Posted by: Lance Parrish | May 13, 2014

The Ministry of Presence

Have you ever had those days when you sit at your desk at work and stare blankly into your computer screen wondering if you’re efforts are making a difference for your organization? We’ve all been there, right? Of course we have. For a minister, it is especially challenging. When I am in my office, I make it a priority to work hard because I know that the time I spend at my desk prepares me for when I’m with people. I know that if I don’t spend time preparing for my lessons, or working out the details for summer camp, or calling CAPPS to make sure we have enough vans to transport our teens safely then I’m not positioning myself for success when I am around the people.

The temptation that I feel as a minister is to minimize people (when they need me) because I’m too busy getting ready (at my desk) for the next time I’ll see them (at church). I sometimes fall into this trap where my work becomes more important than the people I’m working for – and that’s a dangerous place to be as a minister because ministry doesn’t always happen at church. People are the lifeblood of my job. Teenagers are why I am doing what I’m doing. My job wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for parents and teenagers, so they’re kind of a big deal. They deserve my undivided attention – especially outside of church.

Today, God reminded me of a great truth about effective ministry. Whether you’re a full-time, part-time, or volunteer minister to people I have found that this one principal makes the biggest difference in people’s lives. That principal is presence. Being present with people, especially in their distress, gives you more grace and good-will with people than any lesson, devotional, or Bible study you could ever craft.

When I was at Abilene Christian University, Taylor and I took a class together called Teaching Ministry. David Wray was the professor of this class, and it was easily one of the most practical classes for daily ministry that I took while I was at ACU. I have referred to my notes from that class on countless occasions in my professional career as a minister. One thing that has had a deep and lasting impact on my ministry is this idea that Dr. Wray taught us called the ministry of presence. He taught us about the present nature of Jesus, and how his time on earth was spent sitting and talking with people. Jesus came to be with people, to serve people, to heal people, and to give them his undivided attention. This was a radically different approach to ministry as compared to the Pharisees of the time. Presence changes everything. When people sense that you care about them enough that you’ll disrupt your schedule to be at the hospital with them – it changes everything.

When my dad passed away, a friend of mine from high school stopped by the house to give her condolences. She brought with her a book, and she sat down in the corner of our living room and said, “Lance, I’ll be right here. If you need anything, please ask me.” After a couple of hours I went over to her and said, “Angela, it’s ok if you need to go.” She looked up at me, smiled and said, “Lance, I’ll be right here. If you need anything, let me know.” Turns out I did need something. I needed a hug. I wasn’t sure when it was going to come, but I knew that I would eventually need a hug. And when that moment came, she was there to give me a hug.

I probably got more hugs during those three days between my dad’s passing and the funeral than I have in my entire life. Why do I remember hers? Because she shared the ministry of presence with me. She, through her actions, communicated to me that she cared about me and that changed everything. The ministry of presence is what makes all the difference in ministry.

Today was one of those days for me. I visited a hospital room where a woman was literally taking some of the last breaths she will ever take on this planet while her husband held her hand. I visited with the parent of a 13 year old girl as she shared with me some of the struggles they are going through as a family. I sat at a dinner table with a father for lunch as he shared with me how he and his wife are trying their best to raise their 16 year old daughter but are scared. Then I had a Bible study (which wound up being a great philosophical debate about faith instead of an in-depth Bible study) with a college age young man who is considering giving his life to Christ in baptism.

Today was a day that I got no work done, but I worked a full day. Today was a day where presence is what made me successful at my job.

Who will you be present with?

Thanks for reading.

Posted by: Lance Parrish | May 12, 2014

Big Announcement

Yesterday we announced on social media that Taylor and I are expecting baby #2. We are super excited! Taylor will be due sometime in November of this year and our little family of three will grow into a family of four. We are thrilled. We have always talked about being a family of four. Both Taylor and I came from four-person families, so it makes sense to both of us. We can’t imagine Avery growing up without siblings, but we’re not sure if we want to shift from a man-to-man defense of parenting to a zone defense by adding a third or fourth child. We’ll see what God has planned though.

This past Thursday marked the 12 week mark of Taylor’s pregnancy, and on Saturday night (the night before Mother’s Day) Taylor was able to listen to the baby’s heartbeat through her doppler before we went to bed (an early Mother’s Day gift from the fetus – lol).

We had kept the news from Avery until this weekend. We bought a book entitled God Gave Us Two, which is a follow up to God Gave Us You (I can’t recommend these books highly enough). These are the sweetest books that help explain to children (on an age appropriate level of course) where babies come from, and how younger siblings are also a blessing from God. We have read God Gave Us You to Avery since she was very little, and it’s one of her favorite books. I sarcastically thanked Taylor the other day for getting a new book for me to cry though. I’m finally able to read God Gave Us You to Avery without tearing up (2 years later) and now she’s gone and gotten another book for me to cry through.

In case you didn’t know, I’m kind of a big softie…I cry when watching most Disney movies… (I know…)

Anyway, Avery is beginning to understand that there is a baby in mommy’s tummy, but she still hasn’t quite grasped the concept of being a big sister. For everything that I love about being a parent, nothing has been more fun than watching those wheels turn in Avery’s head while we talk about her being a big sister. I genuinely believe that she will be a great big sister. She has such a sensitive heart and she’s so sweet. I’m certainly not oblivious to sibling rivalry and tensions, but I think she will do beautifully as a big sister. I can’t wait to watch her hold her new baby brother/sister. I can’t wait to see her give her new baby brother/sister kisses. I imagine Avery will sing to it, and read it her favorite books, and tell it how much she loves it – and you can bet the family farm that I’ll bawl my eyes out every time.

We covet your prayers during the upcoming weeks and months of this pregnancy. While our family has been blessed with a healthy baby in Avery, we have also been through the pain of miscarriage. We’ve also walked along side others who have had trouble conceiving, and have wept bitterly with close friends as they had to bury their first-born only days after she was born. We trust God’s provision, and have the deepest of faith that our little one will develop and grow as he/she should, but it’s hard to shake the fear of something going terribly wrong. I ask that you pray for strong development. I ask that you pray for Taylor’s body to do exactly what God created it to do. I ask that you pray for Taylor as she carries this child. Pray for our faith to increase and that peace will abound in our hearts. God will be glorified regardless, but we ask for your prayers in these ways.

Thanks for being excited with us, thank you in advance for your prayers, and thanks for reading.

Posted by: Lance Parrish | May 11, 2014

Happy Mother’s Day, Babe

Allow me to gush for a moment.


You are simply amazing. I love you more than anything. You bring such joy and fulfillment to my life. I can’t imagine my life without you.

Today I want you to know how special you are to me, to Avery, and to our family. You are the most special piece of our family. I love watching you with Avery. I love listening to you sing hymns to her. I love that she cries for you when she feels insecure. I love watching her face light up when you walk in the door from work on Fridays. I love listening to her talk about you.

You are an incredible mother and I am the luckiest guy on the planet. I can’t wait to celebrate many more Mother’s Days with you.

Happy Mothers Day, sweetheart.


Posted by: Lance Parrish | May 10, 2014

Lazy Saturday

Right now I’m sitting in my living room playing on our MacBook Air while the ladies in my life take a much needed nap.  We are pretty sure that Avery must be going through a growth spurt because she’s been taking killer naps the past several days.  Normally she fights the naps and, at best, sleeps 45 minutes.  The past few days she’s slept over two hours for her naps.

Taylor has been equally tired.  This week her 20 page semester paper was due in one of her grad classes at UTA.  She’s been stressed about it all week (really all semester).  She finally finished and submitted it on Thursday so, to say she’s relieved would be an understatement.  She just emerged from Avery’s room a few minutes ago to let me know that she fell asleep while rocking Avery to sleep for her nap. So now she’s taking a nap as well leaving me alone in a quiet house (a rare treat these days).

Sabbath is one of those things that doesn’t come naturally to most of us.  The idea of taking time to rest is more of an inconvenience than it is a luxury.  There is always more work to be done, another load of laundry, a yard that needs mowing, an errand to run, or a blog post to write.

In Genesis, it is said that God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day he rested.  He labored and toiled for six days, and then on the seventh day he stopped to breathe.  Fast-forward to Exodus 20 and we see God giving his commandments to Moses.  The third commandment that God gave his children (Israel) is to honor the Sabbath and to keep it holy.  God commanded that for six days we are to labor and toil, but then we are to take a day off and relax – take a day to enjoy the fruit of our labor.

The question that I’m wrestling with right now is this; why is rest something we feel guilty for taking?

God commanded that his people take time to rest – it wasn’t a suggestion.  It’s like God knew that our self-worth would get wrapped up into our ability to be productive.  (Ouch – that sentence hit a little too close to home.)  God’s command to honor the Sabbath was never intended to be a way to inconvenience us (his laws never are).  It was intended to remind us that in all of our labor and toil we are to remember that God is the one who provides.  When we stop to rest in his provision, we find a different kind of rest, and that rest is Sabbath.

I pray that you will be able to find some Sabbath in your schedule this week.

Thanks for reading.

Posted by: Lance Parrish | May 8, 2014

Life Update & Youth Ministry Vision

I’ve been thinking lately that I’d like to jump back into the blogging sphere. Clearly I’m not a regular blogger, which will truly make this a challenge, but I’ve been thinking that it’s probably a good idea to pick it back up. To begin, let me give a few quick updates:

1. Avery (our daughter) is now 2 years old – and my goodness is she 2 years old. As Taylor (my wife) likes to say, “When she’s fun – she’s fun. When she’s not – she’s not.” Our world has been rocked by Avery but we can’t imagine living life without her. She is the joy of my life right now. Just last night, around 9:30pm, she woke up and cried for daddy. I couldn’t help but oblige, and I went and rocked her back to sleep. She’s precious and I love her with every ounce of my being.

2. On April 25th I celebrated my 4th anniversary of being at Pleasant Ridge as the youth minister. Time has flown by! On Sunday May 4th I snuck up to Legacy Church of Christ to celebrate and honor their graduating class. For those that don’t know, Legacy is where I worked before I came to Pleasant Ridge, and those seniors were 8th graders (my 8th graders) when I left. I was their junior high youth minister and I left just before they finished the 8th grade.

3. This summer marks mine and Taylor’s 8th wedding anniversary. Coincidentally it also marks the 8th year of full-time youth ministry work. I can’t begin to tell you how blessed I have been in 8 years. Taylor is simply an amazing woman, and she makes my life infinitely better. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for bringing us together. I always tell her that if we hadn’t gotten married I’d likely be single, fat, and broke because I’d spend all of my money on fast-food and Apple products. She does so much more than keep me happy and in shape though. She also teaches me how to love someone like Christ loves the church, and she teaches me about God’s grace every single day. I love her deeply.

Now, on to why I want to pick blogging back up. Lately I’ve been rethinking/reimagining what youth ministry will look like in one, three, five, and ten years in the future. It’s my belief that trying to sustain yesterday’s model of youth ministry will only lead to declining interest and effectiveness. There is a quote that has been on my brain for the past several weeks from Craig Groeschel that I heard while at Catalyst Dallas last year. That quote is, “If you want to reach people no one else is reaching, you have to do ministry like no one else is doing it.”

Doing ministry like no one else is doing ministry is scary. What if we fail? What will others say about our motives? What happens when people come to our building that we can’t trust? Do we want outside influence on our teens when they come to church?

Recently, we at Pleasant Ridge commissioned a new mission statement, “…to lead people into a life-changing walk with Jesus Christ.” I like this mission because it narrowly focuses our existence as the church of Jesus Christ. The youth ministry has adopted this mission statement as our own “…to lead teenagers into a life-changing walk with Jesus Christ.”

My prayer is that as youth ministry at Pleasant Ridge forges ahead, we are bold in our ministry to lead teenagers into a life-changing walk with Jesus Christ. I hope that we are actively trying to engage both churched and unchurched teenagers, helping them realize the need for a savior in their lives. I pray that we stay tenaciously conservative in our understanding of Scripture, while being incredibly creative in our approach to ministry. I pray that we begin to do things that no one else is doing so that we can reach students that no one else is reaching.

I’ll wrap up this blog with another quote from Craig Groeschel, “If you’re not leading with a little uncertainty from time-to-time you’re not leading by faith.”

May we at Pleasant Ridge be a church that can lead with a little uncertainty from time-to-time.

Thanks for reading.

Posted by: Lance Parrish | August 21, 2012

Key To Successful Youth Ministry

I’ve been reading from a book written by a guy named Dr. Allen Jackson (no, he’s not the country singer) called “Teach: The Ordinary Person’s Guide to Teaching Students the Bible” to help improve my skills as a teacher.  It’s been very helpful, as well as challenging, as I am constantly trying to figure out how I can improve upon my skills as a teacher of the Word of God.

I am firm believer that the Bible holds the keys to universal ultimate truth.  There is no doubt in my mind that Scripture reveals truth about God, salvation, sin, grace, and answers to issues that we all face in our world today.  But how do I effectively teach the Bible to a generation of young adults whose view of truth is relative?  That is the tricky part of youth ministry, and is something that my colleagues and I wrestle with on a daily basis.

I have always felt that personal relationships are the most effective way to facilitate change in a person’s life – regardless of age/gender/race/etc.  When I step back and view the scope of my own life, I realize that the people that have the most influence over my life are the people with whom I have deep, personal relationships.  Going a step further than that even, I realize that as a teenager the people who had the most influence on my walk with Christ were the adults that cared enough about my spiritual development to have a personal relationship with me.  If you ask any youth minister, or youth worker, what the key is to youth ministry they will affirm that personal relationships are critical. 

Students today have a skeptical view of adults and authorities in their life.  Most of that stems from brain development (not underdevelopment – just unfinished development).  According to this book, the brain is done growing physically by adolescence but doesn’t reach full maturity until the mid-20’s.  The areas of judgment, discernment, and consequence of choices are still being developed throughout the adolescent years.  So, when a student is told by their parent they “have to go to church because it’s important”, that student then becomes resistant to church because they don’t have the full ability to understand the spiritual consequences of skipping church.  This creates and fuels the “I know better than you” mentality that is often present in teenagers.

Now, going back to the discussion, how do we win students over?  How do we engage them in their walk with Christ?  How do we help them realize that Bible study and prayer is critical to their walk with Christ?  We do it through meaningful, personal relationships.  Adults who model a commitment to church inspire teenagers.  Adults who model the servant heart of Christ inspire teenagers.  Adults who know, and can quote Scripture, inspire teenagers.  Adults who show up to teenagers choir concerts, baseball games, dance recitals, and Eagle Scout ceremonies win the hearts and respect of teenagers.

We (as youth workers) can’t successfully do what we do without the help of committed adults who help model a Christ-centered life for our teenagers.  This book refers to adult youth workers as “surrogate parents”, which is appropriate because while you may have a child in youth ministry there may be four or five other students that long for your attention, while your children are longing for attention from other adult leaders.

This fall at Pleasant Ridge we (as the leadership) are going to focus on finding committed adult volunteers to help model a Christ-centered life for our teens.  We are going to be tapping shoulders, and asking for more adults to step in and help guide and lead our teenagers into a committed relationship with Christ.  The teenage years are the years when students are most likely to make a life-long commitment to Christ, so we are going to do our best to take advantage of every opportunity we have with these young people.

If you feel a calling to speak and model truth into young people’s lives, please come find me.  We want to use you.  You can always email me, or call me.  However, if God is calling you to a ministry where you can change the life of some of our students, please come talk to me.  We want to use you.

May God bless our families and students at Pleasant Ridge.

Posted by: Lance Parrish | April 17, 2012

Are Cell Phones for Children Helpful or Dangers?

This past weekend I was playing around on Twitter, and I came across a tweet from CNET regarding an article that was titled “One-fifth of third-graders own cell phones” (click here to read the article). As someone who works with teenagers this caught my eye, and I found it to be both interesting and sad.

Are cell phones necessary for our children? Have we as parents become so obsessed with the whereabouts of children that we started putting this technology in their hands at an absurdly young age? Has the physical umbilical cord been replaced by a digital umbilical cord so that our kids are just 10 short digits away from us at all times? It seems absurd when it’s phrased in those terms, but then again it’s the world we live in. Convenience has become our excuse for putting this technology in our children’s hands, but at what cost? Is this technology even intended for them? Are there risks associated with a decision put a cellphone in the hands of a 3rd grader? Or 7th grader? Or 12th grader? Are we somehow robbing them from the innocence of childhood, and forcing them into scenarios beyond their maturity levels? These are all things I’d like for us to consider together. Please read all of this post, and read the CNET article before you jump to any conclusions. I’d love to hear you thoughts and comments as well.

I want to ask a simple, yet provocative question. Is a cellphone a dangerous piece of technology for a child? It’s a good question. It’s an honest question. Let’s define “child” though – as I can see many people wanting to draw lines around that word’s definition. Legally a child is anyone under the age of 18, but for our purposes, let’s define them as younger than 16. I am going to suggest that giving a cellphone to any “child” (as we’ve defined it) is a dangerous decision. While there are a laundry list of positives for giving a child a cellphone, I’d like for us to consider together the dangers of introducing this technology to our children too soon.

The biggest risk is cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is a recent phrase which describes the bullying that we would associate with a schoolyard bully, only now it is in the cyber realm. As mentioned in the CNET article, most everyone grows out of the face-to-face bullying as they mature and grow. Life lessons teach them that it’s not ok to be a bully and it dies out with age. However, cyber bullying increases exponentially as children grow and mature, because it allows the bully to hide behind a cellphone, or a laptop. Principals, teachers, and coaches can control the bullying that takes place at school, but no one can control one child text messaging a threat to another child in the middle of the night. No one can control what one student says about another student on Facebook – and often times the bullying is far more public this way since so many of our children are connected through devices like cellphones.

Another risk is sexual development. Many cellphones and all smartphones can access the internet. Now, what used to be seeing a friends dad’s Playboy magazine, is now sleepless nights of surfing full blown pornography websites that are designed to be viewed on a cellphone screen. Since so many of these phones now have HD cameras, students are snapping nude pictures of themselves and texting them back and forth. Imagine a 3rd grade female getting a text message with a picture of a 5th graders penis on it? If you’re the parent of a daughter (like me) it make your skin boil. The little girl didn’t ask for that. The little girl had no control over that, but I guarantee that will damage her sexual development.

The last danger that I see (and am going to mention in this post) is that it removes our children from face-to-face interactions that bring about life lessons which builds character. The effects of the digital era (HDTV’s, Laptops, Tablets, Cellphones, Video games, etc.) are still being determined, but I have seen firsthand how it affects a child’s ability to interact face-to-face. I’ve watched children drift to the periphery of social groups because they are constantly on their phones, or playing a hand-held video game. The approach to dating is being rewritten because of Facebook. A male can no longer approach a female peer and ask if he can take her on a date without being labeled as a “creeper.” The relationship now MUST begin with him befriending her on Facebook. IF she accepts the friendship, he can then casually strike up digital conversation via Facebook. Once a good rapport has been established on Facebook, he can then approach her in person. Before he can ask her out he must acquire her phone number, not so that he can call her, but so that he can text her. Then, he can ask her out on a date (more than likely through a Facebook message or text message) once he is absolutely sure he won’t be rejected. After the conclusion of the date, to signify that the date went well, she must change her relationship status on Facebook from “single” to “in a relationship.” Then, and only then, can he change his relationship status as well. This is now the establishment of a dating relationship, and can be broken at any time if either party changes their relationship status.

Is this not absurd? I think so. The harsh reality though, is that this is what is happening to our children when we allow them to hide behind the digital veil. I have youth minister friends who tell me that teenagers who have good news will call them to share it, but if a teenager has bad news or is breaking a commitment they made, they’ll text it because they can’t bring themselves to even call – let alone share that news in person. Are we doing our children a favor by giving them this technology, or are we giving them an out from the learning experiences and feelings you get when you have to share bad or disappointing news?

I know that there are just as many positives for children to have phones as there are dangers for them to have phones. I’m not advocating for anyone under the age of 16 to be without a cellphone, but I am suggesting that these things need to be considered before giving someone that age a cellphone. As parents, we need to realize that giving a child a cellphone without giving them clear-cut boundaries on when and how they can use it is, is like giving them a loaded gun. It can greatly enhance and improve their lives, or it can kill them (and that’s not hyperbole).

Do you have a child that fits this age description? Do they have a cellphone? Do you know how they’re using it and when they’re using it? Do you model appropriate use of cellphones and smartphones to your children, or are you also addicted to your phone? I, for one, am way too addicted to my phone. I realized that when I became a husband, and I’m realizing it all over again now that I’m a father. It’s scary to think about the dangers that cellphones bring to our lives, but can we live without them? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

Have a blessed day.

Posted by: Lance Parrish | September 26, 2011

Quick Update

Quick post.

I know I’m terrible at posting, so please excuse me.

For those of you who actually check my blog on occasion, thanks for checking in.

Here are the most recent updates our lives:

  1.  Taylor is Pregnant.  We found out in June (the morning we left for Vegas) that she was pregnant.  She’s healthy, baby is healthy, and baby is due to arrive on March 3rd.  I’m scared, but excited.
  2. Taylor and I went to Vegas this summer for vacation.  I got to see Garth Brooks (my favorite singer) while we were there.  We also ran into Kaley Cuoco (Penny) from The Big Bang Theory, and took a picture with her – nice girl!  We stayed at the Bellagio (ballin’!) and I lost $60 at Blackjack….yeah, yeah…I’m not much of a gambler.
  3. We are replacing the floors in our house (to get ready for the arrival of baby) and we’re getting carpet and laminate hardwoods.  Very excited about that!  I’ve already redone the guest bathroom floor.
  4. Went to help clean up Joplin for our mission trip this summer after the tornado.  Awesome, life-changing trip.  Very blessed by that.
  5. I started P90X again today, and I’m ridiculously sore….  here we go…

Be blessed.

Posted by: Lance Parrish | October 14, 2010

The Truth About Teenage Dating and Sexual Temptation

Last night in class we (Taylor and I) tried to tackle the ever elusive topic of dating with our youth group.  I call it ever elusive because the label of “dating” seems to change every couple of years.  When I was a teenager it was called “going out” – even though, for most of us, we didn’t actually “go” anywhere.  The generation ahead of us called it “going steady.”  I learned last night that today’s teenagers define dating digitally.  Facebook status updates from “single” to “In A Relationship With _________” is more appropriate signs of “dating.”  Also, communication is primarily started through Facebook, and then moves into texting each other.  It was interesting to me that when I asked them, “So, when does the face-to-face conversation actually occur?”  They responded with, “Skype.”  Very interesting.

Our purpose on Wednesday nights this semester have been to try and find out if truth actually exists and, if so, what are the impacts of truth for our lives?  Because we all live in a postmodern world – we are all bombarded with the idea that truth is relative.  Truth is something that is defined by the individual, for the individual.  In teenagers culture, and mainstream culture in general, it is socially inappropriate and unacceptable for one person to push his truth onto another person, because the truth of the one person may not line up with the truth of the second person.  We tend to shy away from making absolute statements, and we even label the people who do make absolutely statements as being either incredibly conservative or incredible liberal.  That’s the basic influence of postmodern thinking in our world, and it is intensified in teenage culture.

So, back to the dating thing.  Last night, Taylor and I wanted to begin a conversation with our youth group about the truth of dating.  What is the purpose of dating?  What is your role (as the male, or as the female) in dating?  When you begin a dating relationship, what is the goal?  And finally, what function or role does sexuality play in a dating relationship?  Obviously these topics are far too deep to be able to cover in a 1 hour session with our youth group, but our goal was to get the conversation started, and bring a level of truth to an area of conversation that often is left up to the teenager to decide.

If you knew me at all in high school, then this part will make you laugh.  Taylor and I started by sharing our dating experiences.  I went first.  It took me about 5-7 minutes to describe the kind of person I was in high school when it came to dating.  Long story short (and yes I actually counted it out yesterday) I had a different girlfriend all the time.  I counted at least 21 girls in about a 6 or 7 year span of my life that I dated in some form or fashion.  There was lots of laughing.  It was fun.  Taylor on the other hand took 30 seconds to say, “I’ve never dated anyone but Lance.”  We make quite a team.  We are the opposite ends of the dating spectrum.

Taylor and I spent some time talking about the 5 Love Languages.  They are Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Quality Time, Physical Touch, and Acts of Service.  Each of these is a way of communicating and receiving love.  We talked about the importance of knowing what your love language is, but also the importance of knowing what someone else’s love language is.  We feel like the truth about love is that everybody wants love on some level – the problem is that we often don’t know how to effectively and healthily communicate love.  If teenagers can grasp what their love language is, they can have more meaningful friendships, relationships with their parents, and relationships in regards to dating because they can say, “I feel most loved when…”

After that, we talked about the effects of communicating in love languages in a dating relationship.  If two people are effectively communicating their love languages, attraction will increase.  Plain and simple.  The truth is, that is how we were created.  If we are effectively communicating and receiving love with the person that we are dating the attraction level will increase.  The danger in that is that a dating relationship is different from a marriage.  We were created by God to take our attraction and desire for each other all the way to sexual intercourse; that’s how God created us.  It’s not wrong to feel that attraction and have that desire for someone you date.  It’s not wrong to want to go farther with someone you’re dating – or someone you may be “in love” with, because we were all created to want to go all the way.  So, how far is too far for a dating relationship?  That’s the million dollar question that all teenagers want to know.

 In social science there has actually been a study that gauges the level of intimacy we share.  The gauge is like a ladder.  This is how it goes:

Ladder of Intimacy

Eye to Body –> Eye to Eye –>Voice to Voice –>Hand to Hand –>Arm to Shoulder –>Arm to Waist –>Mouth to Mouth –>Hand to Head –> Hand to Body –>Mouth to Breast –>Hand to Genitals –> Sexual Intercourse

I actually got 12 students standing across the front of the room that each represented one rung of this ladder.  I started on the Eye to Body end and worked my way up to Sexual Intercourse explaining what each rung meant.  Then I asked them, starting with sexual intercourse, “Is this ok to happen in a dating relationship?”  They said, “No!”  I stepped down to Hand to Genitals and asked, “Is this ok to happen in a dating relationship?”  They said, “No!”  I stepped down to Mouth to Breast and I asked, “Is this ok to happen in a dating relationship?”  They said, “No!”  I stepped down to Hand to Body (which is defined as touching parts of the body that would normally be covered by a bathing suit) and asked if this was ok in a dating relationship and they said “No!”  I stepped down to hand to head and asked again, “Is this ok in a dating relationship?”  Then I got a resounding, “Yes!”  At that point I stopped and looked at them and I said, “Here’s your line.  The truth of the matter is that those things (pointing toward the way of sexual intercourse) are reserved solely for a marriage relationship.  However, when we think in terms of ‘Where’s the line so I know how far I can go without getting in trouble,’ we wind up going over the line.  We were not created to stop once we get going on this ladder and we can’t just shut it off once we get to this point.”

Taylor then got up and talked about how a marriage is a covenant relationship, and how that type of relationship is different from a dating relationship, and because marriage is a covenant relationship it has its freedoms, blessings, and rewards.  A dating relationship isn’t a covenant, because dating relationships come and go – and that’s why we shouldn’t go beyond that line in our dating relationships.  When we go beyond that line in our dating relationships we share our most intimate relationship in a relationship that isn’t committed (or covenanted) for life.

We wrapped up class by reading 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 where Paul is telling the church that it is God’s will that we be sanctified by avoiding sexual immorality.  God’s command is that we have control over our bodies and our desires.  That passage goes on to say, “He who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God…” (verse 8).  The truth in dating is that God wants you to be self controlled.  The truth in dating is that God wants you to avoid sexual immorality, not because he wants to deprive you of looking, or touching, or sex; but that he wants you to trust in his plan for marriage.  Just like we get to enjoy freedom, and blessing, and reward in a covenant relationship with Christ – we get to enjoy sexual freedom, blessing, and reward in the covenant of marriage.

It was a great class.  God is good.

Posted by: Lance Parrish | September 20, 2010

Overreaction Monday

Well, its overreaction Monday here in Cowboy Nation (according to the local media – namely Randy Galloway) but, it’s also overreaction Monday in Lance Nation as well.  Here’s what I mean…

Overreaction #1 – Cowboys Stink!
I’m not going to lie; I had high hopes for this team this year.  I completely bought into the hype that this Cowboys team could actually be the first team to play in a super bowl that they were hosting.  I guess that was the overreaction.  After yesterday’s loss to the Chicago Bears, I’m becoming rapidly aware just how big an overreaction that was.  The past two weeks I’ve sat in my living room, glued to the Sony flat screen screaming, “You’ve GOT to be KIDDING ME!!!!”  The frustrating thing is that I’ve yelled that in opposite extremes of emotions.  I’ve yelled that in utter disbelief of Miles (s’Miles) Austin making unbelievable catches.  I’ve yelled that in amazement at Dez Bryant’s rookie abilities and the potential future he has in this league and on this team.  BUT, I’ve also yelled it as I watched a game winning touchdown get taken away because of a holding call that was reminiscent of pee-wee football blocking.  I’ve yelled it in disbelief at a fumble right before half-time because of a brainless play called by Romo?  Garrett?  Philips?  The unfortunate thing is that none of them know either!!!  At which, I yelled it again!  I’ve yelled it at interceptions!  I’ve yelled it at pathetic kickers!  I’ve yelled it at real estate agents who ruin the game for me (more on that in a second)!  It’s frustrating!  It’s frustrating because the team seems to be so talented.  The team seems to have all of the pieces, yet they can’t get anything done. 

In spite of all of this, however, I’ve not washed my hands of the Cowboys yet.  I’m still hoping that they’ll pull one out next Sunday, and go into the bye week 1-2.  If that happens, then maybe – just maybe – they won’t wind up 8-8 or 7-9.  Hopefully they can get it together and salvage the season.  No one had faith in the New York Giants in 2007 going into week 3.  The Giants had two losses, one of which was a division loss in the season opener (ironically against Dallas), going into week 3.  As I’m sure you know, the Giants won the Super Bowl that year, but going into week 3 people were calling for Coughlin’s job.  Sounds similar in Dallas this year…week one loss to a division opponent on the road, followed by a loss in week two where they found themselves 0-2 and needing to dig out of a hole.  Lots of similarities…

Now, I’m not saying that the Cowboys will win the next 14 games straight and wind up 14-2, but it’s not unrealistic to think this team could go 10-6, squeak into the playoffs, and hope to have success for the second straight year in the playoffs.  I’m just sayin’ – it’s not impossible!

Overreaction #2 – We’ll NEVER find a house to buy!
Taylor and I feel incredibly blessed that we’ve been able to sell our house in NRH.  God has totally blessed the situation, and he brought us wonderful buyers that we know and trust.  It’s been absolutely amazing!  However, today it’s hard to not overreact.  We’ve looked at 17 houses in the last three weeks.  We’ve spent the last 3 Sunday’s looking at houses all afternoon and coming away not liking most of them.  On the second week we spent a grand total of 2 minutes in the first house we looked at before we walked out.  It was a foreclosure and it was a wreck!  Worst house I’ve ever seen in my entire life.  The only houses we have liked have either been outside of our price range or have been taken out from under us with other offers and contracts.  The other small percentage of houses we’ve looked at, we like but just don’t quite make us feel like we love it.  We feel like if we bought this house, or that house, that we’d be forcing it to work rather than loving it.  We know God has a plan, but today is overreaction Monday and today it feels like we’re NEVER going to find a house to buy!

Quick story – this past Sunday we looked at a gorgeous home in Arlington just north of 287.  It was corner lot house in a very new subdivision that had just about all the features we were looking for.  When we pulled up there were signs in front yard that said, “Open House! Come on In!”  We knew that meant we were going to have a selling agent that was going to bug us while we were there, so we were prepared for that as we got out of the car and walked up the driveway.  Now, at this point in the afternoon the Cowboys were in the second half of their (what I now know to be) loss to the Bears, but I’d not seen any of the game, or heard any score yet.  I was waiting until I got home to watch the game on my DVR (you can already see where this is going).  We walked into the front door and were greeted by the agent.  The exchange went like this:

Us: Hello.
Wayne: Hello, I’m Wayne – the sellers agent.
Us: Hi, Wayne it’s nice to meet you.
Wayne: Have a look around.  I’m just watching the Cryboys in the living room.
Me: OH!  Well, don’t tell me how it goes because I haven’t seen the game yet, and I’m going to watch it when I get…”
Wayne: It’s 20-17.  That’s why I called them the Cryboys. (with a goofy smile on his face)
Taylor:  REALLY?!?  Are you SERIOUS?!?!

Wayne completely cut me off in the middle of my asking him to not ruin the game for me to tell me the score and that they were losing.  We’d not even been in the doors 30 seconds and we were ready to walk out the door (our agent included).  Taylor actually turned to me right in front of him and said, “I’m sorry he ruined it for you, baby.”  We were pretty upset, and to be honest, might’ve been very interested in the house but he completely turned us off and we just wanted to leave.  Sellers, if you’re reading this, your agent cost you a potential offer.  This could probably qualify as overreaction #3, but since it occurred on Sunday it doesn’t count…plus I mentioned it in overreaction #1. 

So, that’s my overreaction Monday.  I’m sure I’ll get an earful on the truck ride home this afternoon as I listen to Galloway antagonize the fans of the Cowboy nation.  Should be a fun ride home.

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