Today is the Day! (or… “How to Survive Winter in the South”)

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It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s not a “winter wonderland”, but more like a dreary landscape with a delightful, slushy mix of ice and dirt everywhere. Yes, it’s a snow storm in the south!

And I hate it! Call me a wimp, but I just do not like winter weather. Now when I say “winter weather”, I’m not talking about the chilly breeze that I have to wear a light jacket for. I mean the stuff that northerners tend to get. Even then, the south’s version is freezing rain. It wreaks complete havoc around here on our roads and trees. Schools are first delayed, then later cancelled. Local facilities like the YMCA shut down early. And yes, that means a cancelled Bible study or two.

Now, Governor Haley has issued a preemptive State of Emergency for the storms to come. It’s getting bad, folks! (seriously… kind of… maybe)  Grab all the milk and bread that you can find!

Islamorada, Florida Keys… sounds good right about now!

It’s days like these where the church-planter in me comes out in full force. I weigh the dreamy possibility of launching a TLC – Islamorada campus. Hey, Parrotheads and sports-fishermen need Jesus too, right?

 

But here I am, practically stuck behind a computer. Many of us feel mentally and emotionally paralyzed by just looking out the window. The good news is that we at least can be spiritually encouraged!

You see, the Jesus didn’t promise no troubles, but He does promise that you won’t be alone in those troubles. The Christian faith isn’t just for the sunny days or the miserable ones… it’s an every day kind of deal.

Psalm 118:24 says,

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

The day that is here now is exactly the day that God intends for you to experience!

Just like with many other areas of life, we could have something “better”… but we are given everything we need to give God glory with. No matter what cards you were dealt, you can win at this game called “life” when you live each day for God!

So while I might feel “frozen” from this funky weather, I don’t have to stay that way when I reflect on all of the things the Lord has taken me through (both good AND bad). There’s something even bigger than that, if I fully consider what He did for me on the cross! Jesus gave us His life so that we can have life. He conquered both sin and death and is still alive (and alive in me!)

“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.” (even if the meteorologist spells doom)

Ever After

Most of us grow up with a culturally manufactured desire for a “one true love”. It’s the dashing prince or the damsel-in-distress that we fatefully encounter on some glorious day. From there we are made to believe that this love will “last forever” and birds, complete with pleasant chirps and flowers clutched between their beaks, will circle around our romantic embrace wherever we may go.

Then reality hits… the dream is over. We wake to the droning sounds of snoring from someone who may have what can only be described medically as severe halitosis. “Real life” can be as sour as that morning breath.

What happened to Prince Charming? Where’s my Cinderella? The truth is they were never there in the first place. Well, at least not in the form we are made to believe. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a fulfilling marriage!

If we were somehow able to find that perfect somebody, does that unto itself lead to a healthy relationship?

In Genesis 2, we not only see where Eve came from, but why:

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Adam needed help! If Adam was complete and perfect, he would have no need for somebody else. Human beings were created for community. Just as it was with Adam, this means first with God our Father, and then with others. We can’t exist solely on our own, no matter how independent we think we are.

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Everyone needs someone that helps them in this time we have on earth. That person doesn’t have to be from a storybook, they just need to be complementary. By lending support to any and all areas of life, each of us completes the other. If that dynamic stays in tact, we can end up with a beautiful story of our own that glorifies God!

Truth is stranger than fiction, as it turns out.

 

Come out to the Hartsville Family YMCA this Sunday at 11am as TLC finishes up its Love with Honor series with, “Ever After”. You’ll see why love doesn’t have to look like a Disney movie!

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Single on Valentine’s Day?

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I just wanted to take a moment to speak to all the single folks out there. This may/may not be a hard time for you, what with all the romantic gestures, couples selfies on your Facebook newsfeed (guilty as charged), and all the usual relationship-themed posts and Tweets that accompany this time of year.

You see, before there ever was a Mrs. Chris Honeycutt (my wife Heather), Valentine’s Day was sometimes a lonely, discouraging day for yours truly. During my college years and first few years in ministry after, I would go on the occasional date around Valentine’s Day with a nice girl from school or church. That never materialized beyond into anything, however. I was always seemingly too busy to carry on a relationship.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t want to be in one. The prayer of my heart around that time of year was for God to send me the “pastor’s wife” that I felt I needed more than anything. And that’s what the problem was.

I thought I needed someone in my life because I was bombarded with friends and roommates getting engaged (and married mere months later) after only one month of dating. Not just one, but more like five. Perhaps this is a unique Christian-world phenomenon, but I grew dumbfounded and a little envious. I was living my life in comparison to others and it’s just downhill business.

That instantaneous “blessing” was happening for everyone else around me, but me! Being honest here, the disillusionment only would grow with every wedding festivity I was a part of with those friends and roommates.

The lesson I had to learn was God would not give me that “girl of my dreams” until I was ready for her. I would only become ready for that relationship, when I focused solely on making my relationship with God the biggest priority of my life (and meant it).

I had to live out Psalm 37:4…

“Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

It took years for this to really take shape fully. I had often heard how “It will happen when you’re not looking for it” and that speaks to this issue pretty well. When I finally let go of that persistent desire to find a wife, and squarely put my all into my relationship with Jesus Christ, I found Heather.

God wouldn’t bless me until He knew He could trust me with the blessing! He loved me and Heather too much to put us together at any earlier point in time.

So basically, don’t wait on God… pursue God! He deserves your heart before you give it away to anyone else.

Head Games

2011-12-06-miscommunication1 One of the challenges of any relationship is communication. Verbal and non-verbal communication alike can both result in disaster depending on not only HOW it’s said, but WHERE it’s coming from.

It may very well be a man/woman dynamic, but I know there’s a consistent pattern with my wife Heather and I. Whether it’s deciding on what to eat, where to go on vacation, or the movie we want to watch, the conversation often goes like this…

Guys, you share my frustration! And yes, maybe not every woman is indecisive, but most are.

Before you get too offended, it is actually an instinctual quality by design (or nature, depending on your perspective). For them, this is the aforementioned “WHERE”, or their centerpoint where communication flows from.

Indecision is not necessarily a bad thing, because at the end of the day women are looking for the man in their life to lead them… spiritually, emotionally, and otherwise. One result from this quality is that women are more likely to be open to new ideas and possibilities, which may complicate the decision making process. Why is that?

Because men are generally known to be stubborn. This too, believe it or not, is his communication centerpoint and very much instinctual. Men are less “open” and more settled into their habits and preferences. We tend to think that anything new that challenges our norm is… well, “stupid”. That obviously can complicate things as well.

Indecisiveness and stubbornness seem like they are two warring tribes. So where’s the common ground? What does healthy communication in a relationship look like, when men and women come from very different places?

Quite simply, this is where marriage enters the picture. In Mark 10, when Jesus was quizzed about divorce, He used it as an opportunity to reinforce marriage. In that He says,

“6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “

He was quoting the book of Genesis, describing the significance that man and woman become one flesh upon being joined in marriage. It’s where two very different bodies are now united. That means what may appear to be competitive or contradictory, now must be complementary (enhancing the other).

To our human nature, divorce makes perfect sense, while marriage seems to make no sense. Divorce appears to be more natural, separating the two things that just aren’t compatible, right? This is one reason why our culture today has such a twisted perspective on marriage, because it just feels so unnatural.

Copyright Dawn McKinstry Photography Marriage is actually supernatural, when done in the eyes of God. This is why we say in the Christian faith that marriage is not merely a contract, but a covenant. God is involved and invested! How our marriage begins and ends on this earth, has an impact on eternity in the way of how it points to God for His glory, or to us for our self-idolatry (“I want to be happy!”).

Really, it has to involve God in order to have the best chance at our marriage not only surviving (which is a base level goal anyways), but thriving! If not supernatural, it would mean it defaults to natural where we’re left to our own devices. We’d be dealing with our spouse without any covering, support, or grace in the relationship’s environment.

Without Him, I don’t want to be married because I couldn’t make it work on my own.

Come join The Living Church for worship this Sunday at 11am at the Hartsville Family YMCA as we continue our Love with Honor series with “Head Games”. We’ll discover how communication speaks volumes of the health and purpose of our marriage! See you then.

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Testing the Waters

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 10.24.20 PMIn a world full of choices, there are many paths to take at the various crossroads of life. It is there where we find some common questions:

- What kind of career do you want?

- Do you need a degree for that?

- Is having more money important to you?

- Where will you live? 

- Who will you have a relationship with?

- Do you want kids?

- SUV or mini-van? 

Answers to these questions (and more) help determine what we become. But the fact remains that you can “play it safe” and still end up losing everything! The world can be cruel like that, with that whole “nothing in life is guaranteed” mantra and all.

I believe “faith” is needed now more than ever. Faith, in its base definition, is trusting in the unseen.

The United States itself was built on faith! Not to get all historical on ya or nothin’, but the founding fathers were bold, courageous, and faith-driven kind of guys. They didn’t know if it was even possible to overthrow a vast imperial power… they just knew they didn’t want to be unfairly ruled by it any longer.

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So they stepped out in faith to secure freedom for the American colonies. Upon signing the Declaration of Independence, they were committing outright treason. The threat of public execution, however, would not deter them! They would later defeat the British with a rag-tag army and the rest… (wait for it)… is history!

There would be many other pioneers that would come along to continue the American story. Men and women that would go beyond the comfort zones of life and break new ground.

Could they fail? Yes.

Could they be mocked by their peers? Maybe (if they were a bunch of jerks).

But these fine folks pressed on and history books recorded their triumphs. As it turns out, historians don’t really care for wimps!

Somewhere along the way, we lost our faith. That is, faith in the practical sense, more than the spiritual (which is a related, but separate issue to address entirely). Aside from the whiz kids of Silicon Valley, most young adults today tend to stick with the easy way out. Liberal Arts colleges sometimes feed this mentality, with majors that fill financial aid coffers and build nice facilities, but have a harder time translating into a great job.

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Statistics also show young adults to be living with their parents in ever-increasing numbers. The case could be made that this is strictly economically influenced, but perhaps there’s more to it.

Are twenty-somethings too comfortable?

“Comfort” is a double-edged sword kind of word. It’s a lot like “pride” in that it can be used in a very positive sense, or negative (especially in Christian circles). Comfort could be describing the lasting peace of God, a warm blanket, or a meatloaf dinner. Or perhaps, it might be speaking more of complacency, or more accurately, risk aversion.

Basically, complacency is being too settled into a routine, with the individual passively welcoming the mediocrity that results from meager effort. Sure they could have excellence, but that means they’d actually have to get off the couch first!

This blasé attitude moves like a disease, infecting all areas of our being. So much so that our life’s full potential is effectively capped. The height of our limits is no longer that of excellence, but merely “good enough”. We are no longer concerned with “impressing” anybody, or living to give glory to God (something not on too many people’s radar anyways). As long as we’re not getting hurt, or hurting anybody else, we’re fine with just “okay”.

Nowhere is this more true than in relationships. Bear with me!

One of my favorite passages is from Proverbs 3:5-6…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
  in all your ways submit to Him,
    and He will make your paths straight.”

This passage speaks volumes!

First, in encouraging us to take a step of faith (“Trust in the Lord with all your heart”).

Second, in disregarding the “common sense” that you’ve come to know (“lean not on your own understanding”).

Third, in doing something that is often foreign to us: submission (“in all your ways submit to Him”).

Fourth, in the promise of faith… God cleans up the mess our life has become! (“He will make your paths straight.”)

So what do modern day relationships have to do with this? Quite simply, the foundation they’re built on is not one of faith but of that aforementioned word, comfort. This notion manifests itself into many things, but the most telling one: cohabitation. That’s a ten dollar word for “shacking up” or living together, and it’s one of the most sensitive, hot button issues that churches today must address (even though many choose to avoid it).

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Living together is not a new trend, but it was once very much frowned upon. It actually used to be outlawed in most states (still illegal in three)! Even when it became more commonplace in the 1970’s, there remained a stigma attached.

Nowadays, most folks tend not to think twice about it, as it has become the norm. Not only “the norm” as in many unmarried couples are living together, but that there’s actual logic to support it.

That logic, to put it a certain way, is “testing the waters”. You know, try it out and see what happens, before committing long-term. Not only in sexual terms, but with personal habits and general compatibility. This is “common sense” in the minds of those doing it and the ones who tolerate the practice.

While cohabitation would seemingly ensure a “safe choice” (to which statistically it doesn’t accomplish), it is no model of faith. This provokes the question…

Are we to live lives where we operate out of fear, in the masked form of comfort?

That is not how this country was built, nor should it build your life.

There is a better way!

If you’re offended, or the least bit curious to hear more on this issue, you’re not alone! This can be very personal for a lot of folks, but please know my heart is to “speak life” and offer understanding from what The Bible teaches us.

I encourage you to join us this Sunday at 11:00 am at the Hartsville Family YMCA for “Testing the Waters”, part two of our Love with Honor series.

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Love with Honor: First Impressions

We’re getting closer to that fabled time of the year where people get all lovey-dovey with each other, Valentine’s Day! It was actually eight years ago when I started talking to a pretty girl named Heather, who would later become Mrs. Honeycutt.

In case you were wondering, we actually met through eHarmony.com. Not sure if that changes anything in your opinion of us, but hey, it worked! We both lived in rural areas of the Carolinas at the time (I was in Lake Waccamaw, NC and Heather is from Enoree, SC). Single young adult Christians weren’t exactly in ample supply in those parts!

Thank God for free communication weekend on eHarmony.com!  ;)

Thank God for free communication weekend on eHarmony.com! ;)

One funny aspect to it was that Heather had pre-paid for a one-year membership, while I signed up on “Free Communication Weekend”. I always tell folks I got the better end of the deal for sure! I paid nothing to meet the girl of my dreams.

I can remember our first date like it was yesterday. We met half-way in Columbia; me driving one hour west from my parent’s house in Hartsville in my “modest” Honda Civic sedan, while she drove one hour east in her “far-from-modest” Chrysler 300C (yes, it had a Hemi). I’ll get back to the cars a little later…

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It was the first time we had met face-to-face and we headed out to dinner at California Dreaming in Columbia, SC near the USC campus. It was converted from an old railroad station (Union Station) into a fairly nice restaurant. We both had been there plenty of times before and seemed like as good of a location as any for a first date.

Since I was “raised right”, I did all the southern gentlemen-ly things, starting with opening the door for her. Inside the restaurant, I would’ve pulled her chair out and seated her at the table, but they put us in one of those half-circle leather booths. Kind of big for just two people, but it worked out fine (obviously).

I ordered the marinated sirloin steak, while she got the chicken tenders. Heather would later comment that she thought I was nervous, as I put a lot of fresh ground pepper on my side salad. I was using one of those provided pepper grinders where you have to twist the cap repeatedly to get anything out of it. The salad looked like it had black sawdust all over it by the time I was through. I just like a lot of pepper!

We talked, laughed, and enjoyed our food, but more so just enjoyed each other’s company. I paid for the meal (which wasn’t cheap) because I wanted to make a good first impression. This was despite the fact that she made a whole lot more moolah than I did as a youth pastor! After dinner we walked back outside to where we had parked. It was there where she held up her car keys and asked me a defining moment kind of question:

“Would you like to drive?”

Without any hesitation whatsoever, I replied, “Sure!”

Did I mention her car had a Hemi V-8? We’re talking a brand new Chrysler 300C in silver with stock chrome rims, Bose sound system, sunroof, and leather seats. I eagerly received the opportunity and off we went, driving around downtown Columbia. I often half-joke and say that was when I knew she was the one!

You see, I wasn’t the only one who was “raised right”. Heather recognized not only that I admired her car, but also that the guy should lead in a relationship. If the date were to continue, it would move forward with me behind-the-wheel. This was one small way, perhaps subconsciously, that she was testing to see what kind of man I am. It’s not an absolute tell-tale sign, but it was in our case.

She would say later tell me about how previous boyfriends of hers were very passive, not “taking charge”. They would just go along with whatever she wanted or said and at the end of the day, not lead her in the relationship. As we would continue to court (yes, “court”, not “date”) the more she looked to me for direction. Direction not in, “What should I do next?” but “Where are we going together?”

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Women really would like a man who has passion, but their true desire is a man with vision. This is why the term “dating” is inadequate, as a courtship deals with a long-term defined framework. Marriage here is the intent, but it doesn’t have to mean the outcome. A healthy courtship will of course grow into that if covered in prayer and trust is established in who the other is currently and will grow to become.

A man’s role in a courtship isn’t necessarily about proving you’re worth loving. Instead, it’s more about whether you’re worth following. Love, as it turns out, comes easy, honor does not. Honor is related to respect, in that it is more the practice of it rather than merely the attitude/opinion. Relationships shouldn’t just be about love, there needs to be respect in action. Otherwise, the foundation of the relationship is on shaky ground. I’ve seen too many marriages end up in disaster because of there was a severe lack of honor!

While all of this may sound offensive, sexist and old-fashioned, it is Biblical. You see, the man is supposed to be the leader of a household. This does NOT mean a license for abuse or that a marriage is a dictatorship. This is about things being in proper order.

1 Corinthians 14:33a (NIV):

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…”

And we see that order in…

1 Corinthians 11:3 (NIV):

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

Someone has to lead the tango, so to speak, and our gender roles complement and build up the other.

1 Peter 3:7 (ESV):

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Heather and I courted for six months before I asked her to marry me. Six months seemed like such a short amount of time to some folks. My poor mother freaked out! Even though I had roommates in college that got engaged after one month, I was crazy for jumping in so soon. However, I was at ease about it because I knew Heather’s heart.

The boat dock in the Rose Garden at Biltmore Estate, where I proposed to my wife Heather

The boat dock in the Rose Garden at Biltmore Estate, where I proposed to my wife Heather

One of the misnomers about the dating/courtship/engagement period is that you must learn every detail about a person; each little tick, quirk, and habit they possess. You just want to see if they’re compatible, right? The most common manifestation of that idea is living together before marriage. This however, is sin and just not a good idea. (more on that at a later time)

I’m here to tell you that you really don’t need to know everything there is about the person! You just need to know whether or not you can trust them. What are you trusting them for? In short, that your marriage will give glory and honor to God. A successful marriage is measured on that criteria alone, not its longevity.

And while Heather, as a pharmacist, made a much bigger paycheck than me, she still saw me for who I am supposed to be in the relationship. Our marriage stands on that foundation established during our courtship. Never once has she tried to “pull rank” on me based on our financial worth, but rather we come to make decisions together, but with me leading the way.

Another dinner we had at California Dreaming, when our parents got to meet each other

Another dinner we had at California Dreaming, when our parents got to meet each other for the first time


Listen… I am by no means a relationship expert, but I get to work with a pretty good instruction manual! I also happen to have someone I’ve been able to grow in knowledge with. I’m undoubtedly a blessed man!

Come out this Sunday for the start of our new series, “Love with Honor” as we learn more about the dynamic of love and honor and what that means for our relationships.

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