Monthly Archives: August 2012
There are many examples that I could have given you in terms of quality, biblical, Gospel-centered rap. But here are just a few (just click on the links to hear the songs):
- “Tell The World” by Lecrae, featuring Mali Music (from his newest album, Gravity, which is set to be released on September 4th, 2012) – www.gravityalbum.com
- “The Whole Truth” by Da T.R.U.T.H. – watch?v=r5gfDGNNNZg
- “I’m Good” by Trip Lee – watch?v=n9CXwOe9m5o&feature=relmfu
- “Expository Preaching” by Shai Linne – watch?v=HwR_L5pzX70
- “Beautiful Eulogy” by King Kulture – watch?v=bCSMlsBEQLg
Go beyond the beat and listen to the lyrics (and, yes, you might have to replay it a few times to get it, but that’s okay. :)) and even if you don’t necessarily prefer rap, you will be compelled to give it a hearty “Amen!”
I was born in the 70’s. Hip Hop music was on the scene and on the rise. By the time I was in High School, it had become a national phenomenon, from Cali to New York, and even in the South, in Texas. Ghetto Boys, Master P, DMX, B.I.G., Tupac, Puff Daddy (aka, Sean Combs, P-Diddy), Mase, Snoop Dog, Ice Cube, and Busta Rhymes were just a few of the well-known artists at that time.
Hip Hop music was (and is) the sound of many in my generation. Hip Hop music was all that I listened to growing up. But when the Lord Jesus saved and called me to preach, that changed…at least for a little while. As I grew in Jesus, I began to see how the lyrics of the secular rap songs I was listening to didn’t line up with God’s Word. And so I made a decision to throw away all of my cassette tapes (yes, I said cassette tapes) and CDs. I needed to make a clean break with it. My parents were somewhat shocked when I told them my plans to discard all of my secular rap, but they supported me.
So with that, I began to make my way into traditional and contemporary Christian music. Now I wasn’t a total neophyte. After all I was “raised” in the church. So I knew some of the hymns, and popular quartet and mass choir songs. I was rocking to Kirk Franklin, and I even took a listen to DC Talk. Much of it I liked and was edified by it. In all honesty though, I still liked rap music because it just resonated with me. I loved the rhyming, the creativity, the lyrical metaphors and analogies, the beats and the bass. And yet I didn’t want to go back to what I had left because much of it was sinful. What was I to do?
Enter in Gospel Gangstas, a Christian rap group made up of former gang members from Compton and South Central, LA.
When I got a hold of their 1995/96 album, Do or Die, I was elated to know that there was a viable, God-honoring, Jesus-exalting alternative to the secular rap music that I grew up on, and from that day on I have been a staunch advocate of quality, theologically sound Christian rap music.
I am excited to see the Lord Jesus raise up Christian rap artists to make music that glorifies him and seeks to speak truth to culture, pastors and leaders to plant churches in urban areas all around this nation, and ministries to encourage and support the former and to train the latter.
One such ministry is The Rebuild Initiative. Check out their video below entitled, “The Blessedness of Hip Hop.”
May the Lord Jesus continue to use this medium to get His message out to the masses!
Pastor Wesley was out of the pulpit today. Don’t worry. All is well with him. But we had some gentlemen to stand and preach the Word.
Before I share what they preached on, I must say that we have some gifted singers in our church! Rev. Russell Dabbs is one of them. I absolutely love to hear this cat sing. There is such a smoothness to his voice. Amazing.
Okay, on to the preaching. For Worship 1 (7:30 a.m. service), Pastor Donald Perry (our Assoc. Pastor of Pastoral Care) preached a sermon from Philippians 4:11-13 entitled, “I Am Still In The Learning Process.” For Worship 2 (10:00 a.m. service), Rev. Dwayne Long (one of our Associate Ministers) preached a sermon from John 15:1-11 entitled, “Are You Connected For Worship?” Both guys did an exceptional job bringing out the meaning and application of their respective texts.
I am truly grateful to be under a Senior Pastor who, among many things, is secure and confident in God to allow for other ministers and pastors to share the pulpit. Pastor Wesley, by the grace of God, is no lightweight when it comes to preaching. He is more than capable of preaching all 52 Sundays and Wednesdays of the year. But for him to periodically step aside to allow us the opportunity to preach God’s Word is truly a gift. That does NOT happen everywhere, and we do not take it for granted. Thanks, Dr. Wesley!
Yesterday, we kicked off our 26th church anniversary celebration with a picnic and carnival. It was great to hang with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Food was in abundance. The games were friendly and competitive. The carnival rides were a blast. And the fireworks were awesome!
I had the privilege of teaching our baptism class today. With Pastor Wesley’s approval, I began this class over a year ago to help believers understand the purpose and meaning of baptism. There is a personal backstory to why I am committed to offering this class to our church. Suffice it to say, I was baptized when I was young and without a clear understanding of what it all meant. Essentially, I seek to teach three things concerning baptism:
1. Baptism is a commandment given to us by Jesus (Matthew 28:19).
We are baptized and we baptize others because Jesus told us to.
2. Baptism is for Christians.
Those who have repented of sin and have placed their trust in the person and work (i.e., His sinless life, substitutionary death on the cross for our sins, and His resurrection from the dead) of Jesus are to be baptized.
We see this exemplified throughout the book of Acts:
3. Baptism visibly proclaims our identification by faith with Jesus’ redemptive work (Colossians 2:12).
We look forward to baptizing next Sunday those who have sufficiently articulated that they personally understand and believe the Gospel of Jesus!
All in all, it was a great weekend. I pray it was the same for you.
Those who know me are aware of the fact that I have a creative, lighthearted side. So in that spirit I am making Fridays on my blog a day of creativity, humor, and fun. What better way to kick start the weekend?
Here’s a video that will have you FLIPPING in your seat. The song, “Before I Die,” is by Christian rapper, Pro. Enjoy!
In some cases, yes.
Dr. Roger E. Olson, my former professor of Christian Theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary (Baylor University in Waco, TX), explains how in his book, “The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition and Reform.”
“Montanus was a pagan priest in the region of Asia Minor known as Phrygia who converted to Christianity in the middle of the second-century….Montanus rejected the growing belief in special authority for bishops (as heirs of the apostles) and for apostolic writings. He considered the churches and their leaders spiritually dead and called for a ‘new prophecy’ with all the signs and wonders of the halcyon days of the early church of Pentecost. The problem for the bishops and leaders of the churches was not so much Montanus’s critique of spiritual deadness or calls for revival as his self-identification as God’s spokesman without equal. He referred to himself as ‘the Mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit’ and accused the standard church leaders of chasing the Holy Spirit into a book by trying to limit divine inspiration to apostolic writings. He strenuously opposed any such limitation or restriction and seemed to emphasize the continuous power and reality of inspired utterances such as his own…Other recent charismatic movements have emphasized an alleged difference between logos and rhema – two Greek words for ‘word’ – such that modern-day messages from God through prophecies (rhema) may supersede and even correct apostolic writings that were true and relevant for the first century (logos). Wherever and whenever prophesy is elevated in theory or practice alongside or higher than Scripture, Montanism rears its head. Like Gnosticism, Montanism challenged the early church and challenges the church in modern times to think and respond theologically in order that Christianity may not become anything and everything and thus nothing in particular.” (emphasis mine, pp. 31-33)
This past February one of the dreams that I felt God placed on my heart came to pass. I published my first book through Winepress Publishing, entitled, “Beyond the Dream: Transitioning from a Dream to its Fulfillment in Your Life.” The journey to write and publish this book was a long and arduous one, but well worth it. There were moments when I would sit before my computer for hours and only be able to type out a paragraph or two. Just thinking back over it causes me to shake my head. But God was faithful to give me the endurance and discipline to see it to completion.
I must admit, when I put together the outline of the book, I thought to myself, “Is that all? Only 4 chapters and an epilogue? It needs to be longer. Lord, help.” And help He did, but not in the way I expected. I thought He was going to give me more insight into the Scriptures, particularly Joseph’s life in the Old Testament, so that I could enlarge my manuscript. Nope. What He did do, however, was to remind me that I needed to be faithful to the text and not try and force things that were not there or commit what I call a “hermeneutical stretch.” He also encouraged me through my wife and some close friends that what mattered most was not the size but the substance of the book.
The reports that people have shared with me about my book have been both exciting and humbling. To hear people say that they were encouraged and strengthened from reading it is simply amazing, and I give all glory to the Lord Jesus for that. I still have a lot more growing to do as an author and would appreciate your prayers.
I am currently in the writing lab (aka, my home office) once again, working on a second book project that I pray and hope to finish by the end of this year, no later than the 1st quarter of 2013. As things solidify, I will most definitely inform you.
Until then, if you haven’t done so already, I would appreciate your support of “Beyond the Dream…” You can purchase a copy online at Amazon (available on Kindle, Nook, Sony E-Reader, etc.).
All for Jesus.
The title to this blog is not meant to be sensational. It was actually a topic that we covered in our men’s ministry earlier this year in February. We live in a sex-crazed society. It used to be that a person had to go searching for “soft” porn or XXX-rated material. Unfortunately, much of it is readily available today. And we knew that there were men in our church who were its consumers or knew of someone who was. Fully aware of this, we decided to tackle this issue head on. So what follows is a portion of the small group curriculum that I put together for our 1st Saturday gathering.
I Love Jesus…and Porn?
Talk About It!
Whether you struggle with pornography or not, many, if not all, men will come in contact with some form of it. Here are just a few alarming statistics (Source: http://www.familysafemedia.com) that show the prevalence of pornography in our world just in the last few years:
- 2006 World–wide Pornography Revenues – $97.06 Billion
- 2006 US Porn revenue – $13.33 Billion (exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, & NBC – $6.2 Billion)
- Every second – $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography
- Every second – 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography
- Every 39 minutes: a new pornographic video is being created in the United States
- Percentile of Pornography consumers (least to greatest) – 5. 25 to 30 yr olds (10%), 4. 18 to 24 yr olds (14%), 3. 50 and up (17%), 2. 18 and younger (23%), 1. 35 to 49 yr olds (36%)
- 65% of all men sitting in churches are addicted to pornography
Just so that we are clear on what we are talking about today, what comes to mind when you hear the word pornography?
Here are some other forms of pornography:
1. Video pornography: Internet (live online sessions), Television, DVD/VHS
2. Phone Sex: Adult Hotlines, Sexting (sending sexual images via text messages)
3. Gentlemen’s Clubs (i.e., Strip Clubs, Exotic Dance Clubs)
4. Magazines (Hustler, Playboy, etc.)
5. “Soft” pornography (Movies: Spartacus; Cities: Las Vegas, South Beach, etc.)
7. Escort Services (which is nothing but legal prostitution)
Is participating in pornography (whatever the form) really bad? In other words, does pornography really have any negative effects?
According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, prolonged exposure to pornography leads to:
- An exaggerated perception of sexual activity in society
- Diminished trust between intimate couples
- The abandonment of the hope of sexual monogamy
- Belief that promiscuity is the natural state
- Belief that abstinence and sexual inactivity are unhealthy
- Cynicism about love or the need for affection between sexual partners
- Belief that marriage is sexually confining
- Lack of attraction to family and child-raising
According to sociologist Jill Manning, the research indicates pornography consumption is associated with the following six trends, among others:
1. Increased marital distress, and risk of separation and divorce
2. Decreased marital intimacy and sexual satisfaction
4. Increased appetite for more graphic types of pornography and sexual activity associated with abusive, illegal or unsafe practices
5. Devaluation of monogamy, marriage and child rearing
6. An increasing number of people struggling with compulsive and addictive sexual behavior
Read About It!
So what does God’s Word say about pornography? Is it a sin? Yes, because at its root pornography is all about lust. And the Bible says that lust, which is implied in the terms sexual immorality and impurity (which are identified as works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-20), is a sin.
A. The Definition of Lust
The Greek word for lust is epiqumia (noun form), meaning, “desire, craving, or longing.” In the Scriptures, epiqumia is used both in a positive and negative sense.
– 1 Timothy 3:1 – “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.”
– Hebrews 6:11 – “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end…”
– Luke 22:15 – “And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’”
– Phil. 1:23 – “I am hard pressed between the two. My desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”
– 1 Thessalonians 2:17 – “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face,”
Negative: (Point out the fact that we can, in a sinful way, lust after, covet, or desire many things – note that lust/desire is in the plural in these passages: 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 John 2:16)
– We can covet/desire other people’s possessions. (Acts 20:33)
– We can desire to be lazy as it relates to work. (Proverbs 21:25).
– We can make up in our minds to want to be rich/wealthy, which can cause us to fall into many senseless and harmful desires. (1 Timothy 6:9)
– We can desire to have or lust after sex outside of God’s will. (1 Thess. 4:3-5 – This will be the focus of our time together today)
According to 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (cf. 1 Cor. 6:12-20), God desires that we abstain from sexual immorality (Greek: porneia, where we get the word pornography), that is, illicit sexual behavior (which includes pre-marital, extramarital, homosexual sex).
Not only are we to abstain from illicit sexual acts, but also from illicit sexual thoughts. We see this in Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:27-28.
v What does it mean to lust?
The verb form is epiqumeo, which means, “to keep the passion turned upon a thing, to set one’s heart upon.”
So when we consider Jesus’ words – those he spoke while on earth and those who he spoke through his Apostles as they were led by the Holy Spirit – concerning lust and sexual immorality (i.e., that we are not to commit acts or lustful thoughts of sexual immorality), there is a whole range of things that now come into view that we are to abstain from:
- Pornography (soft and hard) – TV/Internet/Magazine/Restaurants (ex., Hooters, Bone Daddy’s, etc.)
- Strip/Gentlemen’s Clubs
- Phone Sex (Words that produce images in the mind)/”Sexting”
- Sexual dancing
B. The Derivation of Lust
Lust comes from or is a product/work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19, cf. Ephesians 4:22 – “old man”).
C. The Deceitfulness concerning Lust (Eph. 4:22)
LIE #1 – Lusting is just a part of who we are as men.
Wrong! To the Christian, lusting is a part of your OLD man, your old way of living, your sinful man. We are NEW men in Jesus! (cf. Eph. 4:24)
LIE #2 – I can’t help but to lust.
Wrong! Turn to Romans 6:6-7, 12. We are no longer slaves to sin (lust). Lust doesn’t control us. It is no longer our master. We are no longer helpless. We will come back to this point later.
LIE #3 – Looking (deliberately) won’t hurt.
Wrong! Ask King David if looking didn’t hurt him. Ask Eve if looking didn’t hurt her. The longer that we look the more likely we are to lust.
All of these lies come from the Father of Lies (John 8:44), the Deceiver (Rev. 12:9) himself, Satan. If lust is our opponent, then Satan is his coach/corner man. We need to be aware of the tactics, schemes, tricks, and lies that he employs against us.
Think About It!
In addition to this, we want to give you a small window to see inside the harsh, demeaning, and dark realities of the lives of the women (and men) who are in the pornography industries (whether they chose to be or were forced into it). Prayerfully, this too will help you to stay away from porn and pray for the women (and men) who are entrapped in this world.
One male pornographic performer said: “Every professional in the porn-world has herpes, male or female.”
Dr. Sharon Mitchell confirms the STD prevalence in an interview with Court TV, in which she states: “66% of porn performers have Herpes, 12-28% have sexually transmitted diseases, and 7% have HIV.”
Porn actress Erin admits, “the drugs we binged on were Ecstasy, Cocaine, Marijuana, Xanax, Valium, Vicodin and alcohol.”
Tanya, says, “Guys are punching you in the face. You get ripped. Your insides can come out of you. It’s never ending. You’re viewed as an object—not as a human with a spirit. People do drugs because they can’t deal with the way they’re being treated.”
In 2004, Dr. Mary Anne Layden reported before a Senate subcommittee: “Once [the pornography actresses] are in the industry they have high rates of substance abuse, typically alcohol and cocaine, depression, borderline personality disorder. . . . The experience I find most common among the performers is that they have to be drunk, high or dissociated in order to go to work. Their work environment is particularly toxic. . . . The terrible work life of the pornography performer is often followed by an equally terrible home life. They have an increased risk of sexually transmitted disease including HIV, domestic violence and have about a 25% chance of making a marriage that lasts as long as 3 years.”
In 1997, Eric Schlosser reported, “The highest-paid performers, the actresses with exclusive contracts, earn between $80,000 and $100,000 a year for doing about 20 sex scenes and making a dozen or so personal appearances. Only a handful of actresses—perhaps 10 to 15—are signed to such contracts. Other leading stars are paid roughly $1,000 per scene. The vast majority of porn actresses are ‘B girls,’ who earn about $300 a scene. They typically try to do two scenes a day, four or five times a week. At the moment, there is an oversupply of women in Southern California hoping to enter the porn industry. Overtime is a thing of the past, and some newcomers will work for $150 a scene.
Be About It!
How do we fight against or overcome lust, which is the root of pornography?
A. Focus on the Gospel
We need to stay focused on the realities that the Gospel has brought to bear in our lives. Romans 6 tells us that because we believe in Jesus our old self has been crucified or put to death (vs. 3-6). In Christ, we have been freed from the controlling power of sin, which includes lust (vs. 7, 17-18). Because Jesus died to sin, we are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (vs. 9-11). We also see this truth in Galatians 5:24.
B. Follow the Holy Spirit
John 15:26, 16:13 and Galatians 5:16, 25
What this means is that we need to submit ourselves to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. When the Holy Spirit tells (speaks to our hearts, puts something on our minds, internal leading) to stay away from something or someone, we need to listen and obey.
Galatians 5:16 and 25 tells us that we need to continuously keep in step with Holy Spirit. To keep in step with the Spirit means to obey God’s Word. It means to live holy lives. It means, according to Colossians 3, that we need to put to death or rid ourselves of sinful behavior and begin to live or practice those things that are line with being God’s holy people, like being compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient, etc. (vs. 5-14).
C. Confess Your Sin of Lust (1 John 1:9)
1 John 1:9 tells us that we need to confess our sins to God. The wonderful thing about this is that God says that if we do that, then He will forgive and cleanse (or purify) us from all unrighteousness.
D. Avoid Sexually Stimulating Situations
According to Romans 13:14, we don’t need to make provisions for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
What are some ways to not make provisions for the flesh to gratify its desires/lusts as it relates to sexual immorality?
1. Block channels that show rated-R, XXX movies that come on at a certain time of night
2. Install Internet porn blocking web software on your computer
3. Don’t go to the strip club
4. Don’t dance with women in sexual ways
5. Stay away from the magazine racks in stores
6. Be careful who you accept as a friend on Facebook
7. Find a hobby that doesn’t involve watching Television shows (besides ESPN)
E. Understand You are in a Fight!
We are fighting against the flesh (1 Pet. 2:11) and Satan (Eph. 6:10-12). So you have to wake up and be aware of this sin and its temptations. You need to keep your guard up at all times.
A Verse To Rehearse
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
I’ve been a part of as well as led quite a few meetings. Some were good, some were not so good. In terms of the ones I was responsible for, I know that I played a major part in their drudgery, mediocrity, or failure. Thankfully, I have learned how to conduct better, more meaningful church ministry meetings since then and want to share a few of those lessons with you.
Be Punctual. We all understand how unexpected things can throw us off schedule, but it should be our goal to arrive at the meeting location early and to start and end on time. This communicates, among many things, that you value people’s time. It also tends to set a precedent for your leaders.
If you are going to be late and are able, let someone know so that he or she can communicate with those who are waiting on you. And when you arrive, it would be courteous and caring to give an apology (and possibly an explanation) for your lateness.
Be Organized. Let me state the obvious: You need to have a written agenda. You may know where you are going in the meeting, but your people will not because they can’t read your mind. Distributing it prior to or at the meeting will allow your staff or volunteers to see the items that will be covered and to gather their thoughts and responses accordingly. Here is an example of my ministry leadership development meeting agendas:
1. Praying for our time together
2. Celebrating what Jesus is doing in our lives and church
3. Reviewing our Christian Education Leadership Ministry Values
Productivity: We value achieving results that will honor Jesus and benefit others (Col. 3:23-24; Ephesians 4:11-16).
4. Studying God’s Word – “LDD: Disciple-Making Disciples”
6. Praying for each other
Also, you can have an allotment of time for all or specific agenda items to help keep things efficient.
Pray. I know that is a given in church, right? What I am talking about here though is not just simply tagging a brief prayer on to your meetings as you would a blessing for a meal, but spending some quality time in prayer. Ask for prayer requests and then pray for each other. If you are leading a large staff or volunteer meeting, try breaking the group up into smaller prayer circles and then you close it out. No matter how you do it just make sure you saturate your time together in prayer.
Celebrate. Take time to celebrate the evidences of the goodness of God in Jesus among your staff, volunteers, and/or church by asking for personal and ministry praise reports. God is at work and you want to make note of that. This helps to keep your meetings from simply and solely feeling like a “business” meeting.
Cast. This is a great time to cast or re-cast the DNA (i.e., mission, vision, values, and philosophy) of your local church. As I heard someone say once, “Vision leaks.” So take the opportunity and reiterate it to them (e.g., by reading that positive email or letter that you received about your church, recounting that testimony that was shared with you by that member, sharing the number of people who Jesus saved and were baptized last week or month, etc.). People need to know that they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
Study. Spending time studying (i.e., reading, meditating, and discussing) God’s Word in your meetings indirectly reinforces the need for this spiritual habit and the centrality of Jesus’ mission to make disciples in the life your staff and/or volunteers.
Evaluate. One of the ways you can find out how to make your meetings more effective is to periodically ask your staff members/leaders/volunteers for their evaluation. You can ask, “Is there anything that I need to change about our meetings that would make them more meaningful and productive?”
What else would you add? Comments welcome.
Our Senior Pastor, Dr. Karry D. Wesley, was back in the pulpit today. He preached on “The Challenge After the Championship” from Exodus 15:22-23.
We commemorated Jesus’ death for our sins today (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) by taking the Lord’s Supper or Communion. We do this every 1st Sunday of the month at our church.
We started selling our church’s 26-year anniversary commemorative t-shirts today. We kick off our celebration this coming Saturday with a picnic, carnival rides, bounce houses, and a host of other things. It’s going to be a great time of fun and fellowship with our family of faith.
The 2012 London Olympics have been great so far. The USA is ranked #2 right now in total medals won (28 Gold, 14 Silver, and 18 Bronze). China is only 1 medal ahead of us.
I am simply in awe of the drive and discipline of these world class athletes. One of the things that I have observed about them is their relentless commitment to the fundamentals of their respective sports.
There are always inspirational stories and feats featured during the Olympics. One was to see Oscar Pistorius (known as the “Blade Runner”), the double-amputee from South Africa, run in the qualifying heat of the 400m and advance. Truly inspiring.
Gabby Douglas. Richards-Ross. Missy Franklin. Michael Phelps. Need I say more? Amazing!
The 2016 Olympics are set to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I would love to go. I’ve heard that Brazil is a wonderful country to experience. I don’t doubt it.
Once again, I pray you have a productive week.
P.S. – Steve Harvey’s talk show debuts on September 4th. I love to see people launch out and try new things. Good for you, Steve.
Yesterday I had the wonderful privilege of speaking at our EDGE Young Adult service. I am an expositor at heart. I love to settle down in one passage and pull out its truth and/or principles for the listener. But yesterday I took a more topical approach and dealt with dating. Although dating is not dealt with in the Scripture, there are truths and principles therein that can and should be applied to it. And by the way, it is a reality whether we like it or agree with it or not. The truth is many single young adults will date. And since we know that to be the case, why not help them to make biblically-informed, God-honoring dating decisions? That was my goal and I pray and trust it was achieved. So what you will see below is a skeleton of what I shared with them. There were 10 questions (of course there are more than just ten, but i considered these to be a solid foundation upon which to build) that I gave them to ask before they get into a dating relationship or take an existing one to the next level (3 levels of dating: Casual, Exclusive, and Serious).
1. Does he or she have a GROWING relationship with Jesus?
This question implies that he/she has repented of his/her sin and placed his/her trust in Jesus’ death on the cross for his/her sins and His resurrection from the dead.
To date someone who does not believe in Jesus is setting yourself up for some serious conflict and possible compromise down the road. Why? Well, just ask Solomon what CAN happen when you marry (in your case it would be seriously dating and possibly looking to get married one day) someone – well in his case it was 700, but you get the point – who does not have a relationship with God (see 1 Kings 11:1-9ff).
Now I know what some of you might be thinking: “Well, maybe in the course of dating him/her I can help him/her come to know Jesus.” This is commonly known as missionary dating. You and I both know that you can do that by just being friends. To date someone in hopes that you can win him/her to Jesus is not wise. You don’t need to date someone in order to effectively share Jesus with them.
What do I mean when I say “growing?” In other words, what are some characteristics that a person will exhibit if he/she has a growing relationship with Jesus?
a. He/she will be devoting time to reading, studying, and applying the Scriptures, which the Holy Spirit uses to grow us into the image of Jesus (i.e., sanctification = living and loving like Jesus; see John 17:17; 1 Peter 2:2-3)
b. He/she will confess sin to and seek forgiveness from God in Jesus (1 John 1:9) and will continually submit himself/herself to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work in his/her life, which will be evident by His fruit in his/her life. (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:16, 22-25)
c. He/she will be striving against sin (or, putting sin to death) in their daily lives in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit according to the Scriptures. (Eph. 4:20-22; Col. 3:1-10; 1 Pet. 2:1)
d. He/she will seek to faithfully DO what the Bible says. (James 1:22-24)
e. He/she will live in the realization that he/she is loved by Jesus and as a result will seek to love people – that includes you – like Him. (John 15:9, 12; 1 John 3:16, 4:7-11, 21)
2. Is he/she committed to a local church (i.e., a local community of believers) – and submissive to its leadership – where he/she is being encouraged to love others and do good works and being held accountable to live a Christ-like life? (Hebrews 10:24-25, 13:17)
3. Does he/she have a growing track record of considering other people more important than himself/herself? Does he/she look not only to his/her own interests, but also to the interests of others, like Jesus? (Phil. 2:3-5ff)
4. Is he/she slow to get angry during a conflict? (Prov. 14:29; James 1:19-20)
a. When a conflict ensues, does he/she try to speak gently or does he/she have a tendency to “go there?” (Prov. 15:1)
b. Is he/she quick to give people a piece of his/her mind? Is he/she quick to curse someone out or use harsh words? (James 3:9-12)
5. Is he/she known for “double dating,” cheating, two-timing, creeping, etc.? This might be an indication that he/she will have trouble committing to you in a exclusive or serious (i.e., looking to get married) dating relationship.
YOU can’t domestic someone who is used to running wild and free. It is best that you let him/her roam in the wild without you in the picture until he/she gets to a point with God’s help that he/she is ready to “habitat” with you in a dating relationship. You will save yourself a lot of grief this way.
6. Is dating him/her going to hinder or help your growth in Jesus?
7. What is his/her view on sexual purity and sexuality?
If you engage in physical intimacy (not just sexual intercourse), it will over time begin to overpower your judgment. The physical has a way of eclipsing the spiritual and rational.
8. Are you spiritually, psychologically, and relationally ready to enter into a dating relationship?
9. Ladies: Does he show signs of being willing and able to lovingly lead you spiritually (i.e., Does he pray for and with you? Does he read and/or discuss Scripture with you? Does he appeal to God’s wisdom when you ask him for his input regarding a situation? Does he repent to you when he sins against you? Does he seriously seek to protect your heart and purity?)
Gentlemen: Does she show signs of being willing and able to respect you and follow your loving leadership in the relationship?
Side note: Ladies, if you are not married to him, you are not required to submit to him.
10. What is the end goal, purpose or objective of you two dating?
For believers, the end goal for exclusively and seriously dating someone should be marriage.
Closing thought: Of course, no man or woman is perfect. So you may not want to dismiss him/her too fast, or jettison the dating relationship too quickly WHEN you discover certain sins/deficiencies in his/her life (some dating relationships need to be cut off quickly – e.g.: physically or verbally abusive, controlling). You just need to make note of those things. And remember, you are not perfect either. But please take ALL things into consideration, pray, lay his/her life up next to Jesus looking to the Scriptures and examine him/her, and seek counsel from other mature Christian brothers and sisters before you make a decision to date or take your relationship to the next level.