Rethinking Evangelism

John 3: 1-3

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

I want you to think about evangelism today in America. Pray this prayer… Sign this card… Raise your hand… Walk this aisle… Step in this river… Read this tract… Go through the Roman road.

We have twisted the decision to follow Christ into a mirror image to the values we treasure most in America. Convenience, ease, and nominal commitment.

When we evangelize, we do so in “seeker friendly” ways. In our churches, we use high cables, dancing, props, and a vast amount of entertainment driven devices that are vastly similar to the world in hopes of attracting the lost to Christ. We boil down the commitment to become a disciple of Christ into admit, believe and confess. We have twisted the beauty of an individual lost in their sin desperately crying out to Christ, into a model of repeat this prayer after me.

Oh, and the types of people we most often “feel called to evangelize” are vastly similar to you and I. They are white, middle class, Americans. Because that is who we are most comfortable with. Rarely do we hear in our churches of opportunities to reach out to the homeless, the impoverished, the addicts, or the broken.

Simply put, our evangelism is centered around a call that includes little commitment, great convenience, and selective outreach.

Yet, before us stands an account in scripture that should fly in the face of the majority of our evangelism efforts in America.

The account of Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisee, Nicodemus, is one of my favorites in all of scripture.

Here is this man, most likely a wealthy man, and due to his position of authority in Judaism, probably a very influential and powerful man.

In our eyes, we would see the big fish. We would see a man who could provide great amounts of resources to the cause of Christ, that could have a significant impact on the culture… We wouldn’t want to let this big fish off the hook.

Yet, Jesus sees Nicodemus for what he was.

Scared.

Nicodemus apparently has an interest in Jesus, probably due to his recent miracles. He is intrigued by Christ, and to a degree acknowledges that Jesus must be of God… yet, he only shows a nominal interest in commitment. Instead of coming to Christ in public, and in light so that his desire for Christ would be made known… he comes to Christ in the secret of night, probably to avoid being found out by his co-Pharisees.

Nicodemus had a desire for the benefits that Jesus could offer, but not the cost that he would require. He wanted the miracles, but not the persecution. He wanted Jesus presence, but not the cross. He wanted the blessings, but not the burden of following after Jesus when it meant leaving behind the Pharisees.

And, Jesus recognized this. And, he replied in a “seeker sensitive way” [insert sarcasm here].

Jesus literally said something that would cause Nicodemus to be utterly confused. Something obscure, yet brutally honest.

Jesus was honest with Nicodemus about what He would require. He did not sugar coat it. He did not boil it down, or make it easy to understand. He did not reduce it down to admit, believe and confess. And, he did not ask Nicodemus to simply say a prayer.

He told him that he would have to be born again. Which implies death to this life. The same word for born again, can also be interpreted as “born from above”… meaning that Nicodemus would have to be born again, not to the passions of this world and his religion, but to the things of Christ and God. Born of the Spirit, not of the flesh.

Good thing Jesus had our books on evangelism! If he did, he would have known that it is bad practice to use Spiritual language with an unspiritual man! Or that it was bad to make conversion seem difficult.

Here Jesus is, being brutally honest, and upfront as to what the Kingdom would require, and in doing so he is most likely turning away Nicodemus.

Why would he do this?

In our minds, we think Jesus is letting the big fish get away.

But, Jesus knew that Nicodemus was unwilling to make the type of commitment He required, yet instead of reducing it down to Nicodemus’ level, Christ was honest with him.

This account that we will study over the next few days I hope will encourage you to examine our current models and thoughts on evangelism.

For so long we have twisted evangelism into a model of nominal commitment, convenience, and ease. Meanwhile we witness people walking away from their “commitment” days later… Why? Because we were not forthright about what following Jesus requires. We simply asked them to pray a prayer, or sign a card.

Meanwhile Jesus said things like you must eat my flesh, and drink my blood… or, you must go sell all you have and give to the poor.

Or… YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN.

I really think that we have made evangelism what it is today out of good intentions. We want to make following Jesus attractive, and we want the commitment to be accessible… Yet, we have lost the model Jesus gave us in being radical in our response to what He requires. We have forgotten the need to be honest to what following Jesus is. And, when we do this, we set new believers up for failure. They don’t know what they are getting into, and we are the ones responsible.

Jesus didn’t share the Roman Road; neither did Phillip with the Ethiopian Eunuch. He didn’t ask Nicodemus to repeat a prayer… He didn’t dumb down the truth, or make it easy. And, most believe Nicodemus walked away, but we will see later in the Gospels that Nicodemus does become more bold and public about his new beliefs and interests… Why? Because the true Gospel is enough to draw people, and it is what people want. Maybe we should consider that we don’t need all the props, and entertainment. Jesus is enough people, and I hope you will use his model for evangelism, not our own.

-Caleb

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How’s Your Heart?

See this picture?  What is this a picture of?

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That’s right an ECG machine or, for some old timers like me, an EKG machine.  An Electrocardiogram machine.  What does it do?  Well, it checks to see how your heart is doing.  It can’t tell you everything about your heart but it can tell you a lot.

In Scripture, when it speaks of the heart, it is not speaking of the physical heart that pumps blood through our body.  But it is speaking of our very soul, of a very being of who we really are.  Remember we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1: 26-27) with that soul and that very spirit with which we communicate to God with.   We will see that Jesus is running an ECG on the people that he has encountered and finds something quite interesting.

As was custom there were great numbers of people in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.   As indicated in these verses Jesus took time to teach and perform many miracles.

John 2:23-25 – 23Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

Because of these miracles many people believed in Jesus.   But what was it they believed about Jesus?  What was their motive behind their belief?  Were they committed to following Jesus?  Or were they just desiring more of the miracles?

Were they ready to follow him because of what they thought they could get from him?  Or, were they ready to follow him so they can give him everything?  Either way Jesus knows.  He is God after all and he is All-Knowing.  Think about the description of God’s Word in Hebrews.

Hebrews 4:12-13 – 12For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the hear. 13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Every thought and intention is laid bare and exposed before God.  God’s word exposes us and we are definitely exposed before our Creator as he looks at the intentions of our heart.  Even today so many want Jesus only for what he can give them.  We want our “Best Life Now”.  We see this played out many times through Scripture.  In John Chapter 6, after Jesus fed the 5000 the people continued to seek him out but Jesus knew why they were following him.  They were not after him because they saw him as the Savior but as one that can continue to meet their needs and keep their bellies full.  When he challenged them about true discipleship it says in verse 66 that many left him, 66 “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”

One of the saddest portions of Scripture for me is found in Matthew 7 as Jesus is concluding the “Sermon on the Mount”  as he makes this warning.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

There are so many today that call themselves Christians but this is how there ECG graph would look.

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Jesus is just something they do and for some they have created a Jesus that fits their lifestyle.  They don’t want to talk about sin and they don’t want to talk about repentance from sin and to strive for a life of holiness.  We so many times want Jesus to rubber stamp our lives instead of giving Jesus our complete devotion.  But Jesus knows and that is why in verse 24 and 25 it reads, 24But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”

 How’s your heart today?  What does your ECG read?

Do you need this?

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To get this!!

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God’s Blessings to you this glorious day!!

Dale

Are You Looking For a Sign from God?

Do you remember this from several years back?hqdefault

Comedian, Bill Engvall made the phrase: “Here’s Your Sign” popular by using it to make some pretty funny statements like this one:

c5b10deb5a95a5b38b762513937c38efHere’s Your Sign…

The phrase became synonymous with witty, funny sayings that made a ton of people laugh including yours truly. 🙂

But, how about other types of signs. Have you ever asked God for a sign? Have you ever been in a situation and you looked to heaven and said, “Lord, just give me a sign.” I bet you have. We all have at some point in our lives. We want God to speak to us from heaven. And the truth is, He already has.

Bible Scholar Wayne Grudem says this:

“Do you think you would pay more attention if God spoke to you from heaven than He does through the words of Scripture? Would you believe or obey such words more readily than you do Scripture? Do you think your present level of response to the written words of Scripture is an appropriate one?”

Thought-provoking, huh?

Well, the Jews of Jesus’ day were always looking for a sign. They wanted Jesus to perform miracles “on demand.” Watch how Jesus handles it…

John 2:18-22

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

To the Jews it appeared Jesus was speaking of Temple that had been rebuilt by King Herod. But, He wasn’t. Jesus was speaking of His own body/life. He was foreshadowing His on death and resurrection (raise it up again in 3 days).

Here again, Jesus uses almost cryptic language with the Jews. Why? Because Jesus wanted to reveal the truth to His disciples but conceal its meaning from unbelievers who questioned Him. Only after the resurrection, however, did the disciples understand the real significance of Jesus’ statements.

Are you scratching your head today? Are you wondering what the Lord is doing in your life? Is it taking too long? Is something not happening fast enough? Are circumstances not making sense? Are you disillusioned or bewildered?

It’s okay. The Lord knows what He is doing. He has a plan in what He allows in our lives. Can you trust what He’s already told you while you are walking in the dark? Can you rest in the knowledge that He will never leave you nor forsake you while you are waiting on the test results or for that answer to come or that “sign” to appear?

Are you wondering what to do in the meantime? The Bible tells us (you might want to read this slowly):

Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

One last thought about “signs” before we go today. You know a sign was given to the Jews eventually. It was a sign that was placed above Jesus’ head. See it below…

file_passionmovie_pierce

It was a sign that, hundreds of years after it was written, still directs our lives. A sign that identified the most important person to ever set foot on the planet. And a sign that offers safety for those who heed its words and warnings to those who, like the Chief Priests, refuse to accept it. That sign was inscribed by Pontius Pilate and fastened to the cross of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” John 19:19-22

Folks, there’s our sign! 🙂

Kevin

Irreverent Worship

Are you familiar with this scene from the Bible?

jesus-cleansing-temple-948976-gallery

I’m sure you are. That’s Jesus clearing the Temple courtyards of the cheats and thieves who were stealing from the people. Jesus did this twice in His ministry. Once near the beginning of His ministry and then again shortly before His death. The Apostle John records this tumultuous scene.

John 2:13-17

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 

Jesus leaves the area of Galilee and Capernaum and makes the 90 mile journey south to Jerusalem for the largest Jewish feast of the year, Passover. This would be the first of three Passover feasts that Jesus would attend during His ministry. As you know, Passover was celebrated to remind the Jews that God delivered them from the Egyptians with the 10th plague: Death of the firstborn. The “Death Angel” passed over the homes of all those who had blood on the doorposts and lintel.

passover3

When Jesus arrived to the Temple for the celebration, He was totally blown away by what He saw.

14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 

You might ask, “Why were money-changers allowed in the Temple courtyard in the first place.” Well, remember, the people were traveling great distances to come to the annual celebration of Passover. They would need a sacrifice (ox, lamb, pigeon, etc.) to offer on behalf of their sins and thus, there was a market to meet these needs of the weary travelers. It would be inconvenient to bring the sacrificial animals from such long distances. Thus, the need was there, but with that need came the cheaters with weighted scales for changing out the various foreign currencies. Jesus saw this and went into action…

15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Get this image in your mind again…

jesus-cleansing-temple-948976-gallery

Jesus was not taking a walk in the park, folks. He was obliterating everything that was there. John used the word “all” in verse 15. With His whip, Jesus drove all the evil-doers and all the animals out of the Temple courtyards. Indeed, His “zeal” consumed Him.

Zeal for what?

Worship.

Jesus demanded that the current practice of thievery that was taking place must stop immediately. God’s holiness demands holiness in worship. John would quote King David from Psalm 69:9.

Psalm 69:9

For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.

Do you understand what Jesus was doing here? He was demanding proper worship, not irreverent worship. Jesus would say:

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Matthew 15:8

Have you thought about it lately? When you go to church to “worship” are you really “worshipping?” Are you reverent in your worship? David tells us what that kind of worship looks like in Psalm 51.

Psalm 51:14-17

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

The first step in offering worship to God is the cleansing of sin. Did you catch that in verse 14? To think we can worship our holy God while living in overt, known sin is impossible. We must confess our sin before the Lord BEFORE we can truly worship Him. I’ll say it again, “You and I will NEVER worship a Holy God if we are living with known sin in our lives that we refuse to confess and repent.”

See in verse 15 above… It’s after we offer our sin to the Lord that we can sing to God of our salvation with our lips…declaring His praise. Do you see? God isn’t impressed with sacrifices and burnt offerings. What He desires is our hearts. He desires a “broken and contrite” heart. He desires our undivided love. He will not play second-fiddle to anyone or anything.

Does the Lord have your undivided heart? Are you offering Him your total heart and total worship? If not, perhaps there needs to be a cleansing in your heart. Maybe you need to allow Jesus to come in and overturn the tables of your life. I’m thinking about my life right now. I’m asking the Lord to show me what needs to be “thrown out” of my life so that I might truly offer the worship to Jesus that He deserves.

It’s such a privilege to be a child of God. Let’s not abuse that privilege by living sloppy lives before Him. May we worship Him with a total heart today. He’s worthy!

Kevin

Believing in Jesus is Like Standing ON a Chair

See this…

pr_post_chair-0x640

Looks like a really good and sturdy chair to me. In fact, I believe if I had that chair that it would hold me if I were to sit in it. Yes sir. I believe in that chair. I believe that chair has four legs and has the capacity to carry all of my weight. I really believe in that chair. Yep, I’m 100% confident in the chair.

Are you convinced that I believe in the chair?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. You see, the truth is: I can talk all day long about how much I believe IN the chair, but until I believe ON the chair, it is just a bunch of talk. And that my dear friend is how it is with most so-called Christians. Many, many “Christians” say they believe IN Jesus. They can tell you facts about Jesus )just like I was telling you facts about how much I believed in the chair). They can say, “Yep, I believe Jesus is the Son of God.” Or “Yes, I believe He rose from the dead.” But, this is the inescapable truth: Until you place your trust ON Jesus…that is until you place your 100% total trust and reliance ON the person and life of Jesus Christ, you are not truly a follower of Jesus.

It looks like this:

standing-on-chair1

Does that surprise you? Were you expecting me to say that it’s “sitting in the chair” that shows 100% trust? It’s not! You still have two feet on the floor supporting some of your weight while seated. But, if you stand in a chair, you have placed 100% trust ON the chair to hold you up. Do you get what I’m describing?

Jesus had a ton of people “following” Him throughout His ministry, but few really placed their trust ON Him. They were more interested in the spectacle of the miracles and/or in the food (feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000).

After Jesus performed His first miracle or “sign” as John calls it, many believed in Him. In other words, the “sign” of the water being turned to wine convinced them to “stand in the chair.”

John 2:11-12

11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. 12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

You see, when Jesus manifested His power and glory by turning water into wine, He showed that He was indeed the Creator, God who had come to earth in the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. Only the Creator could turn water into wine. Therefore, many chose to believe. But, many didn’t. Some people saw the same miracle, but they would not place their trust in (on) Him.

Now here’s what’s interesting. Did you see who followed Jesus? His momma. See that fact in verse 12. Now for all the Roman Catholics of the world, this has to stump them. They falsely say that Mary is equal with Jesus in power and divinity, yet that is overtly wrong. Why? Because Mary went “down” to Capernaum (Cana was on a hillside about 16 miles southwest of Capernaum, or about a day’s journey). Mary went down with the other disciples. Do you understand what this means?

Mary had to place her faith in Jesus too. Mary had to trust 100% on the truth and the fact that Jesus was the Savior of the world. She had to believe on Jesus just like you and just like me.

Have you trusted “in” Jesus or have you trusted “on” Jesus. There is a HUGE difference. I pray that you are standing ON the chair of Jesus in your life. If you are, then you are truly a follower of Jesus Christ.

Kevin

Final Encouragements for Dating

Final Encouragements for Dating

Proverbs 3: 5-7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

I hope that you have been encouraged by our series of devotions on dating this week. Sadly, there is so much to cover, and it would take much more time for me to inform you of the vast amounts of thoughts I have on the subject, and the plethora of principles for dating that the scriptures give us.

But, with today being Friday, and the end of the series I’d simply like to give you all one final encouragement. I’d like to leave you with one cognitive thought, to take with you.

One thing I hope you understand is that relationships are beautiful, and at the very heart of God, and one of His great desires for our lives is that we would experience meaningful relationships, one being the beauty of the gift of marriage.  The series this week was not to discourage relationships, or to condemn the pursuit of marriage, but to encourage a Gospel centered, Christ exalting view of the subject. In short, you shouldn’t feel guilty for desiring to love another person, for desiring the beautiful God-given institution of marriage, or longing to experience the grace of being loved by another imperfect human being. These are all God-given desires, and when they are directed in a Godly way, these desires can be used for God’s glory.

So, with that said, my final encouragement to all of you would be based off of the scripture above.

God’s way is often the more difficult, less traveled way. Honestly, approaching this subject and living it out in a Godly way is one of the hardest things a believer can do. It is so counter cultural, so counter to the way we have always done things. And, it’s also so juxtaposed against our natural longing to take our future in our own hands. Part of the human condition is that we feel that we are somehow the director of this life, and that we can control our futures with enough hard work and intelligence. So, as this relates to the subject at hand, so many of us have tried to take this matter into our own hands, to bear the burden of finding Mr. or Mrs. Right, to try to figure out who we are and what we would desire in a spouse, and to obtain God’s will for our lives. The best thing to be said is that this isn’t our burden to carry.

That would be my final encouragement. Do not settle for less than what God would have for you because you are leaning on your own understanding, or some short-lived desire. If His desire for you is to marry, He will lead you to the person He has for you. Someone equally yoked, someone who will cherish your heart, and help you grow in Christ. You can trust Him to this work. He has the perfect person for you, the one you were created for. So, let Him lead you in this work. It will seem counter cultural, it will be scary at times, and it will test your faith… but you will never regret it. He will do an amazing work when you finally step aside, surrender this area to Him, and embrace the gift of being single. When you finally come to a point where you can say, “You are enough Jesus, and I trust that you will deliver on your promise to carry out your plan for my life,”, then you will begin to see God work in miraculous ways.

When I finally came to that point in my own life, when I began to embrace being single, when I finally surrendered this task to Christ, He began to work so tangibly in my life. I grew so much Spiritually during that time, and I can honestly look back and see that as a most crucial time for me spiritually. And, it was shortly thereafter, that in a way only God can work, Angela Jensen (now Triplett) came across my path.

In what to me seems like a fairy tale story, Angela, a sweet and beautiful Minnesotan farm girl was brought to me by Christ. We crossed paths in a way that is only of God, in Wyoming one summer while we were both working for a ministry there. She had almost backed out of going to Wyoming due to her Father’s cancer diagnosis. Yet, as she prayed, she felt that God was still leading her to go.

I still remember that night, when I first met her at the home of the Ministry Team Leader in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Life for me has been so different since then. And, I can honestly say that I am confident that God did this work after I finally surrendered. It was when I stepped out of the way that He was able to work freely without the intervention of my human “wisdom”. One of the things that blows my mind to this day is that Angela was actually experiencing the same radical shift in regards to this subject around the same time that I was. She, 1200 miles away, was witnessing God working on her own heart in ways vastly similar to how He was working in my own life months before we met one another. That is what God can do.

So, to you all… God has a plan for your life, and this extends beyond the pursuit of marriage. Sometimes, we just need to surrender. We need to trust that God has something in store, and that we need to stop settling for less than His plan for our lives. Will you do that? I encourage you eagerly to do so. He will amaze you. Don’t give in because of some short-lived desire deriving out of your own understanding, or your own longings. Truly surrender, and watch Him go to work!

Caleb

Practical Tips For Pursuing The Biblical Model for Relationships

Practical Tips For Pursuing The Biblical Model for Relationships

Psalm 37: 3-4

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart

We talked about yesterday that we need to be seeing our relationships as serious endeavors that should be focused on marriage, and accountable to a variety of different things. Yet, what we didn’t talk about was practical, every day, advice for how a young person, or even old, can practically live out the Biblical principles for relationships. I am aware that the pursuit of marriage is a long, and sometimes tiring process. But, below I will give you suggestions for how you can use that time to both glorify God, and delight yourself in His ways in regards to this subject. He knows your desire for marriage, but you need to be sure that you are delighting in him, not your longings. Below, I am going to try and detail just a few practical suggestions that I have on the subject.

  1. Instead of searching for the right person, focus your heart on becoming the right person. The cultural model focuses on finding mr/mrs right, but the Biblical Alternative trusts God to this task, and only entrusts us with the task of growing in our own relationship with God. Practically speaking, young people spend an abundance of time thinking about how they can find the right person for them, meanwhile missing the fact that they are showing no attention to becoming and growing into the type of person they would want to marry. In a general sense, you will attract a person similar to yourself. The point being, that if you focus on following Christ, living a self-sacraficial life, pursuing Him relentlessly, and loving others… Those young ladies or young men who are doing the same will be drawn to you. But, even if that were not the case, the principle still remains that you cannot focus on finding who you want, if you are not what you are called to be yourself.
  2. Embrace the gift of being single. Scripture teaches that we should be content in all circumstances, yet we live in a culture that embellishes romance and degrades the values of commitment. So, it is easy to see why so many feel so driven to run from singleness into relationships. We always feel the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. While this is a phrase useful for reminding us of how we are often discontent with our own situation in life, and we so often long for what we can’t have… I believe it is extremely applicable to this subject.
    Simply put, we always feel that the grass is greener on the other side of singleness. That once we get married we will instantaneously become better Christians, and better people. Those of us who are married see how ridiculous this is, for marriage only magnifies the problems of who you are now.
    So, my encouragement for young people thinking about marriage is to embrace and make best use of the time given to you now. Being single is a gift from God, something we all find difficult to embrace, but if we will embrace it we will find that God will use it miraculously in a way that we cannot once we are married.
  3. Ensure that Christ is your Lord, and that He is the source of your fulfillment. Ensure that He is now, and always will be, your source of spiritual, and emotional fulfillment. Commit to walk closely with him, and make him enough. This leads to praying committedly for your future spouse. This will also help guard you from making irrational relationship decisions out of a longing to fulfill yourself via a relationship.
  4. Engage in meaningful discipleship based relationships with people of the same sex. We think about Jonathan and David, Paul and Timothy, Paul and Silas, Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Aaron, even Jesus and the Disciples. These were all meaningful relationships. We live in an age that magnifies romantic and sexual relationships, yet minimizes the need for true Biblical companionship and discipleship. I have found that men who have meaningful, Christ centered, friendships are more apt to be content while being single, and more encouraged when God brings their spouse into their life. They have someone who keeps watch over their souls, and helps guard their hearts. That is something invaluable in this life, not just in regards to dating, but almost every other stage of life as well.
  5. Men Lead. Men Cherish and protect your sisters. Begin leading now in your relationships and protecting the hearts of the ladies around you . So many of the struggles women face today derive out of this subject. Be different than the culture. Honor the women in your life, and show them that their value is not in outward adornment but in their heart for Christ.
  6. Guard your heart, and the environments you place yourself into. Do not be casual with your heart, be careful with flirtatious conversations with women and men that you know you could not reasonably see yourself marrying. Do not “toy” with your heart, or the hearts of others. Do not place yourself in compromising situations, whether within the confines of a relationship, or even when you are single where purity can be lost physically, emotionally, or even spiritually.
  7. Be Modest-this is targeted specifically at young women and the way you are dressing. Remember that scripture tells us the body is our temple. Keep your brothers in Christ in mind as you dress, and remember that you can help their hearts… You can help them fight temptation. We should never dress, behave, or talk in a way that causes a brother or sister to stumble.

There are a plethora of other practical ideas for how men and women can live out this Biblical alternative to the cultural model for dating. I’d love to share more, but that is all we have time for today. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. And, remember, the most practical tip I have for you is to remember always that your heart is intended to be given to your future spouse alone, practically, determine within your soul to give them all of yourself, and not allow any person to steal from your future spouse, and determine that you will not steal from another as well.

-Caleb-