my Christian friends. I love learning all I can about God.

But still I'm afraid. I think I realized why. Because I'm proud. I'm pretty amazing. Or at least think I am. But deep down, in those moments of solitude - those times I actually slow down to contemplate - I know I'm not.

And I realize that if I start truely knowing God and following His word, I'll have to change. I may have to give up my busyness that gives an appearance of being an important Christian. I may have to give up my humor, wit, and sarcasm that gives an appearance of unbounding joy. I may have to give up my knowledge of scripture that gives an appearance of knowing God.

I need to become humble. I need to become nothing. I need to love others as I love myself. Truth is, I don't want to. Because I know I can get away fooling you from now till the day I die. But I can't fool Him. And that's what haunts me.


The Vulcan

One of my coworkers informed me today that someone asked, "Is the Vulcan in today?" "The Vulcan?" he asked. "Yeah, Blake, is he in today?" I've been called many things before, but being known as the Vulcan was a new one. According to Wikipedia, a source whose veracity I never question, Vulcans are "...a humanoid species in the fictional Star Trek universe who hail from the planet Vulcan, and are noted for their attempt to live by reason and logic with no interference from emotion." I guess that's me.

It's funny, because at work, it's partially true. I work with computers all day. Well, and people too, but mainly computers and solving logical problems. My mantra at work is "1's and 0's people!" All that means is that it is either true, or not true. Something either happened, or did not happen. There is no gray-area. And with computers, that is always the case. This cold, emotionless logic serves me well.

But I wonder, like the Vulcans, if this keeps me distant and separate from people. My framework with people is often very logical. Thus I'm afraid I lose the complexity that each individual has. I believe that A causes B, and forget that A is made up of tons of other things. Inputs or parameters, if you want to use computer terms. But more than that - past emotional experiences, hurts and joys, successful and failed relationships, harsh words and words of encouragement.

Deep down, I want to be known completly. And deep down, I want to know someone completly. I just don't know how to get there.

Being a Vulcan is much like Simon and Garfunkel's 'rock'. It's safe. It's logical. But it lacks the messiness that is life. And so, this is just me trying to speak in human terms. If I've misinterpeted you, missed the emotion behind what you said (or intentionally did not say) - I'm sorry. Help me out.

And please - realize I'm not so nerdy that I use Star Trek illustrations all the time!


Emotions and Spiritual Roller Coasters

I've never been really comfortable with emotions. I'm aware I have them. I'm aware I have a lot of them. But they always seem to get in the way. They seem to cause me to be irrational and illogical in my behavior. And I don't like that. Unless I'm terribly enthusiastic about something (which I know you all find hard to believe), and then I'm ok with it.

And so I find myself confused with the spiritual highs and lows I seem to go through. My spiritual life seems highly emotional. Now, granted, I also feel like my faith is firmly rooted in prayer and plenty of time in God's word, among other spiritual disciplines, but I can't begin to describe the highs and lows my faith has gone through over the past year. Past two years. Past five years.

You see, right now is a point that I really like being a Christian. I am hopeful about God's church, His plan, and His people. In fact, I like being a Christian so much that I really think that it's the best thing for people to be. That shouldn't be surprising - that's what we're supposed to think.

But I know, because experience seems to bear this out, in a few days or a few weeks that will change. And I don't like that. Why is my faith full of such seemingly bipolar mood swings? How do I find some level plains instead of valleys and mountaintops.

I'm not sure - I realize God's spirit is a dynamic and fluid thing in my life. I realize that not having emotion is a little silly. It never works for me when I totally disengage emotionally. I guess I'll have to keep figuring it out - not everything is a mathematical formula. Tis a shame.



How's that for a good title? Now that I got your attention, let's get started.

When I was a sophomore in college I went on my first overseas mission trip. I've really been on two, but hey, that makes my plural statement correct right? My first trip was to the city of Warsaw, Poland. I loved that trip. Never had I been overseas, nor had I ever engaged people in one-on-one Bible studies.

Yet the trip struck me as slightly strange. We were given a book beforehand to read called Once a Catholic. I grew up thinking Catholics didn't read their Bible, and that they were a mighty, evil force against the true church. So off I went, encouraged by my local church, to convert the Catholic masses (no poor pun intended).

I came home greatly troubled by this. I wasn't really sure what I was doing over there, and why we were out to convert other people who believed in God as well - just a bit differently than us.

I have two coworkers at work of a different faith. One is Morman, one is Hindu. Almost daily we engage in spiritual conversations. Sadly, before I met them, my perceptions of their faiths was as limited as my views on Catholocism. But both of these men have strengthened me in my spiritual walk. My Morman coworker and I reguarly discuss scriptures, and different interpetations of God's word. It is uplifting and challenging. How can I let my Bible knowledge slip when I am challeneged by him? But even more challenging is the faith of my Hindu friend. He gets up every morning and meditates and prays for an hour before work. On Fridays, every Friday in fact, he fasts. Soon after I discovered this I was convicted of how little time I spent with God on a daily basis. And so I became more dilligent about my spiritual disciplines, as indicated by my last post. Obviously I can learn a lot from these guys.

I don't think I'll ever again believe that I own the corner on religion or God. How can I? He is too big, and I am too small. I'm not sure how this fits, but I know I look forward to more talks with my friends of different faiths.



I love discipline. Give me something to be disciplined about, and I'll do it with a passion. I think that is why I enjoyed running so much, and why I had some success in high school and college. I'm not a natural athlete, but I can show up and consistently do everything required in practice. Do I need to be up every day at 5:30? No problem...I'll go to bed earlier. Discipline...sacrifice...it's what I like most.

A few months ago I started having a lot of problems in my life. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally. I keep a regular prayer journal, and I looked and saw that I had neglected writing in it for several weeks at a time. I threw running out the window, and watched more and more television. Who needed discipline? Not I!

Then I stumbled upon one of my new favorite spiritual books, The Celebration of Discipline. And in it, the author challenged me to be disciplined about my relationship with God. To seek Him every day, no matter what is going on. To have spiritual things I do (be it fasting, reading, praying, meditating, etc.) on a daily basis. By doing that, I will develop a deeper, more spiritual, more intimate relationship with God.

That sounds great to me! I can do that. I think we can find God everywhere. I think we've tried to find God everywhere. But sometimes we forget that it takes dedication to build a relationship. Even with a close friend, we must regularly invest in that person. The deeper the relationship, the more constant the investment must be. Showing up and talking to God every three or four days might get you an acquaintance, but not an intimate friend. Yes, God loves me and loves you. But we have to get involved in the relationship as well.

I look forward to the new year. I look forward to a deeper faith. I look forward to knowing God better than I ever have.