If you know me, you know I love Google and the products they produce. One of their produces, Google Now, I use daily. For those who do not know what Google Now is, or does:
“From knowing the weather before you start your day, to planning the best route to avoid traffic, or even checking your favorite team’s score while they’re playing, Google Now brings you the information you want, when you need it. Google Now works in the background so you don’t have to. Your information is automatically organized into simple cards that appear just when they’re needed. Because Google Now is ready whenever you are, you can spend less time digging and more time living.”
Sounds good, right? I have really enjoyed using this Google service. I use it to check the weather, sports scores, the traffic, and news. One feature of Google Now is that it pushes the most relevant information to the top, and the less relevant to the bottom based on your personal online activity. This is where my problem started.
Today, I noticed a news article from a Christian website pushed all the way down at the bottom. This got me thinking. I see tons of sports and technology articles in my feed front and center every day, but only on occasion do I see Christian articles. The reason for this is pretty obvious. I spend a lot more time online reading about the latest technologies and keeping up with sports stars than I do reading things that will help me grow spiritually. After a quick scan through my web browser history I confirmed this very thing.
The internet is an amazing tool for spiritual growth but only when we use it correctly. Please do not misunderstand; sports and technology is not bad, and the internet is not evil. But we should be a little more aware of how much time we are wasting and make the effort to spiritually equip ourselves while we can.
My wife, Chelsea, and I went to the hospital for her scheduled induction at 5 a.m. the morning of Maverick’s birth. After about 12 hours of labor we started to have some complications. The doctor lost the baby’s vitals and there wasn’t enough oxygen getting to him. As the realization of what was happening in front of me settled in, nothing in this world mattered except for first, my wife and second, my son.
Chelsea was rushed into surgery and the doctors performed a C-section to deliver Maverick. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice, but once they got him out everything was fine. Chelsea was in recovery from the surgery and I had a brand new baby that needed to be cared for. We spent the next 4 days in the hospital and I cared for my wife and son 24/7. Once we finally got home, the same continued. My wife has recovered and my son is growing and healthy, but I have suddenly found myself in a whole new position in life.
Being a father has been an incredible experience so far, but I will be honest… being a dad is nothing like I expected. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what all was included in fatherhood but I could not have been more wrong. So for anybody who is wondering what the first month of fatherhood is like, here are my three big take-a-ways after one month of daddy duty.
- Priority check!
One month ago I always kept up with my favorite sports teams, I played Xbox almost every day, I went shopping, hung out with friends, etc. But when you become a father, your priorities just change. They have to. Chelsea has been my first priority since we got married but when you bring a brand new baby, surgery, and all the stress and emotions of child birth into the picture, she became my first priority in a new way. I have a son now and he is 100% dependent on me. Suddenly, things I thought I loved, just don’t matter anymore. And that is okay, that how it should. A big part of growing up is a change in our priorities. But, be ready. If you are a soon-to-be dad, these new priorities are forced upon you without warning!
- Instructions NOT included.
You wouldn’t believe how much paperwork the hospital sends home with you! But after looking through all of it, there wasn’t baby 101 or how-to guide anywhere. So there we are, it’s 2 in the morning and we have a screaming baby. Hungry? No. Dirty Diaper? Nope. Tired? Obviously not, he is screaming at the top of his lungs. (Enter mother-in-law) Do not be afraid to ask for help! We have had a lot friends and family (especially my mother-in-law) who have helped us tremendously. Having a baby is a stressful experience for a seasoned veteran, much less a first time parent. Did I mention that my mother-in-law was a huge help?
- Enjoy it!
One mouth in and Maverick already looks like a whole different person. I cannot believe how fast he has changed and how different he already is. It has brought me to the realization that Maverick will only be a baby for a short time.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV)
This is a blessing and I want to enjoy every moment of it. So during the stressful times remember that this is a blessing from God. And when your baby has ANOTHER dirty diaper, remember that you will not get these days back.
Today is Reformation Day. Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses 496 year ago (Oct. 31, 1517) on the doors of the Roman Catholic Church. During Luther’s lifetime, reformers began to emerge to shine light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. John Calvin preached in Geneva, Switzerland 460 years ago in the midst of the Reformation.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of God’s grace was not available to people like you and me. It was reserved for the priests and monks who could read and understand Latin. The Bible had not yet been translated into a language that the people could understand. Because of Martin Luther and the Reformation, the Bible began to break out of the Latin language, and for the first time in years, people began to hear the Gospel of Christ. John Calvin had a motto for this time period, “Post Tenebras Lux” or “After Darkness, Light.”
Today we live in what I would call a very dark time. Pornography and immorality is running wild. Our televisions and website are filled with drugs, sex and violence. We get word daily about young men and women who commit crimes and murders for insignificant reasons (not to say there is a significant reason to murder). Turn on the local news for a couple minutes, and you will witness tragedy. I have heard many people say that Christians are likely headed into a time of real persecution. So, what do we do with all of this?
I can only imagine how Martin Luther and John Calvin felt as they headed into the world around them. Geneva, Switzerland was a harsh immoral place of suffering when Calvin began ministering there. In fact, there was a law in Geneva that a man could only have one mistress. Needless to say, like us today, Calvin was living in a dark place that needed the Gospel. Today we have the same mission and purpose as John Calvin did in Switzerland. That is to take the Gospel of Christ Jesus to our communities, cities, and the world.
The story of Calvin and the Reformation is a story of encouragement for us to share the true story of hope, the Gospel. The Gospel is our source of light in this dark world. We may be headed into a time of persecution, and the United States may because even more immoral than it is now, but that does not change the fact that Jesus Christ is our one and only Savior and the only one who can change lives. Do not let this sinful world discourage you, but let this story of the Reformation motivate you to carry on the same mission as the reformers, the Great Commission. Christ has the power to change our communities for the better. Whether here on Earth or in Heaven remember, “Post Tenebras Lux.” We may go through darkness now, but after the darkness there will be light.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20 (ESV)
My “Mema” married my “Gramps” when she was just 15 years old. Or should I say young? My Mom and Dad married when they were 18 and 19, respectively. My grandparents were married for more than 50 years, and my parents have been going strong for 27!
However, when I was 21 and engaged to my wonderful wife, I heard a lot of people tell me to slow down and wait a few more years before I got married. It seems like fewer people are getting married young. In fact, I just read that the average age for a person’s first marriage is 28. So, what’s the deal, should we get married young or not?
Well, personally I think getting married young is the best thing I’ve ever done! I want to share my top five reasons why I believe getting married young is a great decision. (Note: I believe these things to be true between believers who are financially stable and whose parents and pastor recognizes they are ready and able to marry.)
5. Self Discovery. Now I am fully aware that Adam and Eve really didn’t have a choice when it came to marriage, but nonetheless, Adam and Eve married young. God didn’t waste any time creating a wife for Adam, and he certainly did not do much living before he was married. My point is this, I have heard the statements “go out and live a little” or “you need to find out who you really are.” I personally do not think you can really know yourself without your spouse (that is if you are not called to be single). Next to Jesus, my wife Chelsea is the biggest (and best) part of who I am. I have a much better understanding of who I am and my purpose, now that I am married.
4. Temptation. Being young and “spreading your wild oats” is not the best idea. No matter your age, you are responsible for your actions, and they will catch up to you. Holding off on marriage just for the sake of experiencing life or enjoying your youth can be very dangerous. It presents a lot of temptations. Not to say that marriage is the fix all for sexual sin, but it can help. I know that I don’t ever have to worry about anything promiscuous in my college dorms. Why? Because I’m at home with my wife, safe from any “innocent” dorm room activity or anything of the such.
3. Experience, or lack of. As a 20 and 21 year old newly married couple, Chelsea and I left the church excited to get to New York City for our honeymoon. The best part of that was the fact that we were both sexually pure and completely naive. There were not expectations, pressure, or previous experiences. Not only was that true sexually, that is how our entire married life has been. We have been blessed to learn everything about life together, and we are the best team I know. Nothing will replace those years of learning and growing together.
2. God’s Purpose. Imagine you have just come to know Christ. What’s next? Baptism. As long as you have truly been saved and you understand what baptism means, why would you wait a few years to be baptized? The same is true for marriage. God created Eve for Adam and Adam for Eve. In the same way my wife and I have been created for one another. As long as you are mature enough and understand the commitment you are making, why wait?
1. Jesus. There is a reason that we are called the bride of Christ. Our relationship with Christ is a picture of the marriage between a man and a woman. As a husband, I get to serve my wife, lead her, and provide for her. That is the greatest joy that I could have. Why wouldn’t you want to enter into a covenant marriage that is a picture of our relationship with Christ? And why would you not want to enter into a God glorifying relationship as soon as you can?
Now there are a thousand reasons you could wait to get married, but my main point is this. If you know who God has created you for, and you can make a true marriage commitment to that person, marrying young is incredible, and if I had to do it over again, I would still marry young. So, those of you who do marry young or are thinking about it, don’t worry when people talk down marriage or young age. Just go enjoy life as a young married couple, and trust that God will lead your way.
When I think back to my past dating relationships, before I married my best friend, I can remember thinking “how far is too far?” Yes, I am talking about sex and the sexual or physical relationships we have with our boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancés.
Let’s face it, most want to take the physical side of our dating/engaged relationships as far as possible, and I would advise against doing so. Many go through what I did, spending a great deal of time wondering where the line was drawn.
We hear opinions from everyone, everywhere and this can be a very touchy subject. Even though the Bible does not clearly state rules and regulations of a dating relationship, I do believe the Bible is very clear how far is “too far.”
There are two kinds of human relationships: 1.The married relationship. 2. The non-married relationship
1. For those of us who are married, sex and a physical relationship, with our spouse, are good. God designed sex for husbands and wives (Proverbs 5:19). For now, that’s all I’m going to say about the married relationship. But let’s be very clear, sex is for spouses in a marriage ONLY.
2. I want to focus on those who are not married. This includes everyone who is single, dating or engaged. We live in a sex-obsessed world. You can’t turn on the TV, surf the web, or drive down the road without seeing an advertisement that has some kind of sexual message.
1 Corinthians tells us to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18). I think it is very important to understand what the scripture is telling us here. Paul uses the same language in 1 Corinthians 10:14, “flee from idolatry.” I want you to picture something. If we were told that our county is going to be attacked and we need to flee, what would you do? You would flee. You would get as far away from the county as possible. You do not want to be anywhere close to an attack. This is the same thing Paul is telling us in 1 Corinthians. We need to get as far from sexual immorality as we can!
So what about touching or kissing? Let me put it like this, touching or kissing in a passionate way should be completely avoided. Whether you want to admit it or not, this leads to sex, either physically or mentally, and both are sin (Matt. 5:28).
If you are in a dating relationship with someone, the two of you are simply brother and sister in Christ, and you need to treat each other as such. The Bible tell us not to tempt or cause your brother or sister to stumble (Rom. 14:13b), and the best way to do this is to avoid sexual touching and kissing all together.
When it comes to being physical, think of your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé as a brother or sister. Don’t do anything with them you would not do with a brother or sister.
I am well aware that this seems harsh and over the top, but take it from me, I waited to have a sexual relationship until after I was married, and it was more than worth it. We have a tendency to try to get as close to sin without crossing the line as we can, and that is simply not what Christians should be doing. We should flee from evil!