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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - What To Think About When You Think About Dating?

Levi Lusko - What To Think About When You Think About Dating?

Levi Lusko - What To Think About When You Think About Dating?
TOPICS: I Think I Love You, Relationships, Dating

In 2002 there were some interns who decided there was a crime so perfect it would almost be criminal for them not to do it. They had all been interning at NASA and they noticed that when the scientists brought the moon rocks from the Apollo mission out of this particular safe to investigate them and study them and try and understand more about the moon that they always looked at a note that had been taped to the handle of the safe. And so these interns figured the note must be the combination to the safe and if we bust in at night we'll be able to take all these moon rocks out we'll be able to have them for ourselves. And they estimated they could make millions of dollars fencing these stolen moon rocks. And ever since the Apollo program this has happened. Moon rocks have been stolen, found their way into people's pockets on the way out the door.

And so these interns thought this is a perfect chance. So they bust into this NASA building late at night and they get to the safe. And, sure enough, there's a note attached to it, but to their dismay it wasn't a combination it was a clue to help the people remember the combination. They weren't inside of that joke and so they didn't know what to do. So they panicked and they stole the whole safe, 600 pound safe. I hope they lifted with their legs and not with their back because that is heavy. My lower back hurts just thinking about that. So they get this safe into their vehicle, they get it back to where they were at. They had tools, they managed successfully to get into the safe. And now there was much more than they thought inside this safe, the estimate is $20 million, in what you could sell it on the black market for, worth of moon rocks.

And so now part A of the two part to this story is done because stealing something is only as good as your ability to actually sell it. And that becomes the real hard part because you have to get on the dark web and into these forums and you have to speak in code. There's a mineral of a particular unique indisputable value of, you might say, green cheese comes to mind when one thinks about the moon rocks. And well, someone bid, kind of realized what was going on, said I'll purchase said minerals from you. And they went back and forth, no doubt, on WhatsApp or something like that where there's no trail, or so they thought. You know, where they could meet at such and such a place. And they designed the meeting place to be in Orlando and it'll just be perfect. They'll wear Mickey Mouse ears, they'll blend in, and it'll be amazing.

And so perfect crime, right? Or so they thought because it turns out that the people they were negotiating with actually were FBI agents, as they often do these sort of sting operations to figure out and to get back these stolen moon rocks that they knew were missing because the entire safe was taken out of the building. And there's no chance that just a couple of them went missing, they're all gone from this particular location. And, of course, they've been spread out so you couldn't get them all. So as the story goes, they meet at a restaurant and they're arrested, these interns are arrested. And they have to now give up where these rocks are at and they say, there at the motel room. All right, tell us exactly where they are. Well, they're spread out over the bed. Why are they spread out over the bed? We wanted to have sex on the moon is what they said, this exact response, we wanted to have sex on the moon.

Now, when they reviewed the NASA application for the internship this young man, in particular, who ended up going to prison for eight years for this crime, he didn't just do this though. He also stole some dinosaur bones from Utah so this cat should have a red flag from all internships. But his application said he wanted to apply for a position at NASA because he wanted to be the first person to go to Mars. Instead, he was the first idiot to have sex on the moon. And so this actually happened. This is a true story. But don't feel too bad for him because while he was in prison, and I just thought there's just a silver lining to every story, he got degrees, multiple degrees, while in prison in physics, anthropology, and philosophy. And he's now out leading a functioning life as the leading authority on the large scale structure of the universe and he has a Ted Talk that's been viewed many, many times.

All right, so bright silver lining. Moral of the story, besides just the cheesy, easy, gratuitous, not everybody who says they love you to the moon means exactly the same thing, is this, not everything every one puts on the internet about themselves is factually true. Of course, this guy thought he was negotiating with one person, turns out he was getting something different. And I think we have to have our eyes wide open in a day where so much of the online dating process has turned into essentially purchasing something from Amazon. And we have to remember and be reminded that not everything we read about someone that they put out there is actually true deep down once we get down into it.

Welcome to "I Think I Love You", a series that we're going to be in for the next four or five weeks where we're going to be talking about these issues of the heart and what involvement they're going to have in the life that we end up living. We're going to be talking to those of you who have been through break ups, who have been through marriages, you've gone through a divorce, you're single, you're looking to mingle, you're young and single, like my daughter Clover. I said, Clover, I'm preaching about dating, what should I talk about? What questions do you have? She went, ick. She's 11.

And I would say if your response right now to the idea of love in general for whatever reason is ick, if you're with Clover, whether through it's just not where you're at in the season or you've had some painful things you've been through that have made you reticent to cut once because you have gone into it a few times where you didn't measure twice, where you're like this is not at all what I want to hear, and this all, honestly, brings up difficult feelings and all the things, I would just say no matter what state you're in, no matter what you're dealing with today, let God speak to you because he has your best in mind. And we're not here to shame anyone for the past. We're here to do what God always wants to do and that is to fight for your future.

And so this isn't a marriage series for perfect people because I would not be allowed in the building. What we want to do is to come to a place where we can hear what God is saying to our lives now from this day forward. And what's going to be our approach? Our approach is to try and learn, here we go, how to navigate the ambiguity of intimacy. Dating shouldn't be so confusing, but it is. I spent some time this week just sort of writing down the kind of questions about love that make it so confusing. Questions like, is this going anywhere? The questions like, is this anything at all? Is this actually a relationship or is it just a situation-ship? What do they think it is? How do they define this? How do I? How do I protect my heart? What does hanging out even mean? Do I like them? Should I like them? How long should we date?

We're going to try and hear Kenny Rogers, "when do I hold them, when do I fold them, when do I walk away"? Why would they ghost me and then be all over me? What should my boundaries be? Why won't they commit? When to DTR? How to DTR? What if someone is better out there and the moment I choose I end up settling? How can I know if I'm rushing? What if I'm at a place where I never get swept off my feet? Like I said, these are confusing things, but they shouldn't be. Why? Because God is not the author of confusion, 1 Corinthians 14. If we're facing something confusing and it's confusing us then that's not coming from God. So oftentimes when we end up confused is because we're not listening to him, we're listening to someone else.

In fact, that's what Romans Chapter 12 describes for us, what's the process of discovering God's will, because that's another way of asking, how do I figure out this relational situation, God what do you want for me, what do you want from me? Romans 12:2 says, "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed", say it with me, "by the renewing of the mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God". Back when I was trying to memorize this verse, I kept messing up good, acceptable, and perfect and I realized they spelled G-A-P. And I haven't messed them up since because I just remember, what's God's will? Gap, good, I'm not telling you where to buy your khakis. I'm saying good, acceptable, perfect will of God.

How many of you want the good and acceptable and perfect will of God? OK. Here's how you're going to get there. You're going to get there by not letting the world tell you how to think. If you let the world tell you how to think you'll end up confused. But if you listen to what God has to say, you let that inform how you think because there is so much importance placed in the scripture on the thoughts you allow into your mind. Proverbs 23 tells us as a man "thinks in his heart, so is he". You've heard it said, you are what you eat, that's true. But to a greater degree, because you are not just body you are also spirit and mind and emotion, you are what you think. So the scripture says if we want what God wants for us we have to think the way that God thinks. In fact, Proverbs 16 Verse 3 says the same thing, "commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established".

So what we need to do is to say, God, I want to think the way that you think because if I'm confused then I'm probably not listening to you. I'm probably listening to what the world says, I'm letting the world squeeze me into its mold. What's normal in the world is broken. And if we don't want to get what everyone is getting we must not do what everyone is doing, especially when it comes to the areas of dating, and marriage, and approaching our singleness, and how to look at these things. We live in this world, but we must not be of this world. We have to choose to not let the world squeeze us into its mold and also, I would add, not be revolted by the world. Because what's the world going to do? It's going to sin. Are we shocked by this? If you're a sinner, that is what you do. 1 John says, the world lies under the sway of the wicked. Oh, can you believe that naughty old world? What did they do? Did they sin again? Yes. Should we be outraged? No, but we shouldn't also imitate either.

We should remember we have to be a peculiar people in the world, but the moment we start the world's got cooties we can't reach the world. So we must not be shocked by the world, but we're not going to be complicit in doing the same things that they are doing, otherwise we cease to be salt, we cease to be light. That's tension. Welcome to life on a knife's edge. In, but not of. Yeah, that means there's always going to be a push pull, just like driving clutch. I think a lot of us are at a disservice for our inability to drive clutch, not only for the failure to have an amazing illustration of what it takes constantly to embrace the tension of all these things, but also it's harder to drive, not impossible, but harder to drive on your cell phone when you're driving and you have something for both your hands to do.

All right. So we need to realize that there is tension and that tension is not going to go away, it's to be embraced. So the confusion is not from God because God's not the author of Confusion. But he does love himself some mystery. So the confusion is not from God, but mystery is. What do I mean by that? I mean that you cannot have faith without mystery. And scripture from cover to cover says the just shall live by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. And if you could have certainty in every situation and you knew exactly the outcome and you were born and they gave you a card and the card had said who to marry and you just had to just chill out till you found the person on the card, if that was the case there would be no faith in it.

So we're not presuming to tell you that we can get rid of all mystery and, quite frankly, we wouldn't want there to be. The mystery keeps us coming back. The mystery is exciting. There is mystery to romance that is good, but the confusion is not from God. So if we're wanting to peel back the confusion and embrace, through faith, the mystery that God has for us in this realm, in this area we must learn to think right or we'll never be able to live or love right. I'm going to say it again, not only because repetition is one of the marks of good teaching, but because it really is that important. We will never be able to live right or love right if we don't think right.

So what's going to form or what should be the mold our minds go into? Not just how the world looks. Not too easy to get there. Saturated in the next binge worthy show and the next pop 40 song and then all this. It's easy to think on sex, to think on dating how the world thinks about it, which is instant gratification, which is just get what you want, which is essentially do what you feel. But God's word says, regardless of how you feel, do what he says. That's why no sooner does the snake show up in scripture then there's doubt put upon what God has said. Did God really say? You won't really do it. You should really do whatever you feel, girl. Eat what you want to eat, touch what you want to touch, take what you want to take, be who you want to be. But God's word says here is what to think.

Think what God says. Let His words set the pace for your life. So what am I to think? By the way, the title of this message is, What To Think About When You Think About Dating. What to think about when you think about dating. I'm going to think two things. And if I'm doing those two things I believe it will lead to four outcomes. So jot these things down. The two things that we want to think about while we think about dating. The first is, you have a purpose. I'm going to think about that constantly. I'm going to remind myself of that regularly. I have a purpose. And what is that purpose? The purpose for my life and for your life is to glorify God, to shine light on God, to magnify God. That should be not only a part of what you believe to be the mission statement of your life, but getting down into the particulars, at the root for everything that you choose to do in your life.

How granular are we talking? Well, Paul said in Colossians 3 Verse 17, "and whatever you do in word or deed", yeah, but Levi what about that too? What about, Yeah. Yeah, but, yes. Did Paul give you a ton of gray? Whatever you do. What about if it's in Word? That also. Yeah, but what about a deed? Also that. If you eat or if you drink, another passage of scripture says. So in everything we do, what should be in mind? To do so, "in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him".

What an acid test that would become. If as we were about to slide into a DM, if as we were about to send a message asking for a pic, if as we were about to do something, as we were about to go out with someone, if we first just stop for just one hot second and said, can I do this in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him? I'm going to put the phone down, walk away slowly, eat an apple. Like I'm going to... Yeah, we would turn the TV off. It would just change our relational decisions because we would be reminding ourselves in the moment, I have a purpose. And that purpose is not me, it's not how I feel, it's not what I want. I was created to bring glory to God. That's why the Westminster Schroeder Catechism says, what is man's chief end, what is the meaning of life? And it says to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But I submit to you, you're only able to enjoy him as you're glorifying him, which is why it's not selfish for God to command us to worship him.

Have you ever wondered about that? Doesn't it seem like the kind of like cool that God's like just up there and like worship me, worship me, worship me. Listen to me, if God, who is the greatest thing in the world, allowed us or told us to worship anything but him he would be telling us to worship something that's not the greatest thing. So, by definition, he couldn't be God. He couldn't be good if he would push us towards anything besides the greatest thing because we become like whatever we worship, we become like whatever we lift up. So he couldn't be a good God if he pushed us to anything but him if he is God and knows he is God and knows that he, as God, is the good thing.

So if he allowed us to do anything but to glorify him he would be pushing us to lift up through the highest place something less than the best thing in the world, thus pushing us towards something worse than the best thing that we could have in our lives. Do you see? So it's not some ego trip, it's actually selfless that God tells us to glorify him. For in telling us to, C.S. Lewis said, to glorify him is actually inviting us to enjoy him. And we get to fulfill the reason we're on this earth and that is to enjoy and participate in the divine life, in eternal life, in bringing glory to God as revealed to us in the person of his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Just take a second and thank God for His goodness. And thank God how different that is from obsessing over whatever decision in your relational journey that you're trying to figure out in your marriage, in how you approach your singleness, in the next date you're maybe about to go on. And just process it through how different that grid would be if you ask yourself the question, what does a person bringing glory to Jesus Christ look like on this date? Am I even going to go on that date once I answer that question? So I'm reminding myself, I have a purpose. I'm the moon. The moon is only seen because it chooses to bring glory to the sun, it chooses to shine the sun's light. The moment the moon says, it's about me, I'm sick of this shining the sun's light, the moon's dark. You never see the moon. You only see the moon when it's doing the job that you're meant to do, reflecting the light of the Son, the one that it lives to serve.

And so we must see and remember, as we approach any dating thing, I have a purpose, it's to bring glory to God. And failure to do the thing we were created to do, which is the invitation to enjoy the greatest thing in the world, is what? Failure to do so leads to misery. Falling short of the glory of God is misery. Living where God's not what you live to orbit, live to bring delight to, but another person is or yourself is, leads to misery. And you know we're seeing a lot of misery in the world today. They say that Gen Z is among the most miserable generations to ever live in this country. Gen Z, loosely defined as those born after 1996, when the so-called millennial generation ended. And what do you mean more miserable? Higher rates of depression, higher rates of just loathing of life, higher rates of just melancholy, and just kind of burnout, and no sense of, sort of just a listlessness, higher rates of suicidal ideation and suicidal intention and suicidal action.

And girls are faring worse than boys. Of the Gen Zs who answer the questions, only 9% of boys in that generation report a serious mental health issue, but 20%, one out of five of young girls today. And if you look at the chart for when it became a hockey stick and it did, if you look at the numbers, become a hockey stick in 2013, that's when it took place. You have to ask yourself what exactly happened around that time that would cause such a seismic shift? And the answer, I believe, is nuanced. But two things stick out to me that have changed life on this planet from all of the history before it. And one is that Facebook acquired Instagram. And Instagram's ubiquity just became almost synonymous with being alive.

So everyone's all of a sudden posting photos of their life in a way that people can comment and like. And it became like sort of the social currency. So that took place right around that time that the hockey stick exploded. But the second thing that perhaps has not gotten as much attention as the social media apps is the fact that, right around that same time, Apple decided to put a front facing camera on a cell phone for the very first time. And so not only are we posting photographs of what we're seeing, but what we're choosing to see isn't just the world out there it's a camera pointing right back here at ourselves. And it used to be if you went on a trip to the Grand Canyon or to wherever you took a photograph of the place, you took a photograph of the thing. You went to the Eiffel Tower and maybe you could be creative and get the camera around backwards. But how easy it became to not take a picture of a beautiful thing, but to now all of our photos are ourselves with the beautiful thing behind us.

And walking around with the ability to take a picture where we are in the foreground, where we're in the front, in a generation that by and large, of course, there are exceptions to all this, has sort of been coddled and whatever you need and however you feel and is there anything I can do for, you the helicopter parenting and those two things combined together have led to this life that is just full of self-loathing, full of anxiety, full of despair. Why? They've been told you're in the center of the story and that leads to misery. That leads to heartbreak. So we need to be reminded, I have a purpose. And that purpose is not me. My purpose is to bring glory to the one who made me, to turn that camera around backwards again. And then secondly, I'm going to remind myself daily, to get to where God wants me to be in my relationship, that God has a plan.

I have a purpose and God has a plan. And as I bring him the glory he is due, he will day by day, because he gives us our day, our daily bread day by day, he's going to unfold his plan for us, as we fulfill our purpose, of bringing him honor. And asking ourselves the question, what would a person who's bringing glory to Jesus Christ and thankful to God the Father through him, what would that person do? OK, I'm going to choose to live that way, letting my identity determine my activity, Jennie taught us last week. Not just try and make changes willy nilly, but remind ourselves who we are, who He says we are, not how we feel we are. And we're going to let that lead to what we choose to do every single day, our identity determining our activity. And we're going to participate in that plan, meaning you don't have to strive to get to good, acceptable, and perfect, you just get to walk with the One who promises He's going to unroll that through you and in you.

How many days at a time? One day at a time. And that means if he has a plan, that plan includes everything we encounter cradle to grave. And maybe that's not even enough because when Jeremiah was stressing that he didn't have the goods to do what God called him to do, do you remember what God told Jeremiah? He said, God, I can't go preach, I'm too young. God, I can't do this, I'm not a good enough of a speaker. God said, Jeremiah, "before I formed you in the womb I knew you". Well, hello. We're dealing with something outside of our ability here. "I knew you before you were in the womb; before you were even born, this is a big word, sanctified you". The word sanctified is the Greek word hagiaz. It's not Haagen-Dazs, that's a delicious frozen treat. It's hagiaz. And it means set apart. I mean, that's special. It's the place that you only bust out on Thanksgiving. It's something that's not just common, it's not ordinary.

If something's been set apart it's reserved for special use, reserved for royal use. God told Jeremiah and God speaks to you for you are a chosen generation. You are a royal priesthood. You are God's own special people called out of darkness into marvelous light that you may proclaim his praises. You are Holy. You have been called Holy, declared Holy by the blood of Jesus shed for you. God sees you as Holy. So now I'm not trying to do something so I can be something. I'm remembering I am something, therefore, out of the response to that I get to do something. The Christians whole life is a goal to bring your conduct up to the level of your calling and not vise versa. Religion says do and you can be. God says you already are, now live out of that truth. Live out of that every single day.

And so when you remember I am walking with a God who has a purpose for my life and it's worship and I'm going to live out of that, trusting he's got a plan, that includes when you say, I do. And when you do, he's giving something good to you. For your good God only gives good gifts. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the father of lights in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. So marriage is good. Marriage is a gift from a good God. Proverbs 18, and, again, take with a grain of salt anything Solomon says on the subject. Wisest man who ever lived, life a total hot mess. What am I to do with that? You're to do this. God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick. So God used Solomon to give us great truth even though homey needed to read a little bit more of what he wrote after he wrote it. "He who finds a wife", notice it's singular, Solomon, "finds a good thing".

I was talking to this week to some friends. And they were like, I can't believe people in the Bible, reading the Bible reading plan, all these people having all these wives. And I was like, yeah. What's different about today? We don't do that. I said, yeah we do. We just spread it out over a lifetime. Multiple wives. All right. And they were like... How easy it is to get arrogant is the point, right? But, "he who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains", what? "favor from the Lord". So I can believe one day at a time, one step at a time as I ask myself the question, how do I give glory and honor to God in what I'm about to do, that God's going to participate in and work it all out and when it happens it's his favor, it's his goodness in my love life. These are the two things to keep in your mind.

Why is that so important? Because your understanding of the value of something and the purpose for something determines how you take care of it. My son Linux has no idea. He just runs through the house looking for things to play with. So his thing is always in the garage and this and we have little things that he can play with and it's so fun. He loves screwing wood, putting those little screws in the wood, all these things, but he doesn't always ask before he plays with stuff. Therefore, sometimes he touches things that have a greater value than he understands. Like he found a little box that had in it the first cassette tape of the first time I ever preached.

Young people, there was this thing called a cassette tape. It had actual tape inside that could come out of it, if so, you had to get a pencil and put it back in. Remember those days? To put it back in the cassette player. The first time I ever preached in a microphone there was a cassette recording device that recorded me. I was so nervous. I said open your bibbles. Bibbles. I get it if you mess up Habakkuk or Zipporah or Ezekiel, but I screwed up Bible. It's amazing I kept even going when I listened to that. I was like, oh, I said bibbles. The YouTube algorithm always brings up random things. And the other day I saw this teaching I did in England I hadn't even remembered I did and I clicked it. And it was I was so sad when I did because I said it's such a joy to worship you and I just kept going. I meant worship with you. I was probably jet-lagged, but the point is Linux had this tape and he's playing with it. And in his mind it's just this little piece of plastic like Fisher Price, it's worthless. He didn't understand there was value on it, not because of what it was, but because of what was upon it.

So the value on it was that it was irreplaceable, it was one of a kind. You're never going to find another recording of that, until it gets digitized, of that moment. And so it is with you. When you understand your value of your soul made by God for a purpose with passion in mind, he wants to bring favor to you, it changes how you respond to the decisions that you make. So what specifically will be the outcome of that? Four things, jot them down as response. It takes off the pressure, number one. It takes off the pressure to know God in heaven's working stuff out and his sovereignty, cool. I'll just sort of go along for the ride. I still got a part to play, but I'm going to just trust he's working it out. And good things happen when sheep go to sleep. Good things happen when sheep go to sleep.

The Bible says that Adam, when God first brought Eve to him, he fell asleep. And God caused that sleep to fall on him. It's also worth noting that Adam had, had a big day of naming stuff, right? That's his job. His job was to rule over the kingdom that God had put him on. So, ladies, he had a job. So before they were ready to come together, homey was working. All right, so let's just take note of that. So he had a job. He was walking in his unique calling that God had on his life and he was fulfilling his purpose by every day walking with God in the garden in the cool of the day, exalting, and bringing glory to God. So he was fulfilling his purpose. And, like I said, his job was naming animals. And we know that it was Adam that named the animals not woman, right? They're naive because their names are like dog, fly, there's not a fluffy poo, there's not a cutie pie, it's just really straightforward, no adjectives involved.

Such a terrible sexist joke. And so Adam's just name and stuff and then while he's doing all those things and focused like he should be focused a deep sleep falls on him. And when he wakes up there she was. It didn't come from when he was doing his job, trying to strive, make it happen on his own. God just took care of it, it just sort of happened. While he was doing the two things he was supposed to be concerned with, God took care of the rest. And I just speak over you that will be how it is for you as you walk in God's will. So if we take off the pressure, we're trusting, we can rest in God. And in due time and due season he'll bring it to pass. I think it also takes away sort of the rushing that I often see on Christian engagement. I feel like there's a lot of times just this nobody's ever had a love like we have, pastor. And we'll just be like, hey, slow your roll.

Have you thought about premarital counseling? No. You're trying to keep us from each other. You don't understand. But have you talked about it, have you thought about it, have you worked it out? No, that doesn't matter. It won't be an issue for us. No. None of the marriage of origin issue, family of origin issues, will be problem? No talks about finances could be good, any comparing notes on strategy for childbearing? No. What will sustain you? Love. Just love, pastor. Oh, God. You just grimace on the inside like you're watching a car accident happen in slow motion. Just this rushing, this pressure, you just need to get married. Hold on. Just pause. Should you make it to be 80 and you get married at 20 or you get married at 30... By the way, young people are delaying marriage, that's one of the things I believe that's actually making dating far more confusing than it needs to be.

And I'm not the only one who thinks that. I was reading The New York Times, an article by David Brooks and he said confusing times have come for young people today. Why? Notice this, because they hit puberty at 13 but many don't get married till they're past 30. So now, "that's two decades of coupling, uncoupling, hooking up, relationships, shopping around. This period isn't a transition anymore". You don't date to get to marriage. People are just dating to date. "It's a sprawling life stage and nobody knows the rules. Once young people came a-calling as a part of courtship". They would sit in the parlor, in the front room. The family kind of one open doorway away to observe this happening and they could debrief afterwards. Then they had dating and going steady, but the rules of courtship have dissolved. "They've been replaced by ambiguity and uncertainty". Cell phones, social media, text messages, give people access to hundreds of, how many air quotes will we need to do through the whole series, "friends".

Now, is that friends friends, friends with benefits friends, in a situation-ship friends, right? Are we just in a cuffing season situation friends? But all this confusion has led only to fluidity, drama, and anxiety. And so then we get into this thing and we want to rush towards marriage now that we have it, but let's pause and take a step back. If you're married from 30 to 80, that's 50 years married and you had 30 years as a single person. So why should what is already pretty short, relatively speaking, in the course of your entire lifetime, say a six month engagement or something, be some terrible idea? That's only a tiny relatively speck of a period that's meant to be a critical aspect of the phase. So we take that singleness and this tiny dating and then we want to shrink down because we're putting such pressure, we just want to be married, we just want to unpack the stuff from Williams-Sonoma, we just want to make toes together, and cuddle.

So we rush, but we can take that pressure off because we need to give enough time for the Spanx to come off. Now, I mean that... hold on. I mean that metaphorically. Keep the Spanx on and all other clothing also while you're engaged. I'm talking about we need to find out is what they advertised online who they are or is that just awesome creative writing and fiction? Is what they said what's really written on their soul? And anybody can suck it in for a minute, but we need to give enough time and not be in a rush to the altar. Take the pressure off, let's really see how do you handle these things? What do you actually do under pressure? Is there really a temper there?

And during this phase, it is critical, and we'll talk more about this next week. And you'll really want to utilize our Fresh Life Kids next week or if you're a church online get a Bluey going and the other room because next week's going to be more about sex. But during this period between dating and engagement you really, really do not want to add the clouding aspect of sexuality because it just masks dysfunction and makes it harder to see who they really are. And you will see it, eventually. But to add it in at this phase is a mistake because it will blind you to their faults in a period where you're doing due diligence and you want to have your wits about you. All right.

So we're taking the pressure off of rushing to the altar, giving time to see who they are, but we're also taking the pressure off of stretching that period out almost infinitely. Because the other side of the spectrum is that sort of dating and engagement that's interminable and this engagement that just goes on and on and on because you really want to make sure, based on what you saw with your parents' divorce, are they really the one. So we're almost like too nit-picky about that. I don't like the way they eat their soup. We just might not be compatible. I really, like, you guys still engaged? Yep. See you same time next year. All right. Still engaged? Yep. Right? It's just almost like basically a mini marriage where there's really no end in sight and there's no sense. We're just dating to date almost.

Are we really believing there's a plan and its marriage or are we just in this dating sort of just for sport or the emotional benefit of having someone there until potentially someone better comes along? We have to ask those questions. And if you're in a situation like that, eventually you just got to kind of pull that quality control chain and find your way to a different season because the marriage is meant to be the goal. You might get off. And we have to, as the Christian community, allow that and not make it weird when someone starts dating and then they end up going other ways. I'm like, oh my God, we already bought you your gift. Well, you need to chill out. You need to settle down. Dating and not dating, that's amazing if we're seeing is this really the thing, but we don't want to over-analyze based on every little split hair of compatibility.

Because I like how Tim Keller put it. He said, I'm just going to read this because it's so awesome, he said, "no two people are compatible". Newsflash. "Some people are really, really the wrong person to marry. Everyone else is still naturally incompatible". Oh, my gosh. My wife and I are incompatible. We do not agree at all on the volume of anything being played. I want it loud. She wants it soft. We don't agree all the time on how we should give pressure to our kids when they don't want to do something that they should do. And I'm of the kick the baby bird out of the nest and they'll learn to fly on the way to the ground kind of variety. And she's more of the, oh, how are you doing, can I give you a hug variety. We have different thoughts on how the house feels and what we should do. And we're incompatible in a million different ways.

And you know what? 19 almost years into being incompatible in many ways, we are still both running towards the same God and still fulfilling the purpose that he put in our lives. And our sex is better than ever, our friendships better than ever, we work together and that's better than ever. We're watching God do incredible things, but we are completely incompatible in many different ways. She doesn't even physically look like my type. I had written out exactly my type and guess what? I was wrong. Girl, you're my type. You see what I'm saying? That's the problem with an Amazon order approach, this is exactly the kind of girl I'm interested in. God might know the husband you need is not the husband you want on paper. Opposites attract, before marriage. And then they attack after marriage.

All right. Take off the pressure. Number two. Is this helping anybody or is this just for me? Number two. OK, fine. You like it, I'll give you more of that one. The Bible says when a church looks for a pastor... So in this scenario I get hit by a bus. And this Fresh Life board of directors and lead team, everybody comes together like we've got to figure out a new pastor. They are, if they're obeying the scriptural admonition, not going to lay hands on someone suddenly. Meaning, first resume they get in for lead pastor a Fresh Life Church is not going to be the one they're going to take. They're not going to say immediately hired, we watched one talk, you had a great first interview, you got the job because, you're like, that would be so stupid. They don't want to lay hands on anyone suddenly.

So in a relationship we don't want to make that mistake. We want to do our due diligence to see who they really are and who they really are under pressure. But if we stretch that period out too long it becomes difficult to keep your hands off of each other in another way. So it's that Goldilocks that we do. All right. So we're dating with purpose, but we're not forever and we're not rushing. Take off that. Secondly, we're going to stand for purity. If we're honoring God, then we're going to honor purity. Now that's a word with baggage. And I, like the rest of you, have become more and more aware that there's a growing segment of our culture who maybe was told to wait for God's best and was told save sex for marriage that sees now detrimental aspects to that message.

And as a backlash, if you ever use that word purity, I've been more shocked than anything to see, man, there's a lot of people who see a really negative side to telling young people wait for marriage to have sex. Because what they say, those who have experienced difficult things through that would say, well, then if I didn't I'm then chewed up gum, I'm just second hand citizen, I'm damaged goods. And the self-loathing that comes in as a result of that. What does that whole conversation, which is a good conversation to have, expose? The need for nuance in preaching the gospel the way that God wants us to, which is my job, truth and love at the same time. And if we take away the truth because truth hurts sometimes, truth hurts...

If you're dating someone that you shouldn't be dating and you know that and everyone in your life knows that, but you won't let anybody speak into that issue, if you actually sat people down in your life and said, is this person right for me, does this person helped me run towards Jesus, does this person helped me fulfill my God given purpose? And you never would ask that because you know everyone in your life will go, no, bad for you. But you never ask that because you don't want the truth because truth does hurt. But listen to me, all truth with no love is unnecessarily cruel. And so we preach the truth with love. So what does that mean for me? I'm always aware as I come to these topics, as I write, as I communicate and minister that it's always better to do things God's way. And it does no service to anybody to remove that bar, to lower that bar. It's always better.

If you're here and you've never had sex, it is God's plan that you wait and save that beautiful gift of sex for the marriage night, for the honeymoon. But preaching in a real world where people do not always do, self included, God's plan, what about me? What about me? I've been in a marriage, I've been divorced, I've slept around, I'm addicted to pornography. Let me tell you something. There is grace for you. There is grace for you. There is grace for you. There are 10,000 charms in God's arms. There's always a plan. He redirects you towards his best for your life always. He doesn't just create, he recreates. So it's not simple virginity that we're talking about here. Plus, didn't pretty woman teach us that you can have sex without kissing, right? So, you know, whatever standard we would put on it, there's plenty of ways to get around any barrier we put up as the thing. And didn't Jesus say you can actually commit adultery without even having intercourse?

So there's obviously something more going on than just one man made standard, but that doesn't mean that God doesn't want you to be pure. And I'm not going to change that word because it's a good biblical word. God wants you to walk out of the purity that God sees on your life if you're in Christ Jesus. What does that look like functionally? Well, Paul told Timothy this, this is powerful, he said that you are to treat "older women as your mother, younger women as your sisters, with all purity". So I'm going to ask you this question, if someone treated your daughter the way you're treating your girlfriend what would you think of that? Oh, no. They're my girlfriend, I'm going to marry them one day. You don't know that. And until such a time as they're your wife, they're your sister.

The Bible never uses the word girlfriend, it uses brother, sister, or potential brother and sister, someone to reach to become a brother or sister in Christ. Yeah, that's why I'm dating them, missionary dating. No, it's not. And there are better people to reach them than you while you're compromising yourself in the name of evangelism. He says, no, I'm speaking in tongues. Stop. They're brother or sister until they're husband or wife. And we'll talk more about why that is so powerful next week. And again, all of this language is through the lens of from this day forward not, hey, that'd be great if you could go back 10 years ago and live that out. Yeah, same here. All right. So we're going to see them as younger sisters and mothers with all purity.

What does that mean? That means there will be plenty of occasions where we need to do what Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:22 and "flee youthful lusts". What is lust? Lust is defined as a God given sexual impulse clouded by sin. So a God given desire distorted in any way becomes a lust. The lust of the flesh, the Bible says. And when we're confronted with a lust of the flesh we got to flee. And I like that word because isn't it a fast twitch word? It's not like, well, you know, do do. Like flee means run, like get out of there quickly with haste. Example, Joseph. Potiphar's wife, husband's always gone doing stuff, this young Egyptian dudes in my house all the time, who obviously was handsome in form and appearance because the Bible says so.

So she's like, yo, get that little Hebrew body over here hottie. And he avoided her like crazy until one day she engineered a situation where she would be alone in the house with him. Because what? Because there is cunning in this world. The enemy wants to engineer situations to our detriment. And so now Joseph's alone, he's doing his job, he's trying to keep his heart pure, he's trying to honor God. Even though, crazily enough, it seems like God has completely forgotten about Joseph because nothing but bad things had happened to Joseph over and over again. But what did he say the first time she tried to have sex with him? He said, I will not do this to sin against your husband, my master, but I will also not do this in God's sight. How crazy. It seemed like God had forgotten about Joseph, but Joseph had not forgotten about God.

The first two things were in place for him. He knew he had a purpose and he knew God had a plan. And he wasn't going to compromise it. So the Bible says one day she grabbed a hold of his North Face jacket. And what did he do? He fled. He didn't say, girl, we need to talk about this. He said, "bajoink" and he got himself out of that situation. He ran out of there. Why? Because sometimes you have just got to flee youthful lusts. My Greek professor in Bible college was from Cambridge and had studied there, was a very smart man. And I'll tell you I'm embarrassed by how little I remember of that class, but I remember one day he was telling us about 2 Timothy 2:22 and he said the Greek word is phuego, P-H-U-E-G-O. And I just laughed out loud. He said, what is it Levi? I said, "fugo," when you're getting tempted by sin fool you got to go. I said, sir, there's some gangster in the Greek. He looked at me and was not pleased. I still maintain it's funny.

All right. So stand for purity. Ephesians Chapter 6 Verse 11 says "put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil". If you don't stand for purity you will fall for temptation. All right. Second thing you're going to do, if you have a purpose and that God has a plan, you're going to lean on your people. You're going to lean on your people, jot that down. First of all, I have to ask, do you even have a people? Do you have a people? Do you have people around you who are running in the same direction as you who you can ask to speak into? One of the many things that point to a difficulty getting our footing in the midst of what has rapidly become the predominant way people meet, which is online. It's changing how we approach. It used to be 100 years ago you seldom, you would be the exception if you married someone not from your town. You're going to marry someone, it's going to be someone who lived a day's walk from you, relatively speaking.

That's the pool you were working with. Go back 50 years ago, almost every single person, if you were asked, how did meet this person, it'd be a friend or a family introduced us or someone I know who I work with or who I worship with in church. Now today, every category of how I met this person I married is shrinking in our culture except to bars and online dating. Those are the only two not shrinking. The number of people in America today married who say, how do you meet, that they say church is less than 2% now. 98%, meaning not in church and only 2% in church. And you would think, man, with all these options there must be a greater happiness. And Pew Research has conducted what is currently one of the most comprehensive studies into the happiness or unhappiness of Americans in their marriage and sex life and in dating. And they said that according to their research half of people in this country say dating has gotten worse in the last 10 years, when all of these options opened up.

I'm not just dealing with who lives in hungry horse like I do, I'm dealing with who lives in Boston, who lives in Bangkok, who lives in Bangladesh. I got more options than ever and half of people say it's worse because of the last 10 years of this profusion of options. And three out of four say it's difficult to find someone to date. We have an abundance of options, but it's not getting easier, it's getting harder. I think part of the reason is, and this is not my tirade against online dating, hear me, it's this, you have to work harder in an online dating situation to get the benefit of the community of your people, doing what Moses had two people in his life to do, and that was hold his arms up when he was weak. And you got to work harder, but I can't think of a better environment than in the local church to date someone, to have good people speaking into them, to see how they operate on a team, to see how they deal with difficult situations, and all the rest. So you need to lean on your people.

And above all things, lastly, don't give up the pursuit. As you think... What to think about as you think about dating, don't give up the pursuit. What pursuit is that? The pursuit of God. Pursuing Him, to know Him, to glorify Him, to grow in Him. Don't give up the pursuit because if you have to give up that pursuit, even momentarily, to go and run at someone else's pace, to run in someone else's direction then you're going to have the uphill battle of convincing them to come back on that mission with you, to come back on that plan and purpose with you. And let me tell you something, with exceptions, the most interested they're ever going to be in the things that are the most important to you is while you are dating. So don't give up the pursuit. Amos 3:3 says, "can to walk together, unless they are agreed"?

So it's a red flag, throwing a flag on play if you have to stop pursuing Him to pursue them. It's a red flag, flag on play if you pull back from what you used to run towards. It was when sin entered the story that Adam and Eve for the very first time in their entire life hid when God showed up for a walk. What they used to run towards now, because of sin, there they're pulling away from. So what do we need to do? We need to run hard after God and trust that in time we're going to look up and see someone who's keeping pace with us. And working that's cool. I'm running, they're running. This is Jennie and I's story. We're both running hard after God, wanting to bring Him glory, wanted to bring Him honor. We're noticing, hey, you're doing the same thing also.

But I'm telling you there's nothing weirder than when you're trying to run a 10 minute pace and you're trying to keep up with someone running a six minute pace, your heart's going to give out and vise versa. But we're noticing, hey, we're both running the same way, we're both, not necessarily, like I said, even my type. We had both just gotten out of relationships that we thought we were the one. And so we're just going to build this friendship. We're just going to run with him and eventually we look over and we're deciding, hey, let's run together. And we're continuing to run after all these years the things we were running after way back then.

So we're asking the question, who am I? What am I valuing the most? Because whoever I am is what I'm going to attract. So, men, read Psalm 1. Ask yourself the question, am that blessed man who's not walking the path of wickedness, sitting in the seat of the scornful, giving in to the cancel culture of the world around us? Am I meditating daily on God's word, hiding it in my heart so I can be like a tree planted by the rivers of living water and not like the chaff which the wind drives away?

And ladies read Proverbs 31. And, notice, I'm having you read your own because we're not worried about them, we're worrying about ourself. And if we're doing the things God's called us to do we're going to... life attracts life. Death attracts death. You do what God's called you to do. Commit your ways to him, your thoughts will be established. "Delight yourself", Psalm 37:4, "in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". What's attractive in the short term will not be enough to sustain in the long term. Just because they are dope boyfriend or girlfriend does not mean they're going to be an amazing grandfather. And we want the love story that God has for us for a lifetime and not just what feels good on a Friday night, Amen?

So Father we thank you for your plan, that your ways are not our ways, your thoughts are not our thoughts. They're pasts finding out. And so we are grateful to know that, no matter where we're at, you don't discard us, you don't overlook us, you don't see damaged goods, you don't see a scarlet A on our breast. You see a child who's loved, who you have plans for.

And if you're here with us in this moment, every location, church online, you would say I resonate with that. I want to walk with the Savior, I want to run hard after God. I'm not just going to choose someone because they say they believe. I don't want to believer alone. The demons believe there's a God. I want someone pursuing the Lord. If you're just resonating with what God's doing in your marriage and your heart and your life you say, "I want to pursue God, could I just ask you just to raise your hand up, respond in this moment. From where I'm at today, I want to move towards what God has for me".

Thank you Jesus. Bless these responding. Thank you that you make all things new. Old things pass away. Just like the water turns into wine in your hand, you take what is in our life right now, not just what we wish was, to bring us towards what you have for us. You're a healer, you're a mender, your creator, and a sustainer. You are our life and the length of our days. Bless these. Renew hearts, minds, consciences, bring healing to emotions. We're not damaged goods. We're not second class citizens. We're your children.

You can put your hands down. I want to now give an invitation for anybody who's yet to receive Christ as Savior. If that's you I'm describing, God loves you and wants to save you. Like I said a moment ago, you can't do enough to make him all of a sudden be like, hey, you, you're saved. We just receive it, not deserving of it, and then you call us to live out of it. If that's you I'm describing and you would say I want to be sure that when I die I'm going to go to heaven and I want to live out God's plan for me while I'm here on this earth, I want to pray a prayer because the Bible says that it's faith that saves, accessing God's grace through faith. Say this out loud, mean it in your heart after me. God will hear you. Church, say it with us don't praying alone:

Dear, God. I know that I'm a sinner. And I can't fix myself, but I believe you can. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me. I turn my heart over to you. Help me to walk in your plans for me one day at a time in Jesus' name.

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