Category Archives: Life

Want to be a better father?

10 things great dads do

My review of 10 Things Great Dads Do by Rick Johnson

5 years and 2 months ago, my wife and I become the parents to a beautiful baby girl. In March of this year we became the parents to the cutest baby boy ever born…I might be a little bias. Outside of marriage, there is probably nothing that teaches people more about themselves than parenting and in 5 short years, I have had some great moments and some not so great moments. There are moments I look back at and wonder how I could have possibly responded and acted the way I did. Then there are times where I have the perfect parent mindset and I wonder why it does not remain forever. As anyone will tell you, parenting is hard work. It is a tough task for anyone. The only people who might say parenting is easy would be those parents who have abdicated their responsibility to actually raise their kids and pay others to do it.

As soon as you say you want to be the best parent there is, your child will unknowingly find a way to put you to the test. You might be on the way home from work and say I am going to be the perfect father when I get home. Then, you walk in the door to your house and it looks like a tornado has somehow picked out the inside of your home and completely turned everything around. The home you left when you went to work in the morning is a distant memory. Your wife is laying on the couch (if she doesn’t meet you at the door and tell you “good luck, I will be back in a month”) completely worn out from the day. Every room looks like my daughter turned into the incredible hulk and just went smashing through the house. On top of that, she has decided the walls would be her painting and coloring canvas instead of paper, the toilets are clogged because she used too much toilet paper after using the bathroom, water is all over the bathroom floor from her cannonball into the bathtub, the floors are a slip-n-slide due to drool from my teething son, and my daughter is running around the house singing “Let it Go” at the top of her lungs. Ok, so the truth is this has never happened to me, it may have to some of you but I just wanted to include this for dramatic effect. It seems when we decide to become better at something, the universe comes at you with all guns blazing. It is crazy how this happens. But every feeling you have had to this moment goes out the window as you just want to walk back out and try again in a couple hours.

I have to admit I have never personally experienced anything this bad, but it does seem that every time I truly decide I am going to be more patient with my kids, something happens to test it. Up until reading this book, I had been praying and asking God to help me become a better father and husband. 10 Things Great Dads Do was the best book for me to read at my current stage in life. I am far from being a perfect dad. I have my good moments and my bad moments but unfortunately, it seems like the bad moments far outweigh the good moments. I do not want to be the dad who looks back and regrets how he parented his kids. I want to be the dad who looks back and cherishes every moment he had with his children and would not change a thing. I know this would only happen in a perfect world but I also know if I truly want to be the best father and husband I can be, it will take hard work, discipline and dedication. Some people might say it will take blood, sweat and tears, which can also be true but I think you get the picture. To be a good father, it will take work because our kids really know how to bring out the worst in us…and they never had to be trained for it. After reading 10 Things, I can honestly say I have been refreshed, encouraged and challenged to be the best father I can be as well as equipped with some helpful tips and advice on how to move forward in my quest to better fathering.

Rick Johnson shares from personal experiences as well as stories from other fathers in order to help dads make decisions to be great dads, and that is what it takes, a decision to do it and then the discipline to follow through. Anyone can be a great dad but in order to do so, you cannot forfeit your responsibilities, you have to embrace them. Along with this, there is enormous pressure on fathers. It has been proven that children without a father face a much more difficult life than children with fathers. Daughters and sons both need the presence of a father or the tide turns against them in life and life becomes an even more intense uphill battle. Thus, fathers really need to step up to the plate for the sake of their children, and the next generation. This book will encourage and equip you with ideas on how to become the father you long to be.

As a father, are you beat up? Are you discouraged because there seems to be more yelling than laughter in your home? Are you tempted to just become more withdrawn from your family and just hope above that everything will turn out ok and then you can come back in to your children’s lives? Or are you going through a great stretch in your life right now where everything is just peachy? No matter where you are at in your journey of fatherhood, this book is worth your time. I can honestly say I have been challenged to be a better father through this book and it has given me renewed energy to actually strive to be the best father I can be. If you know of a man in your life who is just getting beat up as a father and is discouraged, get him a copy of this book. It will help.

Disclaimer: In accordance with FTC regulations, I received this book from Revell Books in return for a review of the book.

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Rules for Middle and High School Guys

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It is hard to believe but school starts this week in the area I serve as a youth pastor. So yesterday, I did things a little different in our youth group. I split up the guys and gals so we could have some straight talk, my wife went with the girls and I went with the guys…of course. Why did I do this? Well, last week, I came across this post on Sandra Stanley’s blog: Allie’s Rules for High School. You can read it here. As I read through the post, I realized these are rules, or guidelines, I believe any girl in any youth group could benefit from them. As a result, I came up with a list of rules/guidelines for guys to share with the guys in our group. As you read through them, you will notice some similarities as I simply adopted them for a male audience. Therefore, I do not take full credit for all of these and want to give Allie Stanley full credit for the rules she came up with and thank you for taking the time to find ways to encourage the girls in your small group, and as a result, challenge girls around the country. Thank you Sandra Stanley for sharing these rules as well.

Now, I do not believe there is anything special in these rules in and of themselves. Could a guy follow all of these rules and still not have a relationship with Jesus? It is possible. But it is my prayer that if only ONE guy from this group catches on, he could change our area for Christ. With that said, here are the rules for middle and high school guys.

  1. Learn to put God first in everything.
  2. Lead – you are a leader in one way or another. Lead in a way that brings the best out of others.
  3. Stand up for those being picked on or mistreated. It will make you a stronger person.
  4. Live in such a way that when you graduate or move away, you will be remembered for who you were, not simply what you did. Being cool or popular will not take you very far in life.
  5. Go to church – even when you do not want to – and get involved.
  6. Spend time with God and learn to study God’s Word.
  7. Pray, pray, pray and pray some more. If you do not know how to pray…learn.
  8. Be careful what you put in front of your eyes. It is extremely difficult to “unsee” something.
  9. It is not okay to “window shop.” In other words, Respect the women in your life…your mom, teachers and the young ladies around you…and guard their hearts. Women are not an object for our pleasure.
  10. Be careful who you date, it will have a lasting impact on you more than you know.
  11. Set standards and stick to them even if your friends think they are silly. It will keep you from regretting something in your future.
  12. Stay vertical – Don’t do anything with a girl you would not want a guy doing with your future wife.
  13. Respect authority…from teachers, to coaches, to parents to anyone over you. You will always have people over you, learning to respect them even if you disagree with them is essential.
  14. Spend time with your family.
  15. Obey your parents, even when you do not want to. They know you better than you think and they care about you.
  16. If you are involved in any situation you would not want your parents or others to know about, get out of the situation immediately.
  17. Find an accountability partner and meet consistently for encouragement and challenge.
  18. Find an older man outside of your dad to regularly meet with to learn from.
  19. Do not let the world tell you how to live your life.
  20. Work hard at what you do. Do not get involved in anything that you will not be able to give 100% to.
  21. Don’t be afraid to say no. Better to be seen as a wimp than wind up dead.
  22. If you mess up with any of these rules, know this: God NEVER turns His back on us and will forgive. And I will be here for you.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you know a youth pastor, or a volunteer who works with youth or leads a small group of guys, feel free to share this with them.

 


All I Need

simplicity

My life is full. I have more than I need. I have more clothes than I can wear in a couple months, and yet most of the time, I wear the same clothes time and again. I often waste food because I do not eat the leftovers from a meal. That in and of itself is amazing, that I have leftovers. I live in a home that offers shelter. I have many conveniences and nice things that help make my life extremely satisfying. In fact, many people around the world would love to have my life. Often, I do not think in this manner. Many times I allow myself to have pity parties because I might not have something that someone else does and it leaves me desiring it. But the simple fact is, no matter how hard your life might appear, I can guarantee you there is someone in the world right now, who if they knew you, would rather have your life than the one they are living. Why are we so easily dissatisfied? Why do we find ourselves wanting more than we need? Why am I so selfish?

This morning, I was reading through my Bible reading plan on YouVersion and read through Numbers 11. I see I am not alone in my desire for more. The Israelites have been led out of Egypt by Moses and they are now free from the slavery they had been in for many, many years. God had provided everything they needed. The Israelites had seen firsthand the miracles God performed before even coming out of Egypt. They had seen the Red Sea parted and they walked on dry land between two walls of water, nothing holding them up. Sometimes I wonder if they could actually see fish or other animals swimming around in the water. Or maybe someone tried to dive in to the wall of water. Either way, this is pretty amazing; nothing like this had been done before. God was physically present every day: in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They could physically see that God was with them. I can look at my life and take notice of the same thing, not so much in a cloud or pillar of fire, but God gives evidence that He is with us. I can often overlook it but the signs are there.

However, when we read in Numbers 11, we see the people complaining. How could someone complain when they have already been through all they have been through? Not only did they begin complaining, they began to long for Egypt. Remember what Egypt was for the Israelites? It had become slavery. They were not free people. They were enslaved. The first verse of Numbers 11 says this: “And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes.” What misfortunes did they have? They had everything they needed. God had provided time and again what they needed. And the most important thing they needed was His presence, but they missed it. But, it continues. Look ahead to verses 4-6:

Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now, our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.

Read those verses a couple times and let the irony sink in. Then think about your life. We have strong cravings too don’t we? I know I do. It is amazing how our tastes or desires for stuff can be affected by the world around us without us even noticing it. God wants to bring us all to a place where we come to understand we have ALL WE NEED IN HIM. The Israelites did not need the food of Egypt to be content. God had provided what they needed, which most importantly, was His presence, yet they missed it. I miss it every day. They had the food they needed to remain strong. God was providing for them each and every day. Had they forgotten the hardship of their lives in Egypt? Had they forgotten their misery of being driven day after day to work for Pharaoh, to do his bidding?

This happens to me quite often. I see something I want so I find a way to get it, though I had no need for it, whatever IT is. IT is different for each of us. However, God was trying to help the Israelites see that ALL THEY NEEDED was HIM. They did not need all the extra luxuries of Egypt because all it did was distract them from being the people God had called the Israelites to be. And they were comfortable in their slavery. If the Israelites had taken a minute to look at God and check their hearts, they would have seen this. Yet they missed it.

When I take a minute to check my heart, it helps me curb my desires for more stuff, more of the things of this world that do not truly matter. Will my life be any less exciting if I do not get the latest model of something? Am I experiencing a life less satisfying due simply to the fact I do not have _____? If so, then my heart is in the wrong place because all I need is God and when I seek Him first, He has promise to provide everything I need. My problem is too often my wants go further than my needs. God has me right now in a place where I am learning to curb my desires for wants by helping me focus on how He has provided my needs. This is not an easy place to be because of everything around me screaming for my attention and that I pay it some of my mind. However, when I get to a place where I can quiet those screams, it is there God reveals to me I have so much. My life is full. And my life is full so I can use it to impact those around me with the Gospel of God’s grace. My life is not full simply for my pleasure. My life is full to bring glory to God. I find myself praying that God will keep me in this place and that I will continue to curb my desires for more in this life because all it does is drown out the voice of God. I want God’s voice to be the loudest I hear, not the cries for more stuff.

What about you? Are you in a place like this? I would love to hear your story. I pray this encouraged you in some way and feel free to share this with others. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.


Weekly Scoop 3/14

Time for the weekly scoop. This post features articles that I have come across throughout the week that if you have some time set aside this weekend to do some reading, check these out.

First off, if you are like me, you are often tired. Here are some ways to not get more sleep, but to get better sleep: The science behind sleep.

I needed this post. I am not very good about this and was definitely challenged after reading: 10 reasons why handheld devices should be banned for children under 12.

Another post for parents, this one from Orange Parents. Kids asking “why” all the time can get old and annoying, but as this post points out, it is a good habit for them: Why kids should always ask why.

Matt Walsh responds to another abortion argument: I am afraid of this indisputable pro-choice argument.

Too often in Christian circles, we hear people say “well God will never put more on you than you can handle.” I do not believe this to be the case, and here is a post from the Gospel Coalition on the subject as well: God gives me more than I can handle.

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Scoop. Feel free to share this with friends or anyone you feel would benefit from this post. Let me know if I missed something you enjoyed reading recently. Check back next Friday for another edition of the Weekly Scoop.


Review of A Godward Heart

A-Godward-Heart

 

In Christian circles, John Piper needs no introduction. If you are a Christian, chances are you have heard of him. He has written numerous books on various topics. He would easily be considered one of the leading theologians of this time. He is a sought after speaker, teacher and writer. From the first time I heard him speak at Passion One Day in 2003 on a farm in Texas, I have loved what God has used him to produce. From Desiring God to When I don’t Desire God, his books are worth the time. Though they might be deep and hard to understand at times, they are books full of truth from God’s Word.

A Godward Heart is a compilation of 50 short devotionals from various other works by Piper. It is arranged in such a way, as the front of the book says, to help you “Treasure the God who loves you.” So often, in our walk with the Lord, we go through periods where our heart for the things of God weakens. It is not that we do not care about our walk with the Lord, life just happens and sometimes gets in the way and ultimately distracts us from what truly matters. This book will help you through times like this while also strengthening your hunger and desire for the things of God.

Topics range from “How is God’s Passion for His Glory not selfishness” to “Rebellion of Nudity and meaning of clothing” to “Christian’s voting” and “How the cross conquers Satan’s work.” Needless to say, this short book will be a great addition to your devotional life and most readings can be completed in 5 to 10 minutes. So if you are looking for a supplement to your devotional life, check out A Godward Heart. You will be challenged, encouraged, enriched and your walk with the Lord will be renewed.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as a part of their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.


Weekly Scoop 3/7

scoop

 

It’s Friday which means it is time for the Weekly Scoop. Here are a few links I believe you should check out.

A great look into the brevity of our lives and a proper perspective on it: You are going to die and so might your dreams.

The people at churchleaders.com always post encouraging and thoughtful articles. This one hits home with how many people leave the church: Why I quit the church, and what brought me back.

Another article from churchleaders.com. This article looks into how churches should react towards people who darken their doorsteps, and how those reactions can impact people: Two lesbians walk into a church.

Larry Poole quit tithing years ago. Here is why.

Why the bachelor is basically emotional porn. A great article by Debora Fileta: Emotional porn.
Have you wondered what your body language is saying? Here are some ways to improve your body language.
I have never heard of this blog before this week. Here are 9 things great leaders say every day.
If you subscribe to Relevant Magazine, here are some articles you should check out. If you do not subscribe to Relevant, you should, if only to read these two articles: Your calling isn’t meant to be easy and 5 Things you should never say to your wife.
Lastly, for those of you who like feel good stories, check out this video: He started something you know, but may not know the real story.
Thanks for checking out the weekly scoop. Feel free to share this with others who you feel would benefit from these articles.

God’s Word

Moving is not small endeavor. This past weekend my wife and I experienced this firsthand as we moved to Clifton Forge, VA. We are here to continue our ministry at Temple Baptist Church in Covington, VA where I serve as the youth pastor. We are excited to be have a place to call our own for the next year and look forward to seeing what God does in the church and in the youth group. I am praying for God to move in a mighty way. I would covet your prayers as well.

With that said, this morning as I was catching up on my reading plans on YouVersion, I read the following from Billy Graham’s reading plan titled

Day by Day with Billy Graham

and I wanted to share it with you.

Meditate on Scripture

Many of the difficulties we experience as Christians can be traced to a lack of Bible study and reading. We should not be content to skim through a chapter merely to satisfy our conscience. Hide the Word of God in your heart! A little portion well digested is of greater value to the soul than a lengthy portion scanned hurriedly. Do not be discouraged because you cannot understand it all. Go on reading. As you read, the Holy Spirit will enlighten the passages for you. Reading the Bible has a purifying effect upon the heart and mind.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. (Psalm 119:9 ESV)

Daily Prayer

Let the enlightenment of the riches of Your Word sink deep within my soul, Lord.

I hope this encourages and challenges you in your daily walk with the Lord. If there is any way I might pray for you please let me know.


A Question regarding the “Son of God” Movie

Son of God

Is the Son of God movie ushering in a new way of evangelism? Is the movie starting a new way for people to be introduced to the Bible? This is something I have been wrestling with for a while now. I have had a couple conversations with friends concerning what I am posting today and am not sure quite how I feel about it. Tim Challies had a great post regarding the movie here. As I was reading a little about the movie, I came across this statement from Mark Burnett:

Downey’s husband, “The Voice” and “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett, said the Christian filmmaking team reached out specifically to other faiths to tell the story of the life of Jesus — played with an air of bemused dignity by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado — without causing offense.”

“It just took a lot of work and a lot of time and a lot of listening over a number of years to see everybody’s point of view and how to not take the teeth out of the story — the dynamic drama from the story — but be sensitive across groups,” Burnett said. “Because there’s very different interpretations across the Catholic faith and the Protestant faith and the Jewish faith.”

You can read the full article here.

What do you think about this? Should Christians be worried about this? Should we support endeavors like this? Or should we be weary of it? Is it possible to portray the true Biblical account of Jesus without causing offense? When is it ok to add or take away from the Bible for the sake of entertainment or drawing people to hear or see the story of Jesus?

If you want to share your thoughts, I ask you to do so here on the blog, not on my Facebook post. Also, please be respectful to other commenters and only respond to my questions, not the responses of others. Thank you. I look forward to seeing what you all have to say.


Prone to wander…

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Experiencing a wilderness right now? One of my favorite hymns is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. As I looked into the story behind it, I discovered there were more verses than what most hymnals include. Instead of there being only 3 verses as I was accustomed to, there are actually 5 verses. Take a minute and read through them. If you want to check out the story, you can read it here.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day

 If you find yourself struggling with some of the language, take some time to look up what some of the words mean.

The verse I want to focus on and write about briefly is the 4th. This verse presents a story of our lives in a powerful way as well as presents a heartfelt prayer I am sure most Christians at one point or another find themselves expressing. We are prone to wander; we are prone to leave the God we profess to love. This is part of our nature. It started with Adam and Eve and has been handed down through generations. We like to look at the Israelites and wonder how they could be so hard headed when God was visibly present. However, no sooner were they in the wilderness delivered from the slavery of Egypt, when they began to complain. They had just witnessed God send numerous plagues on the Egyptians, God helped the Israelites plunder the Egyptians before they left the country, and then they crossed the Red Sea on dry land. This is not a task anyone could pull off; it was only accomplished by God’s power. The Israelites saw this first person. However, within a couple days of being in the wilderness and having to fully trust God to provide while experiencing some discomfort, they begin to complain. You can read about this in Exodus 14-16.

This story helps me see how quickly we allow our circumstances to become bigger than God. I am just like the Israelites. Many times I will know God is leading me but after taking some steps following Him, life gets a little more difficult, and I begin to complain or even question whether I heard God’s voice correctly. As I sit here contemplating this, I wonder how often God leads people where it becomes immediately easier? How many times does God ask us to follow Him where everything makes sense right away? Personally, I do not recall many stories where God lead people to where life became easier. Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” When God calls us, He calls us to step out in faith and trust Him. There are times when God calls us, He will lead us into a wilderness to strip us of trust or dependence on or in anything other than Himself. That is what He did with the Israelites. He called them to follow Him and trust Him and then lead them right into the wilderness.

I write this because there have been numerous times in my life I know God is leading me to take certain steps, but then when life begins to get a little more difficult and maybe God does not do something or provide in a way I would like, I begin to doubt God’s goodness. I begin to let my mind wander and question whether God really does want what is best for me. Does He care about me? Unfortunately, there is this idea that when you respond in faith to God, everything will immediately begin to make sense. However, throughout the Bible, when people responded to God’s call, He asked them to do things that did not make sense.

The wilderness would have been one of the biggest blessings to the Israelites had they allowed it to draw them closer to God instead of drive them to complaining. So it is with my life. The wilderness God leads us to and through can become the biggest blessing in my life because it can strip me of any sort of dependence on anything other than God and can lead me to trust in God like never before. If God is leading you through a wilderness right now, trust Him, because the place where He wants you and is leading you is on the other side and He will lead you to it. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. It is difficult at times, but that is how God strengthens our faith.

Now, go back and read the last verse of the hymn and let that encourage you.


A Refreshing Perspective on Dating and Love

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I grew up in the generation that “kissed dating goodbye.” Joshua Harris’ book was passed around Christian schools like drugs in public schools. Well-meaning parents handed it to hormone driven teenagers thinking it might be the key to somehow turn off those hormones until the time was right. Around the same time, if not before, came the Valentines campaign of True Love Waits. In and of themselves, these two avenues were not bad. The messages were great and made very good points. And for some people, the book and the campaign probably changed their lives for the better. However, in many ways, it seems that message often falls on deaf ears with this generation.

And that is where True Love Dates comes in. Debra Fileta helps the next generation see that dating, when done right, does not need to be kissed goodbye; it can be embraced and done in a God-honoring way. What is that way? I am not going to give it away in this review, you need to go pick up the book for yourself to find that out. But I will spend a little bit of time highlighting some of the parts that really struck me. I knew Mrs. Fileta while at college and we never had a lot of heart to heart conversations but I really enjoyed the conversations we were able to have throughout our college careers. She was as sincere a person you could find and you could tell when you talked to her, she was there, not planning her afternoon or evening activities. This remains evident throughout her book. She is not writing from simply her own experience, but also the experiences of people she has counseled as a professional counselor. While reading this book, I found myself wishing I was reading this while in college because it would have really helped me through my college years. Though I would never have said it out loud while in college, I would agree with it now, I spent a lot of time at college trying to find my future wife. While I went about it in a way most people would not see as harmful or problematic, for me, it was harmful.

In the book, Debra introduces the best way anyone should approach dating, and this is with a three step process: 1- Inward Dating, 2- Outward Dating, and 3- Upward Dating. This is what I needed while I was in high school and college. What many people skip is what Debra introduces as the first step to dating well: dating inward, which means to basically get to know who you are. Many young people, and older people for that matter, spend so much time focusing on the type of person they want to be with and ultimately marry without spending time molding themselves into the people they need to be. If we skip this step, we are destined for heartbreak. This is a step I missed and it caused me many heartbreaks. Without truly knowing who I was, I would jump in to a friendship with a girl and rush a little too much. When the girl would throw up her hands to signal this, I would try to reason I was simply trying to get to know them when deep down, it was pretty obvious I was looking for more. So I would step back and realize it was going nowhere, give them their space, and eventually find another girl to pursue. All the while, I would be reasoning in my mind that what I was doing was okay but it was distracting me and through this time, I should have been focusing on truly figuring out who I was. Mrs. Fileta presents three questions for this first part each person should strive to ask themselves to help figure out who they are:

  1. Where do I come from? The colors of our past.
  2. Who am I now? A picture paints a thousand words.
  3. Where am I going? A vision for my future.

These three questions will help anyone work through figuring out who they are and this is one of the most important things to do because then as you approach dating, you will be confident with who you are which will help you as you move on to the next step.

The next part is dating outward. Figuring out who you are will help you discover what kind of person you want to date. This is also important. If I had gone through this process, it would have helped me see many of the girls who were distracting me were not for me because their goals and visions for their life did not align with who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I should have taken time to truly figure out what I wanted in a relationship and the author presents one way to go about it. If you want to know what way this is, pick up the book. In this part, Debra introduces a great way to go about dating someone from truly experiencing the seasons of relationships to the importance of protecting your heart and having physical boundaries.

The last part of this book is one I see as being the most important part: dating upward. The problem is many Christians believe when it comes to dating, God is not that concerned. It seems we believe as long as we strive to not mess up too much and not get pregnant before getting married, then God is ok with whatever we do. However, that is simply not true. God is concerned with every part of our lives right down to who we date. One quote from this part of the book really stood out to me:

Something has gone terribly wrong when young Christians believe that their main purpose in life is to find marital love…when we see marriage as our sole purpose, we find ourselves with nowhere to go when we finally arrive.

And then, one quote that truly puts this part of the book out there to grasp is this one:

There is something magical about a relationship that is birthed out of the overflow of the heart. In this kind of relationship, two people are giving to each other out of their fullness, rather than taking from each other out of their emptiness.

Too many people these days are dating out of emptiness. They are trying to fill their life with what they think will make them whole. This is what it seems so many young people are doing today, dating because they believe it will make them whole. However, only one relationship can make us whole and that is our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. All other relationships are secondary. When we date out of the fullness of our relationship with Christ, it changes things, it fills us and helps us move forward even after marriage. If we believe a relationship is going to fulfill us and make us whole, we are mistaken and will have a rude awakening in the future.

Lastly, throughout the book, Debra presents some frequently asked questions which she then takes time to answer at the conclusion of the book. Questions like does God want me to be single forever? Or how do I deal with the pain of a breakup? She goes into great detail to answer many questions people have when it comes to dating.

With all of that said, if you are not ready to kiss dating goodbye, then give this book a chance. I highly recommend it and believe it will help any male or female learn how to date well and in a way that keeps you from heartbreak and mistakes you will one day look back on and regret. I loved this book and will definitely be using it in my ministry.  True Love Dates is a great book for anyone who is still single but wants to honor God with their dating. I praise God for the vision and voice He has given Debra Fileta. I am also honored to call her a friend and see how she is serving God today.