Monthly Archives: February 2014

Jacob Martin: The Obsession With Dating

Posted by in Brotherhood,Faith,Temptation | February 25, 2014


Editor’s Note: Young Jacob Martin graces us with another post, this time on dating relationships. He explains his own decision to wait until he is older to pursue a dating relationship, and raises some great questions about motivations and consequences. The relationship he has with his father is what really stands out, however. The strong, guiding presence of a thoughtful male role-model and father figure is so obvious in Jacob’s life and in his writing, that this piece is encouraging and refreshing in a world that lacks that very thing. Thanks for speaking your mind Jacob; and thanks to your dad for being an open book and willing to go there when you need him to.

“Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me. 9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication. 10 Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, ‘Where is the LORD your God?’ My eyes will look upon her; now she will be trampled down like the mire of the streets.”

Micah 7: 7-10

In our day and age, even as young men, the obsession with dating has reached an unprecedented level. Nowadays you rarely meet a middle-schooler who hasn’t “dated” anyone. These so-called dating relationships last a few weeks to a month or two at most. Now, personally, I believe, and this is my opinion, that when you can drive someone somewhere and then go eat or go to a movie and then drive them back to their house, that is a date. The word dating doesn’t implicitely include make-out sessions, sex, or total exclusivity, by any means. But these relationships almost always end in anger, heartache, broken friendships, and two people who are worse for wear. And that’s just middle-school.

Then you move to high school relationships, where it is worse. These relationships are almost solely based on physical highs and emotional entanglement with flimsy boundaries that are easily exploited. I’ve read stats that only 2% of high school sweethearts get married. I believe this is due to most dating relationships being based on infatuation or puppy love. On top of this, I bet if you ask a friend in a relationship what their goals are or why they like that person, they will stare blankly back at you or say they have never thought of that before. My dad challenged me to set goals in my relationships with people, especially girls, and especially when I start dating. In my opinion, I don’t feel like dating is a smart idea until about freshman year in college. This doesn’t mean I’ve never liked a girl or had feelings for one before; I have just seen where these young relationships lead: decreasing grades, obsession, and usually gradual seclusion from friends and family. This is not healthy for anyone, especially a maturing Christian man, so I have resolved to not date until later in my life; because at this point, I don’t see the wisdom in it at such an early age.

At this point, I have never kissed a girl. I feel like it gets you too emotionally entangled with her and leads to other, more risky things. Some words of wisdom from a friend to me were that kissing leads to babies… meaning that once you open that door, you put yourself on a downward slide of more compromising behaviors. I am lucky to have such a wise and Godly father who has been able to guide me down this winding road and has set me up for success to avoid the same traps that he experienced, and I am forever greatful for that. I have been fortunate enough to read books by great Christian authors on dating by Biblical standards as well as on girls and what they want deep down inside. These have given me a different perspective on what God wants and what girls want. At times I feel like I am hopelessly alone in my convictions and wonder if I am doing the right thing; but I am continuously encouraged by older men’s stories, along with young men in college, encouraging me keep up my resolve.

It may sound like I am against dating, but I am most definitely not. I just feel that before you fall head over heels for a girl and start dating, just because she makes you feel good and is hot, you need to take a few weeks or even a month or two to let the infatuation wear off and pursue a friendship instead. This doesn’t mean you can’t like her; it just means that you should make wise decisions. When you do finally begin to date, make sure to set clear goals and boundaries and never throw your relationship with God to the wayside. Also, try your best to not fall into the trap of physical entanglement; because I bet if you ask your dad or one of his friends if they regret being sexually active or promiscuous in high school, every one of them would answer with a whole-hearted yes. It’s not worth a world full of heartache for a few moments of an emotional high. Again, I am not against dating in high school; I just encourage everyone to be very methodical in choosing a person and in beginning a dating relationship.

Jacob Martin

Stephen Jaques: Entitled to Greener Grass

Posted by in Faith | February 10, 2014


Editor’s Note: Today we received a moving blog post from Stephen Jaques. It was written in the form of a confessional prayer, where he explains how he feels entitled despite knowing better and describes his frustrations. The exercise of writing down our thought process is so helpful because it helps us see exactly how we rationalize and justify our own selfish behavior without even realizing it. The piece concludes with a phenomenal piece of insight. Thanks for sharing Stephen!

Dear God,
Today I feel entitled. Yeah yeah, I know; that’s what they all say about my generation. They say it’s because we’ve been given too many “participation” trophies, too much praise, we’ve been coddled too much, and not challenged enough. Well regardless of whose fault that is, today I feel entitled.

I feel entitled to a great job, to lots of great friends who like to have adventures, to the good life, and a good wife, and the American dream. And if I have to wait for those things, could You at least give me a hot date and a championship for the “Dawgs?” Man, I’ve been waiting for a while now. I’ve suffered the pain of rejection and spent a nice chunk of my life on the outside looking in. Come on, please? I’m not asking for anything impossible here. You are God. You can do anything and You told me to ask. I’ve been waiting, man. I’ve even incorporated You into my wish-list. I really want this job to help the Kingdom flourish. I want the girl that’s beautiful and loves You. I’m not asking to live in Johns Creek. I’d just like to have enoughh money to go to some Georgia games and give to my favorite ministries. You know I’m not going to sell You out for the world. I’d just like to have You plus the world. I want the party on Friday, the date on Saturday, and church on Sunday. Come on, God! I’ve been in the field most of the day, and you gave the folks who showed up an hour ago the same as me? Why does it feel like everyone else got a balloon and I didn’t? Everybody else got a cherry on their milkshake; why didn’t I? We’re both equally undeserving; so why them and not me? Haven’t I been through enough disappointment to justify a few blessings?

Oh, what’s that You say? You have blessed me? It’s true. You did send Jesus to die for the salvation of my soul. That should be enough; but as long as You’re handing out bonuses, I want in on them! What have You done for me lately? Ah yes, You did provide my first car, not too long ago. But everyone else had one in high school. Oh, but that’s not it, You say? You’ve given me a life with two “cherries” on top? True, my parents aren’t divorced and my family isn’t “broken.” I come from a middle class family, putting me in the global 5%. I’m healthy, I’m talented, and I graduated with honors from the University of Georgia, which, when added together, is essentially a ticket into the global 1%. I’m a member of the most privileged demographic in world history; plus, You decided to save me.
I did get a milkshake with two “cherries” on top and yet I’m complaining about all the people sitting next to me who got three. To the world, I must look like a millionaire complaining he’s not a billionaire. Yet You still love me unconditionally. David McNeely preached about God asking him, “If you had a choice between having a brand new house without Me, and a rundown house with Me, what would you choose?” Well I want the nice house; but isn’t it true that who you share the house with matters more than the house itself? Plus, You’ve given me a good house. The problem is, I feel entitled to a great house. Can I be satisfied if You decide it’s better for me to have ‘good enough?’ You won’t cheat me, and You’ll always provide what I need to live. Do I trust that You alone are enough?

I know there’s nothing wrong with wanting or desiring all the things I wrote about; and I’m beginning to think the grass is often greener on the other side because I keep watering it. Maybe there’s a difference between desiring and deserving. I’ve crossed that line and I’m sorry, God. Please rescue me; because today I feel entitled.

Stephen Jaques

Jeff’s Ups and Downs

Posted by in Faith | February 4, 2014


Editor’s Note: This isn’t a post where I’m going to go out of my way to sugar-coat anything. My steadfast belief is that God is at work and that statement is as close as I am willing to come to a disclaimer. This has been a tremendously difficult month for Jeff and Carrie and their family; and it’s worth re-capping in part for the sake of the readers who are concerned and also for the sake of our belief that telling our stories is important because we hope that their impact will exceed our expectations.

As most of you know, Jeff was struck in the eye by a firecracker on January 3rd and air-lifted to a hospital. Since then, he has seen many doctors and had several procedures in an ongoing effort to save his eye, and in the hope that his vision might eventually be restored. Currently, Jeff has very milky vision in that eye, which is very sensitive to light, and does not have full control of his eye-lid (an unforeseen obstacle that is staggering in practical consequence). What many of you don’t know is that the psychological effect of the trauma, and the ongoing burden of a highly uncomfortable life, is very difficult to manage, much less come-to-terms with. Fortunately, Jeff is a strong man and is married to a strong woman. Unfortunately, strength alone isn’t always enough to comfort us. Because our vision is so intimately tied to the way we process thought, in order to imagine the exhausting, confusing nature of Jeff’s injury, you must imagine feeling helpless as your brain struggles to regain its footing and forge new paths that once came naturally. What was once easy is temporarily more difficult; and the adjustment period (though try calling it an “adjustment” or a “period” to someone in the middle of it) is both frustrating and disheartening. And from a physical standpoint, the reality is that some things may never be as simple as they once were. Some things may be lost for good.

The most recent doctor’s visit brought some interesting developments. Jeff’s cornea appears to be healthier than previously anticipated, and he will be fitted with a membrane contact to replace the protective layer that was surgically attached to cover his entire eye in weeks past. His eyelashes are causing some problems and steps will be taken to ensure that they grow in the correct direction and don’t further irritate or hinder his recovery. Although concerned about a possible infection (a very real threat with dire consequences because of the eye’s proximity to the brain), doctors continue to take extreme precautions and seem hopeful that through preventative measures they can give Jeff the best possible chance of his eye surviving. They aren’t out of the woods yet, but every step seems to be forward. At that point, there are many surgical and medical options which become available. Until then, our prayers are for the eye’s survival and healing on its own accord.

Please join me in supporting Jeff and his family. Even the outpouring of love can be exhausting. Telling and re-telling the story and interacting with the endless stream of well-wishers is taxing and I want to recognize that fact. Never-the-less, our prayers are making a difference. Jeff reminds me of that fact almost every time we speak. And the folks who have come out of the woodwork to support his family financially by donating on the website have been some of his favorite stories to share. So I can say with certainty that, the generosity and rapport from his community is overwhelming in good ways as well.

Jeff’s spirits are up and down. I told him I expected it to be day to day; he said it’s hour to hour. So keep him in your prayers throughout the day. God’s up to something, and we know it; and I can’t help but wonder if he’s doing something in each of OUR hearts, without Jeff even realizing. We love you Jeff. You’re in good hands, between Carrie and the doctors and a God who knows pain and heartbreak first-hand. Feel Better!