Tag Archive: relationships


In the spirit of Valentine’s week we of course talked about love and dating that Emergency Ministries. While the younger students focused more on loving one another as Christ would have us love, we dove into relationships with the older students.

Inspired by a book written by Kris Vallotton entitled “Purity”, the main challenge of the night was this: anyone can get sometime expensive, but it takes sacrifice to get something valuable. To put it more poignantly, anyone can have sex, but it takes sacrifice (and many other things) to experience love and a healthy relationship.

Think of it this way: if I REALLY REALLY wanted an iPad, I could just save up and buy one. Now, I do really want an iPad…but just not bad enough to bump my other priorities. So, in essence, I am sacrificing my iPad to attain other things more valuable (like a new house for my growing familyJ).

When a sports team fights their way to the finale and eventually earn the title of champion it is not really the trophy that they are after, is it? I was informed this week by a student that the Vince Lombardi Trophy is actually made of platinum whereas the Stanley Cup is only made of silver; even still I doubt the excitement over the Super Bowl is all about platinum versus sterling silver. Instead, a sports team is fighting for the right to say that they had worked hard, achieved their best, beat their enemies and emerged on the top. That is valuable to them; and it took sacrifice to earn it.

Anyone can get something expensive, but it takes sacrifice to get something valuable.

I gave the students several challenges this Valentine’s week 2012. The first was that they would beat the odds of our culture and achieve relationships that last. I challenged them not to give into immediate satisfaction of their emotional desires but instead to sacrifice that in pursuit of ultimate love. I challenged them to define love less as a feeling in their stomach and more as a decision to make with their heads.

I reminded the students that everyone drops their trophy sometimes; everyone makes mistakes. It takes bravery to pick the trophy back up, dust it off, and carry on in the direction that God has intended for us. If it was easy everyone would do it…but because it takes sacrifice only the brave step up. In the end, however, it is worth it because….anyone can get something expensive, but it takes sacrifice to get something valuable.

 

Song of Songs 2:7 “…Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”

 

This afternoon I had the pleasure of officiating my second wedding ceremony since being ordained by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada in May of 2009. As with my first wedding, my wife was also a bridesmaid and so the experience was all the more special as we shared it together.

The couple that was married (Brandon & Nancy) are great friends of both Mandy and I; the time we spent together doing the pre-marital prep and planning the wedding ceremony were certainly highlights over the past few months.

Since I have only had the opportunity to speak at two weddings I do not have a terrible amount of experience with this; however, both times I have shared thoughts concerning love, marriage, and commitment in the real world. These thoughts have emerged from the Scriptures and have certainly challenged some views of love present in our popular culture. Here are some excerpts of what I shared this afternoon:

 

…The portrait of love as portrayed in the word of God (1 Corinthians 13) seems almost as if it were a fairy tale. Who would not want to be on the receiving end of love like this: love that never get easily angered…love that keeps no record of wrongs…love that always trusts and always perseveres…when we look deeper into this kind of love described in the Scriptures we realize that if we are expecting to receive that quality of love we must also be individuals who give that kind of love; herein lies the problem…

 

…Though Scripture records that it was Eve who was first tempted by the serpent to disobey the only law of their society, Adam did not appear to hold this against her or against their relationship…despite the wrong the Eve had committed – a wrong that would have severe consequences for Adam as well – Adam still protected Eve on the verge of her original sin being confronted…

 

…The words of Saint Peter as recorded in his first book, chapter 4 verse 8, are especially pertinent…Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. There will be days when you will get on each other’s nerves…there have likely already been those days. There will be days when you will say and do things that you will need to apologize for and the other will need to forgive…

 

…Let nothing and no one come between the vows and the bond that you are making today. Do not let yourselves be your own stumbling blocks and continually strive for that perfect ideal of love found in the Scriptures…

 

My prayer is that Brandon and Nancy will have many years of blessings and happiness and that God will grant them the strength and courage to overcome the days when the sun does not shine so that they can be an inspiration to all of those who come after them…and perhaps a few who have gone before.

Congrats guys!

Good morning readers! I have a bunch of things on my mind today and so I thought that I would let them all out for you to see and hear about. Here we go!

1. If you were in Monkey Barrel this past week we talked about VAMPIRES! No, we are not setting the Bible aside and now preaching from popular media. What we are doing is taking popular media and demonstrating how lines up or does not line up with a Biblical worldview.

Now that you are done having a heart attack about us talking of Vampires in Monkey Barrel, let me tell you what we talked about. First, we discussed the various occult-like beliefs and behaviors associated with the whole world of vampires and its somewhat close association with Wicca. These are things that our Biblical worldview tells us are very real and certainly not good, pure and noble pursuits. Secondly, we saw that there are a variety of other practices associated with Vampires that are perhaps not spiritually-related but nevertheless contradictory to our Biblical worldview. Finally, we noted that those who engage in a lifestyle of fantasy and use that as a mask to avoid the pain of real life here and now are not doing themselves any good whatsoever. We need to pursue life with Jesus Christ, not fantasy.

A full discussion about this will be posted next week once I present this material to the Emergency Ministries group.

2. The second thing on my mind today is the Royal Wedding! Not the dress, not the hats, not the people, not the ring, not the weather, not the kiss, not anything like that…..come on now, what about the Royal Wedding do you think I would deem worthy for including in this blog post? ……..the sermon by the Bishop of London! I encourage you to review a few excerpts from the wedding sermon delivered earlier this morning at Westminster Abby as I was quite impressed with the truth about love and marriage presented to millions of viewers today. You can see some excerpts at http://www.officialroyalwedding2011.org/blog/2011/April/29/The-Bishop-of-London-s-Sermon

3. The third and final thing on my mind this morning is a new blog series that I have been thinking about and will begin to write shortly. I want to put the idea out there now to increase your expectation and whet your appetite. I plan to write a series entitled “The Top 10 Threats to a Teenager’s Faith”. In this series I will draw from my experience of 10 years working with teenagers to highlight some common pitfalls I have seen over and over again with the anticipation that perhaps it may assist some teenagers and parents from repeating the mistakes that others before them have already made.

That’s all for this morning!

p.s. I have noticed that my Katy Perry post from well over a month ago is STILL getting many hits every day and is currently my most popular post. Perhaps you’d like me to review more artists in the near future?

So, although I did not spend much time with you guys last night (blame it on the Monkey Barrel crowd) I STILL know what you guys were up to. In fact, I was talking with your small group leaders afterwards last night and they said that you were…well, fairly engaged given the topic.

So, lets briefly summarize what last night was all about (in case you were not here or not paying attention).

We watched Rob Bell in one of his first NOOMA videos called “Flame”. In this video he talks a lot about dating, relationships…and sex. He basically says that sex is something that is so special that you need to want until you are absolutely committed to one person and then allow it your life. Any deviation of this pattern leads to potential destruction…if you don’t believe Rob (or me) just look around teenage culture.

Song of Songs 2:7

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires.

The reason for this: love is a flame.

There are three Hebrew words used for love; the first is raya, the second is ahave, and the third is dode.

Raya is used to describe the relationship between friends. It is a companionship kind of love. Ahave is a willful love that you choose and decide who to give to. Rob Bells says, “…this is way more profound than fleeting romantic feelings. This is much more than temporary urges. Ahava is making a decision to join your life to the life of another. This is an emotion that leads to commitment.”

Dode is the sexual/intimate love in a relationship. Dode is like a potent flame that when unleashed out of sequence with the other aspects of love can certainly result in destruction of you and others. All three love ‘flames’ must burn at the same time and in the proper sequence.

When the three burn in complete unison you have….well….you saw it; that BIG flame. If you have never seen Rob Bell’s NOOMA video called “Flame” I urge you to locate a copy (we have them in the EGCC library) and watch it!

Think about these questions:

Why is love so complex?

Do we generally treat love as sacred, beautiful and mysterious?

Do you love tacos, or baseball, or your pet…the same way you love people?

What else is there inside you aside from your physical body? How do these invisible parts of your body love?

Have a great week! Next week we move on from this LOVE TALK and onto something else….phew!

There are a few topics that I cannot help blogging about: youth ministry, parents of teenagers (though I have no personal experience I have seen lots), Christian apologetics…and popular media. I am not sure how it all fits together but one thing can be sure, you will find it all here! Keeping that in mind, here are my thoughts on last night’s season finale of ‘The Bachelor’.

Last night I was painting our kitchen while listening to the final results of this season’s ‘The Bachelor’ unfold as Mandy sat in the living room silently (and at times not so silently) cheering on Emily, her favorite. I’ve blogged about this show before because of the sometimes strange views on love that it portrays. Last night was somewhat different however as the final girl standing, Emily (much to Mandy’s pleasure), displayed real class in fighting for what she felt was honor, respect, true love and commitment from the guy that she obviously does care for.

Two things emerge from Brad and Emily’s relationship that I think our culture should pay close attention to. Let me take a moment to share these with you.

On her final date with Brad, Emily questioned him about his readiness for not only a committed relationship with her but also about his readiness for fatherhood. You see, Emily has a little girl whose dad passed away before she was born; it is therefore very important for Brad to realize he is not only getting a wife but also a family. Emily pointed out that life would not always consist of fun, games and travelling the world (as they have on the show). There will be times that are no fun and times that they will argue about many things. I love what Emily did here because she shattered the picture perfect world of ‘happily ever after’ that seems to be promoted by shows like ‘The Bachelor’ and many others by infusing a small does of reality into reality TV. Life and love are not always fairytales; they both take work and sometimes that work is not fun. This does not mean that life and love are any less worth pursuing.

Brad’s reaction to Emily’s dose of reality was a little shocking: he was offended that Emily would think that he was not ready for all of this. He came around eventually, however, I think Brad was a little too idealistic to assume that having never been married and having never had kids that he could just jump right into marriage and fatherhood without missing a beat. As one who has been married for almost 7 years and been a father for just over 2 years, I can say that you don’t really know what you expect until you get in the thick of it. Sometimes it is more wonderful than you could ever imagine and sometimes its more difficult than you ever dreamed. As the show drew to a conclusion last night we all saw that Brad was beginning to realize the truth of Emily’s reality speech and he handled it with true class: he is willing to do what it takes to make their relationship work. This is the substance of reality!

The second thing that I think was so classy last night was Emily’s reaction to watching the whole season of ‘The Bachelor’ from home (they tape the show prior to airing it…Emily knew Brad had picked her before the show aired). Her question to Brad was this: If you say that you fell in love with me early on during the show (and he did say that), there were many things I saw you doing with other girls that I think you should have saved just for me. Monday night because an incredibly difficult night for Emily as each week she watched Brad take other women on dates and share moments with them that she would rather have not seen. She said it best when she told Brad that she knew this would not be the “Emily and Brad falling in love show” but she did not realize that he was going to give the producers so much other material to work with.

I give props to Emily for standing up for her share of honor and respect. I also give props to Brad for not letting her go when it would be easy to find many other women whose standards for love are much lower than Emily’s. Despite the rocky path that their relationship has taken over the past two months the two of them indicated that they are willing to put in the time and work necessary to become a better person for the other.

Last night was supposed to be their wedding ceremony, but Emily said that they still had to work some things out before that happened. According to Brad, letting Emily go is not an option and so the two of them will continue to strive to become better people for each other and for the sake of their relationship.

It is going to take work; however, that is the nature of true love! Congrats to ‘The Bachelor’ for infusing our culture with such an honest reality of love. I pray that Brad and Emily continue to have the resolve to see this through until the end.

Ok, so maybe everything did not come out the way I meant it last night at Emergency Ministries and maybe some of you walked away confused? I must say that keeping focus and speaking eloquently from 8:00-8:30 on a Wednesday evening is somewhat difficult when the whole day has crashed like a tsunami of things to do. That being said, I heard of a pastor once who wrote a Monday blog each week to tell his congregants “what he meant to say” the day before. So, here is my “TAKE 2” at what we discussed last night.

It’s a touchy topic to talk about the proper boundaries for a sexual relationship largely because our culture does not really use the word ‘sex’ and ‘boundaries’ in the same sentence. Ever. We tend to see sex as one of those things that is deeply personal (which it is) and therefore accessible when I would like and how I would like. I would like to hazard a guess that there is not a teenager alive who has not at one point in their life heard of the notion of waiting until they are married to have a sexual relationship. However, this notion seems to quickly slip through our minds as 50% of teenagers are sexually active prior to marriage and 34% of teenaged girls will have at least one pregnancy before their turn 20 years old (www.kff.org, publication #3040-02).

NOTE: My apologies for stating that 1/3 of you in the room would be pregnant by age 20…it was not meant to come out like that. What I meant to say was that statistics show that 1/3 of people your age would be pregnant by age 20. Sorry to those of you I offended.

I operated from the assumption that most of you have good motives when it comes to sex and you would want to spare yourself the medical issues associated with STDs, the physical issues associated with pregnancy during your teens, and the emotional issues associated with breaking up with your lover. So, for the rest of the evening I wanted to talk to you about staying away from the ‘almost sex’ areas of your dating relationships so that you do not one night accidentally find yourself slipping down the ski slope of sexual desire and crash landing at the bottom. 

Much of what I shared from this point on was drawn from Michael DiMarco’s book, Almost Sex: 9 Signs that you are about to go too far. Though written for guys I think this book has principles that we can all learn from. You can purchase your own copy or borrow it from the library if you want to read more deeply.

#1 Almost Abstinence

When we hear people talking about abstinence (avoiding sexual contact until marriage) or when we pledge abstinence ourselves we sometimes still flirt with the fringes of sex and engage in a whole number of activities I would call foreplay (things that naturally lead to sex). The key to is stay away from these things if you don’t want to end up having sex. These things include excessive handling/fondling of each other, excessive PDA (public displays of affection), sexting both words and pictures, and sleeping overnight together.

What I did NOT say last night was that you cannot hold hands or that kissing is disgusting and has no place in a dating relationship. However, if I walk around the corner at school (or youth) and find your tongues tied together or your tongue is roaming all over someone else’s face….THAT is what needs to stop! Not only do we not want to see it, what are you doing when no one is around if this is what you are doing when people can see?

#2 Professional Wrestling

What I did NOT say was that ‘professional wrestling’ was somehow bad or that if you were on a wrestling team you were being sexually inappropriate with other people. I took this term from Michael DiMarco as a cute way of talking about how touchy teenaged guys and girls can be. You know what I mean…the ‘post exam massage’ just because you were so stressed, the tickle fight where you end up rolling around the floor, the afternoon ‘spooning’ nap…need I go on? I did NOT say that you need to live in a bubble and be void of all physical contact with other people but there is some contact that is a RED FLAG and you need to back off if you value not sliding down the hill of sexual contact.

#3 Mr. & Mrs. Needy

What I did NOT intend to do was a commercial for Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman’s movie “No Strings Attached” or for Justin Timberlake’s forthcoming movie “Friends with Benefits”. Yes, I know that Timberlake is dreamy and Kutcher is a heartthrob. What I meant to point out was this: both of these movies portray sex as a NEED that MUST be MET once you become sexually mature. The whole idea of friends with benefits suggests that this is a way to meet the NEED of sex without the commitment of a relationship. But guess what: sex is not a basic human NEED. It is a normal desire that must be controlled or else it will control you. If you watch either of these movies please do it from the standpoint of see just how ridiculous the whole idea of ‘friends with benefits’ really is.

Consider these passages from the Bible that I shared last night:

1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

Ephesians 5:3
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

Proverbs 6:25-29
Don’t lustfully fantasize on her beauty,
nor be taken in by her bedroom eyes.
You can buy an hour with a [prostitute] for a loaf of bread,
but [an immoral] woman may well eat you alive.
Can you build a fire in your lap
and not burn your pants?
Can you walk barefoot on hot coals
and not get blisters?
It’s the same when you have sex with your neighbor’s wife:
Touch her and you’ll pay for it. No excuses.

So teenagers, someday you are going to be someone’s husband and chances are that girl you are with is going to be someone else’s wife. Same for you girls; chances are that guy is going to be someone else’s husband and you are going to be someone else’s wife. Think about that.

There we have it: TAKE 2. Did it make any more sense this time around? I hope so. Just wait until next week at Emergency Ministries…I foresee another blog posting coming.