EVERYTHING IS PERMISSIBLE… but not everything is beneficial

Guardrails & Boundaries – Sermon Notes (Part 3)

My wife recently asked me to speak to our youth members about some of the subjects I’ve been contemplating on this blog. I thought I would post pieces of that sermon on the blog to add to the conversation. This is Part 3–checkout Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already.

Step 1 is to setup some guardrails, some personal standards of behaviour that become a matter of conscience, big red lights and flags that pop up when you’re bumping into them and fast approaching danger.

What’s STEP 2? Step 2 is to look in the mirror. And I don’t mean in the conceited, oh is my hair in place, makeup straight, and skirt short enough. I mean look in the mirror and find out who YOU really are. Take some time to examine your inner self.

STEP 2 is to ask yourself, what am I doing physically, mentally, and most of all spiritually to prepare myself as a good future husband or wife.

I could write an entire sermon on this subject. But let me just go through a few things for you to check your own heart and see how prepared you are to be in a relationship with a future husband or wife. And I’m going to list them in the third person, as if you were looking at someone else from a distance in the mirror.

  • Is she kind? Does she do nice things for people because she wants to, not because she’s expecting something in return?
  • When someone asks for help lifting something or putting tables and chairs away, is he the first one to offer a hand, or does he sit in the corner with another group of people pretending as if the clean up is already over?
  • Does she dress modestly? Or does her shirt have so much cleavage we’d all need to repent at the display if she were to sneeze too hard?
  • Does he have a job? Is he working on a career, and saving his money to buy a house and make sure he has a way to provide for his family for the future? Or does he waste his money on his cool car, Xbox, Nintendo Wii, and Playstation 3, with assorted games of course?
  • How does she talk to her parents, and those who are older than her? Does she treat them with respect? Or does she talk back and feel she can talk to people however she wants to, because she’s a “strong woman.”
  • How does he talk to his parents and elders? Does he love and respect his mother? Does he treat all women with respect?
  • Does she tithe? Does he tithe?
  • Is she involved in ministry in the church or elsewhere?
  • Does he open doors for people?
  • Does she think of others before she thinks of herself? (This is a big one, you realize after you get married. You realize how selfish each person is.)
  • Does he exercise? Does she eat healthy? I don’t know who you’re going to marry, but I can guarantee they’re likely going to want you around for a while. Take care of yourself.
  • Does or she have guardrails and barriers that she clearly lives by?

You need to find out what kind of person you are. Are you the kind of person that others can stand to be around? Are you preparing your own heart to be a loving husband, or an honourable wife? Do you have a pure heart before God?

Pastor Mark Batterson says, “Your potential is determined by your purity. If your motives are pure, there is nothing God cannot do through you.” Your potential is determined by your purity! (Ask someone what that means.)

Step 1, setup some guardrails in your life to warn your conscience against potential sin. Step 2, check your own heart if it’s pure before God, and see what you need to do to prepare yourself for your future husband or wife.

Have everyone pray in pairs (girls with girls, guys with guys), first asking them the top 3 things they are looking for in a future mate, and why. Then pray for the other person as they prepare for marriage, and for their future spouse.

QUESTION: What choices have you made already to set yourself up to be the husband/wife God has called each one of us to be?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com and everythingispermissible.com)


Guardrails & Boundaries – Sermon Notes (Part 2)

My wife recently asked me to speak to our youth members about some of the subjects I’ve been contemplating on this blog. I thought I would post pieces of that sermon on the blog to add to the conversation. This is Part 2–checkout Part 1 and Part 3 as well.

What guardrails did we setup in our relationship to help prevent this scenario from EVER even coming close from occurring? What did Julie and I do to keep our purity in check? Let me give you a list of our personal guardrails:

  1. We chose a mate who had similar beliefs and values as ourselves. The Bible says, “Do not be unequally yoked.” You’re like an ox carrying the burden together. I promise you, if you don’t follow this, you’re setting yourself up for heartache for your ENTIRE life! Marriage is all about compromise. Don’t tell me you’re going to change him after you’re married. I can’t emphasize this enough.
  2. We never hung out at each other’s homes unless there was someone else there. (Movies, food, etc.) If nobody was home, one of us had to leave, or we had to go somewhere public to chill together.
  3. Another guardrail à No sleepovers! 8 year-olds have sleepovers! This meant, even if someone was home, I never slept over at her house, she never slept over at my house. It just wasn’t allowed. (Now we did sleep over at our parent’s place. Due to the circumstances, this was unavoidable. But even this should be avoided if possible.) A guardrail is there to keep you from danger before you engage it.
  4. No kissing! Another guardrail. Now this one is probably for most of you an act of an insane person. Julie and I didn’t actually kiss until our wedding day. And a mighty fine kiss it was, I must add. Now even if you don’t wait until your wedding day, I encourage you to at least wait until your engaged. I can feel another sound of disgust out of many. But here’s why à You need guardrails to guard your heart. Girls, you especially. Don’t give any of yourself away, until you know he’s worth giving it to! Can I get an amen?? The world tells you that you need to compromise, or you will be left alone for the rest of your life. Don’t believe it! It’s a lie!
  5. Along the same lines, DON’T SAY THOSE THREE WORDS! “I LOVE YOU!” Most of us throw them around like we do our boxer shorts, not caring where they fall. Let me tell you, these are some of the most POWERFUL words you will ever speak to your future wife or husband. Keep them sacred by waiting. Setup another guardrail here to guard your heart. (Ask Julie to share on her experience.) You don’t HAVE TO say it to the person, even though our culture says you must.
  6. Don’t rush things! NO MATTER WHAT! You’re going to have to live with this person for the rest of your life. You had better make sure it’s someone you’re going to be able to stand in a year.  (Compare the lasagne to Chef Boyardee)
  7. Last guardrail I want to share, this is a BIG one: You NEED the BLESSING FROM YOUR PARENTS. You just do! Girls and boys come and go. But your family is with you forever. It should be VERY important for you to have your family approve of the person you are considering marrying for life.

Those are just a few Guardrails we’ve had in our lives, and found they had a major impact on us individually and now together as a married couple.

Also… get this! You need to share these guardrails with the person you’re in a relationship with. If you’re afraid to, get out of the relationship because you’re not mature enough to be in one. If she rejects your request for boundaries, get out of the relationship because she clearly doesn’t care about your own spirituality.

You need to guard yourselves! Don’t believe the lies our culture tells you every day. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says: “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.” You can go murder someone. You have that ability. But doing that may not be beneficial. We ALL have free will. It’s a gift from God. But having that free will does not mean it is ok for us to do what we please. Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you should. Even if it’s not labelled as a SIN in the Bible. This is why you need guardrails, so when you bump into a guardrail, the danger is still a good distance away.

If you need to ask, “How far is too far?” you’re already in danger. You’re trying to toe the line of sin without crossing it. That’s the wrong approach. You’re asking the wrong question. You should be asking, “HOW CAN I show respect to THIS GIRL OR BOY/MAN OR WOMAN WITH ABSOLUTE PURITY??” as Paul wrote to Timothy. What can I do to keep my body and my heart pure?

Check back later this week to see what the next step is that you need to take after marking your guardrails!

QUESTION: Have you talked to your boyfriend/girlfriend about your boundaries? What was their response?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com and everythingispermissible.com)

Guardrails & Boundaries – Sermon Notes (Part 1)

My wife recently asked me to speak to our youth members about some of the subjects I’ve been contemplating on this blog. I thought I would post pieces of that sermon on the blog to add to the conversation. This is Part 1–check back later this week for more.

Julie asked me to talk about “HOW FAR IS TOO FAR” tonight.

TO START OFF, I want to talk a bit about boundaries, or guardrails as our friend Andy Stanley refers to them.

What’s a guardrail? (Ask the students.)

The definition of a Guardrail is: a system designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas. You don’t pay much attention to them until you need them. They’re not located in the most dangerous areas. It’s the area on the other side of the guardrail that’s the actual danger. But we don’t really argue why guardrails are there, saying “I could drive there if they took out that guardrail.” The idea is that you’d do less damage if you hit a guardrail than if you went into the danger zone on the other side of the guardrail.

I want to use the idea of guardrails and apply them to our lives. As guardrails relate to life they are: A (personal) standard of behaviour that becomes a matter of conscience. I want you to create guardrails within your own life, personal standards of behaviour—I want you to set standards for yourself—where when you bump up against one of these guardrails, the warning lights should come on that should tell you, DANGER, DANGER, DANGER, you’re about to hit bad territory. It should inform or ignite your conscience. It should be something that protects you from ever reaching dangerous territory.

We need guardrails in ALL areas of our lives. But specifically, I want to talk about boundaries or guardrails in relationships, hence the suggestion of “How far is too far.” What are some guardrails or boundaries you could create in your relationships with the opposite sex?

Now there are some things that are just general knowledge. Most churches of course would promote not having sex until you’re married. Our culture might say “Don’t have sex until you’re ready!” And when I was single, I would say to that… Well I’m ready now! That’s not a guardrail! Telling you not to have sex before you’re married isn’t going to help you much, unless you create some guardrails to help preventing you from doing so before you ever reach the DANGER ZONE!

The majority of us tend to justify sin with the vagueness for which some sin is described in the Bible. Because you don’t have a passage that says, “Thou shalt not force thy tongue down thine throat of thy maiden,” we tell ourselves it’s ok. But the Bible is unspecific for a reason: This is why it is universal across centuries of time!

In the New Testament, a man named Paul wrote a letter to his protégé, named Timothy. He told Timothy this in, 1 Timothy, chapter 5, verse 1, half way through: Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

He advises young Timothy, a man in his late teens, to respect his elders and treat younger women with “ABSOLUTE PURITY.” This applies to you women as well. This is the lifestyle God calls us to as followers of Him. Now, if you’re not a follower of Christ, then you have free reign. But if you claim to believe in Jesus Christ as your Saviour, He is calling you to a life of purity.

So let me give you some examples of guardrails in my own life. Most of you know Julie and I quite well. Most of you didn’t even know we had any interest in each other before we announced our engagement. This was done on purpose. Julie and I… don’t really “believe in” dating. We think it’s a label people put on couples who have an interest in each other, and places certain expectations on the girl and guy of what they should do and how they should act as boyfriend and girlfriend.

  • You should hold hands.
  • Lean on his shoulder. Make it obvious he’s your man.
  • Obsess over him or her by pushing your other friends away and ONLY spend time with him or her, calling him at ALL hours of the night.
  • Kiss a lot, especially in public, just to make it clear to everyone you’re dating.

And in your private time together, you hang out at each other’s homes while your parents are out of the house, for some “ALONE” time. And the list grows of what could happen there.

  • Lying on the couch together.
  • Lying on top of each other on the couch together.
  • Hands get bored and start to “explore”.
  • Lips lock.
  • The tongue usually gets involved in there somewhere.

Suddenly, you start having sex with your clothes on, until your mom comes home unexpectedly and you’re left there looking like you just wet your pants. Isn’t that how dating relationships go? (Tongue-in-cheek!)

Even if they haven’t worked out this way for you, this is what our culture tells us our relationship with our boyfriend or girlfriend should be. Just look at any TV show, movie, music video, song, whatever. They’re all telling you to do this. And many happily oblige!

Did you know that with reference to the Holy Bible, weddings are PURELY secular! There is no wedding ceremony to consummate a marriage. How is it done in the Bible? “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one.” Sex isn’t just a physical act. It’s also INCREDIBLY SPIRITUAL too! Two become one flesh! Your spirit joins together with the other! Why do you think it’s SO painful when you break up a relationship? A romantic relationship is also a spiritual one. In the Bible, you were legally married to anyone you had sex with. Therefore, according to Scripture “premarital sex” isn’t even possible. You have sex? You’re married. That’s it. She’s yours!

Check back this week for more on Guardrails and what Julie and I personally did in our relationship to keep ourselves pure!

QUESTION: What has YOUR church taught you about relationships, and relating to the opposite sex?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com and everythingispermissible.com)

Your potential is determined by your purity

“Your potential is determined by your purity. If your motives are pure, there is nothing God cannot do through you.” That’s a quote from a recent Mark Batterson blog post. It rang true for me and my motives for this website. The future possibilities, your dreams, your God-given vision are all determined by the ‘heart choices’ you make today.

Batterson quotes Joshua 3:5:

Purify yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.

What does that mean? Batterson continues,

Instead of focusing all of our energy on planning the future maybe we ought to focus on purifying ourselves. After all, that is how God prepares us. You want to be used by God? Purify yourself. You want the favor of God? Purify yourself. You want to experience peace and joy? Purify yourself. You want to see God do wonders? Purify yourself. Or maybe I should say: let God purify you. You can’t do it yourself. But Christ has done it for you on the cross.

This reaches to the bottom of why I think the EIP discussion is so important. We need to keep ourselves pure. This isn’t for ourselves, at least not physically. It IS for our soul, for our spirituality.

Our biggest problem is seen even in the first few posts I’ve written so far. We started off with foundational truths, things that are simply out of the question when it comes to dating and relationships, things that are, for the most part, obvious (i.e. homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, etc.) Unfortunately, this is usually the direction we head when it comes to relationships: What can I NOT do in this relationship? We’re essentially asking, How close can I come to sinning?

Instead, our hearts need to be heading in the opposite direction: What can I do to keep myself pure? What can I do today to prepare myself for my future mate, or to encourage a healthy relationship with your existing partner, so that you can remain pure together until marriage.

This direction will require us to make choices that aren’t popular with the culture we live in. Batterson ends his post with:

By the way, that probably means we’ll go through some painful things. Purifying always involves some fire. But God redeems our pain and uses it for His gain! And it’s the painful things that makes the wonderful things so wonderful.

And as we can see from Scripture, it’s what God calls us to–holy, set apart, purified!

It’s time to make some hard choices! What direction do you want to take your relationships? Toeing the line of sinning, but not crossing? Or running as far away from sin as you can? (Not choosing one is just as dangerous!)

Question: What decisions in your relationships have you made to run away from sin?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com.)

When is sex before marriage permissible?

Have you ever wondered why you don’t see any church weddings in the Bible? Some things to think about:

  • The Bible word sometimes translated ‘fornication’ does not mean ‘sex before marriage.’
  • In the Bible, weddings were purely secular.
  • Under Old Testament law, casual sex was impossible. For an unmarried man to have sex with an unmarried woman was to make an even more binding commitment than normal marriage.
  • In God’s eyes, a one night stand makes two people one.
  • There is a deep spiritual significance in a virgin bride shedding blood on her wedding night.
  • Christians are free to break many Church and Western traditions. (ref.)

Jesus said in Matt 19:4-6:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

Are you getting it? Having sex is not just a pleasurable physical act, like eating a Krispy Kreme donut. Rather God made it to be INCREDIBLY SPIRITUAL as well! Two become one flesh! God wasn’t just trying to be poetic and romantic so as to make future church ceremonies sound good with this scripture. Your spirit joins together with your partner’s spirit, LITERALLY!

Therefore, a romantic relationship is also a spiritual relationship.

Why do you think it’s so painful to break up with your girl/boyfriend or why divorce is so life damaging or why rape victims will never be the same again? They’ve given a part of their spirit to another! Whether by choice or not.

When is sex before marriage permissible? According to scripture sex before marriage is not even possible. The very act creates a spiritual, marital bond between the two that is stronger than any public ceremony. (We’ll try to define “sex” in future posts.)

Why then do we treat sex so wrecklessly?

Question: Why do you think relationship break-ups, broken engagements, and divorce is so painful?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com.)