Author: Luke Whyte

Resting Well – A Letter from College Pastor Luke Whyte

First off, I want to say CONGRATULATIONS to all of the college seniors that graduated this past weekend. What an incredible accomplishment! We can’t wait to see what the Lord continues to do in and through each of your lives!

For Rachel and I, the beginning of the summer marks a transition of not only the seasons, but also a big step into the next chapter of our lives as the college pastors. We are thrilled for all that is ahead.

Students have a variety of plans this summer including internships with corporations all over the country, spending time overseas on ENGAGE THE ISLANDS and plenty of other travel and time at home with family.

No matter what the next three months hold –

I WANT TO ENCOURAGE STUDENTS WITH THREE PRACTICALS ON HOW TO REST WELL THIS SUMMER:

  1. Fan the flame of your spirit // 1 Timothy 1:6-7 says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” Look for opportunities to continue to fan the flame of your faith this summer! This comes through enjoying time with Jesus in nature and in the word, watching YouTube worship, listening to podcasts, starting a new Bible study, etc.
  2. Tend the garden of your heart // Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” Take time to process all the Lord did over the past year. Journaling is crucial for me because if I just try to think about things I get distracted too easily. Sit down and ask the Father the simple question, “Father what did You do in my heart/life this past year?” Write down whatever the Lord speaks, and thank Him for the ways He moved.
  3. Refresh your body // “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3) At the end of the day we are not only spiritual and emotional people, but we are also physical people. This means we need to be replenished physically! Yes, this means you should probably sleep in at times, eat good food, etc. But I also want to encourage you to invite Jesus into your physical refreshment. What if you went on a walk in the woods (my personal favorite) and just thanked Him for what He’s doing in your life? Consider putting on a podcast or listening to worship music as you go on a run. I find that when I invite Jesus into my day to day physical activities, both my body and spirit are refreshed.

All in all, Rachel and I are looking forward to all that’s ahead. We bought a house on 11th and Daughtery, and we’re moving to be closer to college students. We are also going to take time do all of the above and rest well!

We love you all and are overjoyed to get to serve alongside each one of you.

Sincerely,

The Whytes

Think About What
You Think About

Have you ever thought about what you think about? Do you ever pause throughout your day and consciously acknowledge the flow of thoughts?

I bet most of you, in one way or another, probably have. Whether it’s catching yourself in the midst of a vivid day dream, or having the silence of a long road-trip broken by your spouse or friend asking, “Whatcha thinkin about?” most of us have given thought to our thoughts. Our thoughts are where we talk to our Creator, where we process right and wrong and they’re the battleground of the spirit and the flesh.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments, and ever pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

The battle between the flesh and spirit starts in our thoughts. It starts with what we think about.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT STARTS WITH WHAT WE DO WITH WHAT WE THINK ABOUT.

How do we distinguish between good and evil voices? For that we have a guide, the Holy Spirit, to help us. For all that is good will be coated in His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). His fruit is our litmus test; our ability to discern good and evil. Any thought that comes into our minds that doesn’t take on the characteristics of His fruit is an enemy on holy ground and therefore must be taken captive.

WE ALSO HAVE THE ABILITY TO TAKE UP THE ARMOR OF GOD (EPHESIANS 6), USE IT TO DO BATTLE WITH OUR THOUGHTS AND TO TAKE OUR THOUGHTS CAPTIVE AND MAKE THEM OBEDIENT TO CHRIST.

As you go throughout your day, pause for a moment to think about what you’re thinking about. Set an alarm on your phone or watch to remind you to pause. Then, if you find yourself thinking about something that doesn’t align with the fruit of the Spirit, take that thought captive by saying the name of Jesus and shifting your thoughts to heavenly thoughts. Repent if it is a thought you’ve been dwelling on and have allowed to affect your decisions or actions. Rejoice at the promise that you are forgiven and have the ability to take captive every thought and make it obedient to your King.

IN RESPONSE:

When do you feel most susceptible to wandering thoughts?

Do your thoughts align with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? How might God want to realign your thinking?

By Luke Whyte, Young Adult Pastor

To The Philippians: To Live is Christ // Week Three

This week Luke Whyte continued our To The Philippians series with a message on humility. Humility is not putting yourself down in order to raise someone else up, it actually has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with Jesus. Throughout the message, we unpacked five attributes of humility:

  • 1. Humility values others
  • 2. Humility has a Jesus-attitude that influences our actions
  • 3. Humility is self-confident
  • 4. Humility is meek and servant-hearted
  • 5. Humility grows out of obedience

THREE WAYS TO APPLY THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:

  • 1. We walk out in humility when we are confident in who God has called us to be // This week, set aside time every day to ask God what He thinks of you.
  • 2. Humility values others above self and serves // Ask God who and how you can be serving in this season.
  • 3. Humility has a Jesus-attitude // Ask God how He sees the people around you, and ask God to give you His perspective.

DIGGING DEEPER:

SCRIPTURE FOCUS: Living like Jesus // Philippians 2:1-11

This passage hits a critical point of this book. We are called to grow spiritually. And that growth happens when we walk in unity with other believers. But there is a problem – our own selfishness and divisiveness. Our Western worldview emphasizes the importance of right doctrine, and rightly so, but we often fail to recognize the importance of spiritual unity. In some ways, we consider this to be an optional feature of our walk with God, a bonus feature occasionally included with our faith.

We’d rarely verbalize such a thought but our actions reveal our real perspective. Do we pursue the radical humility and selflessness of Jesus in our relationship with other believers? Or is church just another commodity in our lives, a place to meet our needs? Paul strived so that the Philippian church might endure, he longed for the believers to walk in the fullness of their faith, and he viewed selfless humility as a critical factor in order for this to occur. In other words, if we want to make it, it’s not an option.

Live with Humility (2:1-4)

Verse 1 is a list intended to grab our attention and corresponds to what follows in verse 2, which is a list of heart-felt appeals. These aren’t intended to be academically dissected word-for-word, but rather interpreted as an emotional appeal. The listing adds a relentless feel, pounding in the point.

  • If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion. Paul was pleading with the church essentially saying, “if you care at all about what God has done in your life.” We need to hear this appeal with the emotion in which it was written: Wake up! This is a really big deal and I’m begging you to pay attention!
  • Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. This point is huge. If we want to fully respond to the work of God in our life, then we need to fully contend to walk in love and unity with each other.

So how do we do this? The first two verses grab our attention and highlight the problem. But it’s easier said than done. Of course we all want unity and close relationships – so why does it seldom happen? The next two verses call attention to the problem and then the solution.

Selfish ambition and vain conceit are the central problem. Our sinful nature hard wires us to put our own interests first. We conceptually like the idea of unity, as long as that means other people conform to us. But when this selfishness is revealed, we often are willing to sacrifice unity for the sake of our desires. So how do we walk in the unity describe in verse 2 that is critical to our life in God?

  • In humility // Humility is simply a right perspective of self. It’s not self-condemnation (see Romans 8:1) or the degradation of self; instead, it is seeing ourselves as we really are. We are loved, but we are also broken. We are gifted, and we are also flawed. By embracing both our fleshly limitations as well as our new identity in Christ, we can live both confident and humble.
  • Value others above yourselves //  Our culture preaches self-fulfillment as a central value, as the ultimate goal, as a fundamental human right. The famed psychologist Abraham Maslow taught that self-actualization, the realization of one’s potential, is the pinnacle need of man. We see this philosophy everywhere – the call to pursue your dreams and find your fulfillment, regardless of what it takes. True, our culture’s altruistic humanism also values serving others, but often just as another means of personal fulfillment. Paul presents a radically different mindset – what if life works best when we value others more than ourselves? What if our own desires became secondary? If we want genuine spiritual unity then we need to truly value others.
  • Looking to the interests of others above your own interests // Our value for others needs to turn into action. We need to actively look to the interest of others by taking time to notice their needs. And then we need to act on it by serving, by letting go of our own preferences, by giving our time and by helping others succeed, even at our expense.

Can you imagine the impact of living this way? Think of all the minor fights believers have – people leave churches, even split churches, because they aren’t getting their needs met. What if we flipped this upside down? Rather than fighting to meet our own needs, what if our primary passion was to serve others? Fights about carpet color and music style would fade into the background, and perhaps we too would experience a spiritual unity that allows us to overcome any adversity.

Follow the Example of Jesus (2:5-11)

If the emotional appeal of 2:1-4 weren’t enough, Paul lays the ultimate trump card by challenging us to live like Jesus. It would be hard to write a stronger appeal than these verses. Our calling is to have the same mindset of Jesus and no room is given for still living partially for our own fulfillment.

So how did Jesus live? Many scholars believe Paul was citing an early hymn in these next few verses. In doing so, he radically contrasts His humility to our selfishness.

  • “Being in very nature God…taking the very nature of a servant.” // Jesus is God; He was the Word of God forming the world at Creation (John 1:1-2). He is the King over all the earth; He could have stepped off the cross and would have been instantly surrounded by thousands of angels. And this King came to earth and embraced the nature, the form, of a servant.
  • “Did not consider equality with God something to be used to His advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing.” // We claim our own rights. We pursue our own dreams. We fight for our power. It’s sadly ironic, considering that which we claim is merely a mirage. But compare our angst to Jesus – He actually has all these things! And yet He made Himself nothing. He emptied Himself of these things in order to rescue us.
  • “Being found in appearance as man, He humbled Himself.” // Jesus chose to humble Himself by becoming a man. He is fully God and yet chose to also become fully man. In other words, He was willing to empty Himself in order to meet us where we are at.
  • “Becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” // Humility is painful. When we start looking to the needs of others we are often taken advantage of and overlooked. If we aren’t careful, that old selfishness rears its head once again. But compared to this we have the example of Jesus. Perfectly innocent. Completely unselfish. And sentenced to a brutal death that He willingly embraced – for us.

Whatever excuse we have, whatever righteous anger we hold to, pales when compared with the example of Jesus. He suffered, He lost everything, He chose humility and faced humiliation. If He did all this for us, surely we can do the same for others. Or put it another way – when we fight for our own interests it is a sign that we have not yet fully understood the sacrifice of Jesus.

The result? Jesus humbled Himself and was exalted to the highest place. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess His lordship. This example is given to us because when we embrace His humility we see the same result. Our selfless living brings glory to God and lifts up the name of Jesus.

There is no greater reward than to invest our few years and meager resources to order to exalt the name of Jesus for all eternity, and it starts as we embrace His example of selfless humility.

By Luke Whyte – Young Adult Pastor

The Dating Filter

Does the thought of dating stress you out? Maybe you wish you could skip to the part where you’re married with two kids and a dog.

I want to help bring clarity to the cultural confusion of dating and relationships by discussing the purpose of singleness, marriage and the dating process. Before we get to the process of dating, we need to know the WHY behind singleness and marriage.

Singleness gives us an opportunity to serve the Lord, and so does marriage. So, why does the in-between period feel so tricky?

I believe dating is a filtration process, and the filtration really doesn’t stop until you say, “I do.” The purpose of a filter is to remove stuff that you don’t want to get through, and a good filter keeps the big rocks at the top and the small rocks at the bottom.

MANY OF US HAVE A TENDENCY TO GET STUCK.

Sometimes we’re scared of the process, other times we have the process mixed up or we might not have a process at all. No matter where you are, the Word of God can bring clarity to this filtration process called dating and set you up for healthier relationships.

If the filter is the dating process and the end result is marriage,

WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO GET THROUGH THE FILTER?

  • BIG ROCKS // These are the foundational, non-negotiables:
    • A relationship with God: Their relationship with Jesus will single-handedly bring the greatest impact to your filtering process. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership can righteousness have with wickedness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?” If you marry an unbeliever you will be held to a different standard than your spouse.
    • Community: Is the person you’re dating involved in community? Who is he going to for accountability? If he doesn’t have someone to go to with his mess, he’s going to go to you, and it will only make things messier.
    • Major flags: Contrary to popular belief, missionary dating doesn’t work. You can’t marry someone based on your expectation of who he or she will be. You marry someone based on who he or she is already. The Holy spirit is your best friend here.
  • MEDIUM GRAVEL // These things still need serious consideration:
    • Attraction: Physical attraction does just that. It attracts. Following Jesus is WAY more attractive than worldly attraction.
    • Enjoyment and Fun: Don’t underestimate the value of having fun with someone. It matters.
  • SAND // This is the bonus category; things that would be nice, but not necessary:
    • MOST people get stuck in the sand. This is where our nit-picky tendencies surface, and we treat the sand more like big rocks. Ultimately, there comes a time when you have to decide whether you can get over something small or if it really is significant to you.

IN THE END, DATE LIKE YOU WANT TO BE DATED.

Treat the other person how you would want your spouse to be treated. The dating process is necessary, there’s no reason to fear it.

For more on this topic, check out this message from Bridge Street. And join us this Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium for Bridge Street.

By Luke Whyte – Young Adult Pastor

Decisions Matter

On average we make 35,000 decisions a day. 226 of those decisions are usually food related. Sometimes we have to make big decisions, like whether we should move our family across the country or not. Other times seemingly small decisions can have a big impact, like deciding to finish sending that text while driving.

We can’t get out of making decisions, it’s a part of life.

Sometimes we may not feel like we make the right decision. In my own life, I have made impulsive and rash decisions that not only affected me but those around me. Most bad decisions were impulsive choices and isolated decisions. I believe the root problem with our generation is impulsive and isolated decisions that lead us down a path we don’t want to go. Most of us don’t pause from making decisions long enough to evaluate HOW we’re making decisions, and we repeatedly find ourselves running into the same issues and challenges. Reflecting on past decisions will help shape our future decisions.

Recently I realized decisions can actually be broken down into four main categories, similar to a tree.
  • 1. Roots: These are the foundational elements of who we are. They’re our faith and core beliefs.
  • 2. Trunk: These are the massive life decisions, deciding whether to get married or not and deciding what you feel like your calling is.
  • 3. Branches: These are impactful life decisions, not as major as the trunk decisions but still important. These can include deciding on where to live, which job to take or who your roommates should be.
  • 4. Leaves: These are the 35,000 everyday life decisions. What to eat for dinner or whether to go to a friend’s house for game night or not.

Decisions impact us every day, but we have to get the roots in place before moving on to other decisions.

There is one decision that impacts the entirety of our lives, and it’s this: deciding to believe in Jesus and make Him the center of our life.

The rest of the tree does not matter until the decision to be ROOTED in Him becomes your taproot. Once this is settled, the rest of your life is a demonstration of the decision you’ve already made.

It is simply the fruit of being rooted in Him.

In the same way a tree is a visual indicator of the root system, we are a living representation of God’s grace affecting our life.

Colossians 2:6-7 – “Therefore, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

To be IN HIM is to have made the ultimate decision to give Him your life and allow Him to lead you and guide you for the remainder of your life along the path He has established for you.

He wants to lead you toward HIS best for your life because it will always be better than YOUR best.
IN RESPONSE:

No one wants to make mediocre decisions. Once we’ve made that crucial decision of following Jesus how do we make the BEST decisions going forward?

We make the best decisions by seeking His wisdom and revelation through reflection and connection with community. We find wisdom when we abide in Him and spend time in His Word. The Word of God feeds us with wisdom and exposes our thoughts and desires toward a decision.

Community keeps us in check. As I mentioned earlier, isolation ultimately leads to devastation. It is helpful to bring community in to your decision making processes because they can offer counsel and seek wisdom along with you. If you are not plugged in to community, I would encourage you to start trying our Lifegroups. Fill out this form, and one of our leaders can help get you connected.

By Luke Whyte

luke whyte final

Tired of Being Tired

Have you ever woken up from eight hours of solid sleep and felt like you barely closed your eyes? Is your schedule so full you don’t have time to take a break? If you were given an entire day to rest would you be completely clueless on what to do with it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I believe you’ll enjoy some encouragement below for how to find rest in the midst of a busy life.

Rachel and I currently find it pretty easy to get to the place of being tired of being tired. We have two kids under two, a full time ministry role and are responsible for running two businesses, one of which is a new venture. Even if we knew what eight hours of sleep felt like I imagine we’d still find ourselves pretty worn out from the grind of roles, responsibilities and just plain life. And I realize more than ever, as a pastor of young adults in their 20s and 30s, we are not alone in having incredibly busy schedules. If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard the phrase, “I’m just so busy” in the past year I would have roughly two to three dollars. That’s a lot of busy pennies if you ask me.

Yet if I’m completely honest with myself I would have to say, as crazy as it may seem, I really enjoy being busy. Not the busybody kind of busy, but I enjoy coming home after a long day where I look back at checklists checked, meetings met and a solid day worked. Now before you rebuke me for being a workaholic, let me point you to a solid passage of truth that dates back to the beginning of time:

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” -Genesis 2:15

What does this mean? It means before the fall, before sin entered the world, in a time when the original design of God was still present and active, God gave man a job. And He gave man a job because WE ARE MADE TO WORK.

Most importantly we are made to enter his work.

That’s right I said it. You can say goodbye to guilty feelings every time you feel good when you work hard because you, my friend, are made to work.

So why is it, if we’re made to work we are so tired of being tired? Why does true rest seem so elusive?

I believe the answer to these questions have less to do with your hours of sleep and more to do with your failure to plan your rest.

Our time is like our money. If we don’t tell it where to go we will wonder where it went. If we, as a busy culture, don’t take time to proactively and intentionally schedule periodic rest, we will unknowingly blow past the God given boundary of balancing rest and work, and therefore will leave His work and enter our work, a place where rest can never be found.

As crazy as Rachel and my schedules are these days, I can confidently say we have developed disciplines of rest to help us stay afloat.

There’s not a special formula we discovered, simply rhythms of planning to rest.

So let’s get to the good stuff… how do we proactively plan to enter HIS rest? I’m going to give you three practicals that have been essential for Rachel and I. Failing to plan is planning to fail. So let’s help you come up with a plan.

Three Ways to Maintain a Lifestyle of Rest:
  • 1. Rest Daily: Every day Rachel and I do our very best to plan to be in bed at 10 p.m. so that we can wake up early enough to spend time time with Jesus, exercise and have a moment together praying as a couple. During these times we will often mention how thankful we are for certain areas of our life. It may seem basic, because it is basic. But it’s the little routines of daily rest that keep us on the right track. This helps us enter our day rested physically, emotionally and spiritually.“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28
  • 2. Withdraw Quarterly: Once every three months Rachel and I schedule a half-day to reflect and plan ahead. During our time of reflection we often spend an hour in worship and, out-loud, tell Jesus and each other things we’re thankful for. Then we look at our roles and responsibilities (I highly recommend using Jimmy’s Roles and Goals sheet) and determine what we’re going to keep and what we’re going to toss from our schedule. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” -Luke 5:16
  • 3. Retreat Annually: Once a year Rachel and I set aside a weekend to retreat as a family. This is a time for us to get out of town for 2-3 days to get words for the year, spend time together as a family and look forward to the next year. Many times I have found it helpful to do this during December or early January so we begin the new year in stride. “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.” -Ezra 3:11

A few months back I felt the Lord leading me to invite our Young Adults into a month of rest.

The month of July has therefore been officially declared, The Month of Rest.

Our Lifegroups have been postponed, Bridge Street cancelled and meetings cleared, all to encourage our people to take some time to withdraw and retreat with the Lord and with community. Over these next few weeks I’ll continue to share some practicals as well as look at the Bible to learn how we can rest well.

Check out my June Bridge Street Message on rest.
By Luke Whyte, Young Adult Pastor

luke whyte final

Shadowboxing

The other day I got in a fistfight and lost. Not only that but I ended up bloody and teary and sore. That’s right, I almost got knocked out. I was hanging out with one of the dudes I disciple and didn’t realize he is a trained MMA fighter. We had a blast. I bled. He didn’t. He won. I lost. However, I did learn a valuable lesson, if I find myself in hand to hand combat; I need to focus fully on my opponent, and not on simply avoiding getting hit. I need to protect myself, and never let my guard down.

Why do I share this?

Because we’re at war.

If you didn’t know it already, we are in the middle of a great war, a war that has been around since the beginning of time. I’m talking about spiritual warfare. This war has already been won. Jesus won it for us when he died on the cross. Therefore, our eternity is secured due to the price Jesus paid on the cross and gave us access to eternal life. However, until Jesus comes back we will continue to be caught in the middle of the fray here on earth.

Focus on the Enemy:

Instead of being focused on the devil, we’re busy fighting people. There are many of us losing battles on a daily basis because we are focused on the wrong enemy.

We’re throwing punches day in and day out and completely missing the real target, leaving us hurting, discouraged and exhausted. Often times we’re so focused on self-protection, we completely miss who the real enemy is. We completely miss the real enemy, the devil, who uses people to distract us and to inflict pain on our lives.

Weapons of the Spirit:

When we fight the wrong enemy, we use the wrong weapons. We are likely to respond in anger when someone comes at us in anger. When we focus on people as the problem we pick the weapons that should beat the people.

This is what the real enemy, the devil, wants you to do. Since day one he’s been trying to get us to focus on others as the problem. When people become the problem, and we use weapons of flesh, it’s the people that take the beating while the real enemy is sitting back.

 We absolutely have to rely on a power other than our own strength. We need to rely on the only power that is greater than the darkness, the power of the light. Rather the only person that can give us enough power to defeat the enemy is the one who has already defeated him: JESUS.

Luke 10:18-20 tells us we have been given power and authority over the enemy. Therefore, he has no hold over us. Death and darkness were defeated by the power found in life and light. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of each of us. We are also given armor to fight the battles of life. Paul reminds us of this in Ephesians 6:13-17. We are given truth, peace, faith, salvation and the word of God.

IN RESPONSE

While we can’t get away from spiritual warfare, we can press into love and prayer. Matthew 5: 43-45 tells us to love our neighbor and pray for those who persecute us. Love people like crazy, because love beats offense. Let your frustrations turn into prayer. It isn’t always easy to choose to pray for the broken instead of being angry, but it is worth it.

Check out Luke’s most recent message from Bridge Street to learn more about this topic.

By Luke Whyte, Young Adult Pastor

You Are What You Eat

I think it’s safe to say many of us lack of awareness when it comes to what we’re consuming. We are constantly bombarded with opportunities to fill our schedules, wallets, stomachs, closets, homes, etc. with the things of this world.

But while we may find ourselves filled, we will be far from fulfilled.

The truth is we will inevitably start to look like the things we consume. In other words, we are what we eat.

Ephesians 4:17-24 urges us to “no longer live as the Gentiles do” because “they are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” Paul goes on to say they lost all sensitivity because they gave themselves to darkness and corruption. Each of us is susceptible to being filled by something, whether it be darkness or light. And if we choose to fill ourselves with darkness, it will cause us to grow distant from God.

Have you ever binged on the things of this world and felt numb afterward? Maybe you put on a movie hoping to relax only to find yourself feeling slimed. Maybe you’re picking up extra hours at work hoping to get noticed by your boss so you can quiet the insecurity and lies in your head. Maybe you keep trying new relationships hoping to avoid the feeling of loneliness nagging at your heart.

In the end we cannot fill ourselves with the things of this world and expect to be satisfied or fulfilled.

It doesn’t work that way.

The good news is God designed us to be filled with good things that satisfy us! Psalm 107:9 says “He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” When we hunger for and fill ourselves with the things of God, we will be satisfied.

IN RESPONSE

Where are you looking to be satisfied or fed? Are you filling yourself with things that will make you look more like Jesus or are you growing more distant from Him? Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine what you’re choosing to fill your mind and heart with:

1. When you are tired, what do you turn to for rejuvenation?
2. When you are lonely, who/what do you look to for comfort?
3. When you are bored, what do you find yourself doing to pass the time?
4. What do you crave at the end of a long day?

Take a few minutes and ask God if there is anything you are trying to satisfy yourself with other than Him. When we empty ourselves of these things, we make room for Jesus to satisfy us. He wants to fill you!

By Luke Whyte, Young Adult Pastor

Dating: It’s Not Complicated (Part 2)

Before I unpack this topic a little more, I want to offer a few disclaimers: First, Rachel and I are not experts. The first time we dated led to a lot of destruction and heartbreak, but after experiencing God’s heart, we learned to date in a way that led to life and ultimately a thriving marriage. Second, dating is not about rules and regulations. I’m going to share a few practicals, but dating is really about the heart.

The first time Rachel and I dated we lacked clarity, boundaries, community and purity. I idealized finding the perfect woman to fit my plans for my future. I was looking for perfection in others, holding them to a standard I didn’t even expect of myself. On the other side, Rachel expected me to make her whole. She expected me to fill places in her heart that I was never intended to fill. Essentially, both of us set the other up for failure by expecting things of each other that were not healthy or realistic. We were seeking our own good.

When I look back on our relationship, I realize that neither one of us had Jesus at the center of our lives. Without Jesus at the center of your life, you are going to seek your own good in any relationship you’re in. We have to commit ourselves firmly to Jesus before we can commit to another person.

Is there anything you need to change in your own life in order to seek others best interest rather than your own?

Here are a few practicals you may find helpful:

  • Fix your filters

What are your standards? If the first thing you’re looking for is whether someone is attractive or not or if they flirt with you, then you’re probably starting in the wrong place and may find yourself on a date with a girl or guy who isn’t even interested in having a relationship with God. My advice? Major in the majors and minor in the minors. What are your majors?  Does he or she love God and walk in community? Are you attracted to him or her? Take some time to identify your majors and then be ok with accepting a few minors.

  • Set healthy expectations

We all have expectations, whether we recognize it or not. We have expectations for the person we date, for the first date, for their family, ect. Sadly social media has made this even more complicated. Sometimes we rule someone out before we ever even have a conversation with them. It’s important to be open and to loosen our expectations of what we think we need and deserve. Just get to know people and don’t add each girl or guy who walks by to a mental yes or no list.

  • Clarity is crucial

Guys – make sure you begin with a clear start and finish line with checkpoints along the way. This was a game changer for me while dating Rachel the second time. I communicated where I was at and where we were going first before we got confused or hurt.

Ladies – I know it can be a challenge to sit back and wait while guys figure out how to communicate with you, but you can only let your heart go as far as he’s leading you. Don’t assume what he hasn’t told you; it will save you a lot of pain in the process.

This is not an extensive list and I’m sure there are hundreds of other pieces of advice I could give you, but the one thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that if Jesus is truly central in your life, if you walk in community and accountability and if you seek the good of others over yourself, you’re going to be just fine. More than that, you’re going to experience God’s best for your life.

Click here to listen to Luke and Rachel’s sermon from Bridge Street!

By Luke Whyte, Young Adult Pastor

Dating: It’s Not Complicated (Part 1)

Did you know there are 11 different relationship options on Facebook? You can be single, in a relationship, engaged, married, separated, divorced, widowed, be in an open relationship, civil union, domestic partnership, or my personal favorite, it’s complicated.

It’s interesting to me that the marriage rate for millennials has dropped dramatically in the last few years from 59 percent to 20 percent. But something tells me this isn’t because we just don’t want to get married anymore. Studies show  the desire still exists. So if the value and desire to get married has stayed the same, yet the number of people actually getting married has decreased, this leads me to believe there is a problem with the pathway that leads to marriage: DATING.

Dating doesn’t have to be complicated if we follow the blueprints God has given us.

And if dating exists as the pathway to marriage, then the process is probably pretty important. The first step of this process is to focus on the only thing we can actually change: ourselves.

Let’s imagine our lives as a house for a moment. Building a house is not complicated if you have the blueprints. It’s challenging, sure. But complicated? It doesn’t have to be. There are a few components that I believe make up a solid house, representing the ways we can build ourselves up in Jesus.

1. The foundation. Relationship with God is the foundation of your identity – who you are and what your purpose is. You are who He says you are, not your past or current relationship. God calls you beautifully and wonderfully made. Our foundation is secure when we know who we are and why we’re here.

2. The walls. The walls of this house are made up of four different character traits.

  • The first is humility. Humility says “I’m aware of my strengths and I’m aware of my flaws, but I’ve been given grace to cover it all.” Humility puts us in the right perspective with God so we can have a righteous perspective of others.
  • The second wall is purity. If you aren’t walking in purity personally then you can’t expect the person you’re dating or hoping to date to be walking in purity either. Purity comes through confession and confession brings healing.
  • The third wall is integrity. Are you a person who does what you say you will do? Integrity hinges on authenticity. And oftentimes authenticity stems directly from security in your identity.
  • The last wall is service. How you love and serve those around you directly correlates to how you will love and serve your spouse one day. Learn to put others before yourself now.

3. The roof. The final component to a healthy house is community. Without community things get messy. Overtime character won’t stand up under the elements of this world unless you have community to cover you. With community there is protection, support and accountability.

If we follow His plan for building ourselves up in Christ and allow ourselves to focus on changing ourselves instead of others, dating may be a whole lot less complicated. It begins with a grounded foundation, takes root in character and is supported in community.

IN RESPONSE:

Take a look at the elements of the house listed above. Is there one that stands out to you? Focus on building your own house, so that if you start dating, you’re secure enough not to get blown over. Make it simple by preparing yourself now instead of setting yourself up for things to get complicated.

Be sure and check out Luke’s sermon about dating.

Luke Whyte, Young Adult Pastor