(An open letter to Daniel and Micah)
I wasn’t cool, suave, or good looking. I certainly wasn’t confident. I wasn’t sure where I was going. But I was sure that no girl would ever be interested in me. The only two girls I got the nerve to ask out turned me down. Those were tough days for an otherwise normal young man.
But the Lord was at work. He was at work bringing me to a saving knowledge of Him. He was at work preparing me for life, although I could not see it then.
As is the way of God, He was at work in the life of someone else as well: someone I did not know nor would not know for a few years. Ironically she dated very little as well, although I cannot imagine why. Although she was not a genuine Christian at the time, she was chaste and a young woman of strong principle. Out of high school she became involved in a church youth group where she came to know Christ. She began to grow and wait on The Lord. Though she dated some, she had high ideals and did not get in a hurry.
When The Lord led me to Memphis, Tennessee, I had every intention of joining a particular church. But The Lord seemed to lead me in another direction. I joined another church and got involved in the Lord’s work there. I met a very nice young woman who was serious about her walk with The Lord: nice but not interested. We became friends, but I dated another young woman for a while.
Meanwhile, that growing Christian young woman mentioned above continued to wait in a church with few or no male prospects. She was urged to join another church, but she was convinced she was where the Lord wanted her. A new young man began to attend and soon joined. He loved the Lord but was a bit intellectual for her: nice but not interested.
She and her roommate needed a guy to jog with them, so the new guy volunteered. The friendship grew and deepened. Not interested became interested and interesting. I was the new young man who just “happened” to come through the door of a church I had no intention to join and met a girl who was in a church everyone thought she should leave. In the providence of God, we came to be friends, close friends, then… Two young people who were waiting on the Lord wondered if they would ever meet the right one. But the Lord was at work, as He always is, bringing to pass His will for the good of His children.
May the Lord do for you all that he has brought to pass for your Mother and me, and much more: “that the generation to come might know ‘Christ'”.
For those who have a heart to date with intention that glorifies Christ, a big question that is often wonder is the issue of male leadership within the dating relationship. The old tradition is that the guy pursues the girl. But what about male leadership within the dating relationship? Is there such a thing as too much or too little? Join Charles and Daniel as they explore the biblical structure of male leadership within the dating…
When our children were young it was my goal to train them in the ways of The Lord. My desire was for them to become men of God and men of integrity and vision. My views on dating for them were, I believe, skewed by my own dating experiences. I wanted something better for them. In our circles, I saw a reaction to dating. Thus, the idea of “courtship” became a new paradigm.
My children were young, and I did not need to bother too much with the idea. Then my children became adults, and life in this area became real to me. What I observed in my circles was that an idea of courtship did not grow out of sound Biblical direction but from personal ideas of fear and control.
My Pastor preached this past Sunday and said; “We must not pamper and pander to man-made ideas of the Christian life, not our own ideas or perceptions. We must look to Christ.”
I found myself in my prayer time making this long list of what I wanted for my children to find in a wife: what she should be, how she should act, etc. I realized that I was trying to become my sons’ Holy Spirit. This is a very serious exercise that I have observed in parents of adult children. We parents are to train up our children and guide them in the path. We are to instill godly values with the clarity of God’s Word.
But we cannot make our convictions their convictions apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Changes came to my prayer time; not a list but the realization that the power is not of me nor is the wisdom my wisdom in these matters. My calling and responsibility is to be there to support my adult children in prayer, and to cling to Christ in matters of their heart.
And what about dating? It is a time of getting to know someone with God’s guidance; a method of a newer culture and different times. And those arranged marriages of the past? Sometimes they worked, but none of us knows the troubles they produced. The truth is that whoever arranges a marriage is influenced by his or her own remaining sin; sin that affects our thinking and motives. No system can save us from the troubles of our own sin and the failures of our own weaknesses and inadequacies. Look to the Word. Lean upon Jesus. He cannot fail.
Join Charles and Daniel as they discuss the implication the gospel has for dating… if you do not understand the gospel, you will have trouble in your dating life. They pursue why grace begets a dating relationship that reflects Christ…
I remember seeing the results of unbiblical dating as a young man. The Lord graciously protected me from what could have been. Yet, I could not keep from hoping and praying that my Heavenly Father would spare my sons from the dangers of such activity when the time would come. I determined that, with God’s help, I would do what I could to protect them from the pitfalls that the evil one would surely lay in their paths.
In my particular circles of evangelicalism, there was a move away from traditional dating to what some considered a more Biblical model called courtship. Well-meaning Christian leaders and parents attempted to design a path that would assure them that their sons and daughters would not have to face the dangers that were so prevalent in their own generation. Some turned to the Old Testament practices of the distant past in order to insure the validity of their claims.
Without addressing the specifics of these beliefs and practices, we ought to at least discuss the faulty means of Biblical interpretation (called hermeneutics) which often accompanies these views. Sound Biblical interpretation does not take descriptive historical passages and make them prescriptive for the New Testament Christian: unless of course the matter is prescribed for us in the New Testament. Many Biblical lifestyle issues are cultural in nature and not commands for every age.
As a Christian father, I have prayed with my wife for the future wives of my sons. We worked together to build the Scriptures into the lives of our sons and to show them the importance of living all of life under the lordship of Christ. We were convinced that they not only needed to be prepared to be godly husbands but to have the wisdom to seek the Lord’s will regarding a godly wife. We found that the answer to the successful marital future of our sons was not to be found in a formula or a supposed Biblical model. It is found in the pursuit of Christ and a godly life. It is found in the humility of heart that begets dependence on the Holy Spirit and an understanding of one’s own inability. It is found in a realization that every decision, every pursuit, and every accomplishment from birth to marriage to death for the Christian is grace. It is these things that spawn the genuine confidence of faith in Christ that not only takes us to heaven but guides us in life along the way for His glory.
As you raise your children, teach them the convictions of your heart. But direct their loyalty to Christ Himself and the Scriptures. You cannot fail as a parent if you do so, and you will be used of The Lord to prepare your children for dating and all of life.
We were designed for community. Its part of the created fabric of who God intended us to be. But somehow, community has become diminished and unnecessary when it comes to dating. Join Charles and Daniel as they discuss the biblical necessity and ramifications of dating within community…
I have many thoughts running through my head this morning, in no particular order, as I sit in my sunny kitchen soaking up the warmth of the rays on my face. You know the saying, “The first year of marriage…” then they give you that look which says everything they didn’t say about how hard it will be and what you should expect. I knew there would be a lot of adjustments after marriage, but I did not want our first year of marriage to be one we look back on and say, “Phew! Glad we don’t have to do that first year again!” I want it to be one we look back on with joy and great memories of what we learned, not only about each other, but about ourselves. I want to keep those life lessons tucked away in an easily accessible place, to be pulled out and reminded often as we grow in Christ and life together.
Since being married, I’ve learned even more about communication… and my lack in that area. Shocking, I know! Trying to open myself up and express my thoughts, hurts, frustrations, and struggles is harder than I expected. Why is that? I don’t have a problem communicating anything else… just ask Daniel! And I think I’m slowly gathering my answer.
I’ve had days of homesickness, days of great fun, days of laughter and times with family, days of meeting new friends, and days of fatigue and frustration: more days of fatigue and frustration than I would like to admit. I kept asking myself “why is it so frustrating? Why do you feel this pressure to get X,Y, and Z done today?” Now granted, MOST people would find it frustrating if you are limited by physical conditions and restrained from doing what you WANT to do, especially us type-A personalities! But I kept asking myself why it was SUCH a big deal to be able to say at the end of the day, “I got this done and dealt with that. Ran here and ran there. It was a very productive day!” Is there anything wrong with wanting to be productive? Absolutely not!! It’s a good thing! And is it wrong to slow down on days you need more rest? Nope! So why this pressure on myself to force this on days when I shouldn’t; or be frustrated and carry this feeling of guilt and laziness around on days that I rested because my body could not go on? Why could I not communicate and express this? What was I missing?
Yesterday, it hit me, as if I walked into a block wall. It was right there in front of me the whole time. I was reading a (recently married) friend’s blog in which she was sharing a story of how marriage was exposing her battle for independence and self-worth in Christ. I realized then where my struggle lay. Why did I not see it before?!
I know my worth is in Christ. I know that what I do or don’t do should not affect my feeling of worth. I knew that, but did I fully believe it? I have been placing my value and worth on what I can do, accomplish, and bring to my marriage. I have not been placing my value and worth IN CHRIST. I’ve let those little lies take hold. If I have a day of fatigue that leaves me at the point of accomplishing little to nothing that day, I’m worthless. I’m a failure. Our “women can-do” culture has seeped into the church in such a way that I, as a Christian woman, struggle with the message that my worth is found in my independence, my job, my money that I earn, and what I do and accomplish. What lies we so easily believe!
By accepting that, I’ve robbed Daniel of the joy and blessings he receives by caring and providing for me. I’ve robbed myself of the work God could have done in my heart. Instead, I pressure myself to achieve much, so I can appear worthy; feel like I bring value and am worthwhile.
I’m asking myself these questions: Where is my heart? Where is my worth being found and in WHOM is it being found? Why am I doing what I’m doing? What is the motivation of my heart, because everything is a matter of the heart! Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us that we are not worthy in anything but through Christ. I’m not worthy to be where I am today, but for the gift of salvation through His grace.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Our “works” should be to bring HIM glory, not worth to ourselves. And praise The Lord I am in the process of His molding… that He is not finished with me yet!
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ!”
(Legals, Illegals, and the Gospel)
Immigrants and immigration is a hot button topic for conservatives in general and Christian conservatives in particular these days. Legality, illegality, and amnesty all come into play. And most of us have some pretty strong opinions and concerns on the matter. For some, it may seem that this melting pot is becoming a bad pot of stew.
Our concern as Christian citizens over the matter of immigration and what is ostensibly the related concern for national security are real and filled with tension. We rightfully expect our elected and constitutionally bound public servants to respect and enforce the laws of this land. Immigration has long been part of the ongoing growth and development of our nation. We are a nation of immigrants from a host of backgrounds. And it has not been unusual for there to be distrust and animosity between those of various national, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. Sadly, professing Christians have at times been at the forefront of bigotry, hatred, and cruelty.
Recent developments have brought out the best and worst in Americans. Understandable resentment and anger exists as immigrants pour unabated over the U.S. border, possibly accompanied by those with plans for something far more insidious and nefarious than economic opportunity. While policy is discussed and debated to no apparent resolution, many witness what they fear is the dissolution of a great nation and a free society.
As Christians whose consciences are bound by something far greater than our Constitution, we struggle with the tensions that accompany our love for our country and our greater eternal love for Christ our Savior. Our love for Christ is necessarily accompanied by a love for the Gospel and a Biblical vision of the nations bowing the knee to Him. While we pray that our leaders will uphold the laws of a free people, we can at the same time gratefully embrace the opportunity of having the nations brought to us. We hold our leaders both responsible and accountable and often regret and disdain the folly of their decisions. But we realize that our God sits in the heavens and does whatever He pleases.
So let us not be distracted or beset by either personal prejudices or disappointment with human leaders. Rather, let us ask our Lord for the grace and wisdom to bring the claims of Christ to bear upon the hearts of all peoples and commit ourselves fully to Him Who judges righteously.
In the love of Christ,