Learning How to Date

I didn’t learn how to date until I was 35 years old.

When my wife and I became intentional about investing in our marriage and in one another we knew that dating – the act of setting aside a certain amount of time for just the two of us to get away, talk, look each other in the eye, and learn something about one another – was going to be a big piece of the puzzle. I realized quickly that 1) I sucked at dating, and 2) that I needed help.

I was lucky enough to begin stealing some wisdom from Megan Lacefield as she talked about getting creative in dating your spouse. She helped me realize that not every date has to last for 5 hours and not everything has to cost $200. In fact, the best dates don’t. It is the process of making this a consistent priority that matters, and God will honor your investment whether it’s a weekend away or an hour lunch.

There are a ton of really cool resources out there, and here’s one: 52 Uncommon Dates by Randy Southern. This is gold. It has lots of really unique date ideas and consistently reminds me that choosing a new genre of movie to watch or making dinner reservations for an hour later than we normally eat is not getting creative. I had to start thinking about dating in a totally different way, and I needed help.

Grab the book, pick a date you think you can handle, and go for it. Start somewhere. You’ll be blown away by the return on your investment.

 

Trouble

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

If only Jesus had promised us an effortless existence free of trouble, but He didn’t. In fact, quite the opposite – He guarantees that we will have trouble. He promises trials, storms, and times of brokenness. We shouldn’t be surprised, really, as the Bible is stacked with repeated warnings like that of 1 John 2:17, which tells us that the world is passing away along with its desires. Trouble comes with the territory.

Christ doesn’t displace hard times. He offers the way above them, and the promise of a future beyond them.

 

Lumps of Clay

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. – Jeremiah 18:1-4

Becoming a “lump of clay” is a painful experience. It’s otherwise know as “rock bottom.” If we aren’t pursuing the good things God has for us, He will often allow things to filter through to us that get our attention, that rattle us, that bring us low. He loves us too much to let us avoid the consequences of poor choices. However, the never-ending hope is found in the final three words: “and started over.

God will always allow us to start over. It’s not punishment…it’s a brand new start.

What We’ve Done Doesn’t Matter

When the father saw his prodigal son coming up the road he bolted out of the house and went to him in a dead sprint. When he got to his son he threw both arms around him and embraced him with pure, unrestrained joy. The kid was weary, beaten down, and defeated. Covered in shame and guilt.

Son: Dad, I’ve screwed up big-time. Messed up everything. I’m not worthy to be called your son. Just make me a servant – that’s all I deserve.

The father completely ignores what his son just said. Doesn’t even acknowledge it. Why? Because it doesn’t matter.

Bring the best robe for my son and put it on him. (I am the covering for my son.)

Put a ring on his finger. (He is my son, my family, and the world will know it.)

Put sandals on his feet. (From now on I will help guide his steps – help him discover his path.)

Kill the fattened calf. (My son has come home, and we’re going to celebrate.)

Restoration matters. Coming home matters. Stepping into our place as son and heir matters.

What we’ve done doesn’t matter.

 

Choosing Love

Written by Jeremy and April Lane –

 

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.– Ephesians 5:22

Submission to my husband is not servitude, slavery, or bondage. It is not the degradation of my character, position, or authority as a daughter of God. Submission is never the proper response to the coercion or overbearing behavior of someone else. Instead, submission is voluntary. It is an intentional act to empower my husband; a decision made in power and out of a desire for God’s fullest abundance within my marriage.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:33

The act of submission is not a submission to man. It is a willingness to enter into the Father’s design for marriage, in which the husband takes on the roll of a servant leader to the family while the wife empowers him as the spiritual leader of the household.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13

Christ is our model for this type of flawless love. His love for us is pure and unflinching. No humiliation, no pain, and no burden could divert Christ from His love for us and his work on earth: the ultimate act of love and sacrifice.

Anyone who does not know love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8

Christ’s love is constant and cannot change. He not only models the perfect love for us, He is the very definition of love. It does not exist outside of Him.

But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

Christ’s love for His people is present despite our many failures and shortcomings. He begged the Father to pardon those who drove the very nails through His hands and into the wood of the cross. This is agape love – a love unique in that it is completely focused on the character of the one giving the love, and never waivers based on the merit or behavior of the one receiving the love.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. – Psalm 139:1-2

Just as God knows my every weakness, my every flaw, and yet loves me unfailingly, let me also love my husband in this way. True love is not dependent on my husband’s performance or merit. God asks me to choose love, and so I do.

ACTION:

Ask God to reveal a time when you based your love or affection on your husband’s performance. Apologize to your husband for the situation and note his response.

PRAYER:

Father, I ask that You continue to teach me how to choose love. Christ has modeled it for me, and I ask that You continue to work in me, keep shaping me to love more like Christ. Let my love for my husband be sincere, true, and unconditional. Make my love for him one that is pure and unbreakable. Strengthen me to be a wife who loves constantly, who never stops seeking You in my marriage.

Let me keep no record of wrongs, Lord, and instead shape my heart in a way that allows me to overlook any shortcomings. Raise me up to love my husband even more in his human weakness. And let his love for me increase the same, as I constantly fall short.

Teach me to love in the same way that You love us, Father. Amen.