Why You’re Still Single

“You’re kind of quiet. I wouldn’t say you’re a very loud or outgoing person. Maybe that’s it.”

I had accidentally walked into some unsolicited advice as to why I might still be single. After watching a myriad of my friends walk down the aisle before the age of twenty-three, I started to think I was missing something as well. There had to be some reason, something that I could fix and then men would just start lining up to ask me on dates. If I could just figure out what it was…

I started to do some research. Anytime I met someone married or in a relationship, I would ask questions. “How did you meet? Did you like each other right away? Were you dating a lot of people at the time?” I started collecting stories, waiting to find that thing that each person had to arrive at before they could cross the line into being marriage material.

Guess what I found out. Nothing. There was no magical thing. Of course there were some things that helped, but there was no one requirement that all of them met before getting married. Sure, some of them had a lot of things in their life together, but some of them didn’t. Some of my friends had never even been asked out on a date, and then one day someone asked, and then later they married him. Some of my friends had gone on lots of dates, and they were still single. Some of my friends couldn’t flirt to save their lives, and they still ended up married. Some of my friends were so good at flirting, it was actually amazing to watch, but they still didn’t have boyfriends.

The other thing I found out from hanging out with a lot of other singles, is that I wasn’t the only one trying to figure out why I was still unattached. “I think it’s because I’m too short… maybe I’m too curvy. What if I’m just too tall? Maybe it’s where I’m from or because of my past. Is it because I post a lot of pictures of my dog on social media? Maybe it’s because I laugh at my own jokes.

I tried a lot of things myself. I tried giving up dating for a time on purpose. I also unintentionally gave up dating for a while as a result of no one asking me on a date. I tried talking to a lot of guys. I tried not talking to any of them. I tried not looking, because people told me once I stopped looking I would find someone…

I’ve found a lot of things that haven’t proven to be true, but here’s what I do know is true:

God is not limited by any of the things listed above. He’s not finding it impossible to find someone because I don’t go to enough parties or I’m not loud enough. I’m not going to go down the road of self-criticism hoping that one day I’ll become good enough for someone. I’m not going to change my personality to get married. I’d be cheating myself, and I’d be cheating the person I marry. 

The truth is God could find me a spouse tomorrow. He could bring me someone out of nowhere. This is the most beautiful and frustrating thing in the world. I’ve definitely prayed my fair share of prayers about it.

Then there’s my list of single friends. What about them? What about all the ones who have waited and prayed and fasted and waited and prayed? I’ve prayed for them, talked to them, bought them ice cream and dried their tears, but I’ll be honest, I don’t have a good answer for them. I don’t know why God hasn’t brought them a spouse yet.

I do know that some people pray and don’t get healed, but it doesn’t mean God’s not the Healer (Exodus 15:26b).

I do know people following God who lose jobs or lose money, but it doesn’t mean God’s not the Provider (Genesis 22:14).

We can’t decide Who He is based on our circumstances. We have to decide who He is based on what He says about Himself in His Word. The Word says He’s the Lifter of our heads (Psalm 3:3). The Word says He withholds no good thing from us (Psalm 84:11). The Word says if we delight ourselves in Him, He’ll give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).

So I’m going to venture to say, if you’re single, maybe it’s not because you’re broken. I mean it could be, but maybe it’s not. If you’re single, maybe it’s not because you haven’t embraced your life enough. What if, just maybe, it’s not because you’re doing anything wrong? 


“We have to decide Who He is based on what He says about Himself in His Word.”


It might be timing or circumstances or something else, but regardless, this is where faith comes in. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Faith isn’t when you have the perfect boyfriend or a line of great guys who want to buy you dinner. Faith is when you’ve been a bridesmaid thirteen times, you haven’t been asked out on a date in five years, the only one texting you is your mom, but you refuse to give up.

Faith isn’t when the woman of your dreams just said yes when you asked to marry her, and all the things you’ve desired are finally becoming reality. Faith is when your fiancé just broke off your engagement and you have to pick up the pieces of your life and start to build again. That’s when you need faith. That’s when you need the substance of things you’ve been hoping for for years, and the evidence to support the promises of God you can’t yet see.

So if you’re wondering why you’re still single, I don’t actually have an answer for you. All I know is, God offers peace without understanding. God offers comfort and strength in the middle of the struggle and the journey, not just at the end. God offers hope that the things that look out of reach, are actually more possible than we think.

-Andrea Alley

ANDREA IS A GRADUATE OF THE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY AT BETHEL AND CURRENTLY SERVES ON THE WRITING TEAM FOR MORAL REVOLUTION. SHE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT SEEING THE CHURCH CARRY JOYFUL HOPE AND EXPECTATION IN EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIVES. SHE LONGS TO SEE THE UPCOMING GENERATION EQUIPPED AS STRONG LEADERS WHO STEWARD THEIR LIVES WELL AND INFLUENCE SOCIETY AS A RESULT. 
WEBSITE: ANDREADALLEY.COM 

 

For more blogs like this one, check out: 

The Redemption of Men

Creating Healthy Expectations

10 Ways to Not Hate Being Single

 


Courageous Morality

Morality has become relative in our time. It’s not that people were inherently more righteous a century ago, it’s just that people acted immorally against society’s social standards. I mean, if you were having sex with your girlfriend you knew it was wrong, and you certainly didn’t tell your mother. But nowadays it’s common for people to cohabit and have three children together so they can decide if they are compatible.

This hyper-sexual culture affects all of society. It is perpetuated by our music. Forty years ago many Rock and Roll songs had sexual lyrics, but for the most part they were hidden in metaphors and analogies. Today the f-word is used in the title and the lyrics. Likewise, music videos are filled with every kind of pornographic act known to man. In fact the more outrageous the act… the more edgy the song… the more perverted the singer; the more popular they are.

 

SANCTIONED SIN

To make matters even more confusing, churches that were once charged with loving sinners have now embraced and SANCTIONED sin so that sinners feel included. God forbid that someone would feel uncomfortable in church! Of course, this is all done in the name of unity. After all, who are we to tell other people how to live? WHAT?!

People who don’t even believe in God, much less the Bible, use verses like “judge not lest you be judged” and “Jesus didn’t condemn sinners” to neutralize righteous living and moral teaching. But what bothers me the most is that Christian leaders are letting these unbelievers tell them how to interpret the Bible.

While compassion and empathy MUST remain paramount in our hearts, and love for everyone has to be the hallmark of who we are, it never should be at the expense of our character.

Think about this:

 

1. JESUS DIDN’T BECOME A SINNER TO LOVE SINNERS, NOR DID HE SIN SO HE COULD RELATE TO SINNERS.

He was tempted in every way, but He never sinned. Therefore temptation is not sin! In fact, temptation is not only common, it’s normal.

Temptation is to our soul what exercise is to our bodies. Let me explain it like this: lifting weights breaks down your muscles (thus the pain you feel), and then builds muscle by the muscle tissue healing stronger than it was before. 

When you resist temptation (for instance, you have a desire to have sex with someone who isn’t your spouse) and you refuse to allow yourself to think or behave accordingly, your soul is doing some heavy lifting. Resisting temptation is like lifting weights. It is often painful at first, but your inner man is growing, becoming more noble, and maturing in character.

On the other hand, when you give in to temptation, especially by believing that you are your desires, then you stop resisting them. You choose instead to avoid the pain of conviction by reducing your standards to embrace your temptation. Subsequently, you stop building character because character is only forged in the furnace of resisted temptations.

Soon you become like the obese guy who “throws off society’s shackles, and his doctor’s condemnation” to embrace his desire to eat as much as he wants, whenever he wants, and be happy doing it. If you were in this situation, you might feel like people are condemning you, but the right answer isn’t to eat yourself to death! (I also understand that there are many other medical reasons why some people are obese. There is no judgement on my part, I am simply demonstrating what it is like to do something that is killing you without conviction).

 

2. MOST OFTEN YOU STOP RESISTING TEMPTATION BY GIVING IT A NAME OF A FRIEND INSTEAD OF AN ENEMY.

For example, you call homosexuality being gay (happy). Then you make your temptation your identity because you reason “If I desire it, then it must be who I am.” Therefore, I am no longer my biology, my DNA, or physiology; instead, I am my feelings. Yes, this makes perfect sense…NOT!

But what if pedophiles used the same reasoning; “I am only sexually attracted to children, therefore pedophilia must be normal!” (I understand that violating a child is nothing like two consenting adults having sex; I get that. But reasoning that your desire determines your identity is a bottomless moral cesspool).

 

3. JESUS FORGAVE THE WOMAN CAUGHT IN ADULTERY.

When Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery He said; “Does no one condemn you? Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin NO MORE!” Did you get that? Jesus told the woman to never sin again! There are two things we can learn from this: first, telling someone they are sinning is not condemning or judging them. Knowing right from wrong is called wisdom, not bigotry. Secondly, Jesus told sinners to stop sinning!

 

4. JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING IS COMMON DOESN’T MAKE IT NORMAL.

For example, cancer is common, but it’s not normal! Therefore, the number of people who believe something doesn’t make it true. 

 

5. SOME PEOPLE ARGUE THAT EVERYONE DESERVES MERCY.

I agree completely. But mercy means “You didn’t get what you deserved.” In others words, mercy demands that you did (or are doing) something wrong, otherwise it’s not called “mercy”, it’s called being nice to people. I would propose that you get mercy from God when you ask for it, which means you have to acknowledge that you did (or are doing), something wrong. 

But if something is wrong and you call it right, then you wouldn’t ask for mercy because mercy is only given to people who believe they need it. For example, if you say adultery is right, then you can’t possibly ask for mercy because mercy is only for people who are wrong.

 

COURAGEOUS MORALITY

The truth is that the morals of any society are not determined by right and wrong; instead they are established by courageous people who brave the backlash of public opinion and forge new “norms.”

Cowards are always the first to surrender their souls, then comes the sympathetic, and the politicians. Intellectuals tend to follow close behind. They exchange the reasonable for the ridiculous, and rationalize until facts become fables. This is the brain space where fetuses are not human beings (craziness), the complexities of the universe are explained through a mindless explosion, and humans evolved from apes who still fill our jungles (interesting).

 

TAKE A STAND FOR NOBILITY

The question is, will you sit back until your soul atrophies, until your moral legs become feeble, until your children drown in the cesspool of the silence of your disapproval? Or will you break ranks with the crowd and take a stand for nobility?

History hangs in the balance of your decision! You already know where I stand. Tell me yours in the comments below.

Originally published on krisvallotton.com.

KRIS VALLOTTON IS THE AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS BOOKS, CO-AUTHOR OF THE BEST SELLING SUPERNATURAL WAYS OF ROYALTY, AND IS A WELL-KNOWN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SPEAKER. KRIS IS THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF MORAL REVOLUTION, THE SENIOR ASSOCIATE LEADER OF BETHEL CHURCH, AND THE CO-FOUNDER OF BETHEL SCHOOL OF SUPERNATURAL MINISTRY.  HE AND HIS WIFE, KATHY, HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 40 YEARS AND RESIDE IN REDDING, CALIFORNIA.  THEY HAVE FOUR GROWN CHILDREN AND EIGHT GRAND CHILDREN.
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/KVMINISTRIES
TWITTER: TWITTER.COM/KVMINISTRIES
INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/KVMINISTRIES

How to Thrive This Christmas

It seems like the holidays were easier when I was a kid. As a kid, I was caught up in the wonder and excitement of it all. There were presents under the tree with my name on them. Each one held so much possibility. The expectations on me were minimal. My family would ask questions like, “Are you making good grades? How’s soccer going? Do you have a lot of friends at school?” The answers were easy: “Yep. Soccer’s great. I love my friends.” Then it was over.

Nowadays a couple harmless questions at the family dinner table can feel like the Spanish Inquisition. “How’s the job? How much longer are you going to stay there? Well what about dating? Do you have a boyfriend?”

“The job’s good. It’s paying the bills for right now. Um, a guy asked me out to coffee last month, does that count as a date? Actually I paid for it, so never mind. Nope, no boyfriend… still.” Meanwhile, my thirteen-year-old cousin’s next to me texting his girlfriend, and I have launched into a full-on quarter-life crisis before the mashed potatoes made it around the table. Why don’t I have a boyfriend? Why am I still at that same job? When am I going to start a career? And how did this kid get a girlfriend? He can’t even drive.

We have all these plans, all these pictures in our heads for how life’s going to be and all of a sudden we’re hit with the reality that it didn’t end up that way. I remember sitting under the tree, opening presents as a kid and sometimes feeling disappointed because I didn’t get what I wanted. Life is like that too sometimes. We come in with a blank slate, a whole future of endless possibilities, and then things don’t turn out like we planned. We didn’t end up where we thought we would.

This is where shame starts knocking on the door.

Here’s the thing about shame. It doesn’t play fair. It’s one of the enemy’s favorite tools. His whole job is to ruin things (John 10:10). He will shame you for working too hard. He will shame your for not working hard enough. He will shame you for getting married too young. He will shame you for not getting married young enough. He will shame you for going too far in your past sexually. He will shame you for not going far enough.


“You can either walk inside your story and own it or you can stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.”

-Brené Brown


When you look back on your life, maybe you can’t even figure out how you got where you are now, but it’s okay. Every moment, every chapter leading up to the one you’re in is now apart of your story. Own it. You may not have always had the most perfect of circumstances, but it’s not about having it perfect all the time. It’s about deciding circumstances don’t get to run your life. It’s deciding rain or shine, success or failure, you want to walk in joy, peace, and hope, not hide away in shame, fear and disappointment.

Disappointment is real. I’m not saying it’s not. You don’t have to shove down pain. Let it come up, feel it for a moment, and cry it out if you have to, but don’t stay there. Give the disappointment to God and get your hope back. Get in the Word, and speak out the promises God has over your life until you believe them. Own your story, and then start writing the rest of it. You get to decide how you want the next chapters of your life to unfold.

Our heart for you this Christmas season is that you wouldn’t be naïve to the enemy’s schemes. When the questions from family and friends start coming in, the temptation is to start getting into evaluation mode. The key is to recognize that whispering, evaluating voice, and to not listen to it. The enemy would love nothing more than to ruin the time that is meant for you to rest, recuperate, spend time with family, and celebrate one of the most beautiful gifts we’ve ever been given. Stay ahead of the game and feast on His promises. Keep your standards high, keep dreaming, and keep going after more. We pray abundant blessings over you and your family as you spend time together this Christmas and as you head into the New Year.

 

ANDREA IS A GRADUATE OF THE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY AT BETHEL AND CURRENTLY SERVES ON THE WRITING TEAM FOR MORAL REVOLUTION. SHE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT SEEING THE CHURCH CARRY JOYFUL HOPE AND EXPECTATION IN EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIVES. SHE LONGS TO SEE THE UPCOMING GENERATION EQUIPPED AS STRONG LEADERS WHO STEWARD THEIR LIVES WELL AND INFLUENCE SOCIETY AS A RESULT. 
WEBSITE: ANDREADALLEY.COM 

 

We wanted to make sure your were cozy and cuddled up with some great stuff this Christmas, so we put together our Cozy Christmas Bundle for you! Check it out: 

cozy-christmas-bundle


Parenting Sexuality

The Sexual Revolution that emerged as a counterculture movement in the 60s has become the mainstream mindset of the new millennium. What was once whispered in the dark corners of topless bars is taught in mandated public school curricula all across America! That’s right, folks, if your children are in the public school system, they are likely to end up in a “Health” class teaching them that bisexual, homosexual, and transgender lifestyles are all normal expressions of their sexuality. They are also likely to be encouraged to experiment with their sexuality. Although the school can’t give them an aspirin without your permission, they can send them to a Planned Parenthood clinic without your permission to get birth control pills! In fact, your children can have a legal abortion without your consent or even your knowledge!

“How did we get here?” you ask. That’s a great question. Although there are many complex issues that have effected the erosion of morality, the single most destructive factor at the root of the entire demise of morality is the absence of healthy sexual instruction at home.

That’s the bad news! The good news is that parents have the power to transform the nations in one generation without passing a single new law, or even closing one more abortion clinic. The strategy is simple, yet profound. If parents develop a healthy sexual culture at home where children grow up hearing the truth about their sexuality, it will alter the landscape of morality in the nations in a single generation.

There is something inherent in the way we learn that is referred to as “the principle of first mention.” The first time we hear information on any given subject, that knowledge becomes the foundation upon which we weigh everything else we are exposed to on the same topic. For example, if you begin teaching little Johnny about healthy sexuality when he is eight years old, and at thirteen his friends try to influence him with a perverted sexual message, he will weigh their opinions against what you taught him, which he deems to be the truth, and most often reject their message as a lie. Of course, this principle works against you if his friends teach him about sex before you do! In this case, Johnny will be prone to embrace his friends’ perversion as the truth, and discard your wisdom as a lie.

God designed us with this principle because He wants parents to be the ones who lay the foundation for truth in their children. King Solomon put it best: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). When parents train their children in the ways of morality, that training attracts virtuous living in them for the rest of their lives. (Of course, we all have a free will, so nothing we do guarantees perfection). It’s paramount that parents push past their fears of inadequacy and be the first to instruct their children on the important subjects of life.

 

SHAME ON YOU

The world perverts sex, but Christians tend to shame it, which ultimately leads to a different, but equally destructive, kind of perversion. We must come to terms with the fact that when God said, “Be fruitful and multiply,” He gave us our sex drive. Therefore, sex is good and our sex drive is normal! But what does it mean to have a sex drive? It means that you want to have sex with someone! Our children shouldn’t be shamed for being sexual beings. However, they do need to learn how to manage their sex drive nobly.

Shame is a killer. Conviction says, “I did something wrong,” but shame says, “I am something wrong.” Leading social researcher Brené Brown says that shame is the most destructive force of all time. It’s the enemy of connection and belonging, and it leads to the most devastating outcomes in our lives. I have watched so many parents discipline their children with shame and wonder later why their kids struggle with low self esteem and self-destructive behavior. Shame is a tool of the enemy. We should never, under any circumstances, embrace his ruthless instruments in raising our children.


Shame is often unknowingly seeded into the hearts of our children by the way we relate to sex.


For example, when our children are little they are very curious about their bodies. We often play silly games with them to help them through the discovery process. They touch their nose and we say, “Nose. Say, ‘N-o-s-e.’” Of course, the game continues with ears, mouth, and eyes and so on. At some point they finally get around to touching their penis or vagina, which often invokes a completely different dynamic. We often we say something like, “Don’t touch that!” and follow it up by renaming their penis or vagina something silly. “Johnny! Don’t play with your dinky!” This shift in attitude sends a loud message to our children that there is something shamefully wrong with parts of their body. This begins the lifelong process of forcing sex into hiding, like a wanted criminal or a terrible habit.

 

THE ART OF DEVELOPING A HEALTHY SEXUAL CULTURE

God has a completely different approach to sex, which is demonstrated in Jewish weddings throughout the Bible. Jewish weddings lasted a week, and the process of the marriage ceremony was quite revealing. The wedding began in much the same way as our celebrations do today. The bride and groom exchanged vows while the families looked on. But then something powerful happened. There was a bridal chamber (most often a tent) erected in the midst of the festival, and after the ceremonial vows, the couple entered the chamber to consummate their covenant. The newlyweds had sex for the first time while the families waited outside. Then the groom took the sheets from the bed and hung them over the chamber wall for all the guests to see, thus displaying the blood from his bride’s broken hymen. It was only after this that the celebration began.

Jewish weddings were a family affair attended by every age group. You can imagine what the conversation was like when three-year-old Johnny saw the bloody sheet for the first time. The sheet actually became a talking point for Johnny’s parents to teach him (age appropriately) about sexuality. They didn’t need the sweaty palm “sex talks” at fifteen, because the Jews had a healthy sexual culture, where sex was integrated naturally and organically into their daily lives.

If you are a parent, I want to encourage you to develop a healthy sexual culture in your home where sex is celebrated as a beautiful gift from God to be shared with the man or woman of your dreams in marriage. Your children need to know the reason they have a sex drive long before God wants them to have sex, and understand that the value of their virginity is in the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to get their virginity from the battlefield all the way to the honeymoon suite, so that on the night they lay with their lover, they have something to give that they had to fight to keep. Anyone can give away something expensive, but only those who understand sacrifice can give away something valuable!

There are a lot of great resources available to help you prepare to teach your kids about sex. We tend to fear what we don’t understand, so study this subject until you feel comfortable and confident that you can teach your children about sexuality without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. May God richly bless your efforts and may we together incite a moral revolution!

Originally published on lovingonpurpose.com.

 

KRIS VALLOTTON IS THE AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS BOOKS, CO-AUTHOR OF THE BEST SELLING SUPERNATURAL WAYS OF ROYALTY, AND IS A WELL-KNOWN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SPEAKER. KRIS IS THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF MORAL REVOLUTION, THE SENIOR ASSOCIATE LEADER OF BETHEL CHURCH, AND THE CO-FOUNDER OF BETHEL SCHOOL OF SUPERNATURAL MINISTRY.  HE AND HIS WIFE, KATHY, HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 40 YEARS AND RESIDE IN REDDING, CALIFORNIA.  THEY HAVE FOUR GROWN CHILDREN AND EIGHT GRAND CHILDREN.
WEBSITE: KRISVALLOTTON.COM
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/KVMINISTRIES
TWITTER: TWITTER.COM/KVMINISTRIES
INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/KVMINISTRIES

 

 

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The Need for Date Nights After The Wedding

Let’s admit it, we’re all busy. Not only that, but when you throw kids in the mix it can often feel like you’re at the mercy of what life has to throw in your direction. If you’re a parent you know exactly what I’m talking about. Managing the kids’ school schedule, extra curricular activities, homework, parent-teacher meetings, and the list goes on. Let’s not forget about managing your own career, groceries, bills, social gatherings, etc. It’s easy to feel like the last thing you have time for is a date night with the person you see every day.

That’s where you couldn’t be more wrong. 

Take a moment and think about what your relationship looked like when you were dating. There was intentional time dedicated to getting to know one another. Within that time you had a chance to “put life on pause” not because you had to, but because you wanted to. It was a choice you made then, and you can make the same choice now.

The worst thing you can do for your marriage is to stop dating your spouse. When this happens is when the beginning of decay in your connection starts. Now some of you might be saying “That’s a bit extreme…. We do just fine without date nights.” To that I would have to challenge your ability to see your marriage from the lens of “till death do us part”. If you stop dating your spouse you won’t be filing for divorce next week, but what you are doing is removing the very ingredient that made you fall in love (to the point where you married him/her). Over time that wears on the relationship. It causes your marriage to slowly loose the excitement and romance that God intended to be there until the very end.

We all know that marriage is holy and set apart. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. So why is it that so many of us treat marriage as second in line to so many other things in life? How do we lose site of that time when we were madly in love and committed to loving our spouse until our last breath?


Date nights keep the commitment and passion alive.


 

Here are a few reasons my wife and I commit to dates on a regular basis:

1. Distraction-free time to connect. Whether you have kids or not this first point can apply. When at home you probably often grab your phone, watch tv, talk about your schedule, or just want some peace and quiet. On the other hand, when you block out a time to go on a date it’s an opportunity to create a distraction-free environment. One where you block out everything else you have going on and solely connect with one another. That means NOT looking at your phone, but looking into the eyes of the person you love.

2. Heart Connection. This comes into play after point one. Once you have blocked out a time, then take that time to connect with one another. Really connect. Men, here’s a side tip… doing this leads to more and better sex… since emotional connection is very directly connected with pleasure and the ability to orgasm.

3. It helps integrate fun into your marriage. When you plan dates, you generally plan to do something that’s out of the ordinary. This leads to more memories and an opportunity to break up “life as usual” (I’ll expand on this point in a later post).

4. It helps create a team dynamic. We only have one life to live. You’ve chosen to live it with the person you married. The last thing you want is to wake up in five, ten, or twenty years and find yourself with a roommate. When we go on dates it allows us to process the fact that we’re doing life with someone. We can laugh, cry, fight, make up, pray, etc. We’re in it together.

I’m sure that others could add to this list, but these should be reason enough to raise the priority of date nights in your marriage.

The Challenge:

My wife and I try to do a date once a week. Does that always happen? No. But it does keep date nights at the forefront of our connection. If you don’t currently go on dates, try to schedule one in the next month. The goal is to be intentional about connecting with one another. Go ahead. Risk pursuing each other like you were dating again and see what happens.

 

JOSH CEARBAUGH IS A LIFE CONSULTANT WITH A UNIQUE ABILITY TO LEAD PEOPLE THROUGH TRANSFORMATION. THROUGH A COMBINATION OF CONSULTING TECHNIQUES, HE HELPS INDIVIDUALS TO IDENTIFY, AND THEN DISMANTLE, THE CRIPPLING CYCLES WHERE THE MAJORITY OF US FIND OURSELVES STUCK. HE HAS A PASSION FOR CONNECTING PEOPLE TO THEIR HEART AND HELPING THEM CREATE PRACTICAL STRATEGIES TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES. MOST RECENTLY, JOSH’S CONSULTING PRACTICE HAS BEEN LOCATED IN REDDING, CA
HE MET DANIELLE, HIS WIFE OF EIGHT YEARS, IN MOZAMBIQUE WHILE ATTENDING IRIS HARVEST SCHOOL. THEY CURRENTLY HAVE TWO BOYS AND ONE BEAUTIFUL BABY GIRL. 
WEBSITE: JOSHCEARBAUGH.COM 
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/JOSHCEARBAUGH

 


Boundaries in Relationships

Maybe it’s just the rebel in me, but when people talk about boundaries in relationships, my natural inclination is to cringe. “Don’t put me in a box. I’m my own boss.” But when we understand that boundaries are put in place to protect us, that it’s God’s way to protect our heart, soul, and body, it’s a game-changer.

Once you’ve gotten to the point that you know you’re attracted to someone, and you’ve started dating, then it’s time to think about setting some boundaries.

Throughout Song of Solomon, we are reminded in a message by a group of women:

“Do not awaken or arouse love until it so desires.” (Song of Solomon 8:4).

There is no condemnation in Christ. I am not trying to wag a finger or judge people. I’m with you. I know God’s in control. What are some ways to walk in the respect God wants us to have for others and ourselves? God gives us guidelines in our relationships, not so He can be this cosmic killjoy, but so He can protect us. God’s very clear on how we are to approach purity, before and after marriage. God created sex and intimacy to be within the safety of marriage. So when you’re married, He’s not peeping down from heaven like, “Oh no, I wonder what they’re doing down there.” After you get married, He blesses it. He wants married couples to be fruitful and multiply. Procreate and recreate.

On the other hand, scripture is clear that before marriage, having sex is not kosher, it’s not copacetic. If we have intimate relations with somebody, we bind ourselves to them (1 Corinthians 6:16). I’m not talking about just physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well. So be careful that you’re not engaging in things you shouldn’t be engaging in with a person you’re not married to. Why? Because it complicates things.

Scripture is very clear that there are things we shouldn’t engage with. I feel like there’s this next generation of Christians that say, “Well the Bible doesn’t explicitly say that I can’t do this or that in my relationship…” Here’s a piece of free advice: If it’s something you’re not comfortable doing in front of your mama, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

I recently read an article that said there was a group of guys who vandalized a church. I was outraged. It wasn’t even a Christian institution, but it didn’t matter to me because it was somebody’s place of worship, and they vandalized it. Now listen, I grew up in east LA, my dad’s church is in the hood, and there’s graffiti everywhere. I’m anesthetized to it. But when I read that they went inside the church, that they threw around the pews, and they graffiti’d their names on the wall: Johnny was here. Peter was here… I was outraged. Then I felt convicted. I was more upset that people broke into a building than I was about my friends being entered in by people who were also leaving marks: Johnny was here. Peter was here.


Our bodies are temples of the living God. 


I’m seeing this phenomenon of Christians having pre-marital sex. Just because the Bible doesn’t spell it out for us and say, “Pre-marital sex is wrong,” doesn’t mean it’s okay. It still makes it clear that sex is meant for marriage.

So in your dating relationship, set clear boundaries. Decide what’s best for yourself and your boyfriend or girlfriend: “I can’t cross this line because I don’t know where it will stop.” Can we go into it like that and have God honor it? So even though I’m telling you not to have sex before marriage, after marriage it’s a different story. You can make up for lost time. God wants to bless sex inside of marriage. After all, it was His idea in the first place.

 

BIANCA JUAREZ OLTHOFF IS A WRITER, SPEAKER, AND IN LOVE WITH TWO MEN: JESUS AND HER HUSBAND, MATT. BIANCA SPENDS HER WEEK WORKING AS CHIEF STORYTELLER FOR THE A21 CAMPAIGN, AN ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION, AND AS THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR FOR PROPEL WOMEN. SHE LOVES HAVING DANCE PARTIES IN THE LIVING ROOM WITH HER TWO STEP CHILDREN OR COOKING MEALS FOR FRIENDS. 
WEBSITE: BIANCAOLTHOFF.COM
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/BIANCAOLTHOFFSPEAKS 
INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/BIANCAOLTHOFF 

Redefining Purity

“I believe you carry purity,” a fellow student said to me at church a couple years ago. I nodded my head and smiled politely. It wasn’t the first time I had heard that. People often said things like that when they prayed for me or encouraged me. I was hoping to hear something like remarkable intelligence or incredible boldness. Truthfully, I was kind of disappointed to keep hearing purity.

I didn’t mask my true feelings too well though, because the student saw my reaction and said, “Not the ‘Aw you’re innocent, good job,’ kind of purity. But the kind of purity that can change the world.

That caught my attention. If there’s a kind of purity that can change the world, I will take it.

As I dove deeper into this idea of purity, I began to realize it’s actually an invitation into freedom. We can sometimes get caught up in all the “no’s” of the bible and think that God is just another authority figure looking down on us and waiting for us to please Him. The truth is, God doesn’t say no to certain things to take away our liberty, He actually says no to protect it.


God invites you to partner with Him to keep yourself free.


God wants freedom for you, not bondage. He wants you to wake up in the morning and feel hope and expectation for what’s to come, not regret about the night before. He wants you to find the man or woman of your dreams and feel loved by them, fully loved, because you learned to receive love in its purest form. He wants you to live your life knowing that who you are is enough. He wants you to be in places of influence, walking out the deepest dreams and desires of your heart, without worrying about anything stopping you.

Sexual purity is a subject that can trigger shame for some people, but it’s not actually about what you did or didn’t do in your past. Your mistakes don’t disqualify you from carrying it. When you asked Jesus to come into your life and His blood washed you clean, you were called to become a carrier of freedom. Your past mistakes cannot be held against you or disqualify you anymore. Purity is evidence of God’s redemption story in your life. It’s deciding that nothing’s going to hold you  down, nothing’s going to hold you back, and nothing’s going to steal beauty, wonder, and goodness from your life. You’re free to live abundantly.

Purity may not get a lot of credit in our culture, but it is something worth fighting for. I see it in the faithfulness of a man who chooses to go home every day to his wife and kids and be a father and a husband. I see it in the courage of a young girl who asks her date to take her home after the dance, even though he’s dreamy, because one day she’s going to be someone’s wife and he’s going to be someone’s husband. I also see it in the young lady at the altar with tears in her eyes, asking a kind Father if He restores innocence that’s been lost, and finding that He does.

It may take every ounce of courage you have to live counter-culturally. It may take strength you never realized you possessed to say no to things the world places at your fingertips. If you do, you will definitely change your own life, and you might even change the world.

-Andrea Alley

ANDREA IS A GRADUATE OF THE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY AT BETHEL AND CURRENTLY SERVES ON THE WRITING TEAM FOR MORAL REVOLUTION. SHE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT SEEING THE CHURCH CARRY JOYFUL HOPE AND EXPECTATION IN EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIVES. SHE LONGS TO SEE THE UPCOMING GENERATION EQUIPPED AS STRONG LEADERS WHO STEWARD THEIR LIVES WELL AND INFLUENCE SOCIETY AS A RESULT. 
WEBSITE: ANDREADALLEY.COM 

 


Star Wars, Four Boys, and the Battle for Purity

Having four boys has taught me a lot about the world of Star Wars. When I wake up in the morning, I am often met with light sabers and Storm Troopers and Darth Vader… So when the latest movie came out, we were really excited to see it. I was possibly even more excited than my boys. I had my outfit planned out… because that’s what guys do, right? Wink.

When we finally got to see the movie, I remember sitting there watching the lead character. She’s this strong young woman who doesn’t know who she is yet. She’s hidden, waiting for her family to come back, surviving. I remember watching her as she began to fight her enemy, and as I watched her fight, I could see myself (obviously in her athletic build… wink) but more than just that…

When I watched this movie I was reminded that we’re all in a battle. We’re not just hanging out, waiting for weekends. No, we have been enlisted in a battle to fight for a generation than needs Jesus. The truth is, the day I chose to give Jesus everything is the day I chose what side I wanted to fight for, and the battle was on.

The battle was on for my mind, my heart, and my emotions. I was going to have to say yes every day of my life. It wasn’t about saying yes in just one moment, but it was about the thousand little yeses along the way that would make up one big yes in my life. When I said my yes, I had to give God, not just my spirit, but my body as well because there is a battle for purity.

Especially when we’ve been raised in the church, purity may sound like or look like someone we know. We may have certain ideas about what it’s supposed to look like, but purity in the biblical sense means being free from guilt and shame.

One of the greatest places for shame to hide in our lives is in our sexuality. There is a reason why 7 out of 10 men are viewing pornography on a regular basis, and 5 out of 10 women are. The church is not helping any of us because none of us feel that powerful in it. The truth is, greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Don’t believe the lie that says you’re always going to live this way, be this way, think this way, that this is just who you are, something’s wrong with you, your dad was this way, your mom was this way… No, you have a different DNA. You have the Spirit of God inside of you. He can begin to shift and change the reality of what the enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy.


God wants to put His nature on display in our families and in our purity.


Purity says, “I’m enough and what I have is enough.” I may not have done everything right, but I am enough. There is a quote from a friend of mine, Lisa Bevere, that says, “Purity doesn’t mean being virginal, it means being virtuous.” There are some people that are virginal who are totally perverted. There are some people who love God, and they’ve had a crazy past, but they’re washed in the blood of Jesus, and they’re pure on the inside.

Many of us go to altar calls praying that God would take our sex drive away, but He’s not going to take something away that He gave us. We feel guilty and ashamed and pray “God, give me a sex drive on my honeymoon night. Maybe an hour before. But make me a nun before that, God, so I can serve you.” God says, “No, that’s not how it works.”

He wants to partner with us in the journey, in the story. He’s not afraid to be with you in the struggle, in the success, in the failure, in the confidence, in the insecurity… He’s not afraid, because He’s a good Father and He wants to be with you. What’s even better is that He knows all about it because He created it.

The heroine in the Star Wars movie was in a battle. All of a sudden things changed for her when she started to use the force. Once you realize what’s on the inside of you, you become equipped to live the life God’s called you to live. The bible says that those who know their God will be strong and do great exploits (Daniel 11:32). You are never going to be what anyone needs until you find out what God can really be in your life.

If you’re wondering what to do next, get with God, ask Him to help you. Surrender your mind, your spirit, and your body to God, and He will give you everything you need to be victorious over any enemy that comes against you. You’re not fighting alone, you have His Spirit inside you, and He never fails.


Creating Healthy Expectations

In this blogpost we’re going to talk about another aspect of dating: EXPECTATIONS.

Ladies in the house, you know we all have expectation. A cute brother walks in to church, and you do a metal check. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about, you see if there’s metal on the hand. Does he have a ring? Don’t lie, you know it’s true.

Part of defining the relationship, is figuring out and communicating our expectations. If you’re attracted to someone and they ask you out, or you ask someone else out, I think one of the things we could do to bring health to our relationships is to identify our expectations.

Song of Solomon 3:1-2 says:

 

All night long on my bed

I looked for the one my heart loves;

I looked for him but did not find him.

I will get up now and go about the city,

through its streets and squares;

I will search for the one my heart loves.

So I looked for him but did not find him.

 

Though this is in the voice of a woman who theologians believe is married, I believe there are practical things here we can learn from, male or female. Many of us are looking for “the one my heart loves.”

We search for them, but do not find them. Yes, there’s a play on words there, but I’m taking her words because many of us who desire to be in relationship are searching for that person. Eighty-five percent of single people want to be married or want to be in a monogamous relationship.

So let’s come clean. Let’s stop saying “this is just my friend” when they’re not, or engaging in friends with benefits. No, we need to define the relationship.

 

Here’s a message to the men (and women can learn from this too):

 

1. Own your actions.

Guys, if you are out with a girl alone on a second or third hangout, don’t get it twisted and think that she’s crazy if she suspects you’re interested in her. You might say, “Nah, we’re friends. We’re cool.” I’m telling you from the perspective of a female, don’t automatically assume she’s just there to kick it with you and your friends and watch the NBA finals. This might be the case, but there’s a good possibility it’s not…

Men, and women, own your actions. If you’re hanging out with someone, texting them, and going out just the two of you, don’t think that he or she is reading too much into things when they wonder if there’s something there. It’s time to open up your mouth and have a good conversation. This brings us to point two.

 

2. Use your words.

Don’t be lame. God gave you a mouth, use it. Take the initiative and cast vision for your relationships. If you’re interested in a woman, don’t make her guess, don’t play games. As her brother in Christ, you have the opportunity to lead in this relationship. If you’re not interested in her romantically, set that line real quick. You might feel stupid, and she might even say, “Oh, I actually wasn’t interested in you,” but you know what, it’s okay. If you’re not at all interested, you just want to squash that immediately so hearts don’t get broken. It might be painful, or cause a little bit of drama in the moment, but for the sake of your relationship with sister in Christ, use your words.

 


People’s feelings get hurt when we’re not very clear with our intentions.


 

Now for the ladies:

3. Don’t be weird. 

If someone asks you out for coffee, don’t sit there and start dreaming of being eighty-five years old with them, squeezing each other tight in the sinking Titanic while the interlude of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On is playing in the background. Our minds can go there quickly. All the sudden we’re married, we have 2.5 kids, a picket fence, and a dog named Spot. Yep, our minds can go there, so be careful. We need to give our brothers in Christ some latitude to get to know us. 

I am not throwing stones here. If you knew me and my level of crazy cat lady, you would understand why I feel passionate about this. When my husband first invited me out for coffee, I had to text three friends to get their insight on it. I was freaking out about it, thinking, “Oh my goodness I can’t believe this. What are we going to do?” And I sent him this long email saying, “I feel called to ministry, I feel called to free slaves, I don’t think this is what I’m supposed to be doing, and God parted the Red Sea, He can bring someone to me.” His reply via email was very simply, “No problem… it’s just coffee.

When he said that I realized that I, and a lot of my Christian friends, were hyper-spiritualizing a lot of things. So instead of focusing on the minor, insignificant, maybe even borderline stupid things, let’s start to focus on the more important things, which we’ll get to in another post.

So remember, to keep your intentions and feelings clear in your relationships: own your actions, use your words, and ladies, give guys a little room to get to know you, before deciding if you’re ready to put the white picket fence up. It may feel weird at first, but it will help you out and it will help out the people you’re in relationship with in the long run.

 

BIANCA JUAREZ OLTHOFF IS A WRITER, SPEAKER, AND IN LOVE WITH TWO MEN: JESUS AND HER HUSBAND, MATT. BIANCA SPENDS HER WEEK WORKING AS CHIEF STORYTELLER FOR THE A21 CAMPAIGN, AN ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION, AND AS THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR FOR PROPEL WOMEN. SHE LOVES HAVING DANCE PARTIES IN THE LIVING ROOM WITH HER TWO STEP CHILDREN OR COOKING MEALS FOR FRIENDS. 
WEBSITE: BIANCAOLTHOFF.COM
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/BIANCAOLTHOFFSPEAKS 
INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/BIANCAOLTHOFF 

Am I Attracted?

In this blogpost, we’re going to talk about an issue I’m passionate about. We’re going to talk about…

DATING (eeeek!)

I know, it can be weird, it can be a touchy subject, and Christians have all kinds of ideas and beliefs about it from courting, to dating, to “dourting”, to kissing dating goodbye. You may have tried to google what the Bible says about dating and found yourself in a whirlwind of scriptures about harlots and prostitutes and verses like “it’s better to marry than to burn with lust…

This time around, we’re going to look at the book of Song of Solomon. This is a beautiful way to learn about dating because we’re learning by looking at this relationship between two other people in the Bible.

Now you might be married, single, widowed, divorced, but I think this is a topic we all can learn from. People in our community are in all different life stages, but we as the church are called to have a handle on what it looks like to live life well.

The first thing I want to cover under the topic of dating is ATTRACTION. So let’s dive into the first chapter of Song of Solomon. Verses 2-3 in this chapter say:

 

Let him kiss me  (Ooooh, watch out ) with the kisses of his mouth—

for your love is more delightful than wine (if you’re over 21- wink)

Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;

your name is like perfume poured out.

No wonder the young women love you!

 

Verse 2 is revolutionary. This is the Holy Bible, and we’re talking about kissing. We’re talking about passion. This is God’s Word, and His Word is infallible, inspired, and included for our benefit, and it’s talking about attraction.

Sometimes in church we can hyper-spiritualize things like, “I’m going to pray and fast and wear sackcloth and ashes to see if this is the person I should ask out for coffee… Listen, I think a great first step is to figure out if there’s attraction there. So if you’re asking someone out, or someone has asked you out, stop for a second and ask yourself, “Can I see myself attracted to this person?”

 

Now, let me just take a second to say, there’s a difference between attraction and lust.

Attraction is “Wow, that guy is handsome. That girl is pretty. I like her style. I love his heart for God.

Lust is more like, “OMG he is so fine, did you see him? Oh my gosh He has an eight pack like Usher.

 

When you start to cross over into lust, you gotta reel that back in. You may try to throw some 1 Peter 5:14 in there when you see a handsome man: “Greet one another with a kiss of love…” Uh uh. Nice try. That’s not what he was talking about. Attraction is one thing, lust is another.

Bringing it back a little bit, we need to be attracted to the person we’re eventually going to marry.

Guys, stop settling for the girl that carries a ten pound bible and your mom really likes her. Girls, stop settling for the guy who at least has a stable job because you’re afraid your biological clock is ticking. Don’t be rushed. Ask very fundamental, basic questions.


Am I attracted?


When Adam first saw Eve in the garden, he didn’t say, “Wow, I think she will be good for helping me till the garden and picking fruit.” No, he says, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’  for she was taken out of man.” There’s this lyrical poetry that happens when he sees her for the first time. There is something redeeming and beautiful that happens when you are attracted to someone.

So if you’re thinking about asking someone out, or someone has asked you out, start with the fundamental, basic question: Are you attracted?

Stay connected with us for the second part of this series Creating Healthy Expectations

 

BIANCA JUAREZ OLTHOFF IS A WRITER AND SPEAKER IN AND IN LOVE WITH TWO MEN: JESUS AND HER HUSBAND, MATT. BIANCA SPENDS HER WEEK WORKING AS CHIEF STORYTELLER FOR THE A21 CAMPAIGN, AN ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION, AND AS THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR FOR PROPEL WOMEN. SHE LOVES HAVING DANCE PARTIES IN THE LIVING ROOM WITH HER TWO STEP CHILDREN OR COOKING MEALS FOR FRIENDS. 
WEBSITE: BIANCAOLTHOFF.COM
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/BIANCAOLTHOFFSPEAKS 
INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/BIANCAOLTHOFF