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Stop With Your Hand

Christian Dating: How Far Is Too Far?

The worlds of dating and Christianity can be two difficult worlds to merge. Find out where the lines are drawn.

Even couples who take responsibility for their actions and trust God to help them stay pure want to know when they’re crossing the line. To offer them help with this vaguely marked boundary, Jason Illian, author of Undressed: The Naked Truth About Love, Sex, and Dating first reminds singles of a simple biblical principle stated in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “‘Everything is permissible for me’—but not everything is beneficial” (NIV).

Illian then illustrates that statement with a helpful set of guidelines while comparing physical actions with rungs of a ladder.

“Every rung represents a new physical act you share in a relationship. ... The higher you climb, the more physically satisfying and intimate the experience will become. However, with each step of the ladder, it becomes increasingly more dangerous.”

Rungs 1-4, Illian explains, represent activities that are permissible and can be beneficial—holding hands, hugging and cuddling, kissing, French kissing.

Rungs 5-6 are choices that are permissible but not necessarily beneficial—touching and caressing with clothes on.

Rungs 7-9, the top of the ladder, are neither permissible nor beneficial—petting and groping (under the clothes or without clothes), oral sex and intercourse.

Illian encourages couples to “draw a line and take a step back”—meaning, they ought to prayerfully consider the rung they feel comfortable climbing to “and then choose the rung right underneath it.”

For couples in the process of deciding on their physical boundaries, Mindy Meier, writing in Sex and Dating offers this cautionary observation: “A number of engaged people have shared with me that they wish they had done less sexually—sometimes with a high school girlfriend or boyfriend, sometimes with the one they are about to marry. But no one has ever said they wish they had done more.”

To set boundaries is one thing. However, to keep the standards that are set is a whole different challenge. But there are ways couples can help themselves stick to their rules.

Meier recommends having accountability partners: “Find someone of the same sex who you can be totally honest with, someone who will give you grace when you fail but not let you get by with disobedience to the Lord.”

She also suggests that couples meet in public places, where some privacy is afforded but where they can’t give in to temptation for intimacy.

Author Gary Chapman gives nonsexual examples of ways to show affection, such as words of affirmation, gifts and acts of service. To these, Meier adds “food.”

“Cooking a special meal for the person you’re dating or showing up with a well-loved snack,” she says, “are wonderful ways to say I love you.”

Most important is that a couple talk and pray about the sexual purity aspect of their relationship. God will honor the ones who pursue His standard of holiness and rely on Him for guidance and strength.

As a single person, you can “wait in the right way” by being content in God and pursuing His will while actively looking for a spouse. God created you for relationship and understands the desire you have to find a mate. Involve Him in your search, follow your passions, pursue maturity, be deliberate and don’t stop asking Him for the desires of your heart.

And keep dreaming.

In her book You Matter More Than You Think, Leslie Parrott, co-founder of the Center for Relationship Development, states, “The eventual pain that results from not dreaming—for the fear of being disappointed by an unrealized dream—will always eclipse the pain of a dream that never comes true.”

 


Leigh DeVore is the assistant editor of Charisma magazine. read more

Abuse

How to Identify Abuse

Domestic violence is an ugly problem—and it happens both inside and outside the church. Learn how to recognize it.

 

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship used by one person to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone.

Physical abuse involves hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting and so on. Physical abuse also includes denying medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use.

Sexual abuse is coercing or attempting to coerce a person into having any sexual contact without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred or treating someone in a sexually demeaning manner.

Emotional abuse is undermining an individual's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. This may include constant criticism, name-calling or damaging a person's relationship with his or her children.

Economic abuse includes making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding access to money or forbidding attendance at school or employment.

Psychological abuse involves causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to one's self, spouse, children, family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, school or work.

Sources: National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Center for Victims of Crime and WomensLaw.org.

To report domestic abuse or seek help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (ndvh.org) at 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY); the Religion and Violence E-learning Project (the raveproject.org); Peace and Safety in the Christian Home (peaceandsafety.com); or the Task Force to Stop Abuse Against Women (abuseof women.org).

Domestic Violence: The Shocking Truth

The U.S. surgeon general described violence against women as the No. 1 public health problem of women in America. Statistics vary, largely because much abuse goes unreported, but more than 5 million incidents of "intimate partner violence" occur against U.S. women every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three million such incidents occur against men, but experts say women are at higher risk for abuse.

At least three women are murdered every day by men who say they love them, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and countless others are permanently injured or disfigured. The Journal of the American Medical Women's Association has reported that domestic violence is the leading cause of death in pregnant women.

According to the National Coalition on Homelessness, domestic violence is a primary cause of homelessness for women and children in the U.S. The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence reports that children who witness domestic violence are more likely to become abuse victims or victimizers as adults.

In their book No Place for Abuse: Biblical and Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence, Nancy Nason-Clark, Ph.D., and Catherine Clark Kroeger, Ph.D., report that incidence rates of domestic violence among active churchgoers are about the same as of the general population, but the likelihood of an abused woman seeking help might be lower. Therefore, they say, the potential for more severe violence to go unchecked is higher.

According to the book, roughly 25 percent of women in Latin America are victims of physical abuse; in South Africa one-in-four women is assaulted by her boyfriend or husband each week, and every week in Hungary a woman is killed by her spouse. Internationally, the World Health Organization reports that 20 percent of women are physically or sexually abused in their lifetimes.


Marcia Davis-Seale is a freelance writer based in Mount Vernon, Texas. read more

Girl with Valentine

How to Ruin Valentine's Day

I think the quickest way to ruin Valentine's Day is with strife.

"Strife" means "vigorous or bitter conflict, discord and antagonism; to quarrel, struggle or clash; competition; rivalry."

James 3:14-16 tells us clearly, "If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work" (KJV).

Strife is devilish. It opens the door for the enemy to bring confusion and evil into our lives. Love, on the other hand, is the source of power for any successful relationship. Galatians 5:6 even tells us that our faith works through love.

Satan is continuously sending situations our way to tempt us to yield to the opposite of love, which is selfishness.

During this season of love we can study God's Word and learn what authentic love is and what it is not. First Corinthians 13 reveals its attributes: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails" (vv. 4-8, NKJV).

So make a decision to keep strife out of every relationship and keep love in. At home, work, school and church, commit to walk in love. If at any moment you slip up and get into strife, simply make it right.

Say to the other person: "Please forgive me. I love you. I don't want to be in strife with you."

Then say to the Lord: "Father, I repent of that attitude. I refuse to yield to strife or to any enemy of love. I choose to walk in love."

Keep acting on what you know about love from God's Word. Walk in love. When you do, you will keep your faith strong and the blessings of God will be continually evident to everyone ... for love never fails! Don't let strife ruin your Valentine's Day.


Gloria Copeland is co-founder and vice president of Kenneth Copeland Ministries in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

 

 

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The Spirit has Anointed You

God never intended for us to minister in our own strength. We must allow the Holy Spirit to empower us so we can walk in a supernatural dimension.

 

Church life was boring when I was growing up. We sang the first, second and fourth verses of the songs from the hymnal. The pastor preached a three-point sermon and dismissed us by noon sharp. Although there were people who responded to altar calls and received Jesus as Savior, nothing else exciting seemed to happen.

 

When I was 30, our youngest son, Mark, was miraculously healed of a condition that the doctors said would become cancerous by the time he reached adulthood. For the first time in my life I realized that the Lord still heals. read more

Unleash Your Faith

Unleash faith's prevailing power and watch obstacles and hindrances fall away.

As I was walking to my car from the grocery store recently, I was swept along by several strong gusts of wind. They caused traffic lights to sway, flags to ripple and pop, and drivers to take extra caution. Leaves, paper and other loose items in the wind's path were helplessly tossed about.

Suddenly I realized how very much like faith that wind was. Driven by the potency of God's Word, the assurance of Christ's love and the power of the Holy Spirit, faith operates in much the same way. It sweeps past obstacles and hindrances, clearing debris such as fear, doubt and unbelief out of the way and taking authority over the circumstances and conditions that threaten to impede our promises. read more

Is Something Missing?

Many Christians follow all the "right" rules and carefully live "the Christian life," but inside they are wondering: Is this it? Is this all there is? I experienced that same emptiness in 1976 when as a young Christian I realized that doing the right things brought temporary happiness but not deep, satisfying joy.

In those early days of my walk with God, I could only see Him from a distance. Even though I was doing what I thought He required of me, I still felt that I needed change in my life. I was searching, but I didn't know what I was searching for. read more

The Question Every Woman Asks

Let me just tell you right from the beginning, I know that you've tried. And you know that you've tried.

Lord knows that you have scratched your head in wonder and profound confusion when it comes to the woman that you love. You've tried to hear and understand. You want to give and respond.

Ten fabulous dates. Seven promises. Five love languages. Three counselors. Anything. Everything. But whatever you do, it's never enough. The target of her desire moves and you can't seem to hit the bull's-eye.

You've tried; we both know it. But the truth is that you can't. read more

What Am I Doing Wrong?

What Am I Doing Wrong?
by Dr. Doug Rosenau
 

Dear Dr. Doug, My wife is an inanimate sex partner who occasionally allows me to use her body out of duty. I feel like I am slowly being strangled. I long for intimacy and hate her label of "sex maniac." I did not get married to practice celibacy. I have prayed and fasted, been patient, tried to jump through many hoops, gotten angry, even threatened divorce, and nothing has changed.

A Hopelessly Frustrated Husband

 

Dear Hopeless:

I don't think wives are often aware that we don't want sex just for release.

Husbands hate "duty" and "pity" sex. Men's souls connect through sex in ways that our wives have difficulty even understanding.

But I have to be honest with you. You are your own worst enemy right now. You're hopeless, angry, stuck, fearful and probably haunted by lust. These are not very Christlike traits.

You must start to be proactive or your self-pity, wayward sexual thoughts and resentment will completely destroy your marriage. Please take these action steps and start making changes:

1. Be an empathetic detective and think outside the box. You say that you have tried every solution possible. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is not how hard you try but how smart you try that can change your sexual situation.

Why do you think your wife is so afraid of sex that she would jeopardize your marriage rather than work on this issue? She isn't shutting you off because she doesn't want you happy. Something is broken and shut down for her.

You may be too simplistic in assuming that your wife hates sex and has no desire. Is she tired? Could there be physical pain or some hormonal imbalance? Read the book Secrets of Eve (Hart, Weber, & Taylor, 1998), and find out more about your wife.

Take time to discuss the following question: If there were miracles and the changes took place that you each wanted, what would your marriage and sex life look like then?

Become a detective and force yourself to risk conflict and discussions.

2. Become a servant-leader and change yourself. Right now your wife's deficiencies have you so absorbed, you aren't looking at yourself.

I know you have felt like every time you jumped through a hoop, she chose another one and raised it higher. But, what do you think are the accelerators and brakes in your sexual relationship that you control?

Women need to feel emotionally connected before feeling romantic. Are you doing the little things that help her feel in love with you? Making those phone calls, sharing your feelings, giving gifts, getting more involved with the children and sitting close to her on the couch?

Wives need to experience romance and to feel special. How could you do this better?

What chores could you do to help with her fatigue? What could you lighten up on sexually that would help her feel less pressured? Is there some activity that she thinks you associate with sexual passion and you need to quit bugging her?

3. Practice tough love and assertively pursue God's ideal of passionate intimacy. Practicing tough love is never threatening divorce. Christians don't threaten but try to align themselves with God's truth.

Guys, there are some hills that are not worth dying on. But pursuing God's gift of sexual intimacy is one on which you must make a humble, loving stand. Do not threaten divorce but gently and persistently insist on God's realistic expectation of a fulfilling sex life in your marriage. Help her understand that this objective is not selfish but intended for mutual pleasure and loving closeness.

It is not easy to be a leader and a catalyst for change. Do not quit this time. Conflict and painful discussions are a part of any great marriage and sex life.

You will probably need professional help. Get medical assistance in checking out hormonal and physical problems. Find a marital therapist if sex is a symptom of deeper relational issues. Search out a sex therapist and get sexual counseling (see my Web site).

Courageously pursue God's gift of an intimate marriage.

Doug Rosenau is a certified sex therapist in Atlanta, and is the author of A Celebration of Sex. You can visit his Web site at sexualwholeness.com.  read more

Purified by the Fire

This is a message from Matt Sorger, founder of Matt Sorger Ministries, who received prophetic insight for the body of Christ at a service in Chesapeake, Va. We are presenting an abbreviated version of the second part of his message, which emphasizes God’s desire for a pure bride who has been refined and who has learned the secret of complete satisfaction and joy.

God is not looking … for gifted individuals. God is looking for pure, clean vessels that have been refined in the fire of God. … [He is] getting the bride ready. He’s getting the bride ready for His coming. He’s calling. He’s calling the bride. “Get your garments ready. Get your wedding dress ready.” … He’s coming back for a pure, spotless, clean bride. read more

Pentecost-Church-Holy-Sepulchre

You Can Have a Personal Pentecost

The word Pentecost has special meaning for more than 500 million Christian believers worldwide. They not only joyfully tell the story of Acts 2 (called by some "the most-read chapter in the Bible"); they also experience the Holy Spirit just as the early disciples did.

Fifty days after Jesus' crucifixion, on the annual Jewish festival of Pentecost in Jerusalem, God launched the church of Jesus Christ with a mighty outpouring of His Holy Spirit. Here's how the Bible describes the event:

"When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1-4). read more

The ABCs of the Prophetic

We must understand some basic things concerning the nature of the prophetic. Few, in fact very few, prophetic words are ever sovereign declarations that will come to pass without any conditions being met. Most prophetic words are invitations into a process of becoming. Often, the Lord is more interested in our becoming a word and not just getting, releasing or receiving a word.

The prophetic at its best is partial, progressive and conditional. That is not the fault of the prophetic person—it is the way it works biblically, historically and how it works today. read more

milk glass

The Dairy Dilemma

Don Colbert, MD, gives advice on how to handle lactose intolerance—especially if you love dairy.

Q. I suspect that I have lactose intolerance. How can I know for sure? Are there any nutritional supplements that can prevent this? I love ice cream and milk and don't want to give them up! --P.B., Glendale, California

A. If you love ice cream, you're not alone. The dozens of selections available on supermarket dairy aisles or in ice cream parlors suggest that you have plenty of company. read more

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