Dating

19Jan

The #1 Question in Dating: WHO?

Some people call it “Illuminati Tinder.”

It’s a dating app called Raya that is fairly secret. It caters to an exclusive clientele who work in the “creative industries” aka celebrities. It’s Tinder for famous people. Amy Schumer met her boyfriend on Raya and he was the only person she ever talked to on the app.

The application process is intense and very exclusive. Us commoners need not apply. Just to apply, you have to give the app full access to all of your contacts and all passwords to your social media accounts so they can see who you follow but more importantly, who follows you. You really need a few existing Raya users to vouch for you and if you get denied, you can never apply again.

If you stumble across someone famous and you think you might want to screenshot their profile, think again. Raya automatically boots you off the app forever for a single screenshot.

Raya’s message is simple: there is a certain category of people that are acceptable for its followers to date but many more people who don’t make the cut.

Jesus followers should date like Raya followers, just with a lot less elitism.

Many people want to know the HOW of dating. I frequently hear questions like these:

  • How do I ask a girl out in the age of dating apps?
  • How soon should we be exclusive?
  • How do I know if a guy is actually interested in me?
  • How can I tell someone I want an actual date instead of just “hanging out”? (that’s a sermon for another day)

The HOW questions are important, and we’ll tackle some of them next week. But the most important question in dating is not HOW but WHO?

As a Christ follower, as important as it is to be wise and discerning about who to LOOK FOR, your primary concern in dating should always be to make sure YOU’RE meeting those same standards as well. Far too often, we hold others to a higher level than we are willing to extend to ourselves.

Ask yourself this question: Are you the kind of person that the person you’re looking for is looking for?

This article is an abbreviated version of a sermon in the series, “Wating, Dating, & Mating” from The Table Austin. The Table exists to be a Christ-centered, outward-focused, community of friends. Those three core values help frame who you should look for in a dating relationship as well as who you should be.

1.) Christ-centered

The first rule of dating is really the first rule of life: Jesus calls it the greatest commandment.

Deuteronomy 6:5, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL AND WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT.”

I regularly get questions from Christ-followers about dating people who don’t follow Jesus. Some have called this “missionary dating.” The thought process goes something like this: my replies are in italics

  • “Well, they don’t believe yet..but they’re asking good questions!” – still not a follower, yet.
  • “Maybe God put me in his/her life to help lead them to Christ.” – God’s big enough to save people without needing you to sin in order to do so. 
  • This is the most common one: “But they are a Christian. They prayed a prayer when they were eight but have just been wandering since then. They don’t really go to church but they’re definitely spiritual.”

Now, with that last one, imagine we used the same criteria that was used to affirm their love for Jesus as the criteria used to affirm his/her love for you. It would go something like this.

  • “Yeah, my boyfriend is awesome! He just doesn’t talk to me very much, Actually, he never does. We actually don’t ever spend any time together either. But he talked to me once when he was eight! He even told me he loved me then. But that was the only time. And now, he actually spends all of his time with other girls. But yeah…he’s awesome.”

The person you’re looking for to date…they need to be more than cultural Christians who attend church.

We’re talking about living Christ-centered lives, not just attending a few church services a month.

  • Your person should be able to explain the Gospel to you. Briefly, in less than a minute…out loud…with words…without having to Google anything.
  • Your person should be able to articulate what God is doing in their life.
  • Your person should have other people (plural) speak about their passion for the Lord.

 

Is it sinning to date a non-Christian? YES 

  • 1 Cor. 7:39 – “marry only in the Lord”
  • 2 Cor. 6:14 –  “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
  • Genesis 1-2 – Garden of Eden (before sin entered the world) – How did God originally intend life to be lived? 
    • 1 man and 1 woman loving God and each other for life.

Now, if you follow up and say, “Well, Steven, listen if I’m honest Jesus isn’t the most important thing in my life right now, either.” Well then you’re not being Christ-centered (and we can work on that, certainly – I’ve been there) but if you’re not living a Christ-centered life you’re not living up to the standard by which you can date and still honor God.

 

2. Outward-focused

You care for others. They should care for more than themselves. A lot of times folks have a hard time dating or getting serious in a relationship getting past that 3-6 month mark because all of a sudden you have someone real in your life to take care of and someone else’s opinions and preferences to consider. You wake up and realize you don’t get to always and instinctively do whatever you want.

Guys, if your idea of a date is inviting a girl over to watch you watch video games, it’s gonna be a rough time.

Ladies, if your idea of a date is having a guy to tote around to all your functions and events and everything that you want to do and never consider what he might want, it’s gonna be rough.

If you’re pursuing someone who’s never concerned for others, why would you think they’ll ever be consistently concerned for you? If you’re dating someone who’s never concerned for others, what would make you think they’ll be a good parent?

What does an outward-focused life look like? (this list isn’t meant to be exhaustive – just a start)

  • Someone who knows that money isn’t everything
  • Someone who mentors someone or gives back to the community
  • Someone who cares about their family
  • Someone who’s willing to be there for a roommate
  • Willing to listen to someone older than them.
    • In his book Mingling of Souls, Matt Chandler talks about how dangerous a group of 24-year old guys talking about life and thinking they have it all figured out can be. But, he says, if one of those 24 year-old guys will also start connecting with a 38-year old married guy, that’s a sign of maturity. Humility.

 

3. Community of Friends

a) Accountable

  • maybe that word smacks of legalism or something that’s outdated or antiquated, but to be accountable simply means that you’re someone who is fully open, fully honest, and fully authentic with a small group of people.
  • Everybody doesn’t need to know everything about your life but a few people need to know everything about you.
  • Galatians 6:2 – truly bear one another’s burdens 

 b) Authentic

Don’t try and be a version of you you think someone else will like. Be the you God made you to be. Be like Jesus! – conform to HIS likeness but don’t try and be someone you’re not.

 

If you’d like more recommended resources on singleness, dating, and marriage or watch any of the sermons in our Waiting, Dating, & Mating series, click here. 

1Mar

7 Biblical Principles for Dating, Part 2

This is the 2nd post in a series on how to date as a Christian. Click here to read the first post containing the 1st four principles.

 

5. Their identity is in Christ, too. So act like it.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This one was a game changer for me. When you begin to see members of the opposite sex as equal bearers of the image of God, equal temples in which the Spirit of God dwells and equally ones for whom Christ died, it changes everything.

You no longer see girls as a collection of body parts or guys as the key to acceptance and worth.

This changes how/if you flirt and it changes what you do on dates. This is ultimately the heart of the Gospel: before anyone is your boyfriend or girlfriend, they are first and foremost a child of God and God cares deeply about how his kids treat one another.

 6. Sexual sin damages in a unique way.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. – 1 Cor. 6:18

Paul is writing to a culture in 1st century Corinth not unlike 21st century America. It is a very distracted city with lots of different worldviews and religious thoughts all mixing together. Notice the way Paul starts the second sentence in v. 18, every other sin.”

Paul is explaining that sexual sin has a different set of consequences than other categories of sin. This is not to say that it separates us more or less from God; all sin is equal in that regard. Instead, Paul is explaining how sexual sin damages and creates baggage that we must deal with long after that sin has been forgiven by God.

It is not hard to see this play out both inside and outside the Church. How many times have you seen a 2nd marriage not stick so a 3rd and 4th are attempted with similar results? Porn addiction has been linked again and again to lower sex drives and less intimate sex lives. Those sins have already been forgiven and fully paid for by Jesus on the cross and in his resurrection, but that does not mean we get to avoid the consequences of bad decisions.

 

7. Jesus redeems ALL our mistakes.

10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more. – John 8:10-11

At first glance, this principle might seem to contradict #6 but this encounter in John 8 will help explain. John 8 begins with a group of religious hypocrites who were tired of hearing about the less than respectable reputation of a promiscuous woman in town. One day they decided they had heard enough of this 1st century reality show and decided to do something drastic.

They Bible says they caught her in the act of adultery which means they laid in wait for her, like a bunch of self-righteous peeping toms, as if there could ever be such a thing.

They literally ripped her out of bed and threw her, naked and ashamed, at the feet of Jesus and demanded Jesus to tell them what to do, since the law said they should stone her to death.

Jesus then uttered some of my favorite words in the New Testament, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)

Jesus dropped the mic and the religious haters dropped their stones and walked away.

Even if you haven’t had sex before marriage, everyone knows the burden of sexual sin. The reality of redemption is that you’re not doomed to have a bad sex life inside marriage if you’ve had sex outside marriage.

Jesus said two things to the woman and every single one of us always needs to hear at least one of them:

  1. “Go and sin no more.” – Jesus has reminded this woman who she truly is, who he created her to be. Far too often, Christians can label all the ethical teachings of Scripture we don’t like as “legalistic” but here Jesus gives her a clear, loving command to simply go and live out that identity. But we can’t live out that identity and never let it affect the decisions we make, people or ways we date, and ultimately where our hope lies.
  2. “Neither do I condemn you.” – These words are necessary because principle #6 is true. Sexual sin produces a unique shame that can spiritually cripple you and allow you to start to believe lies about your acceptance in Christ. Since God, who knows everything about you, more than you even know yourself, refuses to condemn you we can go out in celebration and live like it! Live like you belong to a God who created you, loves you, and knows all your secrets and still refuses to condemn you.

 

Can you think of any other Biblical principle(s) for dating?

29Feb

7 Biblical Principles for Dating, Part 1

Dating is hard.

For the Christian, dating is like every other area of life in that we should be deeply concerned with how following Jesus informs the way we think and act and love.

If you did a Bible search for the word “dating” you know what you come up with? NOTHING.

There are some that feel the Bible prescribes a courtship form of dating because that was the cultural norm in that time. Using that same logic you can make the argument that we should all be polygamous because that was the cultural norm in that time as well.

Instead of direct, explicit instructions, the Bible teaches us several  principles that we can apply to dating and ultimately, the pursuit of marriage.

 

7 Biblical Principles of Dating

 

1. Walk with Jesus.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. – Colossians 2:6-7

Far too often the first step a Christian takes in thinking about how to date God’s way is to sit down and make a list of all the qualities their future spouse needs to have. Then, they only date people who fit the list.

While the forethought is admirable, our first step in trying to date in a way that honors God is to BE someone worth dating. Our faith in Jesus should be active and meaningful as Paul described in Colossians. We should be rooted and built up in Jesus. Lists are just fine but we should make a list for who we need to be first.

 

2. Only date people who walk with Jesus.

The second principle is where you can use your list! In looking for someone to date, you’re really looking for the type of person you will marry. That person needs to have the same active faith you’re living out.

They need to be more than cultural Christians who attend church. They need to be able to explain the Gospel out loud. They need to be able to talk about what Jesus means to them and describe what Jesus has done for them. They should be able to point out ways they are more like Jesus this year compared to last year and be able to share what God is currently teaching them.

 

3. Keep physical boundaries.

Flee from sexual immorality. – 1 Corinthians 6:18

You know what this verse says in Greek? Flee from sexual immorality. Literally run away from it. Since sex is a good gift from God but a gift meant to be enjoyed only in the covenant marriage relationship, sex outside of marriage falls under the category of sexual immorality.

So does pornography, homosexuality, lust, objectification, and crossing physical lines even if you don’t “go all the way.”

If the Bible calls us to run away from something, why are so many of us trying to get as close as possible to the line without stepping over? We are fundamentally misunderstanding God’s heart for us to live a pure life walking with him and honoring others.

Setting and keeping firm physical boundaries helps you flee from sexual sin instead of flirting with it.

If you’re an unmarried Christian I would suggest you consider boundaries that keep you from:

  • sex outside of marriage.
  • living with someone before marriage. (co-habitation)
  • being alone in a private place (apartment, dorm, parked car, etc.)
  • being alone in a room with your computer/phone late at night.
  • sending pictures, Snapchats, etc. that you would not want others to see/know about.
  • laying down (even in an Eno!) with someone you’re not married to.
  • Isolating yourself from godly friends who can hold you accountable.

 

4. No marriage. No commitment.

One of the reasons the Bible doesn’t talk explicitly about dating is there is absolutely zero commitment in dating. It doesn’t matter how many times you say, “I love you” or how long you’ve been together or how many promise toe rings you’ve exchanged.

The covenant relationship of marriage is the only place to find real commitment. Dating can be a wonderful experience but don’t deceive yourself into crossing physical boundaries you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable crossing under the guise of a commitment that simply does not exist.

 

Check back tomorrow for the last 3 principles.

10Jan

6 Things to Remember When Planning a Wedding

Planning a wedding is a precarious mixture of excitement and stress. Remembering these six things will help your planning season go smoothly.

 

1. It’s only one day but it’s also only one day.

You wedding day is just that, a day. One day.

  • Don’t blow so much money that you can’t afford to live the married life your wedding day celebrates. Your wedding should a be a wonderful party…that you can afford.
  • However, it’s also just a day. One day. So make it count! Try and be fully present in every moment, remembering all the small details you’ll forget if you don’t. Hire a great photographer because the pictures from this one day will be some of your most prized possessions.

2. Your wedding day is not all about you.

Your wedding day is a great chance to remember and show gratitude to the people who helped get you here, to the happiest day of your life. This is the only regret I have about my own wedding.

Your bridesmaids or groomsmen have sacrificed time away from their families, jobs, etc. They have purchased whatever shirt/tie or dress combo you required that they will never wear again but they’re wearing for you because they care about you. Make sure they know how thankful you are.

Your parents will have mixed emotions today. On one hand, they could not be happier for you. On the other hand, part of them feels like you’re leaving them for good because after your wedding day, everything changes. Find a special way to honor your parents on your wedding day. Write them a letter. Steal them away for a private toast. Don’t make the mistake of forgetting where you came from because it’s shaped where you are on your special day.

Most importantly, if you’re a Christian your wedding party is a shadow of the party that’s awaiting us in heaven, previewed in Revelation 19:6-9,

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

 

3. Have a date night every week…with no wedding planning talk allowed.

This doesn’t even need to be explained. Try not doing this for a few weeks. Then try it for a few weeks and see what’s better.

4. You’re also planning to start a life together.

Along with the wedding you’re also planning life together. Part of how you handle the adversity of this stressful season will preview how you’ll handle more stressful times to come. You’re not just planning a party; you’re starting a book together and the wedding is just the first chapter.

  • One practical area in which newlyweds must be on the same page about is finances. I cannot suggest Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class enough. Every engaged couple on the planet should take this class.

 

5. Two becoming one can be painful.

The Bible repeatedly refers to marriage as “two becoming one” (Genesis 2:23, Mark 10:8). As two become one, both people are forced to change.

They certainly change for the better but its because two people are learning to live out the Gospel in each other lives, “looking not only to [their] own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

 

6. Don’t play the comparison game.

One of the things I’m most thankful for in life is that my wedding happened before Pinterest existed. The only weddings we could compare ours too were ones we had seen in person. Here’s the reality: not many people will remember much about your wedding. They will remember being thrilled for you but they won’t care about how many Mason jars you included in your centerpieces.

Plan well. Work hard. But plan your wedding, not someone else’s.

 

What other tips would you give to people planning wedding?

2Dec

The One Regret You Never Have to Feel

It was 3 A.M. and he would not stop beating on my door.

I stumbled toward the door, simultaneously stubbing all my toes on the trappings of a college dorm room along the way, and flung it open.

His face was as red as his hair. He had  just sprinted all the way down the hall.

Our rooms could not be farther away and still be on the same wing  yet our friendship was closer than most.

We were in a group together, a small group of college boys trying to become the men we felt God calling us to be. That calling meant a lot of things to all of us but one thing was the same: our desire for purity.

We had all struggled with it as various levels. Some struggled with moving too fast with girlfriends. Others struggled with how fast you could see any type of girl you wanted on the Internet. All of us felt the longing to be better than we currently were and through several years of mostly failure we had collectively realized we needed one another.

We met once a week to encourage and pray for one another. As we ended our meeting each week in the cramped common room upstairs we reminded each other of one of the pillars of our group: If any one of us felt a temptation coming that we did not feel strong enough to resist on our own, we could always…always go to another person in the group and that person would stop whatever they were doing to be with the one fighting off temptation.

Over the years we met there were dates cut short, workouts missed, papers not completed. Whatever it took; it didn’t matter. We were there for one another. Anytime, day or nightt.

The whole concept was centered around four simple words:

“Flee from sexual immorality.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18

I love when the Bible’s simple. You don’t need to know Greek to know exactly what this verse means.

On this particular night, one of the guys was struggling with the temptation of pornography. His roommate had unexpectedly gone home for the weekend and he knew that temptation is magnified in isolation.

So at his greatest moment of need, he didn’t just try to resist for awhile and ask for forgiveness later. He literally (and I hate when people say that word but don’t actually mean it) literally ran down the hall and started beating down my door at 3 A.M.

I didn’t greet him with anger or a lecture. That wasn’t how the group worked. We supported one another with the gifts of time and presence, two things that are even more valuable to me now.

Nothing super spiritual happened except everything.

We didn’t have a Bible study on purity right then and there. That’s what we did to prepare to flee. I let my friend in and we made popcorn and watched the Sandlot until morning when we crashed.

My friend woke up after lunch the next day with…no regrets.

He didn’t care that he woke up half the hall, at least not enough to fall into sin. He didn’t care that his hallway dash was caught on the security cameras and the RA’s probably watched it back later laughing. He didn’t care about giving into a temptation only he would have ever know about.

He cared about becoming a man of God. He cared about purity. He cared about our future wives that we were already praying for but hadn’t met yet.

Nobody in the group was or is perfect and of course we all have regrets but none of us have ever regretted resisting temptation.

In a world that is bombarding us with the message that we should never say no to a new experience or a thrilling rush, our group helped each other do just that. The ethic of the kingdom of God, humble self-denial, flies in the face of the rampant “you deserve it” “treat yourself” culture that’s especially being marketed to millennials.

You might miss out on a thing or two but speaking from my experience, those things aren’t worth the baggage or pain they cause, if not immediately then soon there after.

What helps you resist temptation?

30Nov

How to Survive Finals Week in College

Can you remember? Back to that very first day of class when you got the syllabus. You were thinking, “This is going to be awesome. I’m going to work ahead, knock out those papers early and be super prepared for all my labs.” See: Start College Right

Well, maybe you did…maybe you didn’t. But no matter what the bulk of the semester brought your way, it’s crunch time now. Finals week is finally here.

Finals are stressful even for the most prepared student because they hold so much weight. So much of your semester grade is contingent upon your performance on several comprehensive tests over a mere handful of days.

At this point, you know you should have studied more earlier in the semester and you’re probably aware of general stress-reduction techniques but that’s not what you need. You need to manage the crazy.

How to Survive Finals Week

1.) Log off all social media.

Delete the apps from your phone. You don’t need to have that tab open on your laptop. GO DARK. What was a fun way to connect with new friends over the course of the semester has become your number one enemy during finals. Nothing has the power to distract and derail you more.
See: When the Cool Kids Grow Up

2.) Figure out how you study best…and DO IT.

For me, it actually depended on the subject. I had a friend in college who learned best by teaching. In the subjects where I best studied in a group session (history, theology, philosphy, ethics, etc.) I always made sure to put myself in the same room as my teaching friend. It worked out best for both of us.

But some subjects I learned best by studying by myself. Figure out what works best for you and do that. Don’t waste time in group study sessions you don’t need or trick yourself into thinking you’re studying because you spent 3 hours making note cards.

3.) Eat and Sleep

If you were performing surgery at the same time as your final tomorrow the hospital wouldn’t let you binge eat all the Doritos and drink the entire caffeine contents of your local grocery store. At some point, you have to stop and sleep. Take care of yourself. Take breaks. This is why studying before now is so important. There’s only so much you can cram in a week.

My trick: Study hard for 2 hours, take a 5-10 minute break. Study hard another 2 hours. Take an hour break to eat a meal and go for a walk. Rinse and repeat as needed. Watch one episode of something on Netflix…not ALL the episodes. Pizza rolls are your friend, though…even if Mom’s not there to make them for you.

4.) Pray

One semester I set up a bean bag chair in the corner of my dorm room. It was gross and I don’t think it moved or was cleaned all year but it was my prayer spot. Finals are tough because they help you believe a lie, that all your identity is caught up in passing this test so you can graduate ahead of the person next to you so you can get a better job than the person you graduated next to so you can get a raise instead of the person next to you, etc. etc.

Don’t forget who made you, who gave you the opportunity to learn where he’s placed you. Don’t forget who holds the whole universe in his hands. Finals are important, but Jesus doesn’t check your transcript at the pearly gates. For some of you, the first words you need to focus on are Jesus’ last words, “It is finished.”

Study hard so you can succeed out of response to all that God has done for you, not to earn his love or admiration. God isn’t impressed with your 4.0 or bummed by your 2.0. He simply loves you. Don’t waste an opportunity to carve out some time to remind yourself of the simple truths of the Gospel in the place of prayer. See: On Prayer: Pews and Plastic Tables

5.) Spend (a little) time with friends.

Finals also signal the end of a semester. And every semester some students never return. Some graduate, others transfer to other schools. Some study abroad and some enter the work force or go back home, maybe for good.

Maybe on one of your study breaks you need to grab coffee with a friend or go on a date. I met my wife during finals week! You never know who you might meet that could potentially change your life. Friendship gets a lot harder after college – something about the real world, I don’t know.

6. Call your mother.

This has nothing to do with finals. Just do it. Because you should. Every day.

P.S. – when you rock a C instead of a B you can tell Mom you just couldn’t focus because you missed her so gosh darn much and that’s why you called so much. It works. And she’ll bake you cookies when you get home.

 

What other tips help(ed) you survive finals week?

25Jan

4 Things Single People Need from Married People

When my wife and I were dating in college I had some good married friends who were a little further along down the road of life. They were there for me when I was single, dating, engaged, and then married.

Now, almost five years into marriage, a lot of how we try to love our single friends is a direct result of how they loved me, and then us.

I have written about this before but our home group is fairly diverse. We are far from the level of racial diversity I desire but we are also not a cookie cutter “married 40’s who have dogs and like football, etc.” We have single people, divorced people, married people, adoptive parents, single parents, doctors, carpenters, etc.

One of my favorite things about our group is seeing single people and married people foster genuine friendships with one another. They are not just interacting for a few hours but are connecting in a way that constantly spills over our normal weekly gathering.

I remember what it was like to be single and some of my closest friends are single. I asked several of them from a wide age range what they felt they needed from married people and the following were the 4 most common answers. I have included direct quotes from the single people polled.

4 Things Single People Need from Married People

1. If you’re married, stay married.

Disclaimer: This assumes you’re not in an abusive or adulterous relationship. Both are more than sufficient reasons to end a marriage.

Single people have no reason to desire marriage for themselves if their married friends are constantly getting divorced. Marriage is not a contract. It is a covenant. Honor your covenant.

Don’t get divorced. We need to see that marriage is a legit thing, something we could and should actually want.

See: 3 Reasons I Got Married

2. Remember what it was like to be single.

Marriage is a game changer and it should be. God designed it that way. It totally changes your life, viewpoints, motivations, etc. One of the unfortunate by-products of such a significant change is married people can simply forget what it was like to be single.

Single people need married people to remember what it was like to:

  • be unsure if someone you care for actually cares for you
  • have your heart broken
  • battle with the feeling like you’re not good enough because it seems like nobody wants you
  • wonder if you should buy a house or keep renting, buy a small car or an SUV, take a new job or stay put – all because you’re unsure of what those decisions mean for potential relationships.

My best married friends have simply forgotten what it’s like to be single. Half of my close friends are married and one of them invited me to dinner with some of our friends. It ended up being six married couples and me. My married friends just saw that as them hanging out with their friends while I felt like a 13th wheel all night long.

See: How to Date as a Christian

3.) Don’t stop being “you.”

While marriage does definitely change your life, it does not need to take it away. Your true identity is not found in being married. Friendships are often temporary but they don’t have to immediately eliminated when you get married. (See: Accept the Temporary Nature of Friendships)

We need to see that marriage does not mean you disappear. We know things will change, even change a lot. But we need to see that if we follow in your steps and get married that does not mean we have to stop camping, or cheering for our favorite sports team. We need to see that we can still cultivate our unique passions even if our potential spouses do not share them as long as they support them.”

 

4.) Friendship

Every single person I asked mentioned this, and several only gave one answer. Single people want to be friends with married people. It’s that simple. Real friendships.

We just want their presence in our lives, letting us into your circle of friends even though we aren’t married. Most of the time married people seem to only hang out with married people. When you let us in we can get a glimpse of what a good marriage [hopefully] looks like. We need married people to listen to us, to pray for us. Being alone can be tough when you see everyone else getting married and start having kids. We need prayer that in this moment we find fulfillment, contentment and a strength against the temptation that becomes easier to give into the older we get, when things don’t go as we had originally planned.

Single people don’t need married people to still live a single lifestyle. Quality conversations can happen in the morning or over coffee instead of late at night or over dinner. (See: The Single Struggle)

I don’t want to get rowdy or anything, but it just seems that a lot of good, fun guys get married and then quit hanging out with people. Every time a friend gets married, I lose a friend. We still see each other occasionally but they just aren’t interested in having serious discussions with non-married people anymore.

Questions: Single people, what else do you need from married people? Married people, can you remember what it was like to be single?

24Nov

The Single Struggle

Guest Post: Today’s post comes from one of my good friends, Rachel Dishner. She blogs over at Sweetly Southern Hospitality and you can follow her posts by clicking here. Rachel has a ferocious heart for the Lord and writes today about the struggle of being a single Christian in the South. Her words are vulnerable, powerful, and can be encouraging and challenging to us all.

You can read her original post, “The Single Struggle” on her website here.

At this moment there are 7 wedding invitations on my bulletin board.  I look at them everyday and 6 days out of 7 the only thing I think is how excited I am for my friends to get to share their lives with the ones they love, but on that 7th day I start the comparison game.

They say comparison is the thief of joy and they are right.  It is when we start focusing on the things in our life that seem to be missing rather than the incredible amount that we have, that we tell ourselves we don’t have enough.  That we aren’t enough.  That Christ isn’t enough.

That’s my struggle.  6 days out of 7, I live this life that is so full of joy I can hardly stand it.  I am so fulfilled in my job, in my family, with my friends, with my God at this stage in my life that the don’t haves start to fade, 6 days out of 7.  But it’s on that 7th day when I get really lonely and start wondering why I’m not enough.  What do I need to change to find love?  Why hasn’t God sent (insert name) into my life?

But you know what, those 6 days out of 7 are what I am going to put my effort, my attention, my focus on.  Because I have so much more to offer than my insecurities point out that I don’t.  I want to strive to live the life that God created me to live and you know what, if He has different plans for me than I do myself, why would I want anything different for myself?

That is easier said than done, I know.  Trust me, I know.  At almost 24 years old, the southern culture I am surrounded with screams that since I haven’t found anyone I will be alone forever.  They are wrong.  I am choosing to believe they are wrong.  But I struggle daily with saying that Christ is enough for me and meaning it.  But maybe, just maybe that is where Christ wants me.  Maybe He knows that I struggle with that and that I also am striving to mean it and He is going to push me until I get there.  I am choosing to find happiness and choosing to see beyond the single struggle into a struggle towards the heart of Christ.

You can let Rachel know what you thought by leaving a comment below.

18Nov

Snapchat: Child Porn, & Sex Predators

I’ve been trying to get people to delete Snapchat for a long time now.

Snapchat’s time as a fun way for users to swap pictures has come and gone. I briefly had an account last year but it did not take long to see that the risks/danger far outweighed the benefits other, safer apps could just as easily provide.

The risk/danger side of that scale tipped even further in the wrong direction on Monday.

On Monday Snapchat announced a decision that will bust the door down between minors and sexual predators.

Snapchat is introducing Snapcash, a new feature that will allow its users to exchange money within the app.

Basically ever since it began, Snapchat’s people have been trying to mask what it really is, a safe sexting app targeted for teenagers minors. With this new feature Snapchat has moved even further from their feebly crafted image of a fun app to exchange pictures with friends.

Snapchat users have long bought into a lie but the truth is nothing is anonymous. The pics don’t disappear and have been leaked over and over and over again. However, the foolishness of Snapchat in general is not my issue.

Here’s what the new Snapchat changes might actually look like:

Old Snapchat Scenario:

  • Teenager receives snap from another teenager (you don’t have to be friends with someone to be able to send them snaps/pics unless you have your privacy settings changed from “everyone” to “friends” )
  • 1st teenager replies with a snap of their own, still not knowing who they’re sending pics to or why.
  • A mutual attraction develops and personal details begin to be exchanged.
  • Eventually the initiator convinces the other user to send some nude snaps.
  • Regardless of age, the initiator is now in possession of child pornography and has broken federal law(s). For more see: A Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography via the U.S. Department of Justice.

This scenario is what has made Snapchat into a $10 billion company. If you don’t think authorities take this seriously, think again.

10 teenage boys (aged 13-15 years old) were arrested last year for producing and sharing child pornography. All they were doing was taking screenshots of nude snaps their girlfriends sent them and showing them around to other guys.

Make no mistake: this is precisely what Snapchat was created to do. But it gets worse…

New Snapchat Scenario:

  • Teenager receives snap from another Snapchat user (you don’t have to be friends with someone to be able to send them snaps unless you have your privacy settings changed from “everyone” to “friends”)
  • Teenager replies with a snap of their own, still not knowing who they’re sending pics to or why.
  • A mutual attraction develops and personal details begin to be exchanged.
  • Eventually the initiator asks the teenager to send some nude snaps.
  • 1st teenager protests.
  • Initiator offers to send the teenager money via Snapchat.
  • Teenager reluctantly agrees, sends nudes and receives money from a sexual predator for producing child pornography.  

I cannot stress to you how extremely likely this situation is. It has probably happened several thousand times even since the change on Monday. The Snapcash function is now live on both Android and iOS version and is ready to be used.

Teenagers, you’re setting yourself up for a type of abuse and exploitation you know nothing about. Delete Snapchat right now. There are plenty of other apps that can offer the same services as Snapchat with much more oversight and accountability I know those two words may not have much weight on your life now but if you live by them you will develop wisdom to live the best life possible in a very foolish world.

Parents, delete Snapchat from your child’s phone. Have a conversation about these new changes and explain the dangers that come with this new feature. Explain to your child how you want to trust them but you can in no way trust all the other 100 million Snapchat users. For more see: 9 Resources for Parents: Navigating the Digital Age.

Pastors/Church Leaders, delete Snapchat. Do not use Snapchat in ministry. As I stated earlier, the benefits are no longer worth the risks and dangers. You can communicate with students in countless other ways and even if you couldn’t , your holiness is infinitely more important than your relevancy. Stay far above reproach.

How do you feel about the new Snapchat?

17Nov

5 Reasons Your 20’s Matter

It can’t go on like this.

Adolescence cannot last from 11 years old to 29 years old.

The headlines are everywhere:

Most sociologists view adolescence as beginning at puberty (for some at 11-12 years old) but that’s not the problem. The problem is there is no longer any conceivable end to the age of adolescence.

Adulthood used to be measured by 5 major milestones (completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying, and having a child). Yet these depict a cookie cutter path to adulthood that not everyone takes. (See: You May Never Get Married)

And that’s okay. Some of the most mature people I know have never had children or been married and some of the most irresponsible crazies I know have the most children. But I would argue the first three of those traditional milestones are still really important.

So are 20-somethings just up the creek without a paddle? It’s getting harder and harder to obtain financial freedom. Student loans are a necessary evil for many and that debt can shackle you for decades. Not to mention the degrees you took the loans out to obtain mean less and less all the while more and more education and experience is being required for entry level jobs. Where do you go to work to get the 3-5 years experience that everyone seems to want for you to get a job?

I know the deck can seem stacked against 20-somethings in many ways. But that’s not my concern. I see it almost everyday. Some of my friends have looked at the landscape of their 20’s and simply concluded, “This period of my life doesn’t matter.” And that’s a narrative they have bought into: hook line and sinker.

All this talk about millennials yet so few conversations with them. With that in mind…

5 Reasons Your 20’s Matter

1.) You’re not a teenager anymore. You’re not an “emerging” adult. You’re an adult.

While there is no denying adolescence, it needs to have a definitive ending point. Your 20’s are not simply a continuation of your teenage years. They are not a time to grow up; they are a time to be grown up. I know it can feel like you’re stuck sometimes but real life is happening all around you today. (See: The In-Between Places)

The apostle Paul wrote the following about maturing into adulthood:

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. – 1 Corinthians 13:11

2.) The relationships you make and cultivate in this defining decade will shape the rest of your life..

Many people meet their spouse in their 20’s. Who you date matters because who you marry matters.Your 20’s are not a time to waste time dating losers you know you could never marry. Keep the bar high because if you lower it a whole bunch of jokers will start jumping over and then you’ll have deal with the fall out.

The friends you have in your 20’s are also different than any friends you’ve had before, even if they’re the same people. In high school and college it can be hard to tell who your real friends are because they’re picked largely based on proximity. You go to class together. You live near each other, etc. But once you graduate college and/or start working, you really start to learn who your real friends are. Friendships can be harder to maintain but ultimately more worthwhile.

3.) You’ll gain financial freedom or financial captivity.

Student loans stink. Learn to HATE your debt. Think about all you could do without that amount weighing you down every month. Work hard. Get promotions. Move up the ladder as you’re able and feel comfortable in doing so. Learn how to manage a budget. (See: Chop Wood, Carry Water)

It’s not just a financial issue; it’s a discipleship issue. Everything is God’s. We’re managers at best. Manage well. Your success or failure in this area during this decade will largely determine your financial health for the next three decades. (See: The 1 Thing We Fight About)

4.) You’ll find your sweet spot at work, eventually.

A lot of your 20’s is spent discovering what it is you’re truly passionate about. You’re young enough to switch careers and depending on your personal life situation (married/unmarried, with/without kids, etc.) you can really pursue a wide path. But don’t be afraid to settle in when you find something you love. No situation/job/boss is perfect. (See: Why I Love and Hate Kids Ministry)

In the immortal words of Monica to Rachel, “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it.”

5.) Your 20’s are not your own.

You don’t own any part of your life. It’s all a gift of grace. Life with Christ isn’t just for your 30’s and beyond. You’re not even guaranteed to make it to 30.

Your 20’s are a wonderful gift, given to you and me from God. Honor him with these years. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I have had more to be truly grateful for in my 20’s than ever before.

You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (and your 20’s). – 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20  (italicized mine)

Question: What would you add to the list? Why else do the 20’s matter?

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