So You Want to Date? Here is How.

So You Want to Date? Here is How.

How we date is just as important as who we date.

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about a couple of important principles when it comes to WHO we date…1) Character over characteristics, 2) Don’t settle, and 3) Focus on being the right person not finding the right person.

Today, we’re going to look at HOW we date. What does the process look like?

Note: This post is a summary of two pieces of curriculum that I can not take any credit for. One is an Orange Curriculum XP3 series called Obsessed, and the other is a talk on Dating from Ben Stuart of Breakaway Ministries. 

Ah, young love. There’s nothing like the first few days and weeks of a relationship when you’re figuring out things you have in common, creating inside jokes, and learning new things about each other. You fall asleep at night texting them and wake up the next morning with them on your mind. Guys, you start using emojis in your texts for the first time. You walk around with a goofy smile on your face because your head is in the clouds. You can’t think of anything else. Everything else around you is a blur. You find yourself wishing you could spend every moment of your life with them. It’s fun. It’s an emotional rush.

But then there’s a problem. And it happens when you actually do end up spending every moment with them.

Your friends drop off the face of the earth. You never hang with your family anymore. Your grades start to slip. Your performance on the team starts to suffer. Everything in your life starts to fall by the wayside because, let’s face it… YOU’RE IN LOVE!

Maybe this has been you before. Maybe it’s kind of embarrassing to remember those days. Or maybe that’s you right now, but you’re totally oblivious to it. But all your friends are hoping you’ll realize it. Or maybe you haven’t been in a relationship before, but you hear this and think, I want to feel that way.

But when the dating process becomes unhealthy, it doesn’t end up being a good thing. There are huge risks in making dating a bigger deal than it ought to be at this stage of your life (high school).

  • We miss out. There’s so much to do in high school that you will miss out on if you’re obsessed with a relationship or the idea of a relationship
  • We alienate people. Your friends aren’t stupid. They realize—even if you think they don’t—when your heart, time, energy, and thoughts are completely not in their world. They feel distance and separation, and eventually, that takes a toll on a relationship. All of a sudden, the people you used to care about the most don’t feel like you care about them at all, even if you do. People notice when they’ve fallen completely off your priority list. And eventually you will fall of their lists as well.

When dating becomes your whole world, you’re not really dating any more—you’re pretending to be married. You’ve begun to act like an old married couple in a teenage couple’s world. Some of you may think that sounds great! But it’s actually weird. And not healthy. And even if you do end up with this person forever, you’re missing out on the whole purpose of dating right now.

But this isn’t just my opinion. Look at a verse from the book of Proverbs. If you’ve never read the book of Proverbs, I highly recommend it. It’s full of practical and honest information—and it’s written by the wisest man to ever live—King Solomon.

Proverbs 25:16 says this, “If you find honey, eat just enough—too much of it and you will vomit.”

What did I tell you? It doesn’t get a lot more practical than that. Eat too much honey and you’ll barf. That’s just good advice. And it’s in the Bible.

Just like honey, just like sugar, dating is the same way. It’s good. It’s fun. And because we like dating—and it provides a lot of cool things—we’re tempted to over-indulge. There’s something appealing about getting caught up in a relationship, but too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. Dating might not make you literally vomit, but obsess over it too much, and you may end up equally miserable.

One of our college students, when asked what they would say to their high school selves about dating wrote to me:

I wish I would have known in high school to relax and not take dating so seriously. High school is a perfect time to build your foundation with Christ before you get thrown into college and there’s no rush to become serious with a specific person yet. High school is a great time to make friends and build a community instead of isolating yourself with one person.

We need some insight into what dating should actually look like.

How should we date in a way that glorifies God?

1. Date prayerfully.

Prayer takes the anxiety out of dating. Pray and then pursue that person with the Lord being the focus of YOUR life.

Trusting God through prayer will take the desperation out of dating. Being satisfied in Christ first means you have the contentment you need to say to God, “If he is not the One for me, I will be okay.” I trust God with my life.

One way we have to trust God, prayerfully, is to understand that no one can complete you. We have bought into this lie that we aren’t complete until find this person out there that will bring fulfillment and satisfaction.

You don’t have to be anyone’s significant other to live a significant life. There isn’t a human being on the planet who has the capacity to complete you and make you whole. The more you search for fulfillment in others and not in Christ, the more miserable you will become.

There are many ways that God describes His relationship to us throughout the Bible. He is depicted as a King, and we are his subjects, or as a Father and we are His children, and even as a Builder and we are His building. One of my favorite metaphors, however, is the metaphor of marriage; He is the husband, we are His wife. This is all throughout the Bible, over and over God describes Himself as the groom, and us the expectant Bride.

Here is what Isaiah says,

“You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” – Isaiah 62:4-5

Every bride, as she walks down the aisle looks stunningly beautiful. I remember my wedding day, watching my bride Jen, turn the corner and walk down the aisle. It seemed natural that everyone stood from their seated positions – something like that just awakens that kind of response.

Now, Scripture is telling us is that is how God sees us. Which is crazy because he knows every part of us–the good, the bad, and the ugly. My wife had no idea what she was getting into with me! Yet, God in His grace, looks at us and rejoices over us.

Before we jump into a dating relationship, we need know that His love for us is enough.

2. Date with clarity

Trusting God in prayer helps bring clarity to relationships. You don’t have to play games. You can have the confidence in God to be clear with your intentions.

Ephesians 4:15 tells us to “speak truth to one another in love.”

Proverbs 24:26 says, “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.”

Say what you mean and mean what you say. And guys take the initiative. Use the word date. Make your intentions clear. But you can only be honest and vulnerable if you are okay with the answer and content in your relationship Christ. If you realize know one person can complete you.

3. Date with autonomy.

The Bible acknowledges only two relationship statuses:

When you are single…brother and sister in Christ. When you are married…husband and wife. And there are a different verses about what this relationship should look like.

Here is the problem: in our culture we have created an intermediate category called “we’re dating”. With that status we think we have certain responsibilities and certain privileges and this is where all of our confusion lies.

“Hey, why didn’t you text me today? You’re my boyfriend, your supposed to text me and let me know what you are doing.”

“You are my girlfriend and so I have access to your body. I can put my hand where I want.”

The problem is the Bible doesn’t recognize this status. Here is where understanding you are brothers and sisters in Christ clears things up. For example, I get asked “How far is too far sexually when we are dating?” Well, look at 1 Timothy 5:1-2:

5:1 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

How far is too far with your sister? Your mom?

We need to give people total autonomy, even while dating, to make their own decisions. I don’t care if you use the words boyfriend or girlfriend, but when you do, know there are not certain rights or privileges that come with it. Dating is a process of evaluation not a status that gives you certain rights and privileges.

3. Purity

And that is where we come to purity.

If dating is a process, sex sabotages the process.

Read 1 Corinthians 6:15-20. Sex was intended for marriage to unite and bond two people together.

Science has now discovered what the bible has taught all along–that you are chemically and emotionally connected to a person when you engage in sexual activity. They have discovered when you participate in sexual activity the brain releases a drug called dopamine. Sexual activity causes a dopamine brainstorm which one researcher compared to the effects of heroin on the brain. It is no wonder we can not be objective in evaluating a person when we are chemically addicted to the rush we fell when we are with them because of sex.

Love without friendship is infatuation.

4. Patience

Finally, we need to date with patience. Do not rush into forever. Give things time. Be patient and wait. Our Pastor, Dr. Carney, has told our high school seniors they should at least know someone for 5 seasons before marrying them. I believe he is very wise to tell us to observe someone’s behavior over time and see how their character holds up in good and bad, warm or cold, etc.

The best way to strengthen your future marriage is to patiently work on your friendship first. I agree with Tim Downs, from Family Life Today, who says:

People seem to have two sets of rules for relationships: One for friendship and the other for romance. We long for romance so we rush past friendship and hurl ourselves into romance. Then we wonder why romance doesn’t last.

Years ago I discovered that there’s only one set of rules–the rules of friendship. I met a woman and said to her, ‘I just want to be good friends,’ and now we are married and have kids. I fell in love with my best friend. It’s the only way to go. 


I am looking forward to continuing more blog posts weekly on Hope you will find it helpful!


Sex and Dating series Recap


Two weeks ago, we started our yearly look at sex and dating for our middle school students.

The reason we do this was made so clear to me when a student asked, “Why are we studying this in church?!”

I’m sure many of the other students in the room were wondering the same thing, but he was the only one willing to voice it.

My answer to him was simple. The reason we do this series is because the world around us has expressed its views about sex and if we as the church do not stand up and talk about God’s designs and views on sex, then our student will believe the wrong messages and believe the lie that the world tells about sex.

Attached below you will find my notes from the past weeks. I provide these so I can be as transparent with you as possible. Since these are my notes, it might be hard to know what I meant, or what I was trying to say. Please contact me so I can answer any questions you might have.

Also below you’ll find some links that will help you as you prepare to and talk to your student about sex and dating. There are also some great resources dealing with pornography.

My hope and prayer is that this will help you as you have conversations with your student about sex. I say conversations because we are long past the time where a simple sex talk would do. The sex talk needs to happen regularly.

I told our students that I love them and that even more than your love for them is God’s love for them. He wants them to date well. He wants them to make wise decisions when it comes to dating and sex. He also wants them to marry well.

All of these things are hard to when they have the wrong views of sex and dating.

Please let me know how I can best serve you and your family.

Week 1 Notes

Week 2 Notes


 Tips for Parents on Talking About Porn

What to do if Your Student is Looking at Porn

Your Children and Sex

Pornography and Sex

Books for Students on Sex from Christian Authors


DR Mission Trip Update #3

image image image image image image image imageWell, we are currently sitting in the Charlotte airport–again, haha, for our flight home. Everything is good though as our flight is on time and our flight this AM was smooth. I thought I would take this chance to summarize the projects we did with Pastor Yorbi.

The first construction project was the roof of the church. Our team had to scrape, scrub, and Clorox the roof in order to paint it. It was hard and very hot work but, by the third day, they were able to paint! Our team on the roof were mostly girls which impressed the community around us!

The second project at the Baptist Church was to break apart a concrete slab, dig out about two feet of dirt to level out a floor, and build a shelter to feed kids breakfast every Sunday morning. The work was tough, but our team did a great job of rotating workers and figuring out the most efficient way of breaking up and shoveling the dirt. While we were working, some men from the church welded metal supports for the roof. They put the roof on and the project was finished!

In the afternoon, Pastor Yorbi’s team also did children’s ministry. We had over 100 kids every day come for the program. We used a local shelter with a volleyball court to hold the VBS. Pastor Yorbi’s passion for children’s ministry was evident as he jumped in and helped lead some songs and talk with the kids. Our team was incredibly helpful as they planned bible story, crafts, games, and we even combined bands for music.

At both sites, our teams were shown incredible hospitality and fed very well for lunch each day. Pastor Yorbi had us for lunch in his own home everyday.

Thats a quick summary of both worksites and I hope each post helps spark conversation with your teenager about this life-changing trip!


DR Mission Trip Update #2

I finally have a few minutes of spare time and so I thought it would be great to post an update. I would like to take the chance to walk you through the different ministry opportunities we had this week.image image image image image image image image image

Team Pastor Francis is the team who is working with Oasis Church. Every morning, the team does construction projects and every afternoon we do children’s ministry.

The construction projects were difficult but incredibly rewarding. Our team was split into three groups–two working on building cinder block homes and one digging a well.  The construction of the homes involved moving cinder blocks from the road to the work site, mixing concrete (by shovel not machine!), and laying the block with the help of a Maestro (a foreman). By the middle of our first day many of our students picked up on the process so fast, they could work on their own without help from the Maestro.

The most satisfying part of building the home had to be working with the family who would be living in it. Wilson is the name of the Dad, his wife’s name is Carla, and they have a toddler named Wilbur. Wilson was out there every day, showing us how to build, and getting to know each other pretty effectively despite the language barrier. He was so grateful for the ministry we were providing and impressed with how hard we were working. Leaving him was a bittersweet moment as we really developed a strong relationship as brothers in Christ!

The other project at Oasis Church was our well digging project. One of the church members, Elizabeth, shared with us how she walks over a mile with her kids every day to the church to take showers. Her eyes welled up as she spoke about their need for water. Our well team worked so hard to begin the process for her family to have the access to water she so desperately needs. We were able to get down through the most difficult layers of dirt and roots so that another team will be able to complete the 40-ft well! Elizabeth was so grateful but also spoke of her family’s joy that, despite not having access to water, she knows the One who gives Living Water!

We haven’t even talked about children’s ministry so I will summarize it briefly. We were blown away by the amount of kids that showed up each day for VBS! At Oasis Church we had around 70 kids each day. Our students were responsible for leading the bible story, craft, music, and everything else and they did a phenomenal job of sharing the love of Christ with each kid.

We wrapped up with a big thank you time and we all came away with a sense of humility in the opportunity to serve Christ together and share the Gospel with the community as the Global Church. The church was so hospitable and poured into us, and hopefully, we also poured into them. There is so much more, but little time, so I look forward to tthe conversations we will all have at home!

Here are a few pics from Team Francis and I will update you as soon as I can on team Yorbi!




DR Mission Team Update #1

As I am sitting here waiting on the rest of our team to arrive from the airport in Santo Domingo at our hotel (THEY HAVE LANDED AND ARE ON THE WAY!), I wanted to quickly write a post and update everyone on our team.

There is probably way too much that could be said about the past 36 hours of travel but here is what I feel might be most important:

1. God is in control! He has been so faithful to meet our needs.

2. God must have something incredible in store for this week!

3. We have some absolutely incredible students and adults who have been amazing through this process with incredible, selfless attitudes! The praying pelican staff has been phenomenal and flexible and has taken great care of us!

4. God is at work! After day 1, we debriefed with some of our team here at the Hotel. It is amazing what God is already teaching us and the ways he I stretching us.

Quick day recap: Today, the students and adults who are here were able to eat lunch at Pastor Francis’ church and dinner at Pastor Yorbi’s. So we met both groups and really connected with both.

We were introduced to a couple we will be helping build a small, cinder block shelter for a home–really making our work here tangible. They have a family of three and so what we build will be their residence for years to come and they were so incredibly grateful.

We were able to connect with some kids and adults despite a language barrier which we all really enjoyed.

We sat through two touching service, one a graduation for women who were a part of a baking ministry at Pastor Francis’ church (Oasis Church). They are using the program to give some of their women a practical skill to bring into the marketplace.

At the Baptist Church, Pastor Yorbi delivered a message that hit is right at home about how we are called to rejoice in sharing in Christ’s suffering and to know He is worth it–pretty relevant message huh? Puts our momentary suffering in lots of perspective.

Hope this helps orientate you to today. Here are some pics.

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Merge Recap-October 26

NEW series WS.001


Series: NEW: What does it mean to be made new? (week 4 of 4)
Message in a sentence: As Christians, the Holy Spirit produces fruit in us much different than our sinful nature.
Key Scripture: Galatians 5:16-26

Last night we ended our discussion based series called NEW, and I think it was my favorite of all four weeks.

We talked at length about the difference between our sin nature and the nature of the Holy Spirit. These natures are completely opposite from each other and are constantly warring inside of a Christian.

I think my favorite question what we wrestled with last night was: Do you think Paul is saying that Christ-followers who get angry or have sexually impure thoughts or actions won’t go to heaven? 

The students had a great grasp on the fact that a Christian is forgiven of all sin, but if the sins committed are a repeated sin pattern and a person never feels bad or convicted of that sin, that person might not be a Christian after all.

As Christians we do not have a license to sin. As Christians are goal is to live a life like Christ, who was sinless. We need to be real and know we will sin, but we should not use that as a excuse to sin.


Merge Recap-October 5

NEW series WS.001


Series: NEW: What does it mean to be made new?
Message in a sentence: Our God reveals Himself to us in a variety of ways.
Key Scriptures: Psalm 19:1, Matthew 18:20, John 14:25-26

On Sunday we began a new series called New: What does it mean to be made new? In this series we will being looking at what it means to be a Christ follower, how to accept Christ, and how to live in the new life that we find in Him.

Our approach to this series will be different than what we’ve done so far. This series will be very discussion oriented, with my role as guiding the conversation students have in their groups. I think this type of teaching will work well with our students.

To kick off the series we talked all about how our God is a knowable God. That He is not distant or Someone we can’t understand. There are parts of Him that we can’t understand this side of eternity, but there are things about His character, His likes and dislikes, how He loves and provides for us, and other things we can know about Him.

We then broke into groups to talk about the scriptures listed above. We had great conversations about how God reveals Himself through nature, the heavens (skies, stars, and planets), through our relationships with other believers, and how the Holy Spirit draws us closer to the Father.

This series fits so well in the overall vision for the Middle School Ministry at Riverland Hills, where we look to lay the foundation that students will build on in high school and college.

Check back each week to see what your student is learning about their walk with Christ.