The Dating Line

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Where is the line in dating? That invisible line we all wish we knew between what is too far and equally what is too conservative. We are not just talking about physical lines, but spiritual and emotional lines as well. When it comes to physical lines, 1 Timothy 3:1 is directed at deacons, but we all should strive to “be above reproach” as believers with they way we engage in a physical relationship. Instead of asking “How far can I go before marriage” you should try to be above reproach. This means others can see you are both striving to honor God with your physical limits in public and private. Sex before marriage is off limits, period. Anything that gets close enough for you to ask if it is okay, is too close to be above reproach.

Secondly, we should have spiritual lines in dating. These lines keep us from over committing ourselves before the time is right. This line is hard to define, but the first spiritual test is if you are both equally “yoked” for one another, 2 Corinthians 6:14. Are you spiritually compatible with one another? This should be a reflection of where you and your potential partner are in your walk with the Lord. They don’t have to match, but they need to be close so you can connect with one another in Christ. Also, when you say “I love you” it should come from a Biblical meaning found in 1 Corinthians 13, not an emotional response to a moment.

Last, guard your emotions and set lines. Yes, you can share your emotions, but this should be done gradually as you begin to know one another. There is no timeline to this, but you should keep your relationship with God your priority in dating and not replace time with Him for time with them. You are potentially making a life long decision with who you are dating.  Make sure you don’t base that on a short term relationship.

DTR – Define the Relationship

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DTR – Define the Relationship

So you have been on a few dates with someone and things look promising. However, you do not know where they stand in their feelings and you would like to be in a committed relationship. Its time for a DTR. Defining the relationship is an honest conversation with someone else about where you stand in their life and vise versa. Defining a relationship helps you give appropriate priority to that relationship in your life. As a single adult, your relationship priorities can change at different stages of your life. But one relationship should remain #1.

Your relationship with Christ should always be your first priority. Spending time with Him daily through prayer, reading His Word, and Worship. From time to time you may need to have a DTR with Christ and know where you stand. He will always be the same, but we sometimes drift away or decrease the importance of that relationship. Knowing where your priorities are at all times will help you with your DTR’s and keep you focused on honoring God.

Don’t be afraid to have a DTR in any of your relationships. Do them as soon or as often as you like, but doing them is key to remembering that Christ should come first among all our relationships.

Abundant Life

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Life can be hard. There is also no promise in Scripture that being a follower of Christ will result in an “easy life”, John 16:33. When Christ died on the cross for our sin He took upon Himself to be a payment or atonement for us to the Lord so that we may have a relationship with Him. It is that relationship that gives this life abundance and value.

 “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”

 John 10:9-11 KJV

As a single adult you interact with people every day that seem to not be living life to its fullest. They go to their jobs and clock in and out without any true joy. You see them in your social groups drinking to be accepted by others or dating people to feel valued. These actions and ones like it are the actions of people who do not understand abundant life. Having a relationship with God is not simply something to keep in your back pocket, but to be a relationship that grows and compels you to act different and share the Gospel.

Many singles that desire to be married think that abundant life will be a spouse, a family, and a big house. Wrong. These are all the wrong types of relationships for seeking to live life abundantly. Abundant life comes only through Christ and following Him.

Choose: Christmas or Easter?

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Christmas: Christ was born! God became man in flesh to be 100% God and 100% man. His birth is God’s way of offering a perfect sacrifice for all mankind’s sins. Not to mention all the Christmas lights, trees, Christmas music, giving and receiving gifts, and time with family. Christmas is pretty awesome.

Easter: The child born fully man and fully God is fulfilling prophecy the week leading up to his crucifixion. His apostles break bread with Him and celebrate Passover.  Then, Jesus is arrested and brutally attacked and hung on a cross to die, and He did. But on the third day, He rose again, defeating death and He awaits His Followers to join Him in Heaven! There are also Cadbury eggs, Easter bunnies, baskets of candies as gifts, hunting for eggs with kids, and great music about Christ’s sacrifice. Easter is pretty awesome.

What if someone asked you to choose? Could you choose one event as more important than the other? It’s a hard choice, right? Luckily, we don’t have to choose. Christ’s life from beginning, to end, to resurrection is something to be celebrated all year long.

It is a fun question to ask of Followers of Christ, but what about your friends and co-workers? How would they choose? Would it be a decision based on how the world defines these holidays or how Scripture defines them?

Believers need to be bold in how we celebrate these holidays to demonstrate what they mean to us. Be firm in your holiday celebrations. Keep the focus where it should be, but have fun with the rest too.

Use a simple gift to share the gift of Christ, as a way to connect with friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Share the gift and give non-believers the truth on these holidays.

Come and Follow Me

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We live in a world of would-be leaders.  An American adult who ventures into a bookstore or spends time browsing on Amazon will find hundreds of titles that promise to unlock the hidden potential of our “inner leader”. Books claim to distill the essence of leadership by examining the lives of successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and statesmen. Leaders are the ones who make headlines, who supposedly make history, and who our culture is constantly telling us we should emulate if we want to have lives worth living.  Being a follower, we are told in many ways, is for the lazy, the not-so-clever, the unoriginal, the weak.

Little wonder, then, that so few people speak, preach, or write about how to follow!

And yet…the command for anyone who would call themselves a Christian is unmistakable: we are to follow Him who had mercy on us and saved us from a life of sin and despair apart from God.  Jesus used the same words for each of his disciples: “Follow me.”

Okay, fine, says the Christian.  We know on an intellectual level that we are called to be followers of Christ, but in a culture where there is so much talk about how to lead, what are we to make of (and, more importantly, do with) Jesus’ unavoidable calling to follow Him?  Strange and somewhat morbid-sounding words and phrases such as “obey,” “lay down one’s life,” and “take up one’s cross” are used in the Bible to describe the posture Believers must have if we are to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

I would guess that when many, if not most, Christians hear phrases like these and have a vague, somewhat ominous view of a God who wants to deprive them of their every comfort and happiness in life. A God who might call on them to go live in the jungles of Africa and eat the insides of strange animals.  This fear has served to paralyze many people (myself included) from acting at times when they have sensed God speaking to them.

One of the many subtle and ingenious lies the Enemy whispers in the ears of many Christians is “following Christ” implies merely a vocation (often a change of vocation), when in fact it means something simultaneously much greater than, and also more ordinary than, a simple change of careers.

In Matthew 4:19-22, Jesus calls Andrew and his brother Peter to “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Verse 20 says, “Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”  Verses 21-22 tell of Jesus calling James and John, who also “immediately left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” It is significant that Matthew uses the word “immediately” in both cases–there was no hesitation on the part of any of these men when Jesus issued his very radical call for them to leave their families and give up their livelihoods to accompany Him on His earthly mission.

How many of us can honestly agree we would follow Christ’s command with no second-guessing or “a sober weighing of the pros and cons,” regardless of what He asks?

There is another point we often forget. Jesus’ calling for the disciples wasn’t really as much about giving up their families and changing their vocations as it was about just being with Him and spending time learning His ways–learning to love Him and absorbing His very presence. What Jesus really wanted from them, of course, is the same thing God wanted from Abraham centuries before when He called on him to sacrifice his precious son, Isaac:  an utter trust in Him which results in a willingness to immediately relinquish whatever or whomever one loves most on this earth to follow Jesus with one’s whole heart, mind, and strength.

God doesn’t want just our vocational service; He wants our hearts and our very lives.

Yes, this does sometimes involve a radical change of direction and even career path, but most of the time following Christ means following Him in the everyday, ho-hum routines of life–as we fight traffic to get to the office, eat lunch with friends and co-workers, or interact with the people we see at the gym.

 For me, at least, this constant obedience to Christ in the mundane things is usually far more difficult than a dramatic act of “sacrifice” such as giving up a career and moving to a faraway land.  I firmly believe the heroes of the faith are not necessarily those who answer the call to preach, move overseas to be missionaries, or give all their possessions to the poor, but are those who faithfully serve the Lord unnoticed, day in and day out, by being the hands and feet of Christ wherever they may be.

Any act of following Jesus requires a trust born only out of love for Him, a love that in turn can only happen on our part when we have spent so much time in His presence that we no longer believe the lie that God wants to rob us of our joy and make us do something dreadful to prove our love for Him.  It is only by obeying Him in the first place that we begin to trust Him to be who He says He is. Single or married, we all make a choice every day when we decide to either ignore God’s voice out of fear and rebelliousness, or to trust in our loving Creator, who knows us infinitely more than we can ever know ourselves.  Who will you choose today?

All Things Work Together

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We’ve all heard the saying “God works in mysterious ways.” I would like to add, “and we already know why”.

Here is the why:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28

Do you love Him? Are you a born-again Christian having accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life? If so, then be assured God will use the good works and bad works that surround you on this temporal earth to accomplish His plan.

Every day, all things, whether they are good, bad, or just plain ugly, are appointed for our welfare. Afflictions, trial, persecutions, and calamities are numerous. They can weigh us down with questions of why or how something difficult is good for us. But, we need to remember the bad and good in this world are temporary and all the tough “things” contribute to our spiritual growth and God’s ultimate plan–even being single.

Being single may feel like the “thing” in your life that you cannot wait to end. It’s a type of phase or trial. However, Christ says for those who are single can do great things for the Kingdom (Matthew 19:10-12). Paul urges Believers to be single, like him, and he views being single not as a phase to go through, but an opportunity to serve God (1 Corinthians 7:7). God works in your life as a single, because you are single. If you love God, then your time as a single will work for the good in your life.

So, be comforted that “in all things God works for the good.” “All things” transforms us into the spiritual persons we were created to be. God is preparing us for our everlasting inheritance with Him.

Dating is Way Too Serious

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I attended a Christian college. I lived with a roommate attending seminary. I’ve been a part of a large singles group. Basically, I’ve been in a number of Christian circles. And within each circle I’ve noticed a common thread: Dating is way too serious.

Maybe you can relate? After a date or two, a couple is considered to be dating. After a month, it’s a serious relationship. Within a few months, it’s time to start talking about marriage. (This is a slight exaggeration–but not by much.) It’s easy to see how one or two dates leads to high expectations in a potential dating partner. Every prospective date needs to be evaluated for marriage compatibility right away.

As a result, dating within a Christian group can become stifled. Some choose to date in secret until their relationship is serious. Others choose to date someone outside of the group to avoid the high level of scrutiny. Finally, some choose to avoid dating altogether unless they think someone is the perfect match.

I would venture to guess that most of us wish Christian dating wasn’t like this. Guys are tired of being turned down. Girls are tired of not being asked out. Why can’t dating be more relaxed and transparent? How can the dating culture be changed? Let me share some advice given to me that I believe will help with this dilemma.

Guys, the advice for you is very simple. If she is available and on your mind, ask her out on a date! Don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out if she is interested in you. Even if she does turn you down for a date, the rejection probably won’t be nearly as bad as you think. (And, if you are rejected in an awful way, she probably wasn’t going to be good dating material!) Don’t spend time researching every aspect of her life. You will get much better answers if you ask questions during a date. You can’t expect dating to be relaxed and transparent if you only ask out girls you’re ready to marry.

Girls, the advice for you is a little more unconventional. If he asks you out on a date, say yes! (This comes with a few caveats, of course. If he is clearly not living for Christ or you don’t trust him, it’s okay to say no. If he’s separated but married, say no.) Don’t worry about compatibility. The best way to find out if you are compatible is on a date. Even if things don’t work out, you still come away with a free meal and a boost of confidence. Also, like it or not, guys have egos. If they have been turned down several times in a row or believe you are going to say no, they may just avoid asking you out in order to avoid rejection.

Singles can’t expect dating to be relaxed and transparent if we’re only saying yes to someone we’re ready to marry.

 

East Asia Trip

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I had never traveled outside of the United States, let alone gone further west than Texas. Presented with an opportunity to go and deliver Bibles to Chinese tourists in East Asia was a tempting offer, however with only a few months until my wedding day I had reservations about traveling so far, and most of all the finances involved. So I declined and continued on being a singles minister at my church. Then the Lord provided all the funds to go on the trip and the team needed just one more guy to join them. I heard the Lord clearly,”Go!”.

So, I did my research, packed my bags for East Asia, and prepared for my first experience overseas in missions. I had no clue what to expect and expected a third world experience. Nothing could be further from the truth. We landed in East Asia before traveling to our final destination and I was blown away by how much our cultures were alike and how simple it was to travel in another country. Then we continued on to our final destination and I was greeted with internet, food, bottled water, electricity and a normal toilet. All my fears were gone!

Every day I would Skype home to my family and fiance. My mother was in the hospital fighting an infection from breast cancer treatments and I was able to talk to her every day. I also wrote down every thought and funny thing that happened so I could remember it for years to come. The first day we got to speak the native language and offer free Bibles was incredible. This was truly an awesome ministry of empowering people with God’s Word, many who had not seen a printed copy and cherished the idea of owning one to read. I even was able to be a singles minister to a US soldier stationed and on medical leave. I was able to be a singles minister, a million miles away from my church. God is awesome.

One day I woke up, having dreamed all night in the native language which I did not know. It was a happy dream, but just like reality, I had no clue what was going on. The Lord was deepening my heart for these people and to this day I pray for them. When our trip concluded, we had passed out over 10,000 Bibles in one week and saw people come to know the Lord. My biggest take away from this trip was that God had grown me through this trip and every person should experience another culture in missions as part of their spiritual growth.

I want to encourage you as a single adult to be bold in your finances and time for the Kingdom. Make a plan to go on mission for Him and take opportunities and risks to see that happen in your own life. Missions in another country is something to be experienced in person if at all possible, but if you can’t go, then support and fund others to do so. Your gift will be helping them to grow spiritually and share the Good News around the globe. Be active in missions as a single adult and let God use you any way He can for His glory.