Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Book Coming Soon!

*We are currently writing a book about our love story. It should be printed by January 1, 2009. Keep posted for updates.

Waiting to Touch

There I stood beside my dad, the master of ceremonies, and my five groomsmen. The wedding march was playing, and the audience stood to their feet. My eyes were fixed on the balcony above the stairwell in the grand pink Arbor of downtown Arcadia, Florida. My beloved would soon appear at any moment. My heart pounded as I eagerly awaited the first glimpse of my bride in her white dress.


Four months earlier, my fiancé Jamie and I had been officially engaged during a canoe trip on the Peace River. Having received the blessing of our parents, we both knew we were following God's leading in our lives. I had read a verse in the Bible that says, "I will give them one heart, and one way..." in Jeremiah 32:39. This immediately took on a personal meaning: our paths were actually merging into one!

When Jamie and I had begun courting six months prior to our wedding, we had agreed that it would be best to avoid all physical contact. Yes, this would include no kissing, hugging, and even holding hands until we said, "I do" at our wedding! During this time of courtship, we came to know one another more specifically with the intention of marriage to follow. It was important, we realized, that we become more familiar with one another intellectually and spiritually, but not physically. The reason is once you begin touching, where will it end? In addition, what part of touching is supposed to be reserved for marriage? We believed the best thing for us to do that would bring the least regret to us and give the greatest glory to God, would be to abstain from touching at all. Sometimes the best things in life must be waited for the longest. For us it seemed like eternity, but we soon found out it was worth it. We thought of it as putting hugs and kisses on layaway! We were saving up many precious "gifts" for each other to open on the day God had ordained - July 22, 2006. We endearingly refer to this time as Christmas in July!


Now the long awaited moment had finally arrived! As the piano played, my beautiful bride stepped out of her dressing room. I knew that in the next few moments we would unwrap the first special gift we had saved for this time. The program went as planned- special music was sung, a charge was given, our unity candle was lit, and now we were asked to take each other by the hand. I was already nervous about the thought of kissing Jamie for the first time, but I was not expecting the jubilant experience that was literally to be placed in my hand! I was about to grasp ultimate bliss!

Each touch we had saved for our wedding day was an additional gift given by God to be opened at just this perfect time. Yes, today was our day to give ourselves to each other "to have and to hold." As we took each other's hand, we experienced the most euphoric feelings imaginable! We could not help but smile from ear to ear and stroke each other's hands for the remainder of the ceremony. After exchanging vows, I was permitted to kiss my bride. Everything about it was right and pure and it was incredible to give away my first kiss! We were both elated, as we were pronounced man and wife. Our journey together had now begun - hand in hand.

It is a joy to know that God has guided our steps giving us a story to tell our children. The principles of His Word still work today. God's way is best and has rewards that are numerous and inexpressible! I challenge every single person to save yourself for your future spouse, and you too can enjoy the greatest treasures God intends for you to have on your wedding day. If you are willing to wait, God can write your love story!

The Overlooked Gift Part I

The Season of Singleness

What a dull life this must be - not having a relationship before marriage! "It could not get any worse," you may say... or could it? What if you missed out on one of the most special gifts God has prepared for you? Often in life, we encounter many blessings that are so easily overlooked. Of these, especially in the years of adolescence and young adulthood, is this time of singleness. If the season of singleness is governed by Biblical principles, it will provide a lifetime harvest of many beautiful blessings.

I. The Discretion of Singleness
He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: (I Corinthians 7:32b)

God has a purpose for your life as a whole, but also for the present time! Throughout life, we grow and hopefully mature! As we mature, we are enabled to make decisions and to take on more responsibility. One of the largest responsibilities in life is marriage. Marriage is not a mere whim of infatuation, but is a self-sacrificial, holy, life-long sacrifice. This beautiful time of life is designed by God and normally fills the majority of the years we live. Suppose you marry between the ages of 20-25, and you live until you are 80 years old. At least 70% of your life would be with marriage - a wonderful blessing indeed!

But consider for a moment the first 25% of your life (before marriage). A high school or college student at this moment would have only 5-10% of their single life remaining. It is important to be single-minded toward God and His service! In Ephesians 6:5, Paul commands servants to...be obedient... in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ. What greater time is there than your single years, without many commitments, ties, and responsibilities, to be a single-minded servant for God?

What about this season of singleness? Do you not think that God would have any special purpose for your life while you are still young and free from the responsibility of marriage? Many young people act as though they cannot be used of God until they have a mate. But God commands His children to be single-minded. He does not intend for us to be consumed with the opposite sex. Establish the pattern now to be friendly to all and faithful to one (our Lord Jesus Christ). Do you think it could be possible that God has granted us the opportunity to have a season of singleness that we may look to Him, grow to know Him intimately, give our undivided devotion to Him, and love Him with all our heart? God's Word clearly states in Matthew 6:33, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Proper priorities must be realized in the preparation of life. It is vital that a close relationship with the Lord be developed before a relationship with a lady or a man begins. Develop the discipline of spending time with God before spending time with a guy or a girl. You must be the minister of righteousness God wants you to be before you can be the mate God intended you to be. You may continue your walk with God and even go further having this proper order, but if you fail to let God have the preeminence, then your walk with God will likely diminish. You must mature spiritually before being involved physically and emotionally with anyone else.

There are many lessons to learn in life that shape the way we make life-changing decisions. The teenage and college years are the most crucial. There are principles to learn now and many joys to receive now - yes, even while you are single! One way to lose the joy of your present state is to always be living in a "dream world". It is vitally important to be content in your present state and to prepare for what God has for your life. The way to do this is to become as active as possible in serving Christ in your home, church, and school.

II. The Direction of Singleness
But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand. (Psalm 31:14, 15a)

This is not the stage of life for emphasis to be placed on outward relationships, but rather on an upward relationship! If we do not learn how to walk with God and receive direction in life from Him, then we are bound to make wrong decisions that will inevitable lead to heartbreak. Choices concerning the heart issues of life, particularly relationships, must be made with godly discernment.

As Proverbs 14:12 states, There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death. The emotions cannot be the ruler of your decisions. God deserves to be trusted with the most important decision we face. He made us and knows how we operate. We are made in His image, and as He is Triune, we also have three parts to our existence: body, soul, and spirit. Upon which of these should we place the most emphasis? The majority of people give most attention to the body. Many live to please their senses - giving priority to the soul. But when we approach the spiritual realm of life, everything must begin with God and our relationship to him. This relates to the spirit. God wants to be our Father and desires to have a personal relationship with each person He has created. He provided this through sending His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to die for the sin of each man. Jesus rose again an offers eternal life to whoever believes on Him. Once one has received salvation from God, he has True Life.

Many trust God with their eternal destination but not with their present human relationships. God indeed desires the BEST for His children, but they must surrender the choice to Him and wait for His timing. Pray as the Psalmist did, Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: (Ps. 86:11)

The best gifts in life are determined by the Giver and are given to those who wait! Do not be consumed with whom you will marry, but rather on becoming the Christian you ought to be. Do what God has told you to do today and He will clearly guide you and give you what you need for tomorrow. But if you choose to be stubborn and do what "number one" wants, then you will not realize God's perfect will for you life.

The Overlooked Gift Part II

The Season of Singleness

III. The Delight of Singleness
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. (Psalms 37:23)

Getting to the marriage altar is a step -only designed by God for whom and when he chooses - on the stairwell of life preceded by many other steps. Many attempt to leap to the step of marriage, and in doing so, they miss out on some of the greatest blessings God has prepared for them (on the other steps). Usually, the result is the person falling down the stairway hurting him. Thus, casual dating is often simply a display of a lack of satisfaction in God and his will for your life for the present moment.

Some of the greatest memories of my life were my years in college. The highlights would be the activities with fellow-believers of my age (both male and female). To be carefree and enjoy company with anyone, be it guys or girls, is an invaluable gift. This is just one example of the joy and freedom there is to experience while being single! Those who have boy/girl friends spend so much of their time with that one individual and limit their opportunity of whom they can befriend because they are bound to their "special friend."

How many life-long friends and memories have been forfeited because of having a boy/girl friend before being ready for marriage? If while single, we would make this one close friend God wants, which is Jesus, then we could easily be inclusive in our friendships with all others. But when we step ahead of God and choose to involve ourselves in a relationship at the wrong time, then we become exclusive toward others. This simply shows that stepping ahead of God's timing in arriving to a life's mate by placing emphasis on a date is a selfish life-style.

Someone once told me to "give attention to everyone and affection to no one." This is an helpful guideline that will enable you to be friends with all and still be faithful to God and to you future mate. As you spend your time with groups of people and you refrain from singling out one person of the opposite sex, you will be in an unbiased position when it is God's time to reveal your life's mate. There merely needs to be social contact in groups rather than physical contact between individuals. This policy would protect from temptation and preserve many friendships. Life is much simpler when you follow God's path rather than devising your own way.

IV. The Duration of Singleness
But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. (I Corinthians 7:7b)

God has a purpose for every person that exists and he has a plan for each of his children's lives. For many, he has the gift of marriage; while for some, he may have the gift of singleness for life. But for all, there is the gift of the season of singleness. Be sure not to make the mistake of overlooking this gift! It is imperative that you find your joy in Christ for what He has already provided for you. Do not dwell on what you have not, but rather on the gift that is now in your hand. Many are distracted in seeking who they will marry; but before knowing whom to marry, it is important to know when to marry. When God knows you are ready and wants you to marry, He will reveal who your mate will be.

Consider life as a long hallway consisting of a series of rooms. As you pass through one room, you come to another door leading you to the next room (phase of life). Do not spend your life planning and hoping to arrive in some particular room (i.e. time of marriage) that is not yet God's timing or choosing. You are not promised of tomorrow and may only have this day left. Will you find contentment in Christ or must you seek your own way? Do not add more weights on your mind, heart, and emotions when it is unnecessary. Be content in God's will today!