Thursday, March 21, 2013

Silly Little Love Songs- Part 5

This week at WNW we concluded the "Silly Little Love Songs" series.  We opened with a worship set that included "Opposite Way" (Leeland), "God With Us" (MercyMe), and "On My Cross" (FFH).  During the worship set we also played this video from the same people we have the past few weeks.  This video pokes fun at the fear of being single but challenges those who are to enjoy and not be in such a hurry to be in a relationship that they make a mistake.  

After a brief review of the entire series we got into the message asking this question:  "What do you do when you realize that he/she isn't who you are going to marry?"  It is a question that must be answered if you are in this position.  I shared about how I was faced with this and did nothing.  So because I did nothing I allowed myself to become more emotionally attached to the girl I was dating and delayed the inevitable.  We have to realize that dating is getting ready for marriage.  This is God's intention as laid out in Genesis 2:24 when marriage first began.  When you date someone you need to ask if it is someone who you would marry.  If not then you do not need to date them.  So moving into our silly little love song for the week we went back to 80's and watched a clip from New Kids On the Block's song "Please Don't Go Girl".  We then looked at a couple of lyrics.  First one was the title line "Please don't go girl".  If you have to beg them to stay then it is not worth it.  Why would you want to be with someone who does not want to be with you?  Unless you are married, then you fight for your marriage as much as possible.  Then we talked about the next line "You would ruin my whole world".  Well this certainly is not true.  I was always the kind of person who was sad a couple days after experiencing a break up.  Then about day three I was a brand new person who was excited to have freedom.  It will not ruin your world if you break up with the person you are not supposed to be with.

So thinking again about the question "What do you do when you realize that he/she is not who you are supposed to marry?  I laid out three things that you should do when this occurs.

1)  You Break Up
I already alluded to this with the song.  When you realize you are not going to marry them then you need to end it.  However you need to end it the right way.  You should do it face to face.  Do not do it through text message, Facebook message, etc.  Also you need to be honest with them as to why.  However there are couple things you need to consider when being honest.  First of all you need to do it in a way that is not discouraging or tearing them down as in Ephesians 4:29.  Also do not use God as a crutch.  Too often teenagers will play the God card when they break up with someone but their reason is something else entirely.  This is a definite hurt to your Christian witness.  I really challenged the students to never do this.
2)  You Heal
Any breakup is probably not going to be easy.  It will hurt a little bit.  So when that occurs you allow God to heal you as only He can- Psalm 147:3.  Often people try to allow anything else to heal their pain, but only God can, and He will.
3)  You Wait
You take some time to wait on God- Psalm 27:14.  During this time you wait and allow Him to grow you.  You allow Him to mold you to become who the person you are looking for is looking for.

I wrapped up with this thought.  Often teenagers will ask the question to a married couple "How did you know that he/she was the one?"  Then the married couple will usually respond "you just know".  This is often confusing and even frustrating so here is the best way I knew how to answer this question to the students.  I shared that while you wait on God, you seek Him with all your heart.  God is constantly speaking to us- giving us instructions, correcting us, laying out His will, etc.  When we are seeking His face daily then it is in those moments that we are actually able to hear Him.  So if we are seeking Him this way then we will be able to hear Him tell us that the person is the one He intends for us to marry.  I closed by telling them that it is my desire to come to their weddings some day and see that they allowed God to grow them and prepare them for that marriage.  That their testimony will be that they waited on God and followed Him however He directed them.

I think this has been a great series and hopefully got the students thinking ahead.  I really challenged them to be thinking beyond the next few minutes in life and begin to plan ahead.  They should be thinking about the marriage that they know is God's desire for them and then work toward that making the best decisions possible.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Just Curious

I have always been curious to how much my blog is actually read.  Everyone once in a while I check Google Analytics but wanted to see the results of this survey.  Thanks!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Silly Little Love Songs- Part 4

We continued this week at WNW with part 4 of the "Silly Little Love Songs" series.  We began the night by splitting the group into guys vs girls.  It actually wasn't a game but more of a thinking activity.  I had each group elect a representative who drew five phrases out of a box.  I had taken the phrases from the nasty valentines day heart candy (I couldn't actually find the candy in stores so I got the phrases off the internet).  Then each group was given the task of writing a set of wedding vows using the five phrases that they drew out.  After they were done I had the representative from each group read their vows.  It was quite comical!  After that we went into a worship set that began with a couple of silly worship songs:  "So Much", and "Every Move I Make".  We then showed the Blimey Cow video "Seven Tips for Successful Dating" and discussed it.  Then we wrapped up the worship set with "Hosanna" (Hillsong United).

After a brief review I talked about how we were going to focus on wedding vows for the night.  We talked about how a vow is a promise made and within a marriage it is not only a promise to your spouse but to God.  We read Ecclesiastes 5:4 to show the seriousness of a vow to God.  Often people get married and do not take into consideration the importance of a wedding vow and how it is intended to be forever.  This is why we see such a high divorce rate.

The silly little love song for the night was "This I Promise You" by N'Sync.  Afterward I shared that the rest of the message was going to be unique as Belinda joined me and we both shared from our hearts.  We discussed some of the silly lyrics in the song.  First of all the line "I've loved you forever in lifetimes before".  Well we know this isn't even possible.  You can't love someone before you even know them.  Then the main lyric of the night that we talked about was "I promise you'll never hurt anymore".  Well this is a great concept, but it definitely is not reality.  As much as I would love to stop Belinda from ever having any pain or hard days, it just isn't possible.  With sin in the world there is going to be plenty of pain.  We read the Scripture that is read in most weddings 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and focused mainly on "love endures all things".  If we look at most traditional wedding vows the one closely related to this is "For Better or For Worse".  Often you do not truly know what love is until you face one of these "for better or for worse" moments.  When your commitment to one another is tested in these moments it determines true love vs infatuation.  So Belinda and I both shared some of these moments with the students not so that people would feel sorry for us, but so that they would see how God has worked in us and in our marriage.

I first shared my story of how two weeks after we were engaged I received a phone call from my mom saying that my dad had left and was not coming home.  In fact we did not even know where he was.  I had always been proud to be the child whose parents were still married but now they were getting a divorce.  At this moment I took on a lot of anger.  A lot of anger!  And Belinda saw me at my worse.  But we determined then that we were going to lean on God to work in us and we were committed to not letting this same thing happen to us.  Belinda pointed me to Jesus an stood by my side through that very tough season.  She saw me at my worse, but helped point me to Jesus so that I could become better.

Then Belinda shared her story that took place just a few weeks short of ten years later.  Her story was that terrible day that we received the news that Belinda's dad had tragically taken his own life.  This definitely sent on us on a whirlwind that was not only surrounded in grief, but lots of questions, frustrations, and other just odd situations.  Belinda shared about some of her struggles and that I stood by her through it all.  She said that I was often asking if she needed or wanted to talk and that I never got tired of talking about the situation.  

The truth is that as much as I would like to shelter Belinda from any hurt or pain, it simply is not possible.  There is sin in this world and we do not know what the future holds.  You cannot control your circumstances but you can control how you react.  We also shared some of the low points in these times and some of the silly or even stupid ways we reacted to the pain.  But we committed to trust in God and allow Him to make us better.  I have said it many times and it is definitely true:  I would not trade in this pain to miss the pleasure of doing life with my best friend by my side.  I am thankful for what God has done in us through these circumstances.  I ended by challenging the students to really consider the importance of the vows you make when you get married.  Then also to be praying for their future spouse like we discussed a couple of weeks ago.  Pray that God will be working in them making them the person who will stand by their side in the "for better or for worse" moments in life.  Also they need to be praying for themselves that they will be strong enough to stand by their spouse in these moments.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pray For David

I write this post with a heavy heart.  Just this past week David Landrith who is the senior pastor at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN was diagnosed with an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer.  I have only had the privilege of meeting David once, but you cannot meet him without knowing that he is man that is in sync with God and seeks Him daily.  He has a great love for Jesus and for people.  David is a great pastor who has been used greatly by God over the years in reaching people.  I would like to encourage you to read the press release concerning his diagnosis here.  I also want to encourage you to take the time to listen or watch his message this past week where he talks about this.  Never once do you hear a moment of whining or complaining.  Instead you hear humility, positivity, and a great desire for Jesus Christ to be glorified through it all.  Please join us in praying for David.  Pray for his healing.  We know that God can do a great work and heal him of this terrible disease.  Pray for his peace and that God will comfort him through the hard days ahead.  Pray for his family during these times of uncertainty.  Pray for the doctors that they will be wise in surgeries and in treatment.  Then most of all pray that God is glorified.  I know that this is David's desire and I know that God will be glorified in all of this.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Silly Little Love Songs- Part 3

Late getting this posted but last week at WNW was week 3 of our relationship series called "Silly Little Love Songs".  We began the night with a worship set that included:  "Tell the World" (Hillsong United), "Sovereign Over Us" (Aaron Keyes), and "Hosanna- Praise is Rising" (Paul Baloche).  Between two of the songs I showed this video on the topic of how do you know you are in love and had a quick discussion surrounding it.

I began the message with a quick recap of the series so far and talked again about praying for your future spouse like we did the previous week.  I made the point that hopefully you are beginning to see that what you are praying for your future spouse is what you should also pray for yourself.  As I heard Andy Stanley put it "Are you who the person you are looking for is looking for?"  The answer to this should be yes.  More than searching for the right person you should be becoming the right person.  We looked at this more specifically on not being someone you really are not by settling or compromising.  

The silly little love song for this week was "As Long As You Love Me" by the Backstreet Boys.  They lyrics we focused on was in the chorus:  "I don't care who you are, where you're from, what you did as long as you love me".  If you back up to the verse they says something about "loneliness has always been a friend of mine".  So the point that they are getting at in this song is that they want someone to fill the empty void and it doesn't matter what their past has in it.  Too often this is the way people are.  They are lonely and want a relationship so badly that they lower their standards to be in one.  I do not mean that you abstain from forgiveness, because Scripture commands us to do so.  However I wanted the students to see that they do not need to lower their standards or be someone they are not in order to have a relationship.

We looked at the life of Samson like we had in the first part of this series.  We looked at a few of his terrible relationships.  In Judges 14:1-4 Samson sees a Philistine woman and decides he wants to marry her so he tells his parents to go get her to be his wife.  First of all if you tell your parents to go get you someone that you just spotted so you can marry them, then I hope your parents smack you in the face.  That is just silly.  This is a bad idea for several reasons.  First of all the Philistines were their enemies.  Secondly he makes the statement "get her for me, for she looks good to me".  He obviously was not concerned with who she was as a person, but only on her appearance.  He was marrying an unbelieving foreigner which God had forbid in Exodus 34:16 and Deuteronomy 7:3 because their unbelief would lead them astray.  Finally it was the tradition that the parents would arrange their child's marriage, not the other way around.

Next we looked at Judges 16:1 where Samson meets up with a harlot or in other words a prostitute.  Then he goes on to meet Delilah (Judges 16:4-21).  This is another example of Samson's standards being low.  He did this time and time again.  Was it for love?  Well the Bible does say that he loved Delilah, but I believe it was a blind love.  The other times it certainly was not for love though.  Not only did Delilah's withholding of the truth lead to Samson's demise, but the fact that he settled and lowered his standards also led to his demise.  You can't compromise or settle just so you can be with someone and feel loved.  If you settle and compromise and that person accepts you for it, that DOES NOT equal love.  In doing so you put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.  I shared a story about myself in high school.  I had dated a girl for a few months and we broke up.  I then almost dated another girl that I was friends with.  She was nice, pretty, great personality.  However she had a past that was not what I wanted to be a part of.  I felt like she was interested in making a change, but she was still showing tendencies of these past sinful behaviors.  Thankfully we never ended up going out because I could have possibly put myself in a dangerous situation.  At this point I told the students that there is nothing wrong with being picky in their relationships.  It is completely ok to set the bar high and not settle for less than the best.

So why can this be a dangerous situation?  First of all 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 tells us to not be married to a nonbeliever.  This does not mean to completely disassociate with nonbelievers because if we do that then they will never hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.  However we are not to be married or even date them because more than likely they will bring you down.  The language used "unequally yoked" is using the example of a wagon being pulled by two different animals.  One will pull the other one down.  If it happened to Samson and even Solomon then it will happen to anyone.  Also Proverbs 13:20 and 1 Corinthians 15:33 tell us that we will be negatively influenced by them if we associate too closely.  Often people think that they can change the person they marry, but that almost never happens.

So if we know the dangers, what are some of the warning signs?
1)  You don't know where they stand in their relationship with Jesus?
If this is the case then ask them.  If you are unable to ask them, then the relationship is going to fail because of a lack of communication anyway.
2)  Their life shows no signs of Jesus or is completely against Him.
3)  The direction or path that their life is going in does not line up with the direction or path that your life is going in.
Does not mean that you have to go to the same school, declare the same major, take all the same courses, go into the same career, and work in the same company.  However if you see that their life direction does not match yours, especially in their walk with Jesus, then it is a sign that you have lowered your standards.
4)  You pretend to be someone you are not when you are with them.
If you start to act and even talk differently when you are around them.  If you try to impress them constantly then you are lowering your standards.  When this occurs then you begin to be tempted to do things that before were not even an option to you.
5)  When you hope that the people you care most about do not know what you have been doing.

Proverbs 6:27-28 tells us essentially that if you play with fire, then you will be burned.  I know myself because I have scars from actually playing with fire as a kid.  If you begin to compromise in some areas, then you will begin to compromise in others.  But 1 Corinthians 15:58 tells us to stand firm in Jesus Christ.  We stand firm in our convictions. I got real serious with the students at the point and really challenged them to stand strong and to never compromise.  To the girls I told them that a guy is not worth it and he does not love them if he tries to get them to compromise.  To the guys I told them that the girl is not worth it and does not love them if she tries to get you to compromise.  Do not throw yourself away for something that is not love.  I told them that they ARE loved even if they do not feel it.  They are loved by me and every adult volunteer.  Even beyond that God loves them so much.  That love is so great that we should not compromise our standards or lower them to be accepted by someone because that acceptance does not equal love.  I love how the end of verse 58 says that "your toil is not in vain in the Lord".  This means that when you stand firm for what you believe in that it is not for nothing.  It is to help grow you in Christ during this preparation stage of life.  God wants you to know that He has someone better.

We ended the night with a prayer time.  I challenged the students to make a commitment right now to never lower their standards and to never compromise.  I challenged some that may see that the relationship they are in is a compromise and that they need to end it.  Finally I challenged those that may have already compromised to confess to Jesus and be forgiven.  Then make a fresh start and commit to never compromise again.