Anonymous asked: Hi Unka. Just want to hear your advise on this. I recently had a breakup with a guy I love so much. Now I want to let go, but I just can’t, I always remember him. Will it be okay to use ‘hate’ (as in using the things I don’t like about him, to ’turn me off’) as a coping mechanism while I’m at this stage?
Unka Glen answered: Bless your heart, I love how your mind works. I mean officially hate is bad, and so on, but I follow the logic. In truth, it’s good to remember the good times and celebrate them (which you will do in time), and it’s also good to remember the bad times, to learn and grow from those experiences too.
But the real issue you bring up, the smart and important question is this: is it okay to be not-so-right on the way to being right? After all, most sermons I hear sound like this:
Okay fine, now tell me HOW. Ya see, if you aren’t telling me about the path from not-righteousness to righteousness, then you aren’t being much help. Or perhaps it’s about this tendency we have in the church, to be uncomfortable with transitions.
I mean, we love the testimony that looks back and tells us about the rough road, and how someone made it up that road, but we aren’t as enthusiastic about someone stuck halfway up that road who’s starting to sound, and even act, a bit tired and cranky about things.
Either way, let’s map out the road ahead of you, and see what we find…the first thing we see are a set of pitfalls, and each one is a lie that needs to be rejected in order to move forward.
If you manage to break down those lies and avoid those pitfalls, the way forward will be a little more obvious.
All that might look messy before it resolves itself into a nice tidy testimony, but you’ll be using God Himself as your coping mechanism, instead of hate.
messedupandtwisted asked: Hey Unka Glen, my boyfriend and I are in a long distance relationship and we’ve been together for a long time. I found out that he’s cheating on me, because he told me that I’m too fat and ugly and he doesn’t want me anymore. What should I do Unka Glen? I’m hurting so much that I’m thinking of killing myself.
Unka Glen answered: Oh honey, killing yourself won’t solve your problem with this guy. Killing HIM on the other hand… well, but then you’d end up in jail, where there’s nobody to date at all, except for other ladies, which is another post altogether.
Besides, I hear that when you die, your bowels release and you leave a nasty surprise for whoever finds you. That’s not exactly the kind of lasting impression one wants to leave. So if we can’t get rid of the problem by killing you, or him, we have to figure out how to kill these thoughts in your head.
Let me give you a three step process:
1. Don’t eat the fruit of the poisoned tree. If you hang around as many courtrooms as I do, you pick up the lingo. And in this case “eating the fruit of the poisoned tree” means that if the source of the information is messed up, then the information coming from that source must be regarded as messed up too.
Let’s say you want to invest a lot of money in the stock market, and the homeless man on the corner holds up an empty soup can to his ear, and tells you that he’s receiving a transmission that tells him tech stocks are likely to trend upwards this year. You wouldn’t invest in tech stocks, because, ya know, you have to consider the source.
And trust me, a bum with an intergalactic soup can communicator has more credibility than a cheating ex-boyfriend.
2. No blame-shifting. He’s trying to say it’s not his fault that he cheated on you, it’s your fault for gaining weight. He’s actually attempting to make YOU blame yourself for HIS wrong actions.
I mean sure, if you pushed him and he fell onto this other woman, then yes, you would be partially to blame, otherwise, the only right way to look at this thing is to say that HE ended this relationship the moment he decided to cheat, and that he chose, all on his own, to act in a way that brought dishonor to himself. If there’s a problem with a relationship, you end it, and THEN you move on.
3. Forgive yourself. As soon as you realize that HE is fully responsible for the relationship ending the way it did, and that he acted in a way that can only be described as shameful AND that he tried to get you to take responsibility for it all, then you’ll realize that you chose him, trusted him, and were vulnerable to him.
And here’s the thing, you have to forgive yourself for making that choice. Everyone with an active and healthy dating life ends up dating at least one person that’s horribly wrong for them. (Can I get an Amen out there?) Yes, in hindsight you can see all the signs were there, but the only relevant thought moving forward is: from now on, I’ll know what to look out for.
As Christians we have to: 1) learn to go by what the Lord says about us, and not what the enemy says about us, and 2) we have to accept responsibility for our own actions, while urging others to do the same, and 3) we’re meant to practice forgiveness (including forgiving ourselves). So these are skills you’re already developing, you’re just bringing them to bear on your struggle.
The world is filled with cute Christian guys who are looking to meet someone just like you. Find a good one and give him a shot. Dust your shoulders off sweetie, this ex isn’t worth the salt in your tears.
Anonymous asked: Dearest Uncle, I visited a church this last Sunday with some friends, and it was boring. Like, WAY boring. And I made the mistake of saying so out loud, and they told me it was rude to say that church is boring, and besides, church isn’t supposed to be entertaining. I kind of see their point, but still, am I really wrong to feel this way?
Unka Glen answered: Well, I sorta think it’s rude for you to bore me and waste my time. I’d rather you steal money out of my pocket, than to steal my time and attention, and give me nothing but boredom in return. And I say that as someone who does plenty of preaching myself.
I work with pastors on their preaching as part of my day job, and I often have to dispel this myth, yes church isn’t meant to be “entertaining” and no doubt every preacher should dismiss every form of gimmick, or stunt, or “brilliant visual aid” (which usually distracts more than it points to something useful), and indeed, speak the truth plainly and let the words do the work.
But make no mistake, the truth sets us free in a powerful way, the message of the Gospel is great good news, the stories of the heroes of the faith are stirring, exciting, and inspiring. We should leave church feeling free, uplifted, equipped, encouraged, and grounded. This is what Jesus asked leaders to do, when He said, “if you love me, feed my sheep”.
If I go into your church excited about the Lord, and I go out drained and bored, you’ve done something gravely wrong. Make no excuses, do no blame-shifting. I came in on fire, I left feeling like that was a chunk of my life I’m never getting back, solve for X to find the hidden factor. It’s gonna be you every time Buttercup.
However, it is true that a sermon isn’t supposed to be an entertaining speech that someone has polished all week, worship time isn’t about watching a band play some music, and church itself isn’t meant to be a spectator sport. It’s just that crippling boredom and total irrelevancy are not the only alternatives to those who try to be “entertaining”.
When I go onto a prison deck to preach to inmates, I don’t have a choir, I have no printed bulletin, no stained glass, and no PowerPoint. All I have is words. And that may not seem like much when you’re staring into a sea of very hard faces.
But I’ve always tried to focus on one simple goal: say the words that set people free. Something is binding them, something is holding them back, and if I can eliminate that obstacle, then they can spring forward in their walk with God. They can respond to God, who’s been drawing them closer all along.
There is nothing more exciting than that moment when the chains fall away, and you feel free to run into the Father’s arms, and you feel free from all the stinking thinking that’s kept you down. The peace of that moment, the joy of it, the sheer relief! That’s about as far from boring as you can get.
Anonymous asked: Hi Unka Glen! So my boyfriend and I are starting to talk marriage. Where do we go from here? How do we avoid wedding fever, and focus on the right timing for US? What are big topics that we need to address before getting engaged (neither of us is good with money by the way)? Where do we even start? [edited for length]
Unka Glen answered: Most engaged Christian couples I know, sit up straight and chirp, “we just want our marriage to glorify the Lord!” Then they plan an elaborate monument to their egos, wherein they cram a bloated, forced, and sometimes just downright creepy display of spirituality, designed to “witness” to their friends and family, and maybe also to obscure the fact that this whole thing is about living out a princess fantasy.
And don’t get me wrong, if you want to be princess for a day, and blow a huge wad of money on it, and let it eclipse almost everything else in your life, then fine, but let’s be honest about that up front, shall we?
If you sincerely don’t want to go that route, and I suspect than many don’t want to go that route, then it’s about establishing a firm sense of control from day one. If you want to have a reasonable cost, low maintenance, and overall fun and creative wedding, then you have to imagine telling anyone and everyone you know that magic word: no.
“But you’ve simply got to have centerpieces at your reception!”, someone will say. And the answer is “no we don’t”. “But you’ll regret it if you don’t have an engraved sterling silver cake cutter”, is something I was actually told in preparation for my own wedding. “No, I don’t believe I will, and I think you may want to have the building checked for a gas leak, because you appear to have inhaled fumes of some kind” was the response.
Indeed, the spiritual planning is in direct contradiction with all the physical planning. What happens if you set a date, and then realize you’re just not ready? Do you call everyone you know and tell them to reschedule, lose the deposit you put down on the location, and have to explain to everyone the reasons why?
Nope. You’ll do what most people do, they just get married and figure it out later, because the wedding is driving the bus at that point. Sure, you could plan your wedding far in advance, but then you’ll realize at some point you’re ready to be married, and do all the fun naked bits, and start a life together, but you can’t, because, you guessed it, the wedding date.
The alternative is to get engaged, refuse to set a date, wait until you know you’re ready to get married, then see how quickly you can plan and execute a wedding. My right hand man in our ministry, Jed Brewer, did just that, and it was as wedding-y a wedding as you could possibly ask for, and they loved how it came out. Nevertheless, you have to figure out what fits your needs.
Meanwhile here are three big goals for your wedding prep:
Sit down and imagine how fun this day will be. It’ll be hugely important symbolically for sure, but it’s just a day, and it’ll go by in a blur. Half of it you’ll be standing stock still while someone takes your picture. More than one thing will go fully wrong. So, now, put all that fun on one side of the scale, and put all the planning, preparing, coordinating, and managing egos on the other side. If the wedding planning delivers more misery than the wedding day can deliver in happiness, then the wedding prep is a failure.
Work on finances. You mentioned that money is a weakness for you both, and I’d strongly recommend to every engaged couple that they go over every detail of their finances. That includes: How are we going to manage our household budget? How much credit are we willing to carry? Who pays the bills? How much money do we each get to spend on fun stuff? And so on.
Talk about sex. When your wedding date gets closer, you’ll want to cover all the ground you can on this subject. Turn-ons, turn-offs, stuff you’d like to try, fantasies, hangups, anything, everything. Your goal is to get your mind ready for the fact that all this sexy stuff is about to be TOTALLY legal, as long as it stays between the two of you, and you both consent.
Anonymous asked: Hey Unka! So I really like one of my guy friends, but he’s not saved. He believes in God, but he doesn’t have a relationship with God, so I haven’t tried to tell him I like him. I hope one day he’ll come to Christ, but it seems selfish to want him to build a relationship with God so we could might be together. I pray for him like I do for all my friends. I don’t want to keep stringing myself along emotionally so think I should focus on God, and the right guy will come?
Unka Glen answered: Yes.
(You know you’re on the right track when all you need is a confirmation on what you’re pretty sure is the right thing.) It isn’t not selfish at all to want cute guys to come to know Jesus, it’s just that the salvation is more important than the date-ability.
In truth, you’ll want to look for a guy who is close enough to where you are in your walk that you can both be an encouragement and a challenge to one another. And you’re right to be focused on moving on. Getting wound up in wanting something that you know wouldn’t be great if you had it, really doesn’t make sense. Life is hard enough without all that.
loringthegreat asked: Hi Unka Glen! I just started following your blog, and I really like it. I have kind of an issue with drugs and alcohol. I’m 20 right now, and after a binge for a week, I had to stop and dry out. Now I’m trying to stay clean, but I’m sort of worried about when I turn 21, and alcohol is easier to get. Wanted to get advice if I could. [edited for length]
Unka Glen answered: In truth, most people start drugs and alcohol because they’re bored.
So, as a counter example, when I was in high school, the McDonalds across from the Johnson Space Center had a huge statue of Ronald McDonald in their little outdoor play area. So my buddies and I who were graduating, thought it would be a very nice idea to remove it, despite it being located across from a very secure government location, and place it in our youth pastor’s yard.
So I’m at my first week of college and I’m listening to a radio news report about a pastor who became a local hero for returning a missing Ronald McDonald statue, when my new roommate invites me to a party that promises to be “wild”.
After ten minutes at the party, I shared the following with my new roommate: ”if you think sipping skunky beer out of little red plastic cups is in any way “wild”, you have led a truly sad life my friend. I just tried to talk to an actual woman over the noise in here, and the sound of some fool yelling “party” every few minutes, and neither of us could make out what the other one is saying. You need to know that this is boring, and that I can have more fun by accident than you people have on purpose.”
Now, boredom is usually why people start with drugs and alcohol, but they binge and stay addicted to them, because they’re looking to be numb. Imagine you had a big, giant, gaping head wound. Like we could see your brain pulsing and stuff.
Then imagine that I said, here, drink this, you won’t feel a thing. This would be a good and welcome help. If however you started walking around with your head wound and telling everything is fine because you don’t feel a thing, then that would be sad, weird, irresponsible, and kind of embarrassing. And it really wouldn’t be “wild” at all.
If you learn to have clean (and hopefully semi-legal) fun, and face your pain with God’s help, then drugs and alcohol will have no appeal.
hope-and-heartstrings asked: Hey Unka! At college, I found a small and intimate church, and it felt like home. After graduating, I started going with my friends to their large church. But after attending for several months, it still doesn’t feel like I’m home. The teaching is good, but I feel like a number, not a person. I really want to build community, and I feel like there’s not a place for me. I am frustrated after every service because I don’t feel known or truly cared about. Is it selfish of me to explore other churches in my area that are smaller and fit me better? Sometimes I hear that “church shopping” is wrong.
Unka Glen answered: I hear this same exact thing about large churches A LOT. I mean, a whole lot. In the end, it’s a very simple equation, once a church reaches a certain size, there are things they simply can’t deliver. The size itself, and indeed the way it has grown, prevents it from being able to provide the kind of intimacy you’ve become used to.
For that reason, it isn’t fair to expect large churches to deliver in certain areas. You don’t go to McDonalds and get mad because they won’t serve you a fine Porterhouse steak. You aren’t in any way wrong or selfish to expect to have a warm and personal sense of intimacy in your Christian community, it’s just unfair to expect it where you know that the size, or the setup, simply prevents it from happening.
And let’s dismiss another thing about church life: waiting and expecting it to change. Part of my job is working with pastors, and if there’s one great lesson I’ve learned about church life, it’s that the worst cuss word you can use in church is CHANGE.
Is church shopping wrong? Well, imagine God saying this to you:
“My child, I desperately desire that you stay in this church where you have no sense of community or body life, where your spiritual needs are not being met, because it would be very bad if you looked for a new and small and intimate church where they would know you, miss you when you were gone, hold you accountable, cheer your successes, and care for you as an individual. That would be very bad.”
If it sounds silly when I say it out loud, then let’s decide that it here’s nothing to it.
today-isawindingroad asked: Unka— I’ve got a problem. My mother really wants me to date a young man she recently met, and she’s been praying for Jesus to make him her son-in-law. So I told momma dearest: listen, that’s great and all… but no.
However, taking your advice, I decided to put myself out there by inviting him to a concert. He accepted. Unfortunately, my mother also accepted and came along. And spent the entire evening gushing about how great I am.
And the guy was nice. He was really open and kind. But that’s all I got from it. Just ‘nice’. I felt more like I was hanging out with my mom and brother than anything. We got home after, and mom’s grinning from ear to ear: “Oh! Next, we’re gonna take him to dinner! All three of us.”…Unka… what do I do here?
Unka Glen answered: Oh momma, I know you didn’t go on that date… Well, sweetie, I think it’s time to tell your mom that you want to break up. Not with the guy…with her. Bless her heart, she’s trying to help, but huh-uh, no. She needs to get the message that having a mom on a date, all excited and involved, is a romantic buzz-kill of GALACTIC proportions.
Matchmaking is fun, and mothers can get excited about romantic possibilities, not to mention good son-in-law possibilities, but there’s a line, and showing up on your daughter’s date is almost comically over it.
It’s important for you to remind your mom that parents don’t write the script for their kid’s lives. Sometimes parents have a hard time remembering that. Let mom know that your romantic life is just that, yours. And that you’re for sure listening to the input and advice, but then there’s the point where everybody’s got to hang back and let you choose for yourself.
The funny thing is, your mom might be making a good recommendation here, but she’s kind of over-helping it to death. This guy does sound nice, and maybe there could be a spark, but how are we gonna know, if mom is there on the actual date? I mean, c’mon people!
Let your mom know that it’s actually important to get to know someone before you get serious, and if your mom has just met the guy, it may be worth pointing out that the safe and smart and responsible thing is to get to know him better, on, ya know, a one-on-one basis. Particularly if we’re looking for exactly how serious he is about the Lord.
Go out someplace where you can talk and get to know one another. Give the guy a chance, and don’t let mom throw you off one way or the other. If it doesn’t work, at least you gave it a chance.
And let mom know that it might be for be best if you both see other people for awhile.
thegentleway asked: Hey Unka! I have a question: Does the Bible command us to use corporal punishment? There are verses in Proverbs that tell parents to hit their children with a rod but a friend of mine used this verse to justify beating one’s child if they don’t do things such as reading the Bible as often. But something about applying that verse in such a manner seems really off. Can you help clarify the confusion?
Unka Glen answered: Yeah… your friend is basically describing child abuse. What’s worse, is that trying to physically beat someone into Christianity is as evil as it is doomed to fail. It simply doesn’t get any more wrong than this.
Now, perhaps this is one of those situations where certain types of people in the church adopt certain intentionally unpopular points of view, so that they can get themselves into debates, so they can get attention, because they’re lonely, and they don’t know how else to have a conversation. You know the type of person I mean.
If that’s the case, tell your friend that talking like this is a way to lose friends, and if he already has kids, it’s a good way to have someone call the cops on you. And trust me, that’s the kind of attention you don’t want.
The Bible doesn’t describe beating children for failing to do the right thing. The Bible does however talk about discipline. It talks about helping children avoid getting into bad or destructive areas of life. It’s about comparing the unpleasant discipline needed, to the much more unpleasant consequences of possibly letting this child hurt themselves and/or others.
Imagine you’re on the train tracks, and you don’t hear the train coming, I see the train, and I grab your arm really hard, and jerk you out of the way. This behavior would be totally rude and unacceptable in any other situation, but in this one instance, it’s obviously the right thing to do. Of course, if I jerked you away with more force than was needed, that would simply be cruel behavior as well.
The Bible has several verses about disciplining kids, but let’s start here. Ephesians 6:4 ”Parents, don’t exasperate your children. Instead, train them and teach them the ways of the Lord as you raise them.” Colossians 3:21 “Parents, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
If you disobey these verses, it doesn’t matter what other verse you obey, ya dig? That’s how this Christianity thing works. Mmmkay?
Proverbs 13:24 says “Whoever withholds the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” The Hebrew word for rod is shebet (shay’-bet), and it basically describes a long wooden staff. It’s also a symbol of authority.
Picture a shepherd who uses a wooden rod to keep all the sheep herded together. Now, imagine a sheep, with poor eyesight, and worse depth perception, looking at some grass at the foot of a cliff, and he’s about to step off that cliff to get him some of that grass. A good and caring shepherd might use that staff to give a firm “hey, get away from there” tap on the shoulder.
This rod is used to protect the sheep, after all, this is why the shepherd David says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
Does this mean that you should hit your child with a literal wooden staff? Um, no. The real point here is that confronting kids early, setting clear boundaries, and dishing out swift and consistent discipline for negative or unsafe behavior is essential to good parenting.
Exactly how that discipline is dealt out ought to be a matter of prayer. Beyond all that, your friend will likely find the Lord giving a little discipline of His own, if he continues twisting the Bible around as a justification for his own unhealthy inclinations.
Anonymous asked: Hi Unka! I’m currently falling for this guy, but I keep feeling embarrassed all the time, and my heart keeps trying to run away. I want to keep getting to know him, but I’m afraid. He seems perfect to me, and I think he loves me. Sometimes he says or does cheesy things that make me cringe, but I also can’t stop thinking about him and smiling when we’re apart. What is wrong with me?? Help!
Unka Glen answered: Let’s see, are you also experiencing a shortness of breath, do you often feel flush around your neck, is your stomach turning somersaults, and do you have clammy palms and sweaty armpits?
If so, there are only three possibilities:
Possibility #1 You’re having some kind of stroke. If you start seeing spots and you feel like you have the taste of copper in the back of your mouth, then go ahead and see a doctor.
Possibility #2 You’re experiencing some kind of spiritual “sign” that’s telling you that you should never date anyone, and you should dig a hole, and crawl in it, and let fear rule your life, and stay in your fear bunker where you can remain “pure”.
Possibility #3 You’re in love. Additional symptoms include advanced premature wedding planning, writing your first name with his last name, and unsolicited preemptive children naming (Taylor if it’s a boy, and if it’s a girl…Taylor!).
What can I say, love is a wild ride. As you mention, you’re “falling” for this guy, and that’s exactly what it’s like. You don’t really think your way into love, and, contrary to what some would say, you don’t really pray your way into love. When it comes to romantic love, you FALL in love.
All that can feel like an out-of-control thing, but I think it’s about letting that passion flow freely, while controlling where you want it to go, so you can make these relationships look the way you want them to look. If you stifle the passion, what do you have?
There’s nothing like the rush of a new romance. Sure, a good relationship will transform into something much more deep and meaningful, and it will hopefully help you both be more focused on the Lord (again, if it’s pointed in the right direction), but that doesn’t make new romance any less sweet and exciting.
Enjoy the wild ride. Take the leap. Sure, in some cases you’ll see that he wasn’t quite the guy you thought he was, and that maybe you were filling in the gaps of your knowledge with positive stuff, and maybe that had something to do with his totally squeezable booty.
And yes, heartbreak is out there. But it’s all part of a learning process that you’ll take into your future marriage. It’s an adventure, and it’s one you’ll be glad you took.
Anonymous asked: I suck at idolatry. At the end of every day, I have this huge repenting session with Christ, about how I couldn’t keep Him first in my life, and it blows. With the job I have as a performer, I worry that I’ll start to worship myself and become selfishly ambitious, as so many others tend to do (performer or not), and ruin everything. Honestly, I’m kind of terrified to move forward with my dreams because of this struggle.
Unka Glen answered: Let’s ask ourselves a few questions to determine the nature of this idolatry…
Idolatry is one of those catch-all terms that people use to hit us with the guilt stick, so let’s keep it simple: when it all goes wrong, whatever you turn to, that’s your God.
Your obsessive “repentance” over perceived “wrongs” isn’t going to help you figure out how to do it right. Neither will the worry or fear you mention. Those are tools of the enemy. Tools he is already effectively using against you, to “terrify” you, as you put it, and freeze you in place.
If you want to repent of anything, repent of letting fear drive the bus. Pray for courage, ask God to swell your heart with love and passion and creativity for those He wants you to reach, and let Him make you wise about how to reach them. Move forward, and instead of worrying over what doesn’t work, use all your energy to simply correct what doesn’t work and move on.
Finally, as for “worshipping yourself” most performers I know go through such a punishingly hard time of trying to succeed, and earn a living, that by the time they get to a place to feed their egos, their egos have been beaten nearly to death. So save yourself the heartache, and ask God to do an ego-ectomy.
It’s not that wanting external approval is all that bad, it’s the things we’ll do to get it. A huge percentage of ministry professionals I work with have come to a place in their careers where they had a chance to do the right thing and put everything at risk; but instead they chose to sell out, and take the “safe” path.
And most of them have already found out, that when you sell out to be liked, or to be well paid, or because you’re afraid, you end up in a MUCH LESS safe place. God’s provision is on the His path, not yours.