Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On making things clear....

I recently asked a girl -- explicitly, not just implied! -- to go on an actual Date (yes, the capital "D" was there, even though it was spoken).

She said, "Thank you, but I'm not interested in you that way."

Ok, cool!  No harm, no foul, and we're still friends. :)

That was SOOOOOO much easier than the "let's hang out and hope we click and if we click I might get the courage to ask her to be my girlfriend but I shouldn't let her explicitly know I'm interested (although hopefully she'll figure it out) because I'm afraid that'll scare her off" approach.

No, if being blunt scares her off, then fine.  Y'all know me -- we probably wouldn't have gotten along anyway; none of us has time to dilly-dally around waiting for someone to figure out what they want.

So....From here on out, if I'm interested in a you, I'm going to ask you: "I'd like to take you on a Date; are you interested?"

Now, for all of you girls reading this, don't think that just because I've asked you if you want to "hang out" or whatever previously that it automatically means I've been interested in you but just wasn't saying so, and was trying to sneak a date in when you weren't paying attention.

Granted, I _have_ been guilty of that before (forgive me), but not often, especially in the last year or three (I've grown up a little).  More than likely in your case I wasn't.  (And I 100% wasn't if I know you have a significant other, aren't into guys, are underage, etc.)

But do rest assured that from here forward, no matter what, "Do you want to hang out" means _just that_, and no more.  It means you're a friend and I like hanging out with you, or you're a new friend and I want to find out if I like hanging out with you -- as a friend -- same as I asked a guy the same thing.

If I'm interested in you enough to want to see if there's any "us" beyond friendship at all, I'll ask you on a Date, capital "D" and all.

It doesn't have to be anything fancy.  In fact, I don't know that the first one would be anything more than what would otherwise be just "hanging out" (e.g. going to see a movie, dinner, whatever).  The difference will be that I will have been up front about my intentions and motivations.  Then you can either say, "No, thanks" or "Yes, I'd like that".  You will not hurt my feelings either way.  (Do try to be nice about it, though...body language can cut just as deep as verbal language.)

If you say "no", then fine -- no harm, no foul, we're still friends, etc.  Moving on, no biggie.

But do us both a favor -- since I'm not playing games, don't play games yourself.  Make the time, show up on time, and put the phone away.  If you want to date me, then date me.  If you don't, don't feel like you have to say "Yes" just to be nice or whatever.  That's called leading someone on.  If you're not sure, answer with "I'm not sure it'll go anywhere, but sure -- let's give it a go."  It's called "managing expectations" and it's all the rage in the business world, because it _works_.

Also, as long as we're on the topic, if you are interested in me, but I don't seem to be in you, don't wait for me to catch a clue (I can be pretty dumb sometimes).  Tell me!  Don't worry: whether it's "yes" or "no", I'll treat you exactly like I would like to be treated -- with dignity, respect, honesty, and clarity.

I say all this because I'm getting tired of constantly wondering.

You see, I'm looking to settle down in the next year or five, and I'd very much like someone to settle down _with_.

For the record, I don't want to do the following, but even if I did I couldn't.  I can't just pick someone and say, "You marry Krog!" and drag her off to my cave.  Nor am I under any illusion that any particular gal I date is automatically the one that will work out, just by virtue of the fact that she said "yes" to a date (or even a Date...haha).  (So don't worry that I'm going to think that just because you went on a date with me that I'm going to think we're a couple yet or something....).

No, but I think I should just start flat out making my desires clear.  That way if someone isn't interested, I'll be clear on that, and we can make some progress.

And if she's _not_ interested, I'll be clear on that, too, rather than wondering, "did that interaction mean something or not?  What did it mean, if anything?"  etc. until I wind up in a mental institution....

So no more mental institution for me.  If I like you, I'm gonna say so.  If you like me, say so.  We'll figure it out from there.  :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Yom Kippur and the Elevation of the Holy Cross

Originally posted on my Facebook.  Hope you like the formatting here better. :)
This is probably one of the most blatantly "in your face" proselytizing posts I've ever put up on here. You all know that I rarely do that. I post a lot of political stuff, and a lot of religious stuff, but rarely ever, on here or in person, do I just blatantly proselytize. And I don't foresee doing this very much in the future, either.

But there is a great coincidence of liturgical calendars between my religion and another, which bears some meditation. That meditation turned into a call to convert. Oops. 

Here goes...

This evening begins, in the Jewish religion, Yom Kippur, the yearly Day of Atonement.

This is a high holy day, and is observed with strict fasting, almsgiving, prayers of repentance, and other asceticisms, designed to remind us of our fallen condition, and to petition God by these for forgiveness, and I wish my Jewish friends a good repentance and confession, a good Yom Kippur profitable for their souls.

Even we Christians should take note of the day. In the Jewish service in the synagogue, the prayer is recited:

May all the people of Israel be forgiven, including all the strangers who live in their midst, for all the people are in fault.

And this is true!

The Prophet Isaiah wrote of this Day. He prophesied:

Hearken to me, you that follow after righteousness, you that seek the LORD:look unto the Rock out of which you have been hewed, and to the hole of the pit out of which you have been dug.
Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you:for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.
For the LORD shall comfort Zion:he will comfort all her waste places;and he will make her wilderness like Eden,and her desert like the garden of the LORD;joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. 
Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation:for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people.
My righteousness is near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust....How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'
...Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Sounds like Atonement to me! But Who is this Servant, this Holy Arm that the LORD promised to reveal, not only to His people, but to the Gentiles as well? Who is the One by Whom the Atonement would be wrought?

Isaiah continues:

Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: so shall he sprinkle many nations;

What is this? He will be exalted, but the nations will be astonished at his appearance, his form will be marred? And by -this- He will sprinkle the nations? What can this mean?

Again, he continues:

Who has believed our report? And to whom is the Arm of the LORD revealed?For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, he is not beautiful that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Who is this Arm? What kind of salvation is wrought in affliction? What kind of Atonement can this man accomplish? It looks like God Himself has afflicted him, and smitten him. This cannot be the Arm of the LORD!

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Ah. He was not smitten of God after all. He was bearing our transgressions, carrying our sorrows, the consequences of our sin -- the very death that we brought upon ourselves. This is the Arm of the LORD, which overthrows death and sin, and brings us Atonement -- forgiveness, cleansing, healing.

Echoing the Jewish prayer mentioned above, the Prophet continues,

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.

Of this Man, the Prophet concludes that God

'shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Sing, O barren, that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you that did not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife,' says the LORD....'No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me,' says the LORD.

If that's not Atonement, I don't know what is. But Who is the man? Who is the Arm of the LORD, who suffers death, bearing the sins of the people, and is then exalted?

By coincidence this year, this liturgical day (beginning, as does the Jewish day, at sundown) in the Orthodox Church, of which I am a member, is also a high holy day, which we remember the day with additional fasting, prayers, and almsgivings. This is the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross.

This coincidence is pregnant with meaning. It is the teaching and faith of the Christian Church that the Atonement of mankind, as described by the Prophet Isaiah (and others), and for which the Jews hope and ask on this day, and will ask on That Day, was accomplished and opened for all by Yeshua (in English, Jesus), son of Miriam (in English, Mary), in His voluntary death on the Cross for our sins, as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world", in fulfillment of the Jewish Scriptures.

We proclaim that by the Messiah is true forgiveness of sins, and that all who believe in Him, and are baptized into His name, which He receives from His Father, will stand with and in Him at the last Day, vindicated in Him and by Him and to Him, for He is God's Messiah, the Arm of the LORD, revealed to the nations, Who suffered death and was raised by the Holy Spirit ("Ruach Ha'Kodesh") of God, and "highly exalted", and it is by Him that God will open the books and judge every man according to the things that are written in the books.

There is much detail that I am glossing over here, for the sake of space, of course. I haven't even gone into the "Days of Awe" which preceed Yom Kippur, and the Prophet Job's resonance with that and the acts of Yeshua/Jesus the Messiah, nor have I even mentioned the Avodah, the Temple worship, and all it's rich symbolism which points to and was fulfilled in the Messiah's Atonement.

Both Yom Kippur and the Elevation of the Holy Cross are holy days rich with meaning, and which address the same topic, but from different angles. The subtle interplay of these two could be explored ad inifinitum (and, I suspect, will be, ad aeternum, to the glory of God).

But I beg you, my Jewish friends, do not merely "cross your fingers" and hope that your efforts to appease God will be enough. Come to God's Arm, which He has revealed to all the nations through your precious people! Come to the Atonement He provides, and be cleansed. Believe in the Salvation of the LORD. Repent, as Yom Kippur calls for, and be baptized (a Jewish practice, by the way, originally) into His Name, for the remission of sins. Do not delay, for as King David sang in the Psalms,

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, 'It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways': unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

For if Yeshua, the son of Nun, had given Israel this rest, this sabbath, then David would not afterward have spoken of another day, as when the LORD says through him (quoted above), "Today". There remains, therefore, a Sabbath, a rest, to the people of God, to be entered into.

For he that is entered into His Sabbath, also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Labor, therefore, to enter into His Sabbath, lest any of you fall by the same example of unbelief as did those forefathers in the wilderness.

Come to the Messiah, the great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Yeshua, the Son of God, and He will give you the Sabbath rest in truth. For He is not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tried like we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need on this Day of Atonement.

May your Yom Kippur be blessed and holy, and praise be to God.