Updates for August 2022 Calendar

Hey! Wanted to pass along a couple of updates to our August calendar of events for Westwood students. You can see the updated calendar below. But here are the specifics about the updates made…

August 9 Rock Climbing Outing Postponed

We are going to push this outing back to the fall. So look for more info in the future about a reschedule date and details. We’re thinking probably sometime in October.

August 20 Parent Event Expanded

Deb and I have decided to collaborate to make this event on August 20 a little bit bigger! This event is going to be for ALL Westwood parents of kids any and every age. We will be sharing more about this event very soon, but you can expect us to all have supper and some ice cream sundaes together, as well as an opportunity for parents to think through and set some specific objectives for your kids/family as we prepare for the fall school semester. At the end of our time together at Westwood, families will have the option of going to different school campuses around our community for a prayer walk together. Here is an initial graphic that I plan to send out to everyone in the very near future that includes a schedule for that evening:

August 21 Event Confirmed!

We have confirmed our plans for a Back-to-School event at the lake on Sunday, August 21. The Austin’s have graciously allowed us to use their place for this event. We will plan for this to take place from 5:00 until 8:00 on that evening. I will send out more information, including an address/directions in the near future. I will also send out more info on what to bring with you. Parents are welcome to come and hang out with us!

Those are the details on the updates we’ve made. Here is a graphic for the updated calendar 👇

Final Pre-Fuge Update

He all! It was good to get to touch base with many of you this past Sunday evening. I wanted to post a quick recap of the most important elements from that meeting here, both as a reminder for those who were able to attend the meeting as well as for those who were not able to be there.

DEPARTURE/RETURN

We are planning on meeting at the church next Monday (7/18) at 1:00pm to depart for camp. We will NOT be stopping for lunch, so please plan to eat before you arrive.

As far as our expected return, please plan to be at the church to meet us and take your student(s) home at 12:30pm on Friday (7/22). Once again, due to the relatively short distance we must travel, we will NOT be stopping to eat lunch on the way home.

Participation Forms

If you haven’t fully submitted a participation link for your student(s) yet, please do so ASAP. You can do that by clicking this link: https://fugecamps.lifeway.com/group-leader-information/step-4/. It will take you to a page on the FUGE site. As you scroll down, you will see a link on the left side of the page for the participation form link. Follow that link and you can fill the form out there (Note the picture below for reference). At the beginning of the form it will ask for our group’s registration code. That code is 769018. Once again, it is best to fill this form out on a laptop or a desktop computer, not on a mobile device.

Also, if you haven’t paid your final balance, please do that as soon as you can, too. Again, look for the registration email you received when you first registered. There is a link in that email you can follow to pay your balance. If you cannot locate that email please let me know and we can send a link to you. Remember that the total cost is $340, not $400.

PARENT INFO

I printed and handed out a packet for parents containing just all about all the info you need for camp. It includes the daily schedule, overview of what we will be studying together, packing list, etc. I have a few more physical copies of that if you’d like to come by the church and get one this week. But here, too, is a link to access the pdf:

Here, too, is a daily devotional that the folks at Fuge have put together for parents. This is a great way to walk in the Word, so to speak, with your student(s) throughout the week. It is also an excellent way to identify ways to engage them with meaningful follow-up and deeper conversations upon their return! So, it’s here if you’d like to use it.

A couple important points:

  • Parents, please help me and our leaders with dress code. This is not a battle we desire to engage in all week. You can see that the dress code is provided by FUGE, so we are bound to submit to that as we are attending their camp. It is very in line with any code we would produce on our own. If we do not engage students who are not abiding by it, their camp staff will. So please take the initiative as parents to be aware of the clothes your student(s) are packing, and please take the initiative to say “no” and make those corrections now before they get to camp.
  • Please note in the packing list important items such as bedding needs & closed-toed, closed-heeled shoes.
  • Make sure your student thinks about appropriate clothing for the possible mission sites they have selected.
  • Help your students consolidate their packing as best as possible. They need to pack what they need, especially if they are bringing multiple pairs of shoes for mission sites, etc. But please help them pack as lightly as possible.
  • Take the initiative to help your student prepare their hearts for camp. At the end of the day, we want to honor the Lord Jesus in all we do while there. We want to concentrate on team building and encouraging one another. Our hearts do not naturally work toward that, especially when we spend a lot of time together! Lead them in preparing their hearts to truly hear from God through his Word as we worship together. Lead them in setting objectives and expectations for the week that honor the Lord and would bring him glory. Take the initiative to share with them your own objectives for them for the week. Share with them some things you’d love to see happen in their lives, as well as specific ways you will be praying for them while there.

I think that’s pretty much all we covered. As you make final preparations, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. I’ll be glad to help any way I can. Looking forward to a wonderful week of camp!

Update on Next Week’s Mini-Camp

After meeting together with Garrett (Student Pastor at Theresa) and Tim (My Life Matters), we all agreed to cut the overnight portion of next week’s mini-camp plan due to the registration numbers and a number of students and adults who had schedule conflicts during those evenings. We also made this decision out of a desire to be good stewards, both of our resources and Tim’s time commitment to our presence at the Warehouse. So I am including a modified schedule below. Once again, it is absolutely fine to NOT be a part of the whole schedule. Everyone is invited to be a part of as much as they can. ALSO, and really important, if you have not registered yet but plan to be a part of at least some of the week, please click HERE to do so. We need that total number so we can plan accordingly. Here is our schedule:

For Tuesday (6/28) & Wednesday (6/29):

8:00amArrive at the MLM Warehouse (Light breakfast will be available)
8:30amSpiritual Retreat (large group & individual components)
10:00amService projects around the Warehouse
12:30pmLunch at the Warehouse
1:30pm1-on-1 Prayer Time
2:00pmService Projects around the Warehouse
4:00pmChapel Worship Time (Large group, Tim Bowes speaking/teaching)
5:00pmTime to go home!

For Thursday (6/30):

8:00amArrive at the MLM Warehouse (Light breakfast will be available)
8:30amSpiritual Retreat
10:00amService Projects around the Warehouse
12:00pmLeave for lunch out & afternoon activity (Students need to bring $ for fastfood lunch, Activity TBA)
4:00pmArrive back (at Theresa and Westwood) & time to go home!

We’re looking forward to serving our friends this next week! And please know, ALL PARENTS ARE INVITED TO COME AND BE A PART! Of any of it. Or all of it! Hope to have a good group and serve My Life Matters well!

Westwood Students Update

Hey parents and students! Here is a little update with some info on several different things as June is already rolling on! Please take some time to read down through this whole update so you won’t miss something that might be relevant to you!

Hometown Mini-Camp

We have a mini-camp scheduled for June 28-30. This event is an opportunity to fellowship and worship together, but also an opportunity to serve our friends in My Life Matters by cleaning the Warehouse. It is an overnight event (optional), and there is NO COST to you to attend! You can read more about this event and find a link to register by clicking HERE. Please register ASAP if you plan to be a part!

1-to-1 Bible Summer Reading Challenge

Our 1-to-1 Bible reading challenge begins THIS WEEK! I hope that all of you will accept this challenge and begin to intentionally press into the Scriptures with your teens! You can find out more about this challenge and see the two optional reading plans by clicking HERE.

FUGE Summer Camp

Fuge camp is coming up on July 18-22. I want to say a couple of things about that here. First, while we don’t technically have any more spots available, the FUGE folks have let me know that there are spots remaining for the camp. Which means, if you haven’t signed up and want to go, we can still make that happen! The camp is at Barton College in Wilson, NC. The cost for the camp is $340. If finances are an issue, please don’t let that keep you from going. Let me know, and we always have folks willing to make scholarship money available!

FOR THOSE WHO ARE SIGNED UP TO GO: If you will remember I said in our info meeting a few weeks back that I did not have our registration code. Well, I have that now. You can fill out your forms online by going HERE. Our registration code is 769018. Please try to get those forms all filled out as soon as you can. I will be able to keep up with those as they are completed. Here, too, is a link to the FUGE Parent Pack, full of excellent info for parents. It includes a packing list (including dress code), a daily schedule, a daily guide for the camp theme/topics, info on parent devotions, etc. You can find that packet by clicking HERE. You can also find a page on the FUGE site with several other links you may want to explore by clicking HERE.

Give to Help the Ministry of the Layne Family (Brazil)

Remember that we have an opportunity to give to help our friends and ministry partners in Brazil as they seek to meet the immediate needs of their neighbors there who have experienced massive devastation through flooding. I want to extend that opportunity through the end of this week. You can read more about this need, as well as find a link that you can use to give toward this need HERE.

Other Summer Events

I am working to finalize a schedule of some other local events for the next few months. Be looking for that soon. Remember that we do NOT meet on a weekly basis on Sunday night for Student Worship through the summer months. So make sure to pay attention to messages via Remind (through text) and posted to the facebook group.

Summer 1-to-1 Bible Reading Plan

Hey parents (and students)! A few months back in our parent meeting I revealed an idea about challenging all of us parents to intentionally read the Scriptures with our middle and high school students. At that time many of you received a small book called One-to-One Bible Reading. If you did not receive one of those, I still have several copies, and I’d love to get that in your hands.

Once again, the idea is to get parents and kids engaged in the Word together in an intentional way. Here is what I’m asking you to do…

  1. Make a commitment with your student to read the Bible together. The plans offered below has just one reading per week, but I would recommend committing together to read through each passage multiple times each week. (If you have more than one student in the student ministry, make this personal for each of them. You may want to all do the same passages and all meet together, but consider making even those 1-to-1 opportunities with each child.)
  2. Commit to journal a little bit as you read. This is where the little book will be helpful: chapter 8 offers a couple different framework you can use as you read that will also help inform your journaling. If you know of other frameworks you’d rather use, please do! But using some framework is good because it helps students to get going in their interaction with the Word.
  3. Commit to meeting each week to reflect on your reading and journaling. This can be any time, but make sure to offer sufficient time to engage with the Word personally prior to meeting together.
  4. I will be setting a gathering for all parents and students at the end of the 8-week framework (Early-Mid August). This gathering will allow all of us to come together and share together about what we are learning and how the Lord is using this time to encourage and grow us, both in our relationship with the Lord and with each other.

In this post I want to share with you the plan that I’d love for all of us to follow together. I think it would be good to all have a plan to follow as it offers the opportunity for us to encourage one another and also offers a little accountability. So, here is the schedule that I’m asking all of us to follow. Once again, as your family goes on vacation, take this plan with you! If you are separated from your child(ren) for a week, work that out! Plan a facetime while they are away to reflect. Or simply roll two reflections into one. Whatever you decide to do, make this a priority and try your best to stay on track. The plan will go for 8 weeks and will begin next week, the week beginning on June 12.

  • Week 1: June 12-18
  • Week 2: June 19-25
  • Week 3: June 26-July 2
  • Week 4: July 3-9
  • Week 5: July 10-16
  • Week 6: July 17-23
  • Week 7: July 24-30
  • Week 8: July 31-August 6

I am getting this plan from that little book, but I am also going to offer two different pathways to follow. They both are 8-week plans.

Reading Plan Option 1

The first will be for younger students. It will also be really good for those of us parents who either know that our student(s) are not yet walking with Jesus, or we are currently exploring that with them. This is also good for younger students who have only just begun walking with Jesus. It pulls 8 different readings from the book of Mark, working through some important truths presented by that particular gospel writer. This plan also offers some corresponding questions that you can use in your follow-up meetings with your student(s). Here is the Mark plan, along with the corresponding questions for each week. (You can consider thinking through these questions as you read each week and using them as journaling prompts, or you may simply keep these questions and use them to guide your weekly reflection time.) ALSO, you can find this reading plan in chapter 11 of the book.

Week 1 (Mark 1:1-15)

  • How does Mark show us that Jesus is worthy of attention?
  • What ‘witnesses’ does Mark call upon to introduce Jesus, and why?
  • What is the message of Jesus, and how does it draw your attention to him?
  • According to the passage, what has Jesus come to do?
  • What is your own reaction to Jesus after reading this passage?

Week 2 (Mark 2:1-12)

  • What do you think is the most surprising thing Jesus does in this encounter?
  • If someone in a crowd of people said to you, “Your sins are forgiven”, what would you and everyone else think of that person?
  • How does Jesus demonstrate his claim to be able to forgive sins?
  • What difference do you think his authority should have in your own life?

Week 3 (Mark 3:7-35)

  • How do people react to Jesus today?
  • What responses to Jesus do you see in this passage?
  • Why was Jesus’ authoritative teaching a threat to the teachers of the law?
  • Jesus says, “He first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house” (v. 27). What is the point of this statement?
  • What house is Jesus claiming to be overthrowing, and what could this mean for you?
  • According to this passage, how do you become a part of Jesus’ family?

Week 4 (Mark 8:22-38)

  • What event takes place just before Peter’s confession? Why do you think these two stories are paced next to each other?
  • How would you describe the healing of the blind man?
  • How good is a partial understanding of Jesus?
  • According to Jesus, why does a follower of Christ have to “deny himself” and “lose his life”?

Week 5 (Mark 10:17-45)

  • Looking at verses 17-22, what would Jesus say is the basic character of people in the world?
  • Based upon this passage, do you think you can earn your salvation by being a good person?
  • In verses 32-34, Jesus says that he is going to die. According to verse 45, what is the purpose of his death?
  • Read Isaiah 53:5, 10-12. How do these verses help us understand what a ransom is?
  • What would Jesus tell you to do if you desired to enter into a relationship with God?

Week 6 (Mark 14:53-15:15)

  • When we read of great tragedies in history, we tend to think that we would have acted differently if we had been there. Can you see yourself in this passage? What would you be doing?
  • How are some of the characters in this passage similar to each other? How are they different?
  • What evidence is Mark presenting in his attempt to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God?
  • How does Jesus’ silence actually communicate his identity? (See Isaiah 53:7-9)
  • How has this passage affected your view of Jesus?

Week 7 (Mark 15:16-39)

  • How many times does the phrase “King of the Jews” appear in chapter 15 (including v. 1-15)? What is ironic about this? What is Mark trying to say about the events at the cross?
  • Read Psalm 22. How does this help you understand the words of Jesus form the cross in v. 34?
  • How does Psalm 22 end? What is Jesus ultimately claiming for himself?
  • Why do you think the events at the cross were necessary?
  • What final description of Jesus’ identity does Mark provide? Where have you seen this title before?
  • What do the events at the cross teach us about what it means to follow Jesus?

Week 8 (Mark 15:42-16:8)

  • Of what face does Mark want his readers to be sure in verses 42-47?
  • What does Mark say happened to Jesus’ body?
  • What is surprising about these accounts of Jesus’ resurrection?
  • Why is it significant that Jesus rose from the dead?
  • What questions do you still have? Are you ready to follow Jesus?

Reading Plan Option 2

This option will be for older students that have some depth and are prepared to go a bit deeper. This plan works through Romans 5-8 and really digs into some central matters of doctrine surrounding a proper understanding of salvation. There are no corresponding questions offered with this plan, which means you will need to identify some sort of framework to use, especially in journalling/reflection. This is an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, parents! It is an opportunity to get your students hands down into the soil, too, and for you both to pursue a deeper understanding of our identity in Christ. You can find this reading plan in chapter 9 of the book.

Week 1: Reconciliation with God (Romans 5:1-11)

Week 2: The reign of sin to life in Christ (Romans 5:12-21)

Week 3: Set free from sin (Romans 6:1-14)

Week 4: Made slaves of God (Romans 6:15-23)

Week 5: Dead to the law (Romans 7:1-6)

Week 6: The function of the law (Romans 7:7-25)

Week 7: Life in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-17)

Week 8: Future destiny in Christ (Romans 8:18-39)

I am really looking forward to seeing how this intentional engagement in the Word with each other will bear fruit in your lives, in the life of our student ministry, and in the life of our church! By the way, this is not only something I’m asking you to do this summer, but this is a pattern that I am attempting to set in the future of our student ministry. As we move back to our normal schedule this August, I will be providing another reading plan that will correspond directly with our teaching series. The aim is for you to engage in specific passages of Scripture with your own child(ren) before we engage with them in those passages. I believe this right and good in light of your (parents’) calling by God to be the primary faith influences in our students’ lives.

So let’s get that pattern established this summer! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! And if you’d like to have a copy of the book I mentioned above, let me know that too. I love you all, and want you to know that it is a great joy to partner with you in this work of turning our kids’ hearts to Jesus in order to see him as the greatest treasure.

Special Opportunity to Give

As you know, we have been partnering with the Layne family in Brazil over the last year or so. As we stop meeting week to week over the summer we will not have this weekly opportunity to give toward their ministry there. However, over the past few days they have been posting images and videos documenting the massive flooding due to their rainy season that has only just begun. Here are just a few of those images…

The Laynes have been quick to assess how they can meet the immediate needs around them. They desire to build relationships in their new community for the sake of long-term gospel investment, but they also recognize that meeting the immediate needs in the midst of hardship can also result in opportunities to point hearts to Jesus.

They are donating a lot of clothing, and asking partners to pray with them as they continue to seek the Lord in this matter. But I know they also would be blessed with the financial means to serve and meet these devastating needs. So I wanted to send out a quick note and ask all of you (students, parents, & leaders) to consider giving. After all, this is the essence of ministry partnership! I’d like to send them a lump sum as a love offering early next week. So, if you’d like to give, please do so by the end of this weekend. You can give physically on Sunday, or you can follow the link below to give online. Either way, PLEASE PROPERLY DESIGNATE YOUR GIFT.

If you give physically, please place your gift in an envelope and mark the envelope with LAYNE FAMILY.

If you give online via Realm, please select MISSIONS as the giving pathway, and then type LAYNE FAMILY in the memo field that pops up. You can find a quick link to do that here: https://onrealm.org/WestwoodBaptist9991/give/WebsiteGiving

Thank you so much, and on top of this, please join me in praying for the Layne family and their neighbors in Brazil!

End of School Cookout (May 29, 2022)

Hey students & parents! As I shared earlier this week, we will be meeting at the Harris home this Sunday night. Here is all the information you need to know about that…

The Harris home is located at 275 Charlie Carr Rd.

Our time will be a little different. We will meet at 5:00pm. We’ll still plan to wrap up around 8.

Parents are invited to join us as well! I hope you will if you can!

Please bring a camp or lawn chair for yourself.

We will provide hamburgers and some sausage dogs. We will also provide drinks. We are asking everyone else to bring sides and/or desserts.

We will mostly just hang out and enjoy food and fellowship together, but we will take some time to hear from our 2022 grads! I have sent them some questions to be pondering, and I have come to love this special time of hearing them share with the rest of the students.

If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Announcement: Mini-Camp in late June

I want to invite all of our students to be a part of another event this summer: a mini-camp to take place right here in Roxboro on June 28-30. We are combining with our friends from Theresa Baptist Church for this mini-camp, and our focus will be one of service. We love the ministry of My Life Matters, so Garrett (student pastor at Theresa) and I were thinking of a way that we could show them some love.

Each summer the staff at MLM offers incredible weeks of camp for area children and students. I know my kids have benefitted from these camps, and will continue to for a few more years yet. I also know that this is quite an undertaking for the staff. They spend so many hours in planning, and then the days of camp that is held over multiple weeks are long and taxing. So Garrett and I asked Tim Bowes if we might be able to serve them by removing the responsibilities they normally have after the elementary camps are over of cleaning the Warehouse for them. And his answer was an emphatic and jubilant “YES!”

So, that’s what we’re going to do. We are going to give the Warehouse a good, deep clean as a service project during that time. But that’s certainly not all we’ll do. We’ll also fellowship together, eat together, sing together, worship together, pray together, and get into God’s Word together. We have selected “Abide” as our theme for this mini-camp, and the plan right now is for both Garrett and I to work through portions of John 15 in our teaching times together. We will also make some time for a couple of spiritual retreats, as well as spend some time in prayer partnerships praying for one another.

The best news about this mini-camp? There is NO COST! Because we are staying local, and because both Garrett and I are going to ask folks from our churches to graciously provide food for our meals, we want to invite you to come without asking for any money! So, I hope to see many of you sign up and be a part of this mini-camp. If you think this is something you are going to attend, I want to urge you to go ahead and sign up NOW! You can do that by following the link below and filling out the form that opens up.

Two more quick notes:

  1. This IS an overnight event, although students do not necessarily have to stay overnight since it is local. And students can come and participate for part of the time, if that’s all schedule will allow. You can select any of those options when you register. For those that do stay overnight, Garrett and I are going to plan according to numbers we receive through registration, but the locations will include any combination of Theresa Baptist, Westwood, and the Warehouse.
  2. Parents are more than welcome to come and participate!! Whether that means helping us to clean at the Warehouse, joining us for worship in the evenings, or coming along for the whole event! We would love to have you!

Sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1VqD0TcJuGyHMoQNE_Hyw4IZiHzpqy-ozTUWkInOtEvQ/edit

Parent Follow-Up for Sunday, April 24, 2022

Hey parents! Tonight we took what I thought would be considered a “detour” from our current series on love, but after thinking about it this week, it wasn’t a detour at all! It actually fit quite nicely. We have been talking all through this series about the truth from 1 John that only when we abide in God and experience his love will we be perfected (or matured) in his love. Only then will we love God and love others truly. What an incredible truth! It’s one we definitely need to understand. But, this is where we can become confronted by the most dangerous form of knowledge: assumptions. Sure we can all nod that we understand what the words “abide in God and experience his love” mean, at least we could offer a decent explanation. But I’m afraid we too often assume that believers know exactly how to go about this … when many actually do not.

I want to dash the assumptions, so tonight we looked at practically how we do that, how we abide in God and experience his love. We do that by consistently preaching the gospel to ourselves! We took some time to unpack how to do that by looking at the two aspects of what that entails: repentance and faith.

This is something I have taught through recently at a club that I help lead at My Life Matters, but then taught again for the adult Sunday School class at Westwood that I co-teach as a supplement to a lesson we had on repentance. And as I taught this on both of those occasions, God really convicted me that we had not been intentional to walk through this with our own students … or you as parents. So I wanted to quickly be obedient to that conviction. But it actually works quite nicely within the study that we’ve been doing on love, primarily from various passages in 1 John.

I began tonight by sharing the truth that we cannot love God if we do not desire to grow in holiness. We simply cannot. Because the only way we can grow closer to God is through holiness! God is holy. And, in one sense, if we are in Christ Jesus, we have access IN HIM to God. That is the one-sided work of justification that Jesus has finished and bought for us. But sanctification is a two-sided work. It is something that has already been bought by Jesus’ blood, and it is absolutely a work that the Spirit does within us, but it also includes our pursuit and obedience! And if we have no interest in growing in holiness, we also have no real interest in knowing God. Period.

We grow in holiness and we abide in God’s love when we preach the gospel to ourselves. I am going to unpack this for parents next Sunday night in our time together, because I believe this is crucial for parents who also are tasked with preaching the gospel to their children! So, I’m not going to unpack it here. I did record tonight’s message and plan to make it available at some point in the near future. But I want you to be intentional about asking your child(ren) to unpack it for you this week. Find a time to ask them to walk you through how we preach the gospel to ourselves.

Our students and leaders are also making a commitment to each other to actually put this into practice this upcoming week. So encourage your own children to do that! And if they can explain it to you, you find a time to do it too! Again, I plan to unpack it for parents next Sunday night, as well. So plan to join us!!

As always, I love you all and am praying for you this week. Looking forward to spending time discussing this with you next Sunday night!

Parent Follow-Up for Sunday, April 10, 2022

By now you probably know that our series on Love brought us to a discussion on that kind of love tonight. By that kind I mean more of a romantic love. We talked primarily about dating, though, and specifically how we should approach dating in light of all that we’ve learned so far through this series on love. How does God’s love shape the way we view dating? Should it? If so, how?

So I spent a good amount of time at the beginning looking back at what we have learned so far in this series. I said something at the beginning that I think we should all think more about, for sure. Love is always a stewardship. If it is true that God is the originator of all love–and he is–then love and all expressions of love find its source in him. Love is always a gracious gift that begins with the Father. And just like every breath is a gift of God’s grace and we will therefore be held accountable for the ways we use that breath, so it is with love.

We talked about how the experience of God’s love, as we abide in him and his love, really causes an alignment project. It aligns us with the reality of who he is, and the reality of all else. We reaffirmed that God intends to “perfect” love in us, or bring us to maturity in love, through abiding in his love. Only then can we grow in security of his love and only then will his love begin to flow through us to others.

So it is with this idea of dating. I shared with the students that I was not going to simply give them rules or guidelines for dating. Instead I simply wanted to make 4 statements for them to consider. Here are the four:

  1. In order to rightly love, we must first be shaped by God’s love. This is maturity. This is a process. And it comes about only as we abide in him, and over TIME. This should be our primary pursuit. And until we are shaped by his love, we are not going to love very well, and dating will be a very dangerous place for our teens to navigate.
  2. In order to love God, I must keep his commandments. Again, this takes the work of the Spirit over time in conforming us to the image of Christ. We need to come to the place where our hearts begin to desire to honor God in all things. If we don’t have that desire, dating is going to be a very dangerous place for our teems to navigate. Growing in our desire and pattern of honoring God in all things should be our primary focus.
  3. In order to love God with the HOW, I must first root my WHY in God’s will. This is a difficult sentence to understand, perhaps, but it simply means that God’s WHY for love of this sort is MARRIAGE. The HOW’s of dating will be pointless unless we first embrace God’s WHY. Simply put, I believe we should not date–at all–unless and until we are to the point where we can confidently explore God’s idea of marriage with another person. If that isn’t the point, then why are we dating!? If we don’t embrace God’s WHY, and we are simply dating to date, that will be a very dangerous place for our teens to navigate. Pursuing God’s WHY in ALL THINGS should be our primary passion.
  4. In order to place my confidence in another’s love, God’s love must first shape them. This has to do with a person we would consider dating. Are they capable of loving me well? Only if they have first been shaped by God’s love by abiding in him! And a young person should never even consider dating unless and until they have that confidence in that other person. Why? Because the WHY of dating should be exploration of marriage. If our teens don’t have that confidence in another person to which they are attracted, then dating is going to be a very dangerous place to navigate.

I love the refrain we see in the Song of Solomon, repeated in both 2:7 and 3:5. “Do not awaken love before its time.” Perhaps we should heed that as we consider how to help our young people navigate the waters of dating.

To close I presented 4 deceptions that we need to be able to refute when it comes to dating.

  1. I’m not complete without a boyfriend/girlfriend. If that’s the case, then you have NO BUSINESS dating! And it’s just not true. Even for married couples, Jesus is our ultimate source of fulfillment, and he is the only one sufficient for that. No other person will ever complete us.
  2. But this is normal … everyone dates! We are strangers and aliens. And from the passage we’ve looked at recently from Ephesians 4, we are no longer to be children tossed too and fro by the waves and carried about by the winds of doctrine. We are not to blindly follow the course of this world. We. Are. Aliens. Embrace that!
  3. I need to date in order to gain experience. Our teenagers don’t need experience. That’s foolish. They need maturity. They need to be grounded. They need to set their supreme affections on Christ. To see him as preeminent. To know who they are in him. They need to press deeply into Christ and experience God’s love through abiding in it. Buying this lie will certainly accumulate a lot of experience…and much of it will be burdensome and brokenness.
  4. But I really do love him/her. Emotions are fleeting and they deceive us. We are not to be taken captive by them. God’s love for us is not rooted in emotion. It’s rooted in him, his character, and his will. So is a mature love that is shaped by abiding in him.

This is a great week for conversations, parents! And as I said in my post earlier today, I am not the primary influencer of your teenagers…you are! If you don’t have a philosophy…and THEOLOGY…for dating, and if you haven’t clearly communicated that with your teenagers, you need to. And I’d be glad to talk to you more about that. As I said at last week’s parent meeting, it doesn’t just need to be shaped by FLIGHT (Do’s & don’ts). “Don’t have sex” is a pitiful standard for our kids to follow when thinking about dating. We need to help them know what to PURSUE, and to help them gain a vision for the maturity they are to have in Christ before they even think about dating and marriage.

I love you and I am praying for you this week…and for boldness for you to have these conversations.