Marriage Matters: What if I’m NOT married?

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This week at ACC, we began a series related to marriage.  Our first message answered common questions that we receive from people who are single.  You can get the audio on the Adventure Christian Church website.  (notice that, by request, I put a little more commentary in my notes this week than I have in past postings).

Here are my notes:

Don’t I need to be married to be complete?

2 Peter 1:3 – God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness …

What blessing is there in being single?

1  Corinthians 7:32-35

note:  freedom from pressure, free for ministry, free to give (often, depending on situation)

What should a pre-marital relationship “look like”?

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 – It is God’s will that you should be sanctified:  that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.  The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

1. You should be prepared (i.e., you should know if advance what you are looking for)

verse 3: It is God’s will that you should be sanctified:  that you should avoid sexual immorality;

2. It should be disciplined (i.e., dating is partly about learning discipline, patience, and putting the other person first;  refrain from living together)

verse 4:  that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,

3. It should be Christ-centered (i.e., your relationship should be with a Christian; don’t fall into the trap of “evangelistic dating”)

verse 5:  not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;

4. It should be based on friendship (you must be friends first; dating is about finding a companion whom you will be in union with forever;  you will want to be friends with that person!)

verse 6:  and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.  The Lord will punish all who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.

5. It should be tempered (your relationship should mature slowly and deliberately, just as a potter tempers clay before use; holiness in a relationship takes time)

verse 7:  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

I’m 16, can’t I choose my own boyfriend / girlfriend?

note:  Not by yourself you shouldn’t!

Ephesians 6:1-3 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

note:  parents — be involved; “let go” appropriately

Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

I used to be married.  Is my situation different?

note:  Yes, it is, and at times, very much so, especially if children are involved.  There are more people involved / to consider, plus additional issues such as blending families, parenting issues, authority issues, etc.

Red lights, yellow lights, green lights.  –  note:  Usually, a person married before will have to navigate (pay attention to) a lot more yellow lights and red lights than a person who has never been married.  see, book:  Dating and the Single Parent by Ron Deal

We are thinking about getting married.  What should we do next?

Proverbs 15:22 – Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

Men Are Easily Distracted

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This is the third article in my series on spiritual disciplines titled “Why Men Need Discipline.”  Today’s article is called “Men Are Easily Distracted” and begins our discussion of the obstacles men face in engaging in spiritual disciplines routinely, over time, in an ever-increasing measure.

The first article, “What is Discipline?” defined “discipline” as a means of God training us versus God punishing us.  The second article, What is a Spiritual Discipline, Anyway? provided some examples of spiritual disciplines.

Men Need Discipline Because We Are Easily Distracted

Are you still reading this blog?  Great!  You passed the first barrier!

It surprises me that I am such a poor driver.  Fortunately, I haven’t had a serious accident or caused any severe damage to my car or the cars around me.  But, the truth is that while I am driving, especially when there is not a lot of traffic around, I find myself to be easily distracted by what’s around me.

“Look at the deer!”  “Wow, there’s a new Starbucks!”  “I wonder how many of these reflector things are on this road?”  “What time is my meeting this afternoon?”  “Oh yeah, I need to call Bob about the thing.” — Those are the things that often go through my mind while I’m driving.  Yes, I am easily distracted.

Distractions for Men

Men can have a tendency to become distracted by the newest, most exciting thing around them.  We are curious.  We want more.  We like new things.  We want to be successful.  We have a lot on our plates.

So, it is not uncommon for us to allow the new, shiny thing to distract us from our priorities, especially those priorities where we do not have to “officially” give an account to anyone today.

Sports, women, cars, friends, kids, jobs, to-do lists, golf games, elections.  Those are all things that can become the focus of our minds, and our time, and eventually our choices, if we allow them too — IF we are not disciplined.

The Problem with being Distracted

The problem with living a distracted life is that we are “trading” what is currently before us in exchange for what is “most important” to us.  Distraction causes us to short-change our spiritual growth, our families and our churches because instead of spending our time investing in those things which we would declare are most important to us, we “accidentally” spent 40 minutes watching SportsCenter or a couple of days reading through car magazines fantasizing about our next car purchase.

Obviously, the end result in such situations is that those things we declare most important suffer at the hands of the distraction.

The Benefit of Spiritual Discipline

One of the benefits of developing spiritual discipline in our lives is that we become more focused; and, more importantly, we become more focused on the One who matters most, Jesus.

As we engage in the discipline of finding a quiet place and time to read and pray for example, we are choosing to not allow the world to distract us.  The reason I’m so easily distracted while I’m driving … is because I’m driving.  New things are all around me literally every second.  But when I choose to be in a quiet place – no t.v., no radio, no phone, no kids running around, my mind is able to give God and His Word the attention they deserve.

As we engage daily in the disciplines of prayer, study and Bible reading, we hear God’s voice more clearly.  He starts our days off in the right direction with reminders of what He wants for us and for those around us.  He reminds of us our responsibilities so that when the moment of distraction presents itself, we are prepared to say “no” to it.

As we engage in the discipline of offering ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, i.e., worshipping God with ALL of our lives (see Romans 12:1-2), we begin to see changes in every other area of our lives.  We become more productive at work.  We are better husbands and better fathers.  We speak differently to our family and those at work.  We are less stressed.  We spend our money differently.  We approach problems in a new way.  Everything begins to change.

The Bottom Line

We are not changed into perfect men overnight when we become Christians.  Instead, God uses a training process to transform us into the people He desires.  The first step in this process is removing distractions from our lives and developing routines focused on improving those things which we have consciously CHOSEN as most important.

What’s Next?

To get started with this process answer these questions honestly:

What is most important in my life?

How am I currently spending my time each day?

Where and what are the things that “distract” me?

What steps can I take tomorrow to eliminate the distractions so that I can begin to focus on the things I have identified as most important?

In my next article, I will address another reason why men need discipline:  because we think we know more than we really know.