Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Christian Dating

The Young man poured out his heart’s devotion on paper to the girl of his dreams:


I would climb the highest mountain for your love.  I would swim the widest stream for a chance to see your smile.  I would cross the burning desert just to gaze into your eyes.  I would die at the stake to hold your hand for a single moment.

P.S.  I will see you Saturday…if it doesn't rain.

Today, I’m going to do something I’ve never done.  I’m going to post on dating and marriage.  The reason I’ve never done this is because I’ve never preached on dating and marriage, until now.  I’ve never had a congregation that had young adults who were dating or who were becoming the age where they would want to date, before this.  For the married couples who may be reading this, please bear in mind that if you have young children, they will date one day.  You need to instill the right values in them, now.  There are things people decide while dating that will have an affect on the rest of their lives. 

1 Timothy 5:1-2 (NKJV)
5:1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger as sisters, with all purity.

Treat Women as Sisters

I realize that this is written to Timothy as a pastor, but it is important in what it tells us about how to treat people.  Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t have “rules for dating.” Why not, you ask.  The reason is simple; in those days marriages were arranged between parents, for their own reasons. I know this will be a huge blow to young women but “He’s so cute” was never a reason a young man was considered for marriage to a young woman. 

This scripture is telling us that we should treat women with respect like sisters. Think about your sisters, men, how would you want other men to treat them?  What expectations would you have for a guy who’s dating your sister?  Would you want your sister treated with the respect with which you treat women?  That question is really asking, “Do you treat women with respect”?

I came across this document on the Internet a while back:

8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter

  1. Use your hands on my daughter and you’ll lose them after.
  2. You make her cry; I make you cry.
  3. Safe sex is a myth; anything you try will be hazardous to your health.
  4. Bring her home late, there’s no next date.
  5. If you pull into my driveway and honk you better be dropping off a package, because you’re sure not picking anything up.  (Alternate:  Only deliverymen honk, dates ring the doorbell…Once!
  6. No complaining while you’re waiting for her, if you’re bored you can change my oil.
  7. If your pants hang off your hips, I’ll gladly secure them with my staple gun.
  8. Dates must be in crowded public places.  You want romance?  Read a book.(1)
Now, this is meant to be humorous, but if you look beyond the attitude it’s really a father’s desire that his daughter be treated with respect.  We have become a society, though, that doesn’t value treating others with respect.  We expect to be treated with respect, but feel that we’re exempt from treating others respectfully. 

The Bible gives us a clue as to what it means to treat women with respect in the last phrase of our text “with all purity.”  What is purity?

According to Mirriam-Webster Dictionary purity can be defined as:  Free from moral fault:  Innocent.

When we treat women without regard for their purity; when we have a physical relationship with them without marriage, we take something that doesn't belong to us.

Dating with no intention of marriage, is like clothes shopping with no money.  You’ll leave frustrated or take something that doesn't belong to you. (2)

The Bible defines for us when it is proper to come together:

Hebrews 13:4 (NKJV)
13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

So, a sexual relationship after marriage is honorable, but not before.  Fornication is a sexual relationship outside of marriage; God will judge that.  This ties into sexual purity, sexual purity is abstinence from sexual intercourse prior to marriage.  Maintaining sexual purity in your dating relationship is acting with respect for women.  It shows a concern for their relationship with God, their well-being and their future.  Look at this:

1 Corinthians 6:18 (NKJV)
6:18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

Or her own body, as the case may be.
When we have sex outside of marriage we sin against God, remember God will judge, but we also sin against ourselves.  This scripture says it’s a sin against our own bodies.  Now let me show you some statistics:

Men who marry as virgins are 36% less likely to divorce.  Women who marry as virgins are 24% less likely to divorce. (3)

Those who wait to until marriage to have sex and remain faithful in marriage report higher levels of life satisfaction compared to adults who engage in premarital or adulterous sex.  Those who wait until marriage and are faithful to their spouse also report notably higher happiness scores. (4)

So what do these statistics tell us?  That young people who abstain from sex before marriage are happier, more satisfied with life, and less likely to divorce.  God isn’t trying to spoil your fun, He’s trying to insure that your life be the best it can be.

John 10:10 (NKJV)
10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

This tells us that Jesus has come to give us a more abundant life, a happier, fuller life, but it also tells us that the devil wants to destroy it. 

Why Remain Pure?

Someone once said, “Why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free?”

The meaning of that is why make the commitment to marriage, when you can enjoy the benefits of the marriage bed without making commitments.  In simpler and perhaps cruder terms, why get married when you can have sex without it?

You know, marriage is a lot of work; two selfish people come together and have to figure out how to live with each other and maintain a relationship.  I want what I want – She wants what she wants.  Unfortunately, the two wants aren't always the same.  It takes compromise and commitment to be married, so that means sometimes you have to give up what you want so the other can have what they want. 

Sometimes men look at marriage and say, “It’s easier to stay single.  I can do what I want.  I don’t have to share my stuff.  I can check out a lot of women.  Being single is great.”  So, if women are going to let them have sex, in addition to all these other things, some men are not going to get married.  They don’t see a benefit to them.  If you’re dating a guy with that attitude, you don’t need him, he’s selfish and immature, which, by the way aren't good prospects for a healthy, happy marriage.  Look at this statement about the first marriage:

Genesis 2:24-25 (NKJV)
2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

What do we see here?  A MAN leaves his parents:  He’s grown up; he’s matured.  He’s not dependent on his parents anymore; he can make his own way in the world.  He has some resources of his own.

THEN he’s joined to a wife.  He’s united with her.  Then they become one (that’s a Bible euphemism for sex.)  They become one flesh.  They’re naked and there’s no shame.  There’s nothing to be ashamed of to be naked in front of your spouse, you’re one flesh. 

Do you know why sex is intended for marriage?  Sexual intimacy is intended to draw couples together.  There is a bond that is built between couples that are intimate that joins them together. 

Matthew 19:4-6 (NKJV)
19:4 And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' 5 and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."

This bond remains until one or the other dies.  Think about this for a moment.  A woman sleeps with her boyfriend and gets pregnant.  That couple is linked for life; even if they break up, even if they marry other people.  They still have that child between them.  There will always be that link.  They will have to work out taking care of the child.

How many marriages do you know where the wife got pregnant before the marriage, and so they “did the right thing and got married.”  Now they’re unhappy.  They’re struggling with the marriage and their feelings for each other.  They’re always fighting.  The problem is that they formed this tie before they cleaved together. 

     “She trapped me into marriage. 

     “He’s here, but he doesn't love me.”

They didn't treat each other with "all purity."  He didn't treat her with respect before marriage.  She allowed him to take what didn't belong to him and now they’re struggling with the consequences.  Even if there’s no child there’s still a tie, in a spiritual sense. 

1 Corinthians 6:16 (NKJV)
6:16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh."

The Bible uses the word “harlot,” but the implication is just that there’s no marriage.  They’re not married to each other but the two become one flesh.  There is still that link that binds them together. 

Why buy the cow when the milk is free?  Why give the milk away in the first place?  That milk is intended to nourish your marriage.

How to Date like a Christian

I said this post was about Christian dating, but so far I haven’t said anything about how we’re supposed to date.  What is Christian dating like?

I think it would be simpler to first discuss non-Christian dating.  Non-Christian dating – The way everyone else is doing it.  The word dating in the 1920s was another word for prostitution.  Media; television, movies and music create an image of what a hip, modern dating relationship looks like.  It does nothing to promote Godliness. 

Non-Christians are waiting longer to get married, and sleeping and living together.  50% of adults are not married.  33% of all births are to unmarried women.  The myth is that if you’re living together or sleeping together you’ll have a better marriage.  That’s a lie.  The odds of your marriage failing are higher than those who don’t engage in that type of behavior. (5)

Christian dating is not like the world’s dating.  The following are MY recommendations:

  1. Date in groups or in public restaurants:  Places where there are a lot of people around.
  2. Don’t spend the night together.  When my wife and I were dating we separated by 10:30.  I WENT HOME.
  3. Avoid being physical.  Keep your hands to yourself.  I kissed my wife for the first time at the end of our wedding ceremony.  We weren't hanging all over each other and acting all lovey-dovey, either.
  4. Don’t be alone in private places.  The devil’s probably not going to be able to tempt you to get naked in the middle of Wal-Mart, but he might in a nice, romantic bedroom.
  5. Make God a part of your romance.  Let Him guide and direct you.  After all, God brought Eve to Adam. 

A good rule of thumb is don’t do anything you wouldn't want your pastor to see you doing.  If you can’t do it while your pastor is there…DON’T DO IT.  This will help you to avoid the dangers of dating, and it may help you to have a happy marriage. 

I’m not naive and I know that some people may have already engaged in fornication.  But the wonderful thing is that you can repent.  “God, I messed up and violated myself and my partner.”  God is faithful to forgive, but remember that repentance requires change.  Without change there is no repentance.  If you've done that, I would recommend separating for a while and being honest with your pastor.  Then prayerfully and with counsel, evaluate your relationship. 

When you begin to date, do so with the idea that you’re courting.  Courting means there is a seriousness about marriage, and do it the right way. 

Sex is a wonderful thing.  It’s a gift to marriage.  Waiting until the right time makes your wedding night a wonderful and joyous occasion.  It makes it special; the excitement and anticipation.  What a wonderful gift.  So value yourself and the gift God has given you.  Use it for its proper purpose, to create a closeness and intimacy in your MARRIAGE:  To make your marriage a lasting and happy one.

(1)  8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter: And other tips for a beleaguered Father (Not that any of them work.  W, Bruce Cameron , 2001, Workman

(2)  Twitter Feed:  Calvary Tweets:  Sept. 24, 2013

(3)  Pastor Mark Driscoll, Dating, Relating and Fornicating, October 26, 2011

(4)  Cohabitation Vs. Marriage:  26 Research Findings, Physicians for Life.org,

(5)  Pastor Mark Driscoll, Dating, Relating and Fornicating, October 26, 2011

Monday, October 7, 2013

Live in Excellence

These days we hear a lot about excellence, but the question for today is, “Are you living excellence in your day-to-day life?”  Even more importantly, “Are you living excellence in your walk with God?”  An excellent person is someone who’s willing to go above and beyond what we consider the normal standard.  Look at this quote:

Someone once said, “It’s a sad commentary on society that the new standard of good service is, “everything went the way it’s supposed to.”

That’s the usual standard of “It’s good enough.”  I’m doing the minimum work required to make it okay…to keep from trouble.  Is that what we want do?  Is the minimum what you’re boss is looking for from you, or is he looking for excellence?  Today I want to examine excellence in life and excellence in your walk with God.

Daniel 6:1-5 (NKJV)
6:1 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; 2 and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss. 3 Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. 4 So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then these men said, "We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God."


Daniel’s life is an amazing story of excellence.  He’s risen above the others, “because an excellent spirit was in him.”  So the king looks to make him chief of all the governors. Everyone will answer to him.  He was the one who distinguished himself.  That means he went above and beyond the norm.  He made himself indispensable; he was the “Go To guy.”

There is a book by Malcolm Gladwell called Outliers, It’s the story of people who have risen “distinguished themselves” by virtue of their success.  The Beatles are used as an example.  They are arguably the best Rock and Roll group ever.  They have been enormously successful but what has raised them above all the others?  According to this book they played their music as a group for more than 10,000 hours. 

In their early days they played in Munich Germany at small clubs.  They played almost every night.  They practiced for 8 hours a day and played for about 4 hours every night.  Because of this they played together for more than 10,000 hours and rose above everyone else.

Think about it for a moment.  Their music became their whole lives. They lived out their commitment to their craft.  They didn't blow off practice; they played together, between practice and concerts twelve hours a day.  They were committed to improvement.  They rose to distinction…just like Daniel.  Do you remember his story?

He was taken as a slave as a young man and he refused to compromise God’s standards about food:

Daniel 1:8 (NKJV)
1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

He’s refusing to compromise.  He’s refusing to lower his standards.  He’s standing firm in what God has asked of him.  Do you know what that really is?  It’s faithfulness.  He’s faithful to God’s standards.  He’s faithful to do what God expects.

You do what our bosses expect of you, don’t you?  You’re on time for work.  You’re not always on coffee breaks. You’re diligent. You do what your boss tells you.  But what about what you do for God?  Are you on time?  Are you diligent?  Are you responsive to authority?  Do you want to be excellent? 

Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary.

Warren G. Bennis, Founder of the Leadership Institute at USC

Do you think it’s interesting that because of Daniel’s excellence his enemies couldn’t attack and destroy him?  They had to look for a way to defeat him that used his unwillingness to compromise his standards and adherence to God’s standards. 

Daniel 6:7 (NKJV)
6:7 All the governors of the kingdom, the administrators and satraps, the counselors and advisors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute and to make a firm decree, that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions.

So they made it illegal to pray, knowing Daniel would continue to pray and worship.

Daniel 6:10 (NKJV)
6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.

So, even though Daniel knew of the consequences – He knew what would happen:  He prayed anyway.

This is excellence.  Even when it would be easier and safer to compromise, you continue to hold to your standards.  Daniel set the standards for himself, and they were higher standards than everyone else’s.  That’s how he “distinguished himself.”

What do your standards look like?  Are your standards bold, do they stand out?  Are they limiting you or causing you to excel?  Do you think beyond the moment?  Do you just focus on what you’re being pressured to do or are you looking to the future?  Do you have a handle on the vision?  Are you striving to see the vision accomplished or do you only care about the individual task you’ve been assigned?  Do you commit yourself to being the best you can be or is good enough…good enough? The way you answer those questions will tell you something about you commitment to personal excellence.

Look at the things your involved in at church.  First, are you even involved at all?  Are you looking for ways to improve YOUR ministry?  Are you willing to invest, your finances and your time, in YOUR ministry?  Are you self-motivated or do you constantly need encouragement and reminders to complete YOUR ministry?  Do you follow up on things that need to be done?  Do you reach out and offer help to other people in ministry?  Do you want to have an EXCELLENT spirit? 

Examples of Excellence

I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection.   Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business.

Michael J. Fox Actor

Colossians 3:22-24 (NKJV)
3:22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

We are called to examples of excellence.  That word “heartily” speaks of having an abundant spirit; Diligently.  This scripture is written to those who were slaves; people who had to work with no expectation of reward.  The scripture says to do the work as id your doing it for the Lord, not because you HAVE to.  

This is interesting, because how do we look at ministry?  That word minister mean to serve; we serve in ministry.  So, then why do we look at our ministry as if we’re doing the church a favor? 

You know what I find interesting is that we hold volunteers to a lesser standard than we do workers.  I understand that a volunteer could be doing something else.  I understand that they’re giving of their time to do what they’re doing but why should it be inferior just because they volunteered.

There was a woman in the Riverside church, who would volunteer to help clean when there was a church event.  So she’d come over and basically did nothing.  The things she did do we would have to go back and do again because they weren't done properly.  She was a volunteer

She was a volunteer, but she wasn't a minister.  We have ministry.  This is a gift from God.  It’s a privilege.  We should do it heartily.  We should be an example of the excellence of Christ. 

Jesus was the only one of us who was perfect.  He was the only man who lived without sin.  He is the epitome of excellence.  We are His representatives on earth.  We should be trying to live up to who He is.  Do you realize that people form opinions about Jesus by the way we live and act? 

I had a General manager one time who did something that stood out in my mind.  There was a young man on our sales staff, who was a great salesman.  He could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo.  But one night he got involved with a girl and ended up with hickeys on his neck.  Bite marks.  When he came to work this general manager fired him on the spot.  When I asked him why he said, “He represents me and this company.  I don’t want people to associate that behavior with me.  It doesn't represent my moral character.” 

It didn't reflect his lifestyle.  As Christians we represent Jesus.  How we live reflects who Jesus is.  If Jesus is excellent then we must strive for excellence, as well.

How do we strive for excellence?  We can start by being on time for church.  We can be involved in the worship service.  We can do our best in our ministries, always looking for ways to improve it.  We can come to ministry practices prepared and ready.  We can care about the details, making sure that what is needed is ready and available.  We can be there to pray.  We can be there a little early so that visitors won’t feel awkward.  We can be friendly and outgoing.  These are the details and it is the details that separate adequate from excellent.

2 Corinthians 8:7 (NKJV)
8:7 But as you abound in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us--see that you abound in this grace also.

Taking care of the details is how you abound in diligence.

In Daniel 6, they looked for a way to get rid of Daniel.

Daniel 6:4 (NKJV)
6:4 So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.

They couldn't find anything wrong because he was FAITHFUL.  A faithful man takes care of the details.  Getting the job done is what’s expected.  Taking care of the details, too, that’s doing it excellently.

 I read a story of a man whose car was broken into.  They smashed his window and stole something out of his car.  So he called a company to come and replace the window.  The guy who came and replaced the window put in the new one…Then he vacuumed up all the broken glass in the car.  Then he made notes of scratches and dings and al, the problems with the car as a result of the break-in, with diagrams, so the man who have it for his insurance agent.  All of this was done outside in the bitter cold.

He was only expected to change the window, but he took care of the details, too – that’s excellence.

I read another story of a soldier who was in Afghanistan.  For his wife’s birthday he wanted to do something that he knew would make her happy.  She loved Pizza from a certain Pizza place.  So he called that place, from Afghanistan, and told them what he wanted to do.  He just ordered a pizza.  So this pizza place made a pizza for her in the shape of a heart.  On the way to the delivery of the pizza they stopped and bought flowers and balloons for her and delivered them all at NO charge.

All that was required was that they deliver a pizza, but they took it upon themselves to go the extra mile and take care of the details – that’s excellence.

One final story.  There is a town of 6,000 people in a remote part of Alaska.  Some joker played a prank on the entire town by convincing them that Taco Bell would open a fast-food restaurant in their little town.  Taco Bell found out.  They had no plans for opening a restaurant in that place.  But, they purchased enough meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and hot sauce for 10,000 tacos.  Then they used a helicopter to airlift a catering truck, all the food and a few employees so they could feed tacos to the people of Benton, Alaska…at no charge.

There was no action required on Taco Bell’s part, but they did something anyway – that’s excellence.

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.

Edward Simmons   Artist

Just be Excellent

"If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today.  As of this second, quit doing less than excellent work."
Thomas J. Watson  Chairman of IBM in the 40s

Think about people you admire.  What is it that makes them so admirable?  Is it the courage to do the right thing even when it’s not to their advantage?  Is it their willingness to suffer so someone else doesn’t have to?  Is it the way they made their business successful while being concerned about their employees and their customer’s needs?  What is it that lifts them up in your eyes?  What is it that makes them excellent? 

I don’t want you to think that this is about business or about doing things.  This is really about our walk with God.  Daniel had an excellent spirit.  His excellence caused him to “distinguish himself.”  We should aspire to excellence as well to distinguish ourselves as Christians, so that people will see Jesus favorably because of our actions and lives.  When we lift Him up He will draw all men.

Daniel 5:11 (NKJV)
5:11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father--your father the king--made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers.

That same Spirit dwells in you.  Show it to be an excellent Spirit.