Four Mistakes Singles Make

Stay the course because the one for you will come. Here are some mistakes to avoid when waiting on God in dating.

1) Settling: 

To accept or agree to something that one considers to be less than satisfactory.

Settling usually occurs after a long period of being single (or a short period, depending on the person), and we’ve decided that “waiting on God” is taking too long.  We start getting nervous thinking of the prospects (or loss of prospects), our age and all the other what ifs. God is not a God of settling, He is a God that has always given more than the best to His children.  We decide if we settle, not God.

You are not missing out; you are getting in position for God to bring the right one to you, in His timing.  Anything less than that will inevitably fail and bring unnecessary heartbreak.

2) Blind to Red Flags: 

Lacking perception, awareness, or discernment.

In order to not be blind to the red flags, you must be very clear on what the red flags are to you in a person and/or a relationship.  Also, be aware of blind spots in your relationships in the past, in order to avoid them in the future. Remember, old ways won’t open new doors.  I will list some common red flags that you should be alert to.

Common Red Flags:

  • Easily angered
  • Controlling
  • Jealous
  • Critical of you
  • Inconsistent
  • Lies (even white lies)
  • Unreliable

3) Dating a Lukewarm Christian:

“He’s kinda a Christian.  He says he loves God.”

Have you ever thought that when you were interested in someone?

“Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin.”-Francis Chan

You will know a lukewarm Christian man when you observe him.  Some may be more stealth at hiding their luke warmness, but the proof is in his fruit!  

So check his fruit, not his mouth. A lukewarm Christian man will be incapable of leading you anywhere but to him, so be extremely cautious.

One of my favorite poets is Janette Ikz.  In her poem, “I Will Wait for You,” she hits the nail on the head.

“So it seemed that it was cool, for everyone to be in a relationship but me.
So I took matters into my own hands, and ended up with him.
Him who displayed the characteristics of a cheater, a liar, an abuser, and a thief.

So why was I surprised when he broke into my heart?
I called 911, but I was cardiac arrested for aiding and abetting,
Cause it was me who let him in…
Claiming we were “just friends”.
It was already decided for me by the first date, that even if he wasn’t
I was gonna make him ‘The One’
You know, I was tired of being alone.
And I simply made up in my mind, that it was about that time.

So I decided to drag him along for the ride,
Cause I was always the bridesmaid and never the bride.
A virgin in the physical, but mentally just a grown woman on the corner in heat!
Who was tired of the wait!
So I was gonna make him ‘The One’.
He had a… form of Godliness… but not much.
But hey, hey I can change him! So (honey) I’ll TAKE him, I mean he’s close… enough…

I will no longer date, socialize or communicate with carbon copies of you
To appease my boredom or to quench my thirstiness I have for attention
And short-lived compliments from ‘sorta kindas’.


You know….
He ‘sort kinda’ right, but ‘sorta kinda’ wrong?
His first name LUKE,
His last name WARM.
I, I won’t settle for false companionship
I won’t lay in the embrace of his arms.”

4) Peer/Family Pressure:

I’m sure you have been at a family function and had someone ask, “So are you dating anyone?” 

You reply with a “no,” quickly to move it along.

Meanwhile, everyone’s ears have perked up to hear your answer.  In your mind you’re thinking “Move along there’s nothing to see here.”

Everyone around you is getting into a relationship so you should, too.  Don’t feel pressured to go on a blind date that your friend wants to fix you up with, or don’t feel pressured to sign up for online dating.

God see’s you, all of you.  Stay the course because the one for you will come.  Continue to seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness first.

Are You a Happy Parent

Brad Mathias

Description

We can feel adrift, lost and out of control, or we can choose to trust there is a guiding hand along the way.

“Are you happy?”

If you’re struggling on this one… just to be sure… ask your family.

If the answer is “NO”, then it may be time to seriously and honestly reflect. It may be time to make some changes in your life… Work Less, Play More / or Work More and Play Less… ?

Sometimes it’s more subtle than that.

Sometimes its internal change we really need. A shift in our understanding of life and the role we’re actually playing in it. We can feel adrift… lost and out of control, or we can choose to trust there is a guiding hand along the way. That’s a change in our attitude and it can make a HUGE difference in our happiness.

Choices need to be made. Decisions arrived at and courage called upon to make those changes. Otherwise, you and I will be exactly the same next year as we are right now. Guaranteed.

Be careful though… . happiness can’t simply be created by swapping out for a new spouse, better job or thicker bank account. Happiness comes from within… never from without. Don’t buy into the ageless lie… “if only _________, then I would be happy”.

Remember that we alone have the power to be happy or not.

Our kids are watching… waiting, hoping to find some happiness in their parents. If they can’t find it in our homes or in us, where the heck do you think they’re going to go in search of it?

  • Something to think about.
  • Something to act on.
  • Something to leave behind.

Happiness and Hope. They give our lives richness… and beautiful context for faith to flourish. Without it, we’re dry bones.

Jesus, as described in scripture, wasn’t always happy.

He was always purposeful, filled with hope and confident in His father’s plan for his life. He’s offering ALL of that to ANYONE who sincerely places their trust in Him. That’s supposed to be us…

  • Don’t over-think your faith.
  • Don’t under-estimate your role in the grand master plan of life.

Live on parents… Live on!

Developing Common Interests With Your Son

by Wayne Parker

Often, men learn how to be fathers from watching and remembering how their fathers interacted with and parented them. Our fathers are often our most familiar role models, and they influence many of our behaviors as fathers. This is maybe most true in how we parent our sons, because all of us were sons once, and none of us were daughters!

One of best indicators of the quality of a father-son relationship is how we interact and the way in which we spend time with each other. Finding areas of common interest is an important part of developing the father-son relationship.

My dad was a law enforcement officer during my growing up years and he worked a lot of shift work. Dad was a man’s man in many ways. He played a lot of sports and enjoyed time with his friends (what little he had other than at work). I was more of a bookworm, was uncoordinated growing up and hated playing sports and physical education at school. He worked really hard to make me like sports and pushed me into things like Little League baseball, but I would have rather been sitting under a tree reading.
But one thing we both came to love was camping, and we found some real commonality in the woods setting up a tent or cooking over a fire. When we started to maximize our time together outdoors and spend time together doing something we both enjoyed, our relationship grew.So, what can a dad do to find areas of common interest with his son? How do you get from Point A to Point B in finding more in common with your sons?

Find areas of overlap. Like my dads and I, you can try to find areas where your interests overlap. In our case, we both loved being outdoors; we just enjoyed different outdoor activities. So camping out became an area of overlap, and we learned to maximize that. If your son is into combat video games and you love history, consider learning about classic battles and war strategy together. When your interests touch the same point, exploit that!

Step into his world.
The old expression that you can’t understand a person until you walk a mile in his shoes is appropriate here. Again, if your son is into video games, find one you can both enjoy and play it with him. (Just remember that your learning curve may be steep). Our family enjoyed the Wii game console because it had an active component that appealed to some of us that weren’t traditional video gamers. If your son follows professional sports, follow along with him and then talk together about it. Talk to him about his day and see where he spends his time, and then find ways to spend time on the same kinds of things.

See if new activities can involve both of you. One dad and son I know had a friend who was a big racquetball player, and they both found that they enjoyed racquetball once they learned how to play it, and they started playing once a week together at the local recreation center. You might try things like skeet shooting, hiking, gardening or other things that might interest your son but that neither of you has ever tried. Being a little adventurous together can be a good thing for father-son relationships.

Get involved in something a lot bigger than both of you. There is something about a big project that can get young men excited. When you and your son take on a really big endeavor that takes time and energy, it can create some good bonding. Maybe it is a big summer backpacking trip or rebuilding a car engine and restoring a classic car. Or maybe it is putting an addition on the house or building a deck or a patio. Anything which excites the mind and demands your time and attention together is a noble effort and pays off in the long run.

Building a good father-son relationship is important for any dad and his boy, and will pay big dividends when the effort is made to find common ground and maximize it.

Singleness

 

by Caolyn McCulley
Sanctification is the process of becoming spiritually mature. What does this look like for single adults?

Sanctification in the Season of Singleness

Sanctification refers to the process of becoming spiritually mature or being set apart for holy use. For single adults, sometimes it feels like we’re just being set aside.

This is an unintentional byproduct of the typical marriage testimony. When couples speak of their first year of marriage, they often remark that they thought they were mature—until they got married. Then their selfishness was revealed. Yes, that’s one way God works, and it can be fairly intense. But it is not the only way. When said to an unmarried adult, we can hear: “Not only are you unwanted for marriage, you are also consigned to a lifetime of immaturity!”

Neither of those thoughts is true, of course. Every believer can (and should!) pursue spiritual maturity. Fortunately, Hebrews 5:13–14 shows us one of the ways this process works:

“Everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

Maturity here is described as a process of training for discernment, which is the ability to distinguish good from evil. This verse says the immature person is “unskilled in the word of righteousness,” meaning the Bible is not the standard for good and evil, but some other measure is—emotions, expectations or cultural standards, for example. The good news is that maturity is not dependent upon marital status. All believers are called to train their powers of discernment through the constant practice of saying, “Is this good or evil in God’s eyes?”

For single adults, there are some common areas where it takes vigilance to distinguish good from evil. These hindrances to maturity can fall in three areas: identity, self-centeredness, and secrecy.

1. Discerning True Identity

It can feel shameful at times to be solo. You upset the balance at dinner parties. You present a problem for seating at wedding receptions. You can feel like a walking advertisement for failure or rejection. You can be the object of gossip and speculation, even in your own church.

We live in a period where the church highly esteems the commitments of marriage and family—as it should, for many in our surrounding culture do not. But I think this regular emphasis on our roles as men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and so forth can obscure the one aspect of our identity that we have in common: We are adopted children of our heavenly Father and siblings to one another. While many roles end in this life, this one does not. Since our “siblinghood” is not addressed as often as other relationships in the church, it is easy to forget. Because of that, some of the hardest work we will do is to hold fast to the truth of our identity in Christ while sitting in our own churches. But don’t become discouraged or bitter if this happens. It’s just a training opportunity.

It takes constant practice to take our thoughts captive to the realities of God’s Word instead of thinking we are forgotten or less valuable than others simply because we are unmarried. We are loved by the Supreme King of the Universe. This is the real deal. The love of another human being is wonderful and exhilarating, but it is only a reflection of God’s love because we are His image-bearers.

This sibling identity is also critically important when it comes to dating/courting/relating within our churches. This is a separate topic of its own, but here is the takeaway point: The people we date are not consumable goods to be used and tossed away. They are people for whom Christ died so that we could be with Him throughout eternity. This truth should entirely revamp how we view, speak of, and interact with all those people we do not marry.

Evil is when the Enemy accuses God of holding out on you because you are still single. Training in truth means you discard that lie and replace it with a promise from Scripture. One of my favorite verses to write in my single friends’ birthday cards is Psalm 34 verse 5: “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” As we look to the Lord, our misplaced shame about singleness can be replaced with the radiance of His love.

2. Discerning Self-Centeredness

A wise friend of mine once observed that single adults become emotionally stunted when we have not pushed ourselves to love others sacrificially. Loving and serving others is how we grow in Christlikeness. While marriage and family does not guarantee maturity, it certainly creates the opportunity for it. Therefore, single adults who want to pursue maturity should look for opportunities to be self-giving in the face of boundless opportunities to be self-centered.

I am a task-oriented person, so I have put reminders on my calendar every month to think about ways to serve others. It’s a sad truth: I have turned my relationships into To Do reminders! But if I don’t, my calendar defaults to being all about me. By intentionally thinking about whom to serve, by planning for other people’s milestones, and by putting down prayer reminders for the needs of others, I’m taking small steps to battle self-centeredness.

Our prayers are a good barometer of self-centeredness. Do they start with glorifying and thanking God? Are they full of petitions for His people? Have we first woven in thanksgiving for any answered prayers before firing off our petitions?

Self-centeredness is a hard thing to measure by yourself—maybe impossible. The Holy Spirit will prompt us through His Word, but we need to assume we have huge blind spots. Having a prayer and accountability partner, one who has regular access to your life and thoughts, can be immensely helpful for this evaluation. More than one partner is great, too. I say prayer and accountability because grace and truth need to be equally present.

I also recommend periodic prayer retreats to soberly evaluate your calendar and your checkbook. The records of how you spent your time and your treasure often present a sober reflection of your spiritual maturity. Then I recommend sharing that information with your accountability partner(s). Get some feedback from them and ideas about where you could change. This is a great way to cultivate humility when you are not used to answering to others for how you spend your money and your time.

3. Discerning Secrecy

Throughout the New Testament, truth is described as light breaking into the darkness. We should be eager to live in the light. As John 3:20–21 says,
“Everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Single adults have to choose to live life in the light. This is true of every believer, married or not. But I think it is easier for single adults to live privately and nurture secret sin. Even in shared housing, it’s easy to slip away and not be known. But whatever we think we are getting away with is already known by God, and He brings it into His light so we can experience the forgiveness we have already received in Jesus. But Satan wants us to remain in the shadows, feeding our secret sin, so he can use our actions to entrap us and disparage the name of Christ.

Spiritual maturity recognizes the seriousness of hiding things from others—habits, relationships, weaknesses and temptations. But we have these struggles in common. I have communicated with hundreds of single adults since I began writing and speaking about singleness more than ten years ago, and I can only think of two people who never had a desire to get married. The rest of us wrestle with unfulfilled hopes, sexual temptations, longings for intimacy, and dangerous daydreams. As we bring those things into the light, we will come to learn that the Lord’s grace is sufficient to choose what’s right, even if it’s hard.

Finally, of the many things we need to learn as we mature, arguably the most important is what to prize. Some may not receive marriage and family in this life. Or, in the case of many single adults, it takes longer than expected. But whatever happens, don’t think that you have received less than anyone else. The prize is not marriage to another human. The prize is Christ. He has set you apart—for Himself.

Reaching Your Family

 

by Jack Graham
The place to begin sharing God’s truth is at home. That’s where we’re to live authentically, walking with God and showing others the grace He’s given us.

The Key to Reaching Your Family First

As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  Mark 5:18-19

I’m always intrigued when I read the story of Jesus healing the demon-possessed man in the land of the Gerasenes. This man had been living in the graveyard, isolated from the rest of the community, and exhibited self-destructive tendencies. The townspeople had tried to bind him with chains, but the man would break free.

So in came Jesus. And when the man saw him from afar, he immediately recognized the Lord and began shouting at him, begging Jesus not to torment him. So Jesus cast the demons out and let them go into a herd of pigs who immediately drowned themselves in the sea.

The man was free, and wanted to follow Jesus and be with him. But interestingly, Jesus said no. Instead, he told the man to go back to his home and share what He had done for him. What a powerful testimony to those who knew this man best!

The place to begin sharing God’s truth is at home. That’s where we’re to live authentically, walking with God and showing others the grace He’s given us… our spouses, our kids, our parents, and our friends. Start sharing the Gospel at home, testify of the Lord’s goodness, and be a living witness to your loved ones of God’s grace in your life.

Share God’s grace with those at home first by walking authentically with God and being a living witness of His grace.

Jesus and Me

 

by ignite Your Faith
What if you knew Jesus as well as you know your best friend?

Do People See Jesus in Me?

“You don’t think the teacher will hear us, do you?” my lab partner whispered to me. We were watching an extremely boring video on the lifestyle of the cell. Instead of taking notes, we were talking.

“Nah, I don’t … ” Before I could finish my sentence, I looked up and saw the teacher standing over us, giving a stern look.

“Just kidding!” I blurted out, not sure why I said it. I guess it just seemed to be the best way to lighten up what could turn into a tense situation.

“What did you say?” my teacher asked in a tone that seemed more surprised than angry.

“Uh, just kidding.”

“You know, you sound like the girl who sits in your seat the period earlier. Come to think of it, you two sound a lot alike. I’m sure you must be friends with Lauren.”

“Well, yes … we’re very good friends,” I answered, relieved the teacher seemed more interested in me and my friend than in the fact that I’d not been paying attention in class.

After the period ended, Lauren and I met up so we could walk to our next class together—something we always do. Next to Lauren was a girl who was new to our school. After Lauren introduced me to her, the three of us walked down the hall together. As Lauren turned the corner to go into her classroom, she shouted above all the hallway noise:

“Meet me by the … ”

“Pop machine!” I shouted back, finishing her sentence.

“Of course!”

The new girl was staring at me. “I can’t believe it,” she said. “You guys finish each other’s sentences and keep changing subjects so fast that no one can keep up with you!”

That’s when it hit me: What if I knew Jesus as well as I know my best friend? I thought about what it would be like to be able to finish his sentences. To think his thoughts. To laugh his laugh. To smile his smile. To cry over things he’d cry over. To care about the things he cares so much about.

And then I thought about how my teacher and the new girl sort of “saw” Lauren in me, since we’re so much alike. What if people “saw” Jesus when they saw me? What if I were so close to him that my life looked a lot like his?

I still have a ways to go, but I really want to build that kind of relationship—the kind that will make people stop and say, “Hey, you remind me of Jesus. You two must really be close.”

Written by Allison Asimakoupoulos

Work of Marriage

 

vy Focus on the Family
What does the “work” of marriage actually look like? Andrew Hess gives insight on how to address this aspect of married life.

The Work of Marriage

Recently, I received a question in an email.

“I sometimes feel like all the ‘just you wait for the other shoe to drop’ folks are out there trying to steal my joy–and I have to remind myself that they’re often just applying their own experiences to what I should expect and trying to get me to temper my own expectations accordingly. In short, they have my best interests in mind. But I kind of want to live in the sort of world where the ‘work’ part of marriage becomes an afterthought. I think in a lot of ways we’ve bought into some kind of silliness that marriage is terribly, horribly hard. The world is all about the ‘ol’ ball and chain’ and your ‘life being over’ after you marry. That life-long marriage is some kind of kid-ridden, sexless, isolated horror show, and I think sometimes we let ourselves buy into that line of thought.”  – Ashley

I think some of your thoughts here, Ashley, get at the crux of this discussion, namely your desire that the “‘work’ part of marriage becomes an afterthought.”

I resonate deeply with that desire, and I think it’s a good one. Going into my marriage with my wife, Jennifer, I was overjoyed at finding someone with whom I shared so many similarities, someone I was excited to spend my life with. Though many folks have described the first year of marriage as a sometimes jarring transitional season, Jennifer and I sailed through it, growing closer, ministering together and continuing to get to know each other. It was an awesome season. And if you’d have told me during that time that marriage somehow constituted work, I would have scratched my head and asked, “What on earth are you talking about?” Honestly, I can’t imagine having found someone better suited to spend my life with than Jennifer.

So I absolutely get what you’re expressing, Ashley.

Now—and this is, I suppose, what some might consider “the other shoe dropping”—Jennifer and I are nearly nine years into our marriage. In that time, we’ve had three children. My wife has gone from working full time to working part time. Our lives are very, very full—which is an incredible blessing. But sometimes the fullness of work and family can, frog-in-the-blender-style, quietly begin to erode the sense of intimacy and connection that seemed so effortless in those first two years. In other words, what was very much an “afterthought” becomes something that I’ve got to give some forethought. Deepening intimacy, at least for us, is no longer something that just happens automatically without some intentional effort on our part to cultivate it.

In the early years of a healthy marriage, there are several factors working massively in your favor. First, hopefully you’re thrilled (as my wife and I were) to have found someone to spend your life with. It can seem almost too good to be true. You talk all the time. If you’ve exercised sexual restraint, those early years of marriage are a time of wondrous, sacred discovery in that area. You’re continuing to learn more about the intricacies and quirks and wonders of this person that you’ve committed yourself to. In short, it’s a season in which there are all sorts of factors that are working almost automatically to cement your intimacy, your bond and your commitment to each other. Of course you don’t have to work at it, because (in a good relationship) it feels as effortless and natural as breathing, even when you do run into those occasional small conflicts.

I think what can change over time–thus necessitating the “work” that others have referred to–is that the factors present in those early years don’t necessarily remain effortless afterthoughts as the years and responsibilities mount. We love our three children deeply, but if we’re not careful, just tending their needs can easily crowd out our own need to keep intentionally growing the intimacy, the very bond that seemed to come so effortlessly early on. It’s not “work” in that it’s a “grind.” But it is “work” to the extent that we have to prioritize each other, choosing to devote the same kind of love and attention to our relationship as we do our children and our jobs.

My wife and I have been out on dates three times in the last three weeks. Each time we went out, I did the planning, which meant recruiting grandparents and babysitters, going to get pick up a babysitter in one case, and working out the details to make that happen. Is that work? Perhaps. Perhaps not, depending upon how you define that word. But I do know that if I hadn’t taken the proactive initiative to plan and make it happen, it would not have happened spontaneously.

All of that to say, perhaps a better phrase than “work”, which smacks of ball-and-chain drudgery, would be “intentional investment.” But I’ve come to believe that even the best marriages need exactly that kind of investment over time if they’re to thrive.