Friday, October 30, 2009

Sermons

 Sermons are great launching pad for discussion. Not only do they help you get a feel for your CBs tastes (do they have a favorite preacher, or even several favorites?), but listening to sermons together will challenge you both to think through what you are hearing to see if it is accurate. You can listen to sermons from your own church, or listen to "podcasts" online from a pastor you respect. Either way, make sure you talk about what you've heard.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cooking

This activity was suggested by my dear friend (and soon to be sister!!) Amanda. Cooking together can be a great activity--not only is it fun, but you get to enjoy the "fruits"  of your labor once you are done. You can make anything from a batch of cookies, to a full fledged meal, depending on your tastes and the amount of time you have. An added benefit is that this project is also appreciated by the rest of the family, if you make enough to go around!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rock climbing

Discussions and projects are great, but don't forget to have some fun also!! You don't have to actually go rock climbing, perhaps your (or your CB's) interests lie in a different area. The important thing here is get out and do something that is physical and fun--sitting around talking about all the earth shattering things that must be discussed can be difficult when not balanced by a bit of enjoyment. Have fun!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Scripture Memory

Become partners in Scripture Memory. Although it is a personal responsibility for every Christian to "hide God's word in his heart," in my own experience a partner can make the difference between success and failure. Besides what better way to draw closer together than through His Word?

There are many different things you can work on, the Romans Road, 1 Cor 13, the Sermon on the Mount, and any of the marriage passages are always good places to start. If you have both been in the habit of memorizing you may want to try one of the smaller New Testament books, such as Philippians. Philippians only has four chapters and 100ish verses, at two verses a day, ten days a week that would only take a little over 2 months. Not bad for an entire book!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Perspective

"To be honest, my heart has grown a little impatient with the ‘perfect’ courtship stories, and although I am glad for those couples, it is hard because the message I receive from so many of them, whether they intentionally try to give that message or not, is that if you follow God’s plan, your courtship and marriage will be ‘perfect’. But I do not see that in the Bible…

God promises good, which I believe sometimes includes trials and pain, to those who love Him… His desire is His glory, and I see His glory in the broken lives and hearts He holds in His hands… broken so that His love may pour through." -Elizabeth Jackson (More from her here)

There is a tendency in circles that "do" courtship to look at a happy marriage as a reward for doing well. There is a formula attitude--if you follow these certain rules during courtship, do such-and-such at these specified intervals, then your courtship will be God-honoring and you will have a perfect marriage. I say it is an attitude, because no one would actually verbalize such statements. Yes, it is true that there are some things couples can do to bring glory to God. However, bringing glory to God does not mean that a happy 'perfect' marriage will automatically follow. Often it is through the valley of suffering that God refines us.

This blog is a pretty light hearted look at courtship. I haven't written much about the challenges, trials, and difficulties that can come up, though my courtship has had it's share of struggle.  The struggles aren't the point of my writing, the point is to take a good look at the practical side of courtship. What it can look like in the day-to-day, in a world where courting certainly isn't the norm. 


While the cheerful is certainly good, it is also important to have a Godfearing attitude. I live every day with the knowledge that I may never marry my Knight. God may call him home, or He may call me. Or if we do live long enough to marry there is nothing that says we'll see our first anniversary. While it isn't right to worry or fret, we should keep proper perspective on life's brevity and treasure every happy gift that God blesses us with. We also need to remember that at least for those who are the children of God, all things work out for good. No, there is no formula for the perfect, trial free life. Pain is going to come. It's part of living. But God will use those struggles to work in us a deeper, purer perfection than can ever be gained by a euphoric, fairy tale 'happily ever after.'





Monday, October 19, 2009

Gentlemen

“I have found that a man will usually be as much of a gentleman as a lady requires and probably no more.”
-Elisabeth Elliot

Saturday, October 17, 2009

First Kisses

This post from Young Ladies Christian Fellowship is the best article I've ever read on the practice of saving the first kiss (and any other forms of romantic touch) for the wedding day. It is controversial, but well worth reading. Though I know this flies in the face of most traditional "courtship theorists" I think Gretchen has hit the nail on the head and have come back to the post several times since it was published.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Proverbs on finances

Work through the book of Proverbs with your CB and note all the verses that talk about finances. Categorize them, and discuss the implications of the verses.

There are several ways to do this--you could read each chapter together, or work on it separately. My Knight and I each took a half of the book and read a chapter a day for three weeks. Once a week we had a "quiet time" together to discuss the things we'd learned and compile our verses. How you choose to do the project depends on how you and your CB work best together.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Reformation day

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther hung his 95 thesis on the door of the wittenburg church.This major historical event marked the emerging birth of the church. People started reading the Bible in their own tongue, praying directly to God (no priest), and pursuing a personal relationship with Christ.

the idea for the day is to plan a Reformation Day celebration to celebrate the occasion. You can do as much or as little, depending on who you want to invite. If you and your CB want to just have a family thing, you could put on a play, do some games, or read an interesting historical account of the reformation. If you want to plan something bigger (maybe for your church, or group of friends) you could do much more.

Some ideas we have used include:

*Put together a play or skit (there are also some available onlne, both free and for a price)

*Have Reformation themed foods (anywhere from a wittenburg churchdoor cake, to German dishes such as sauerkraut)

*Give a brief historical account

*Reformation Era costumes

*A trivia game with prizes

*Coffer toss

*Life of Luther maze

*Bible relay

*Bible translators clue

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Focus

One common trap that I have observed in courtship, is the trap of a wrong focus. I don't mean the most obvious trap of focusing more on each other than on the Lord. This trap is much more subtle. It is a trap that is common for both the couple and their families to fall into. It is difficult to recognize because it disguises itself as being holy. In fact, depending on the culture and belief system the couple was raised in, the more tangled in this trap they are the more praise and respect they will get. What is this trap, you ask? It is the trap of rules.


 Before that February evening when my Knight first spoke to me, I had a lot of ideas about the way courtship should work. I had read a pile of relationship books, and many more "courtship stories" on top of that. I'd carefully observed my peers in their relationships. With this extensive study I had formed quite a lot of opinions on how courtship should be done. There were good things that all couples ought to do, and wrong things that couples should never do.


When a dear friend of mine confided in me one afternoon that she didn't want a lot of oppressive rules hanging over her when she started courting, I was convinced that she spoke some sort of "courtship heresy." After all, the point of rules is to be loving--not oppressive. A common theme of these rules is that a courting couple will, when given an opportunity, throw all caution to the wind and do something they will later regret. Even though the rules seem uncomfortable a good Courter will accept them, because the rules are there to protect them from themselves.



In the last 6 months I've had plenty of time to examine those assumptions, and I find that there is no Biblical foundation for them. There is no biblical example of a relationship conducted based on so many rules. In fact, there is no "Biblically based" method of conducting a relationship. Isaac and Rebekah's relationship was very different from Jacob and Rachel's relationship, which was very different from Joseph and Mary's.


If a couple is not mature enough to conduct themselves in purity and to choose wise standards and stick to them, they are not mature enough to be married. If a couple isn't mature enough to handle themselves in a God honoring way when they are alone, they are not mature enough to be courting. If a couple isn't mature enough to wisely use the amount of time they have to prepare for marriage together, they are not mature enough to be in a relationship.


The assumption that rules set and enforced by siblings and parents equal purity is a faulty one at best. Some general thoughts abut how well "the law" worked out for Israel, and how well Jesus received the pharasees and their rules proves that. God does not smile upon those who add to his word, even something as seemingly insignificant as extensive lists of courtship rules. Is purity important? Yes. Of course it is. Are rules necessary to maintain purity? No. Remember, "the Law killeth, but the spirit giveth life." (2 Cor 3:6) Creating long convoluted lists of rules just creates a very stressed couple that will take what they can get. The emphasis is moved away from a heart attitude of purity and onto outward performance.


If God had intended there to be a yoke of rules on those who are about to be married He would have spent more time describing the rules. Instead He just told us to strive for purity. What exactly that looks like in each time and culture will vary. God knows the heart, and He knows if it is pure.



Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Tim 4:12

Monday, October 5, 2009

Reading

Read a book together. Is there an area of spiritual growth that one or both of you are challenged in? Perhaps God is leading you to missions—there are many interesting biographies and autobiographies written about missionaries. Perhaps God is leading you to trust more fully in Him, whether in general or in a specific area—there are many good books on this as well.

Reading together will help expand your horizons and give opportunities for discussion that you wouldn't otherwise think of. Discuss things you are learning as you read, and apply it to your lives.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Issues

As your courtship progresses it is important to find where each of you stand on various issues. These may either be things that one of you has “a conviction” on, or these may just be things that you need to be sure you are of one mind in.

Here are some examples of issues that should be discussed during courtship:

Debt—What does the Bible say about debt? Are there positive uses of debt? What kinds of debt are acceptable? What do each of you do currently to stay out of debt, and how will you handle debt in the future?

Finances—how will the finances be handled? Will you have a commitment to save? Who will be in charge of finances/paperwork? How with tithe and giving be handled? Which of the two of you is the spender? Which is the saver? When there is a conflict over money, what steps will be taken to resolution?

Birth Control—does either of you have scriptural objections to all/some kinds of birth control? If the restrictions are Biblical share the verses, if they are personal explore the reason. Are there certain circumstances where birth control is acceptable? What are they?

Decisions—will your family follow egalitarian or headship/submission model of marriage? What are your scriptural reasons for choosing this model? If you do egalitarian who will make the final call in a tough decision? If you follow headship/submission what checks and balances should the husband follow in order to be a servant leader?

Discipline—When children come along, how will the discipline be handled? Compare the models of discipline that each of you had growing up. What portions will you imitate? What things will you do differently? Will the responsibility for discipline be shared, or fall primarily to one of you? How will discipline be administered? What circumstances? What is the ultimate goal of discipline? What forms of discipline will be unacceptable?

Entertainment—What are the family standards for entertainment? What criteria will be used to filter evil things out—both for parents and children? What forms of entertainment are unacceptable? What forms of entertainment are good?


Extended Family—how will family relationships (parents, grandparents, siblings, etc.) be handled so that you are both your own couple but also include them in your lives? When there is a conflict between your desires as a couple, and the desires of your extended family what steps will be taken to resolve the conflict? What boundaries will you set around each other? What about holidays?

There are plenty more topics that should be discussed, but these are the biggest ones that come to mind. Some of these make more sense to discuss a few months into the courtship, after you have both spent some time growing closer and studying the Bible together. All of them, however, are potential areas of contention and should be discussed well before marriage.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Created To Be His Helpmeet


Of all relationship books I’ve read, and I’ve read quite a few, this is the one that has most shaped my views on marriage. It is written by Debi Pearl, whom I first grew to respect through the series that she and her husband wrote on child training (that series was so well written that as a child I read it for fun!).

This book is written in the spirit of Tutus 2, by an older woman to encourage younger women to godliness. Some of the topics covered are: keeping a merry heart in hard times, practicing thankful spirit toward your husband, being content with what you have, developing a ‘playful’ spirit toward your man, developing wisdom (4 chapters), the nature of man and woman, earning the trust of your man, and reverence. And that is just the first half of the book! The second half Mrs. Pearl works through the Titus 2 passage phrase by phrase; To Be Sober, To Love their Husbands, To love their Children, etc.

Mrs. Pearl is a mountain woman, and she doesn’t mince words. She calls sins by their real name, not by the glossed over terms that we use today to soften them up. She paints a hard picture of the kind of marriage a woman who doesn’t follow scriptural principles can expect, and backs these pictures up with letters she has received.

This is a book written to women, so she focuses intently on the responsibilities that woman have to their husbands and doesn’t mention responsibilities men have to their wives. Considering the author and the intended audience this is very appropriate, but it is important to keep in mind as the book is read.

One thing that bears mentioning, this book does deal with some sexual themes. Mrs. Pearl takes a hard look at some very common misconceptions that woman have about sexuality and what the Bible says on the topic. This is done in a manner appropriate both for a mature single young woman and a young lady who is courting and preparing herself for marriage. I would submit that the topics covered are necessary for anyone who is going to be married soon.

Really, the only chapter I would strongly caution about is the second to last one, “To Obey or Not To Obey.” This chapter treats with difficult situations of abuse and husbands involved in sin. Most of what Mrs. Pearl (and her husband, who writes much of this section) has to say is fairly sound biblically, but I don’t believe it is necessary to read unless the situation is one you are actually dealing with.

All in all I highly recommend this book. Should the Lord give me daughters it will be required reading for them when they turn 18—and I imagine I’ll work through it with them just for the chance to read it again!