Living With Intentionality


Recently I had the privilege of doing my friend Harold Penner’s memorial service. H.P. was a church planter, a pastor at heart, a businessman, and he was a founding advisor of The Well. We built a relationship when I was a college pastor, and I started talking about this church I really felt like I needed to start. I shared a lot of the vision with him, and he really became a Jethro figure to me – a mentor, a sage and a guy who just believed in me.

The week before the first service at The Well, I remember thinking, “Holy smokes. Next week is our first service. This is dumb. This is not a good idea.” My wife was pregnant with Peyton at the time, and Harold was the guy who believed in me and the vision for The Well. He kept admonishing me, “You can do this. God is with you. Go for it!”

Harold was a very unique man. He was godly, full of joy and wisdom, and he had a mischievous way about him. He was probably the finest man I’ve ever met. He loved life and people, and was serious about his relationship with Jesus. His capacity for people was beyond reach; he had such a crazy love for folks.

He was also very intentional about what he did. Most people live for the moment. They simply take what life gives them and then seize the day. H.P. was different. He not only had the capacity to choose joy in the moment but he could snap moments together with intentionality. He moved very strategically. He invested with intent. He planned with the next several steps in mind. And this intentionality shaped those he influenced. Whether it was his business, which he was wildly successful at, or his kids, his grandkids, or his wife, he was intentional.

Having the opportunity to do his memorial service was a highlight of my ministry. It was a powerful reminder of the results of a life lived on purpose. Scanning the crowd I saw the men and women he had influenced. They were there to pay their respects, but they were also a testimony of his influence.

It made me rethink my life. What am I doing to influence others? What steps am I taking today to help point someone toward Christ? Am I setting up strategic opportunities to invest in people and help them live out their calling – with intentionality?

I want to make sure I’m making strategic investments into my marriage. I want to set a plan for my kids and work with them, as they become solid women of God. I want to lead The Well on purpose, making strategic moves and taking intentional risks to better create a culture of influence.

It also made me consider the various seasons of life that are represented in our context and how we could all move toward a more intentional life:

  • Singles: What would it look like for you to develop a theology of relationship of the right type of person? What would be different if you strategically invested your time and energy into becoming that type of person yourself?
  • Marrieds: How could your marriage look different if you strategically invested in your most important relationship? How would your time look different? What rites of passage or marked moments could you capture with your spouse? How could you make intentional deposits into their life?
  • Parents: Children are a gift from the Lord. How could you intentionally steward that gift? What steps could you take to breathe life into your kids? How could you strategically help them grow and develop into men and women of God? What schedule changes could you make to free up your time to be present with them? What would it look like to put away the devices (phones, iPads, computers, TVs) and strategically invest in the lives of your children? We are responsible to steward their growth and development, and we cannot outsource their spiritual growth.

I think the takeaway from Harold’s life is to do life on purpose. Let’s be intentional and strategic, knowing that when we plan we must plan in pencil because God still has the authority to change whatever plans we’ve worked so diligently to create. But at least we’ve planned something. If you draw that bull’s eye on the wall, it gives you a target to move toward versus doing nothing and seeing what happens. Let’s not just accidentally do life. Let’s be intentional and steward well what God has given us.

Reaching the Next Generation


Hezekiah is a fascinating example of a guy who’s not willing to enter into the mess of the younger generation in hopes of developing, training or discipling them. Because of his pride of showing off all of his treasuries and his kingdom and his storehouse, he is told that his sons will be taken captive. Yet his response is, indeed, the word from the Lord is good. At least there will be peace in my time (2 Kings 20:13-19).

What I never noticed before is what happens after that. Hezekiah dies and his son Manasseh takes over. And when you read 2 Kings 21, you see all of the junk that Manasseh led the nation into. It’s an incredible wickedness that had not been seen in Judah to that scale previously. It had in Israel but never in Judah. Because of Hezekiah’s arrogance and selfishness of not wanting to enter into the next generation, he forsook the next generation, and the next generation took the excesses that were common in the culture and multiplied them.

When it comes to reaching the next generation, regardless of which one you’re in, the next one will always be perceived to be not as good as yours. They will always be perceived to be not as committed, not as faithful, not as biblical, etc. And yet the irony is that’s not necessarily the case. As we look at this current generation that’s now coming up, we’re really dealing with a group of people who, as we’re finding, are deeply committed to the things of God and open to the things of God. They’re just not committed to our systems or structures that people have found so much comfort in religiously.

If we’re going to reach the next generation, there has to be a sense where we recognize, yeah, I know the dude’s growing a beard, I know he’s rocking a beanie and it’s 100 degrees outside, he’s got skinny jeans and the whole hipster vibe going, okay, cool. But what’s at the heart? And if we can enter into the diversity a little bit, enter into the distinctions even of style and music and language, and recognize that this next generation is going to carry and steward the gospel moving forward, we can understand their world enough that we can get to the heart of the next generation and begin to disciple them.

We don’t have the option of pulling away and saying, “at least there will be peace in my time,” because what happened in Hezekiah’s day will happen in our day. If we are so uncomfortable or stubborn that we fail to enter in with the next generation, we fail to sit with them and disciple them and hear them and get to the heart of what God is doing in their lives, then the same type of excesses we saw in Hezekiah’s day with his son Manasseh, we’ll see today.

I would challenge any of you who might look down your nose a little bit at the next generation, as if somehow you’re better than them, to recognize that your calling is to serve them and disciple them and mentor them and train them and enter into their world enough that they recognize you care about them. Only then, when you’re telling them about Jesus, will they understand it’s coming from a heart of love and a heart of discipleship and a desire that, regardless of what generation we call our own, there could be a shared sense of the foundation of the gospel and of what Jesus is doing in our lives.

Are You an Affair Waiting to Happen?

Basic CMYK

Affairs don’t happen overnight. They’re not issues of lust. They’re not. At the heart, they’re issues of neglect. It’s not like a guy wakes up faithful to his wife one morning and then, all the sudden, the next day, he’s like, you know what I’m gonna do today? I’m gonna totally blow up my life and have an affair. No. It’s over time.

When you or your spouse are neglected at home and connected elsewhere, you’re walking down a very short road that ends in disaster. It’s like the proverb of the sluggard. It’s a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest.[1] It’s his neglect and it’s her neglect. And it’s not merely about neglecting your spouse or neglecting your family. It’s one or both of you neglecting your time with God.

What does your daily time in prayer and in the Word do to protect you from adultery? It guards your heart. It renews your mind. It screams of conviction. As you turn the page and you read about inappropriate relationships, as you read about being faithful to your spouse, as you read about being morally pure and holy and righteous, it challenges you. If you find your daily devotion with the Lord being something that is in the past or infrequent, you might want to check that, because that’s a symptom of a road leading to moral failure.

When I went to seminary I was in a class with Dr. Howard Hendricks. He’s now with Jesus. I remember he interviewed men about how they fell morally, and he looked for patterns in their stories. I recently came across an article that reminded me of the specific details. Of the almost 250 men he interviewed, none were involved in any kind of personal accountability, their daily time of prayer, worship and reading their Bible was practically nonexistent, the vast majority became sexually involved with another woman after spending significant time together, and without exception, each of them were convinced it would never happen to them.[2]

Friend, if you think it can never happen to you, “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”[3] We are not immune. None of us. You are vulnerable. The pattern holds true. Be cautious. You must hold your marriage sacred at all times.

If a husband isn’t tender to his wife, and there’s conflict where he said something harsh to her but they haven’t reconciled, she is vulnerable for an affair like you cannot believe.

Some dude – her trainer, her Pilates coach, the dude who makes her wheatgrass shot at Jamba – somebody will be kind to her. And that will speak to her soul. She will hear that and eat it right up. And she’ll go back another time. She’ll drive all the way across town to go to that Jamba Juice just to see that joker again. Why? Because he’s speaking into her life where her husband should be.

The same is true for the ladies. If you disrespect your man, I promise you, somebody will respect him. Somebody will think he’s special and talented. If you won’t tell him he’s handsome, somebody will. And at some point in time, he’s an affair waiting to happen too.

I remember talking with some dear friends who had experienced this, and that’s exactly what they talked about, that this other person made me feel special, they made me feel important, made me feel good about myself. Now you juxtapose that to a home life where you don’t feel special or important, and you’ll run to that every single time.

To the singles, one of the most important things you can do is learn right now how to control your vessel, your body, in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion like those who do not know God.[4]

The patterns you create today are the patterns you bring into your marriage. So if there’s ungodliness and indulgence today, there will be ungodliness and indulgence in your marriage. A ring doesn’t change that. Who you are becoming is who you will be as a husband or as a wife. So watch over your heart, watch over your body, watch over your spiritual life.

If you’re married, there is no greater value in your life than the cultivation of your relationship with Jesus and therefore, your spouse. There’s no ministry event that’s important enough, there’s no appointment that’s important enough. And if you leave your marriage with unresolved conflict, you leave a gap, a hole, a wedge for Satan to enter into your marriage and cause division. Your spouse has got to be your priority, because if that falls, everything falls.

We have to be hyper diligent to pursue greatness in our marriages. It’s not enough for us to have good marriages. We should have great marriages. But you have to work on it. It takes time. It takes some humble pie. It takes grace. And it takes a commitment together to always be on guard and not let anything or anyone come between you.


[1] See Proverbs 6:9-10


[3] 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV)

[4] 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5

Princesses & Hard Workers


One of the dilemmas I have as a father of two girls is recognizing the tension between “you are my little princess” and “you get your butt out there and pull some weeds.” As princess as I want them to be, I don’t want them to be afraid to break a nail.

From the text, we know Ruth gleaned in the fields.[1] We know the P31 woman worked with her hands and made her arms strong.[2] Most of these women were shepherdesses. They were out in the field carrying sticks, throwing rocks, fighting off bears, stepping in sheep dung. That’s what they did. And a callous or two can be a beautiful and a very attractive thing.

I want to feed my girls’ sense of value and of knowing their beauty is on the inside. I work doubly hard and am very intentional to affirm them not for their external beauty, even though my oldest is a knockout and my youngest is close behind.

I’ll say, “Hey, can I tell you what’s beautiful about you? When you’re obedient to Mama, when you speak kindly to people, when you’re humble.” I’m affirming the inside because I know they will pursue what I affirm. If I keep talking about how pretty they are, I’m feeding the monster and I’m not going to do that. Culture is already feeding that, so I try to balance it out.

They don’t need to buy into what the world says. They can be beautiful and that’s okay. God gifts beauty to some people. Great! But what they need to know is that beauty is not merely what’s on the outside. That’s why Peter says, Don’t let your beauty merely be these things, the external braiding of hair, wearing of gold jewelry, putting on dresses.[3] It’s okay to do those things, but that shouldn’t be the focus. I want my girls to know their beauty is and should be something deeper, part of who they are. And I want to make sure I affirm that in them.


[1] Ruth 2:3

[2] Proverbs 31:13,17

[3] 1 Peter 3:3

How a Guy Gets Ready for a Date

Prophecy-An Incredible 45 Days

How many ladies out there had a guy in your life at some point who wrote you a note or gave you a card and you kept it? Probably most of you. Now the same question to the guys. There may be a few who kept something. No shame. But it’s probably very few.

Men and women just deal with relationships differently. Women generally feel and think about relationships at a deeper level than a man will. On a scale of zero to ten, relationally if a guy’s at a four, she’s probably at a six. If he’s at a six, she’s probably at an eight.

So here’s what happens on a date. If the dude is picking a gal up at 5, at about 4:40 he’s going to grab a t-shirt, give it the sniff test, put it on and head her way.

Meanwhile, if he’s picking her up at 5, at about 3 she started getting ready, thinking, What do I wear? She lays out various outfits and puts on various sets of clothing, and asks her roommates how they look on her. They’re all giggly. And when he pulls up she’s like, “ahh, act normal, act normal!” So he walks in and she smiles at him and just says, “hey.” But meanwhile everybody’s been freaking out.

When the date is over, most men walk back into their apartment. His roommate’s playing Xbox. “What up?” He goes, “wassup?” “How was your day?” “Cool.” And he’s playing Xbox. That’s it.

When she comes home, everybody’s on the bed. “Tell me what happened! How did it go?” And they’re like, “he said what when he passed you the salt? No way!” They’re freaking out at a level guys just don’t understand.

So just recognize we think differently about relationships. If the date went well and she starts to feel for him, she reflects upon him afterward. She thinks about him. Like the woman in Song of Solomon, she’s thinking, “My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.”[1] Or perhaps something closer to: “He’s so sweet. He’s so awesome. He handed me the salt!”


[1] Song of Solomon 1:14 (NASB)

The Girl in the Flannel Shirt


I fell in love with my wife over the smell of Pine Sol and a dirty mop.

We met August 9, 1995. I remember she was wearing a flannel shirt and jean overalls. How do I remember? Because that’s what she wore every single day. She saw me and thought I was a California pretty boy, and she passed on by. She was not impressed at all.

When I first started spending time with Jen, she was so hippie, no deodorant. And if you saw the girls I dated before Jen, you’d think, oh that’ll never work. And yet there was something about her.

We went on a mission trip and she was out there, literally dirt on her face, wearing that same flannel, just covered with dirt and sweating. I’m talking dirty. She didn’t even care. She just served. She’d be out there feeding the poor and with the kids, working. We’d do inner city ministry, and she’d knock on a door, and boom, she was in somebody’s apartment ministering to the kids, sharing the gospel.

We worked together for three years, and I noticed she’d be the first one there at a party to help set up, and when everyone said thanks and bailed, leaving the house in a mess, she’d stay and clean. She wasn’t scared to get on her hands and knees and scrub a floor. I realized this woman would do anything. She’ll go anywhere. She’ll clean a toilet no problem. She’ll scrub, dig, fix, polish. You name it, she’ll do it. I remember watching that as a single guy, and going, that is really attractive.

I had seen girls who were on the opposite end in terms of the princess spectrum, working out every day with all the fitness stuff, Lululemon whatever. And they were physically attractive. But the more I looked, they were also spiritually shallow. I thought to myself, I don’t think that’s what I want, because as I grow closer to the Lord, I’m going to grow further from that woman. I want a woman that as I grow closer to the Lord, I’m going to grow closer to her.

For three years I watched Jen lead girls to Christ. I watched her disciple gals. And I started to look at her very differently and thought, I want to date her. This girl’s amazing.

Where Is God?

Where Is God?

I’ll never forget the phone call. It was late one night and I was getting ready for bed. The phone rang, which was strange at this hour, but I answered. On the other end was my friend in tears. He said that his son was at Children’s Hospital and wasn’t doing well. He asked if I would pray for his son, and then hung up. Not only did I pray, but I got dressed and headed to the hospital to check in on my friend and his son. As I walked through the doors of the emergency room I saw a group of medical professionals performing chest compressions on my friend’s son. Apparently the little guy had had a heart issue that was now putting his life into jeopardy.

That next morning I drove my friend and his wife to Stanford Hospital. We found out he needed a heart transplant to survive. We spent nearly 40 days together at the hospital, waiting, hoping and praying. I remember spending time in the hospital chapel with my friend who prayed repeatedly for the Lord to spare the life of his son. He even offered to give his own life for his son, if the Lord would be so pleased to grant life back to this 5 year old boy. The Lord didn’t. After a 40 day fight, Trevin went to be with the Lord.

Where was God!?

His mother and father have served the Lord faithfully for many years. They have had a profound ministry to many and even played a key role in me coming to know Christ. Yet the Lord took Trevin home. This doesn’t make sense!

Several years later I was in a staff meeting with a few of our pastors. We were passionately discussing something when the phone rang. Jerrod sent the call to voicemail. We continued our discussion when it rang again. Typically an immediate callback means something important, so he took the call. His face went pale as he listened to the voice of his wife on the other end of the call. He hung up the phone and urgently headed for the door. When we asked what was wrong he replied, “Tyler’s dead.” Our executive pastor jumped in the car with him and I reached for my keys and began to pray. As I followed them to the hospital I couldn’t help but ask God, why!? This family has served the Lord and been faithful to Him in so many ways. As we walked into the hospital room his wife was there in tears. I watched them embrace and searched for words and understanding.

Where is God!?

Years later a friend of mine got a call from the hospital. “Was your husband working out tonight?” the caller inquired. “What was he wearing?” They pressed further. “Why do you ask?” the wife inquired. “We’ve got an unresponsive patient and we need to see if you can come and identity him for us.” So she calls her brother to meet her there and heads to the hospital, not sure what they’ll find, but with a heavy heart, fearing the worst. As she approaches the hospital, her brother greets her. She enters a room and they inform her that they have a “John Doe” and need her to identify him. They lead her into another room and show her the body of her husband. “That’s no John Doe,” she replies. “That’s my husband! That’s Peter Hagenzieker.” Peter had been a teacher and influencer at Kastner Jr. High for years. He took point for the school’s FCA club and was a faithful man. He had served the Lord faithfully.

Where is God!?

What do you say? How should you respond? What words of comfort, if any, can be offered in this type of pain?

Unfortunately these stories are not unique. They come in various forms and to varying degrees of severity, but they come nonetheless. They are common, far too common! A spot on an x-ray, a bad report from the blood work, chest pain that indicates a heart issue, a pink slip at work, a down economy that leads to losing a home, an unexpected car accident, the sting of divorce, the loneliness that follows the death of a loved one, and on and on and on!

So we turn to the Scriptures for answers. We turn page after tear stained page, looking for hope and understanding. And yet answers are elusive.

In these moments, questions fill our minds as we try to understand. Where is God?

I’m thankful these are not new questions. In fact, they have been asked for centuries. One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Psalm 13, where King David deals with this exact question. These words were written by a man who understood sorrow and grief. He felt the sting of moral failure, experienced the loss of a child, the rape of a daughter, the murder of a son, the rebellion of another son, the rejection of his kingdom and the eviction from his home.

In the midst of it all, he writes these words:

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
– Psalm 13 (ESV)

How honest. How authentic. How candid. How true! Where is God?

If you notice in the passage, he never gets alleviation of circumstances. The wound is never lanced and the pain is never remedied, yet his tone changes. Not because of a change of circumstances, but because of a gained perspective.

Notice verse 5: “But I have trusted in your loving steadfast love.” His change of perspective didn’t come form a greater understanding of circumstances; that would be an answer to the “why” question. Instead he gets a greater understanding of the nature and position of God. This perspective helps him see that, even in pain, God is sovereign. God is in control. It allows David and all of those like ourselves who would also suffer loss after him, to cry out “Your’e Still God.” David recognizes that God has a past track record of faithfulness. He is not asleep or unaware. He is not distant or callous. Quite the contrary, He is sovereign! He cares! And He is aware! He has a perspective that David will never truly understand. He won’t get why God allows what He does, nor will he truly comprehend the reason that tragedy strikes, but he can trust in the enduring and unchanging nature of God.

When David pauses long enough to look beyond his own pain to see God at work, he can’t help but trust in the faithfulness of an Almighty God. It is his trust in the continued faithfulness of God that allows David to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for who He is, and for what He is doing in David’s life.

So, where is God?

In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.
– Psalm 18:6 (ESV)

Aware and present when we call.

So, where is God?

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
– Psalm 56:8 (ESV)

Intimately involved in our pain.

I’m not sure what circumstances surround you at this point. But I know that tragedy often strikes unannounced and uninvited. When it does interrupt your life, I pray that you will eventually gain perspective. Instead of asking God “why?” try asking God “what?” I admit this shift is perspective is not an easy one. In fact, it is often the result of many anxious nights and honest conversations with God. However, healing comes when we can see our circumstances with a fresh perspective.

If you find yourself in the ashes of tragedy, here are a few suggestions:

  1. This world is a crazy place. Our bodies fail, sickness intrudes our life uninvited, and because of sin, people do crazy things that cause lifelong trauma. In the midst of the insanity of life, would you entrust your life to Jesus Christ? This world is not as it should be, nor as it will be when He returns. In the meantime, life without Christ is a life without hope. Only through the person and work of Jesus Christ can there be hope in a fallen world.
  2. Realize that you are not alone. God is aware and listening for your cry for help. Call to Him and He will grant comfort. This process may be messy and there may be some candid and raw emotions that fly when you cry out in pain. God is a big boy, He can handle it. Cry out anyway. As your read in Psalm 13, God has heard good, honest prayer before. In fact, this honest dialogue with the Lord may be a key part to the beginning of a healing process.
  3. Find others around you that you can share life with. Your pain is yours, but you don’t have to be alone in it. There are others who have experienced their own share of heartache. Maybe God can use those He has already comforted in their own affliction to be a comfort to you in yours.

Thank you to the Dilfer, Rumley and Hagenzieker families for permission to share a bit of their stories and help point people to hope in Christ!


Originally posted on

A Mouthful of Gravel


Most people in Christian circles say, “don’t have sex until you’re married” or “don’t have sex with anyone other than your spouse.” But I can do all kinds of things without having sex.

We need to make sure we’re broad enough in the definition of adultery to recognize the reach of adultery. I want to make the argument that adultery is anything a godly married person wouldn’t allow or wouldn’t be allowed to do with someone other than their spouse, and there are similar parameters placed on all of us. I am in danger of committing adultery if I allow my heart, my mind, my body to pursue anything or anyone other than my spouse. The issue’s not if you’re married or single, but is that person your spouse or not?

Have you ever had that moment where on the outside it looked to be perfect? He or she said the right thing and the moment was right with candlelight, smooth music, one thing leading to another, like the thing movies are made of, and just like Eve, you grabbed that fruit and you ate. And you ended up with a mouthful of gravel.

Proverbs 5 says the adulteress is smooth and her lips drip honey, yet the results are bitter.[1] When we disobey God sexually, it’s always going to be catastrophe. Don’t even go near the door of the adulteress or you will give your vigor to others and your years to the cruel one. Your body will be consumed because you didn’t listen to instruction.[2]

Marital love can be glorious. It can be intimate, it can be beautiful, it can be refreshing, and it can have, no pun intended, legs to take you decades into your marriage. It’s not a ball and chain. The proverb continues and it gets very personal. Let your fountain be blessed. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. Let her breasts satisfy you. Let her love exhilarate you.[3]

God has given you a refreshment of sexuality. It is precious and He has entrusted it to you. Think of it for a moment as holding a cup of coffee in your hands. You can choose to disperse it abroad, but that’s not why He gave it to you. He gave it to you so that one day, someday down the road, a spouse will drink of what you have and will be refreshed by it. But if you give what God has given you to everyone else, the day will come when you get married, and you’ll go to give yourself to your spouse, and you’ll tip over an empty cup.

Don’t let your waters be dispersed abroad.[4] He doesn’t deserve it. She doesn’t deserve it. I don’t care if you feel like you’re in love or not. First ice up that finger. Get married and then have a party with each other. “Drink and imbibe deeply, O lovers.”[5] Have naked weekends, have naked vacations, do whatever you want with each other. But until then, listen to understanding and wisdom. Observe discretion[6] and just say, that’s enough.

I don’t care where you’ve been. I don’t judge you for where you’ve been. I am the last one who should judge you for that. But there has to come a point in time where you say, that’s enough. I’m not going to keep doing that. I don’t care what the world says. The world says, what if he’s no good in bed? You don’t understand. God rigged it that if you’re never with anyone else, it’ll be the best sex you’ve ever had for the rest of your life. That’s the point. But the frame of comparison is sin. So take what God has given you and don’t share it with anyone but your spouse. And then enjoy your time together for the rest of your life.


[1] Proverbs 5:3-4

[2] Proverbs 5:8-13

[3] Proverbs 5:18-19

[4] Proverbs 5:16-17

[5] Song of Solomon 5:1

[6] Proverbs 5:1-2

How to Spot a Godly Man (Dating Advice for My Daughters)

I think about my girls dating and I seriously panic! It freaks me out, to be honest, but it’s inevitable. Unfortunately, since arranged marriages aren’t really part of our culture, they will eventually date. God, help us all.

To my girls,

Someday, by God’s grace, you will be married. And I hope and pray that you will have a godly marriage to a godly guy. I realize that these principles are not super applicable for you yet, so consider this a preemptive strike. When you start to think about dating – someday far, far in the future – here’s what you need to know:

1. Look for the right type of guy.

There’s an allure in our culture of the super-romantic Mr. Right. We want to find that one person. But our lives are not determined by fate. I think the biblical picture is we need to find the right type of person.

The right type of person is godly. They study their Bible. They serve. They are generous and humble. They have character. Set your standards high and never compromise.

2. Make sure this guy you’re looking for is godly – without you.

You’ve got to make sure that this guy will be godly without you, because if he will not be godly without you and he’s not leading himself spiritually, he’s got no business leading you spiritually. He cannot lead you where he has never been.

And godliness at a point in time means nothing. Anybody can fake it for a while. Godliness over a period of time means everything. He can fake it for a season, but he cannot fake it over time.

3. Ask some questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask around. What’s his character like? What’s his reputation? What does he post online? Ask his friends, if he has any. If he doesn’t have any, run to the hills! Ask his pastor what he’s like. Is he in a Life Group? Ask his Life Group leader. Find out who he really is. And take your time. You will never regret taking things slowly, but regret often comes with taking things too quickly.

4. If you find a guy who’ll submit to God, you’ll find the right type of guy.

A guy who doesn’t have a higher authority than himself will most likely either be apathetic about his faith at some point or be abusive because there’s no check in his life. If you find a guy who has a higher authority than himself, like the word of God, and who is willing to submit to Him, that’s a guy who will treat you the way you need and deserve to be treated.

With Love,
Your Dad

Hope Fresno: One on One With Pastor Jonathan Villalobos

In February, The Well hosted a multi-church panel discussion on local race issues called Hope Fresno. The intent was to learn from others and start to understand what goes on in our city, and it was a candid conversation seasoned with grace. While we may not have necessarily left in full agreement on everything, it was a valuable time for everyone, as there is a longing and desire in all of us to see the gospel played out with the unity of diversity.

After the panel, I met with some of the pastors and leaders in attendance to hear more of their perspectives and personal stories.