dating

Dating. A touchy subject. I want to share with yall what I believe a Christ centered relationship should really look like. **HEADS UP I want you to know I personally have never been in a relationship, but I want to share what I have learned and taken to heart in preparation if I ever do decide to pursue one. (pretty sure that was a run on sentence)**  We might not see eye to eye on the subject, but try to be open minded to what I have to say:) You never know! You could potentially be inspired! Here we go...

How we date NOW ultimately becomes how we treat our marriages in the future, so we need to begin learning how to date in a God glorifying manner. There are four key steps to take before a relationship takes off:

(1) Talk to your parents. If you don't feel comfortable discussing dating with your parents, you are not ready to date. This is harsh, but it's the truth. You need to be able to openly talk about your relationships with your parents because they will be able to help and GUIDE YOU. Hey! Guess what! They have done this whole dating thing before, and I guarantee they know way more than you do! If you want some advice on the do's and don'ts of dating, your parents are the key, not your friends.

(2) Have godly mentors. I can not stress this enough!!! It is muyyyy importante! Yes yes yes your parents are some of the best people to go to for dating advice, but I definitely recommend having other godly mentors to help point you in Christ's direction with their advice. Make sure this is an older mentor! Not some friend around your age, but someone who is older than you and knows how to properly respond to the world of dating. (i.e. small group leaders, camp counselors, church leaders).

(3) Don't always listen to your friends. I have already mentioned this a few times, but lemme re-emphasize this point:) Friends are great. Trust me I know...I have some pretty terrific friends myself. They love the Lord and always seem to know how to encourage and point me back to Christ. Yes, I admit that I go to them for some answers, but I try not to rely completely on them. Because we have barely experienced this world, sometimes our answers to a situation can be slightly narrow-minded. It's hard for us because we rely on our friends for mostly everything. In the moment, their advice seems 100% the best, but sometimes it can lead us down some sketchy paths. We can be blinded by the consequences of following foolish "words of wisdom" from our friends. They might have some answers, but they definitely don't have all. Our parents & godly mentors (and of course God) are more reliable sources when it comes to advice. 

(4) Pray. You guessed it! God wants to hear from you...especially about your dating relationships! He wants you to talk to him and seek guidance from him! Write it down or say it out loud. Whatever you want! I just know that talking to the Lord will give you peace and comfort if you are stressing a situation. God will help you, so lean on him!!!! He loves you and will guide you down the right path, so if you are ever in doubt, talk to the Lord!

Now for the three P's of dating:

Pull = the attraction phase. This is the first step to a relationship...getting to know the person. The best tip I can give you about the "pull" phase is to just be yourself!! You definitely don't want someone liking a person you are not. Remember your faith develops your character which in turn develops your personality. (See 1 Peter 3: 3-4 & Proverbs 31:30 below) Lastly, before starting to date a someone, make sure to do a "background check". What I mean by this is to check if this person has good healthy relationships with friends because how they treat their friendships is how they are going to treat their relationship with you.

Pursuit (this is for the guys) = pursuing a healthy relationship with someone you have gotten to know and enjoy. My first words of advise are to NOT lead a girl on, especially by giving her empty compliments. (GIRLS...our value is in Christ not in temporary compliments we receive!) Next, talk to the girls dad. I might seem old school, and a ton of my friends make fun of me for encouraging this...but who cares! I think asking the dad is a key component of showing not only the father but the girl that you care and respect her. This action takes a lot of courage (in my opinion) because a conversation with a girls dad can be somewhat "scary"...what if he says no??? Well that's okay. He is trying to protect and do what's best for his daughter. Now comes the hard part. Asking the girl out. I have two simple tips...ask face to face & have a plan (don't be spontaneously asking a girl out just cuz). These our four things I encourage a guy to do while pursuing a girl.

Purity. Seriously Danielle do we have to go there....**rolls eyes**. This will be short and sweet. I promise! (Not exactly my cup of tea either, but it needs to be said.) Satan wants to do everything possible in order to bring you "together" before marriage and everything possible to tear you apart during marriage. So with that in mind...dating is NOT for personal pleasure. Remember we are trying to honor God every step of the way! Even the slightest temptations should be avoided...for example, movies might seem super innocent and okay, but they can be a real temptation. Dark room + all alone = NO THANK YOU! Btw side note: A guy should take a girl out to do something that involves CONVERSATION and getting to know each other better. The harsh truth is that he probably does not care that much to get to know the girl if he only takes her to movies. Every once and a while movies are okay, but don't let it be the only thing yall do together. GIRLS I want you to remember to be modest with the clothes you wear! "What type of bait you use, determines what type of fish you catch". And BOYS makes sure you set the boundaries for the relationship, and if the girl has stronger boundaries than you, RESPECT THEM.

I want to end with this: "You will always want love to fill the emptiness of your soul, when love is all that you seek; But, you will never fill that hole, because love is not something that we fill, it is SOMETHING THAT WE POUR OUT. Only JESUS can fill that empty void in your life, only Christ can fill that cup so that it may be spilled into the lives of those who thirst for something eternal. Drink deeply, beloved, drink deeply from the well that Jesus offers us, so that you may never thirst again." (T.B. LaBerge). This quote hits home! Because of what Christ did, we can share his love with others. Makes sure you stay on mission for Christ while you are pursuing a relationship. Christ centered relationships are always the strongest! Find someone who loves you for you and points you back to Christ daily!

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." -1 Peter 3:3-4

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." -Proverbs 31:30

will

What's God's will for you life? This question seems to frighten many. Why? Because we know that God's will is a mystery to us. By entrusting God with our futures, we walk along an unknown path. We know exactly where this path leads to, but we have no clue as to how it's made. There may be bumps, cracks, hills, or winding roads. By giving Christ control over our lives, we accept the fact that what lies ahead might be difficult (persecuted for our faith, made an outcast, etc.). Yes...that is scary. But, for me, the scariest part about the journey is not knowing what to expect. Christ, just like a lantern, only lights up and reveals what is exactly in front of us. We don't know exactly what our future holds, but we do know who holds our future. This means we must depend on God for guidance in our lives.

Why is it hard to make decisions? Whether it's choosing your friends, college, job, etc., we constantly get caught up in the decision making. We say, "there are TOO MANY CHOICES", and we try to choose what brings the "most fulfillment". We want perfect fulfillment from our choices. What we need to realize is that "God's will is in the HOW & WHY rather than who, what, when, and where" (one of my favorite quotes from a Pine Cove counselor!). How do we decide? First things first, seek guidance in God's word! The next thing we need to realize is that WE CAN'T MESS UP GOD'S WILL. We are called to abide in Christ, and as long as we do that, God will continue to work through us and use us for the glorification of his kingdom. God's will might seem like a frightening term, but the fact that we are called to just trust the Lord (not be anxious about the future) should be freeing and give us peace in our moments of worry! One thing is for certain: we can choose to worship God every single day. So why don't we? 

Surrender your life to him, so HE CAN TRANSFORM YOU! I know we can't choose the situation we are handed, but WE CAN CHOOSE HOW WE RESPOND. I want to end with this ROCKING AWESOME quote (from Watermark Student Ministries): "God's will is not a code to be cracked, but a savior to be cherished!" Thanks for reading:) Praying for you and how God will use you!

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." -Micah 6:8

"Then Moses said to him, 'If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.'" -Exodus 33:15

"So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good." -1 Peter 4:19

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." -Romans 12:1-2

// Questions //

How can God use you?

Who are you walking with? Do they point you to Christ (daily)?

We tend to hold tight to what we think is best for ourselves, but how can you completely surrender your will to the Lord? 

light

According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, light is "something that makes vision possible." On the other hand, darkness is the absence of light. Darkness is scary. Darkness is comfortable. Comfortable? Yes. Once our eyes adjust, we enjoy darkness. For example, when a teacher turns off the lights in class, we secretly rejoice, but the moment the teacher turns the lights back on, we complain. Similarly, we love to live in sin, and we find (temporary) enjoyment in the life that sin has to offer. Living in sin is like us living in darkness. We have no direct path ahead of us, and all we do is stumble around with no purpose (and most times we get hurt along the way). Personally, that does not sound appealing to me.

How do we get rid of the darkness? Easy! Light is the solution. Only light is powerful enough to make darkness disappear. What is this so called "light"? Jesus! (Jesus is always the answer...am I right???) Christ is the light in our lives, and God is the source of this light (check out 2 Corinthians 4:6 below). Even since the beginning, God has brought light into our lives (check out Genesis 1:2-3 below).

Analogy time! Okay, consider a light bulb. This light bulb cannot shine on its own no matter how hard it tries....it must be placed in a fixture! The key was not to try harder but to PLUG INTO THE SOURCE. Similarly, we cannot expect ourselves to "shine" for Christ on our own! We must "plug into our source"; we must take time each day to stop, reflect, and dig into God's word! One of my favorite quotes sums it all up perfectly! It says, "Trying to shine on our own can be exhausting. Instead, we're simply called to be closely connected to God and REMAIN IN HIM. When we do, His light pours forth through us in powerful, brilliant ways that change the world. The ways we shine might not make the news, but they make even more of a difference than we can see."

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ." -2 Corinthians 4:6

"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." -Genesis 1:2-3

"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: GOD IS LIGHT; in him there is NO DARKNESS at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth." -1 John 1:5-7

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." -Matthew 5:14-16

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light IN THE LORD. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." -Ephesians 5:8-11

// Questions //

What can you do NOW to abide with the Lord more deeply and consistently?

Why are Christians scared to bring forth "light"?

We live in fear of judgement, how can we change that?

identity

If someone where to ask you "who are you", what would you say? Think about it. Hmmmm...hard question! This question is practically asking, "where do you find your identity".

Identity...the most talked about topic in student ministries...thanks Danielle...totally haven't heard this one before. But hang with me people because God has some crazy things to say through this topic! Most of us know that as believers we are called to place our identity in God, but this world has coerced us to put our ID (do you mind if I "nickname" identity?) into everything other than Him. Here's the thing, we all try to ACHIEVE our ID through actions, looks, words, abilities, etc., but once you become a believer in Christ Jesus, you automatically RECEIVE a new ID. This new ID is found in God and what Christ did for us! Can I hear an "amen"?!? (mixed emotion about talking to a blog...that's okay. just say it in you head.) Okay, now that we all are on the same basis on the fact that our ID is found in God, we can move onto how this should encourage our daily lives! (read Galatians 1:10 below) Trying to live according to the world's standard is far from satisfying compared to living for the Lord. No matter how the world views us or what we believe in, we need to STAND STRONG in Christ because we believe in the unconditional love and grace of God. Pleasing people should not be our ultimate goal, but being a light for the Lord within this dark world is what we should strive for! I want to end with encouraging words from Kristen Clark & Bethany Baird (writers of Girl Defined): "God is looking for women [and men] like you to courageously go against the grain of modern culture. He needs women [and men] who are brave...He needs women [and men] who REFUSE to live for the applause of this world and instead live for the applause of their King." If you know someone who is living well for the Lord, send them a text and encourage them to keep up the good work! Remember: it's not about what you didn't do, it's about what you CAN DO! And if who you are is found in things that are changeable, it's NOT who you are.

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." -Galatians 1:10

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -Ephesians 2:10

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" -2 Corinthians 5:17

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." -Colossians 3:1-2

// Questions //

Where have you recently been placing your identity?

How would someone else define you?

How can you STAND OUT for the Lord this week?

savior

If I am going to start a blog about an AMAZING savior, then I probably should start off explaining who this savior is! Hold on tight because I am about to tell you the most life changing story!

Let's start from the beginning...

Creation? Evolution? There is a lot of debate about HOW this spectacular earth came to be. Personally, I believe every stinking thing on this earth points to a God. (I could go on and on about why, but I don't think you want to read a thousand page blog...) Anyways, this God created humans to take care of and enjoy His outstanding creation, but mankind messed up this perfect world because they believed their way was better than God's (see Genesis 3). This is when sin comes into the picture...Every single human on this earth has sinned (except for one). It's a fact. We are not perfect. And, this imperfection creates a HUGE divide between us and God. Now comes the crazy part! Remember like 3 sentences earlier how I mentioned there was one individual who has never sinned? Well, that would be Jesus, who was fully man AND fully God. WOW! Now you are probably wondering why was He here on earth? Well, because of our sinful nature, we are condemned to an eternity of death and pain (in Hell). But God the perfect creator NEVER STOPPED LOVING US, and because of this love, He gave up His only son, Jesus Christ, to come and rescue us from an eternity in Hell! Jesus saved us by dying on a cross and raising back to life (!!!!) 3 days later. That is the ultimate sacrifice: being painfully tortured and hung on the cross for a bunch of sinful humans. Because of this sacrifice, we are able to accept God's free gift of eternal life! Did you notice how I said "free gift"? That's because we don't have to work for eternal life at all!!! All we need to do is understand, believe, and accept Christ's sacrifice for us.

God created the universe and us.  We messed up.  All humans sin.  We can't reach God because we are no longer perfect.  God sent us a savior.  You can choose to accept God's gift = ETERNAL LIFE !!!!!!!!