Friday, March 30, 2018
If you have ever been in a romantic relationship or even just dreamt of the first time you might enter one, you’ve probably wondered, “How far is too far?” To honor God, are we supposed to stop at kissing, holding hands, making out, or just before going all the way?
Before we dive into what God’s Word says about this, let me share a story.
A ninth-grade girl named Anna was in her first serious relationship with this guy named Charles. They had been dating for a few months, and so far, all he had done was lightly kiss her and hold her hand. He was a respectable Christian guy, and Anna’s faith was very important to her too, so they knew they wanted to honor God in their relationship. However, temptation got in the way, and before they knew it, they were making out on the couch and testing the waters of what could come next. But as they were in the middle of some heated kissing, Anna could feel what she was doing wasn’t right and they were going too far. Something needed to change…
Let’s unpack that. Where do you think those thoughts Anna had of “this is too far” came from?
They came from the Holy Spirit. When we become a believer, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and His job is to help us live in God’s design for our lives, and when we are not doing so, He convicts us, which means He makes us realize that what we are doing is not what God wants us to be.
But, that still doesn’t answer the question of “How far is too far?” You’ve probably heard before that sex before marriage goes against God’s design and is a sin. Definitely too far. But have you ever read that any form of sexual immorality is a sin? 1 Corinthians 6:18 says, “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” (NLT)
Here’s the problem with the question “How far is too far?” It’s really asking, “How close can we get to dishonoring God?”
When we are trying to do as many physical things as possible but still not sin, it’s like knowing your mom won’t let you have a cookie until after dinner, but you still spend your afternoon standing in the kitchen fingering the dough, smelling the cookies in the oven, and touching them when they come out. That’s too far. How tempting would it be to eat a cookie before dinner, especially if no one is watching? The best choice would be to do something completely different than standing in the kitchen. 2 Timothy 2:22 tells us to flee our youthful passions and pursue righteousness, or God’s holiness. And that looks like learning how to be pure in our relationships with the opposite gender.
So, instead of asking, “How far is too far?” we should be asking, “How can we bring glory to God through our relationship?”
That doesn’t mean you can’t hold hands with a guy ever again or never kiss your girlfriend. But, it means that we need to focus our relationship on honoring God and set boundaries that will bring glory to Him, rather than boundaries that allow us to fulfill our own desires.
So, Anna and Charles had a talk about what went wrong and realized that they had been focused on what they could get out of the relationship rather than on how they could honor God. They talked to their youth pastor and his wife and set new, healthy boundaries, and started spending more of their time together talking, studying the Bible, playing board games, and going to fun places around town, like putt-putt and coffee shops. Although it’s been hard to stick to their boundaries, they know that by doing so, they are putting God before each other, and they could not be happier.
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Thursday, March 15, 2018
Has anyone ever tried to push the boundaries on anything? Yeah, that’s right I’m talking to you teenagers out there! How many times have you driven your parents to the edge, or driven your siblings crazy? We are methodical and crafty because we know if we go too far, that’s when consequences come. So, what do we do? We go right up to the edge and stop. We don’t only do this in our personal lives. This is exactly what we do in our dating relationships too.
For you dudes out there beginning to date and for you ladies looking to change that relationship status, take note that relationships are no joke, and the responsibility of only worrying about yourself gets multiplied by two when you begin a relationship with that guy or girl. In fact, if you have the right perspective of others, you will worry about that person’s burdens even more so than your own! And this can be hard, especially because our sin gets in the way of a pure relationship.
1 Corinthians 6:18 reminds us to “flee from sexual immorality,” and you may be wondering what is sexually immoral and what isn’t? How far is too far in my relationship with my boyfriend or girlfriend? When do I know if something is wrong? While those are great questions, in this blog I will not address the practical acts of dating.
Sorry guys, I won’t tell you “kissing is okay but no laying down,” “hugging is alright, but no French-kissing,” or “French-kissing is alright, just make sure you never have sex before marriage.” It would be too easy to just have a list of do’s and don’t. However, what God wants from us more than blind obedience, is to address the issues of our heart.
You see, God has called us to “avoid sexual immorality” (1 Thess. 4:3) and to “control our bodies in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust.” (1 Thess. 4:4-5) Listen to me here: Nowhere in the Bible does God say, “here’s what you can’t do in dating, and here’s what you can do.” It's just not there. God just doesn’t address it. And here’s why: God seeks to address the issues of the heart and so instead of saying, “Hey, don’t make out with your girlfriend,” God’s focus might be, “Hey, why do you see your sister in Christ that way? Why do you lust after her?”
In the wise words of an old professor of mine, “Guys, if you’re French-kissing and you’re not lusting, you’re doing it wrong.” Wait a minute Grant, you’re suggesting that even French-kissing is lustful? I thought only stuff after kissing was bad. Guys, God made hugging, kissing, sex, and everything else in between to be enjoyable, to be good, when in the context of marriage. However, doing something good with bad intentions doesn’t always make it good.
Are you all following me on this? If you have sex with your girlfriend or boyfriend, knowing that God created sex to be good, the context in which you’re doing this isn’t righteous. Why? Because God has reserved sex for marriage.
So, since I’m not married, how do I know when it’s too far? Well, Paul says in Galatians 5:16-17, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.” The flesh and the Spirit are in conflict with one another, which means you cannot simply do whatever you want.” When this grips you, it will change your life! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, listen to your convictions because the Spirit will be faithful to help you fight those things that the flesh wants you to give into.
We can’t keep edging closer to the cliff hoping we won’t slip and fall. We must rise above the tide and begin to change this culture of sexual promiscuity. When you realize that purity is so much more joy-bringing and life-satisfying, your life will begin to change for the better and you will never look at God or others the same way again. This is the charge, this is the fight: to let our minds be transformed by God. Will you join the cause?
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Monday, March 5, 2018
We met on Halloween night at a fall festival. He had bright blue eyes and a perfect smile, I was SURE I had finally met the right guy. Two weeks later, I found out he liked me too! Great, so we both liked each other, the next step was to date right? Here’s what I did not know at age 15: Dating is complicated. I also did not realize at the time that as a believer, following Christ should impact every area of my life, including the way I dated.
Luke 9:23 says, “And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” In this passage, Jesus calls us to surrender our lives to Him and follow Him. This verse does not mean that you can surrender part of your life but hold onto your dating life for yourself. This means that in every area of our lives, we are called to surrender and follow Christ.
Before we can jump into how to actually date according to God’s word, here are a few questions you need to ask before jumping into a dating relationship.
I have dated with each of these as my motivation at different times in my life, and I can say from experience that it did not glorify God. Each of these reasons serves you, not Christ. A relationship glorifies God when you are both pointing each other towards Christ, and you are both growing spiritually, individually and as a couple.
If you have asked yourself those questions and you are ready to deny yourself and follow Christ in the way you date, here are some practical ways to follow Christ in dating:
That relationship I was in when I was 15 taught me that God should never have to compete with anyone that I am dating. God taught me to surrender completely to Him and give Him control of whom I dated and how I dated. I know it can seem hard, but I promise you that surrendering this area of your life to God will be rewarding. Today, choose to follow Christ even in the way you date.
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Friday, February 23, 2018
A common question throughout the life a Christian is “What would Jesus Do?” In most matters of life, that’s not a bad way to look at things. However, when it comes to dating, the answer isn’t super clear. It’s safe to say Jesus wasn’t involved in any romantic relationships. So as people who want to live like Christ, how do we go about dating? More specifically, what does it mean to be a godly young man and a godly young woman in a dating relationship?
The answer is a little easier than you might think and is found in the key Scripture of this blog, Philippians 2:3-4. In relationships, romantic or otherwise, we should treat others with humility and respect, keeping who they are and what’s best for them in mind. These verses are reminding us to view others as Christ views us – not as something to use, but as individuals to love sacrificially.
But let’s look a little closer at specifically how a young man and young woman should treat each other in a healthy, godly relationship:
Young Men There are two things to keep in mind: Protect and Love. As men of God, we are to protect those we care about, especially the women in our lives. Now when I say protect, I don’t just mean protecting her physically or from other guys, but I also mean protecting her heart and her purity. Young men, your girlfriend is not just something to add to your life to make you feel good. She is a daughter of God with thoughts and emotions that are to be cared for. This means that our decisions should reflect that. This looks like speaking to her with love and keeping her feelings in mind. Along with protecting her heart, young men should protect her purity, as well. Don’t just avoid going too far because you were taught not to. We must see purity as something to be fought for because it brings glory to God. Love her enough to keep her pure along with yourself.
As godly men, we should also intentionally show our girlfriends that we love them. It’s not enough just to tell her that you love her and think she’s pretty – Intentional love means it is displayed in your actions. Be sure to listen well. Go out of your way to make her feel valued. Be a gentleman: hold doors, look her in the eyes when she speaks, get her small gifts like candy or flowers. These actions may not seem like a big deal, but this is putting Philippians 2:2-3 into practice.
Young Women: In a relationship, you are to Respect and Love. As he protects and loves you, do your best to display that you respect him as a man of God. This doesn’t mean just do what he tells you to do. Respect means reminding him that you appreciate the effort he’s putting into making you feel loved. This means being sensitive to his feelings as well. As tempting as it may be, embarrassing and antagonizing him, thinking that you are being funny, can feel hurtful. Remember to say thank you. Be aware of how hard he’s working to protect your heart, purity, and relationship. As he goes out of his way to make you feel special and loved, love him by going out of your way to make him feel appreciated. Write notes, thank him for compliments, listen to his thoughts. It may seem small, but it’s putting Philippians 2:2-3 into practice.
Overall, being a godly young man or woman comes down to how you view the other person. Don’t treat them as something that is there for your benefit and to make you feel good. Choose to love them, even when it might not be what you want to do or what’s fun. View and treat each other as children of God. Love, protect, respect, and appreciate each other – Not because of who they are to you, but because of who they are to Christ.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2018
" This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:16-18)
We just celebrated Valentine’s Day. A day that millions of people across the country celebrate one thing: LOVE. But, what in the world is love anyway? Over the years, a lot of people have tried to teach us what love is. The movie “The Notebook” shows love as this romantic feeling between two people in the rain. Songs from our parents’ generations taught us that “Love is all you need” and “love is in the air.” But, Maybe Hans and Anna put it best when they sang “Love is an open door.”
However, as great as these definitions sound, they all fall short when compared to God’s Word. So how do we know what love is? Jesus’ best friend, the apostle John, wrote that we can know what love is because “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). Jesus Himself taught that the greatest act of love is to “lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). He displayed the greatest form of love and sacrifice by dying in our place on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven, and we could have eternal life, as well as have a relationship with God while we are here on this Earth.
John also writes that “since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). So how then do we do that? While it is good to tell people we love them, if we don’t back it up, it means nothing. John writes that “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17). As Christians, how can we really say we love the people around us if we don’t take the opportunities we have to show them? Oftentimes, these opportunities aren’t easy, they may even require some sacrifice on our part. After all, Jesus displayed His love for us through the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
John then writes “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). When I first became a Christian, I remember people telling me they loved me all the time. For while, it seemed like nothing more than just words to me, until one time when I got in big trouble. After losing a game of volleyball, I had gotten so angry that I accidentally kicked one of my shoes onto the roof of the school. I then watched as one of my teachers sacrificed his own time and retrieved my shoe from the roof, brought it to me, and told me he loved me. The truth of his words was proved by his actions.
You see, love is not simply a romantic feeling, a song you sing, or merely something you say to someone. Love is an action, Love is something you do.
What are some ways this week that you can show love to the people around you? Maybe you could help your little sister with her homework, unload the dishwasher for your mom, be respectful to your youth pastor, or even have lunch with the kid who always sits alone.
Whatever you choose to do this week, remember this: Love isn’t just something we say or feel, Love is something we do.
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