Friday, June 22, 2007

Your Courtship Story

Mike Crouch is the principal of Wakulla High School.

When I meet new people, one thing I always enjoy hearing is their courtship story.

See, anyone who is married has a courtship story, and they’re always interesting.

When I was a kid my parents had a Bible study at our house.  A lot of young people attended, and some of them ended up marrying each other.  I watched their courtships unfold, I attended their weddings, and I always thought, “I wonder how it’s going to happen for me.”

The courtship story always involves how they met for the first time and what they thought of each other.  The courtship really kicks off with the first date and ends with the wedding date.  What happens between the two is the heart of your courtship story, a story you will be telling for the rest of your life.

Imagine the kind of story you want to tell your kids someday, then conduct your courtship accordingly.

This week I asked Mike Crouch his courtship story, and it’s a good one.  My favorite part is when he said that after they started going out, he didn’t kiss her for three months.  Then when he finally did it was a beautiful romantic moment on the beach.

The thing I like about that is there was no rush to touch.  So many people get caught up in the rush to touch, but when you do, it clouds your judgment.  You can’t think straight and conduct a proper courtship if you rush to touch.

If it’s a proper courtship, you need not rush.  You’ll be spending the rest of your life together.  And why would you settle for anything less than a proper courtship?

Some people say you shouldn’t hold hands or kiss until you’re married.  That’s not a bad idea.  It keeps you focused on what’s important as you decide if this is someone you want to marry.

Now I can hear someone saying, “Yeh, but I don’t want to marry a bad kisser.”  So what are you saying, that you want them to practice on a lot of other people before they get to you?  How dumb is that? 

I’ve met a lot of happily married people over the years, and no one ever says, “I really regret the fact that we didn’t kiss more when we were dating.”

Why not?  Because when you make a wise judgment before you marry, you have a lifetime of enjoyment thereafter. 

The important thing is to keep your head clear during courtship, and that’s hard to do when you’re in a rush to touch. 

I can hear some young ladies saying, “But if I don’t at least kiss then he’ll break up with me.”

Don’t be so sure.  If breaks up with you just because you want to wait, then good riddance.  But don’t misjudge a certain power that a young woman of moral integrity has.

Here is a phrase that I love, that I picked up from Elisabeth Elliot:  “a woman’s enhancing inaccessibility.” 

Think about that, “enhancing inaccessibility.” 

You see, there is an attraction to something you can’t have.  If you decide not to touch during courtship, it will likely make you even more attractive.

It’s important that you set boundaries ahead of time, and here is one good guideline.  What kind of courtship story do you want to tell your children?  Set that as the standard, then live it out in your own courtship. 

If there’s something you don’t want to tell your children someday, then don’t do it.  You want your courtship story to be rated G, good clean fun for the whole family.

Some people say, “Well, don’t you want to try things out before you get married?  If you don’t, how will you know if you are compatible?”

Well the most important compatibility is spiritual, are you on the same page spiritually.  Then there are other things like, are you headed in the same direction in life?  Do you share ideas about children and family and such basics as money management?  These make up the foundation of marriage. 

And you must avoid the rush to touch in order to think clearly about these more important things.

I’m offering this as a simple guideline, an easy way to decide what you will and won’t do.  Just think of it like this.  What kind of a story do you want to tell when it’s time to tell your children Your Courtship Story.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)


On this topic I recommend the book, “Passion and Purity” by Elisabeth Elliot.


I found that ““enhancing inaccessibility” quote within this excellent transcript:


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hooked On Clothes

What has its hooks in you?

Here is one thing that might have its hooks in you.


Call it fashion, or style, or being trendy, or not being trendy.

But the question is, does clothing have its hooks in you?

Do you shop for clothes when you don’t need new clothes?  Why?

Could it be because it has its hooks in you?

Do you ever get a little restless feeling that you “need” new clothes?

Where does that restlessness come from?

Would you say you are “hooked” on clothes?

Think about what that means.  It’s a fishing term, meaning “pierced through and being reeled in.”  If you are hooked on something, it means it has pierced you through and is reeling you in.  You are no longer in control.

Here’s what I think.  Clothes are just the bait.  If clothes are the bait, then what is reeling you in?  Pride.

You are not hooked by the clothes, but by pride.

“Oh, Doug, that’s ridiculous.  Just because I like certain clothes doesn’t mean I’m hooked by pride.”

Let me ask you, would you be willing to wear something you considered humble?  It might be something you considered “poor” or out of style. 

Or do you have a certain standard to maintain?  Is that standard based on pride?

This is a tricky subject, because you can dress nice but not be caught by pride.  It’s a matter of the heart, and it’s something I think God will have to reveal to you.

This is something God has worked on in me over the years.  I was never big on designer clothes or whatever, but nonetheless, I discovered pride in my heart over how I dress.

For example, when I was about 20, I had an idea for some shirts, but I didn’t see anything like it in the stores.  I had a friend who could sew, and she made the shirts for me. 

Nothing expensive.  No designer labels.  But I had shirts no one else had that I really liked, tailored to fit.  Yes, there was pride.

Over the years a lot of clothes have gone through my closet.  Out with the old and in with the new.  I know what it’s like to see something in the store and think, “Ooo, I gotta have it.”

Somewhere along the line somebody talked me into checking out Goodwill stores.  It seemed kind of trashy, but I found some top-of-the-line items at dirt cheap prices.  I was surprised.

You’d think shopping at Goodwill would kill your pride, but pride is a tricky beast.  Now I had more nice clothes than ever.  It’s hard to be humble with such a nice wardrobe.

And you know what?  I didn’t think anything of it.  After all, what’s the problem?  I’m not wasting money and I’m not being a “fashionista,” I mean come on, I’m shopping at Goodwill for crying out loud.  Could I get any more humble?

I didn’t realize the hooks it had in me until one January when I felt like God gave me a New Year’s resolution.  It included buying no clothes. 

No big deal, right?  But in those first few weeks I finally realized how hooked I was.  In every store I saw something I wanted, and always on sale.  I saw things I wanted in ads and catalogues. 

It slowly dawned on me how deep those hooks went, hooks I hadn’t even noticed before.  I had been a slave to impulsive thinking when it came to clothes.  I constantly bought new clothes when I didn’t need them. 

So why did I buy them?  I think at the very core it was pride.  I probably never would have realized it had it not been for that New Year’s resolution.

Believe it or not, I haven’t bought any new clothes since, and I feel like a bunch of little hooks have fallen away from me; hooks that used to guide my behavior, but now have no influence over me.

Like I said, this is something I think God will have to reveal in your heart.  Maybe this message is for you, the first step toward a new level in your life.

And I think the process can start with your honest answer to this simple little question:

Are you hooked on clothes?

(As featured on Wave 94.1 FM)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Don't Be Small

I remember sitting in her office like it was yesterday.

She owned a little quick-stop gas station, and was a favorite client of mine; and her office was a mess!  Not because she was messy, but because she was busy. 

And there on her wall, in the midst of all that mayhem, was a little saying that always made me laugh.  It said this:

“Stress:  The confusion created when your mind overrides your body’s desire to choke some jerk who desperately deserves it.”

It’s funny, and we’ve all been in those situations.

I remember one time doing business with a guy, and we had a deal.  I didn’t know it, but the man I was dealing with actually didn’t have the final authority.  When the man who did have the final authority heard about it, he called me up and chewed me out, even called me “underhanded,” like I should have known who all had what authority in that company. 

Well what would you do in that situation?

I did what I thought was the right thing to do.  I apologized profusely, said I sure didn’t do it on purpose, said there was certainly nothing underhanded as he accused, but that it would never happen again, and that I was sorry.

When I hung up the phone, a girl in the office who had overheard the conversation said, “That guy’s a jerk.  I’ll never go there again.” 

And that’s our natural response, isn’t it?  When we feel like someone’s been a jerk, our natural tendency is to choke them, if not physically, then at least economically. 

Funny how that sounds so correct.  But Jesus said, “Love your enemies.”  I say this, “Don’t be small.” 

I like biographies.  I like learning about life by reading about the lives of others.  Currently I am reading a biography of Bill Belichick.  He is the head coach of the 3-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.  In that book is the story about a guy from ESPN who offended Belichick.  Then it said that the coach is the kind to “never forget” such an offence, and that he even held it against other people from ESPN.  “If it’s true,” I thought, “How small.”

When someone offends you, don’t be small.  Forgive them!  Sure, you could be a jerk, but you’re bigger than that.  You have heard of things getting “stuck in your craw.”  I don’t think this should happen.  Forgiveness and love are like a clean sweep of your craw.  Nothing gets stuck there because love and forgiveness keep it clean. 

I remember one time I wanted to network with some other radio people, to get their input.  I sent out a few e-mails, and I got one back from a guy who raked me over the coals for e-mailing him.  He wanted to know where I had “harvested” his e-mail address.  He said he didn’t want to be bothered by my “junk.”  Wow!  Go back to my definition of stress. 

See, our human nature in such a case wants to lash back.  For me, it takes a minute to process things.  I remind myself, “Forgive immediately.  Don’t let anything get stuck in your craw.”

And remember this, you may dwell on things, but these crabby people?  They have forget all about it!  They quickly find new people to be crabby to.  So why poison yourself with stress and unforgiveness, and even thoughts of how to make them pay?


Let these three little words remind you:  Don’t be small.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Claim Everything as Victory

It was church night at the gymnasium.

We had a hot game of basketball going, and I was bringing the ball down the court.

The big guy in the middle decided to come out and challenge me.  I thought I could drive past him, but he threw his big body right in my path. 

I tried to make a quick cut, and that’s when my ankle gave way.  I crumpled to the floor. 

As embarrassing as it was, I had to be helped off the court.

I sat on the sidelines, hoping the pain would go away and I could get back in the game.

It didn’t.

They helped me get my shoe and sock off and, oh, this was not good. 

As church people surrounded me, staring at my foot, one woman spoke up.  With all ears tuned in, she announced, “Well, it just proves to me once again that almost everyone has unattractive feet.”

What?  I am in agony, and this woman is dissing my feet in front of everyone.  What’s up with that?

And besides, what’s wrong with my feet?  Not too big, not too small.  Not too hairy.  Not too wide or too narrow.  My toes are straight, my nails are cut.  No unsightly bumps or calluses.  Not even a minor case of athlete’s foot.

What is this woman’s problem with my feet?

Now I am at a fork in the road.  One path is to become acutely aware of my feet.  I can keep them covered up from now on.  No more sand between my toes.  No fresh air, because these babies will never see the light of day.  Why not?  Because this woman dissed my feet in front of everyone.

In college, I minored in Public Relations.  Though I never worked in the industry, I still keep up with it in books and journals.  In one of those I read a fantastic quote.  I don’t remember who originally wrote it, and a Google search turned up nothing.  But here it is:

“In business, claim everything as victory.”

In other words, no matter what misfortune befalls your company, there is some way to get good publicity out of it.

O.K.  So now I have this woman dissing my feet.  How can I possibly claim this as victory?  How can I keep from sinking into despair?  How can I keep from lashing back or holding it against her?  “Let’s see your feet, honey.  In fact, let’s just take a good hard look at your whole existence.  How about we run you through the shredder, what do you say to that?”

That would be a natural reaction, but certainly not Christ-like.  So how should we react to such a slight? 

The first step is immediate forgiveness.  To live in forgiveness is like having a protective force field around you.  Negative comments can’t get through to you, because as soon they are aimed your way, they are dissolved in the force field of forgiveness.

How do you turn on that force field?  By deciding now, “No matter what is said about me, I will forgive.  Jesus has forgiven me a much greater debt, and to honor that, I will forgive others - immediately.”

But those words will want to linger in your head.  Then what?

Then I go back to Philippians 4:8, which tells us to think about good things.  We are to dwell on the good, not on the negative.

Like I said, the negative will want to linger in your head.  So here is what I do.  I try to flip it upside down and look for the positive, which I know is something God wants me to do, based on Philippians 4:8.*

So what positive thing could I possibly find in that woman’s comment?  Well here is how I claimed that one for victory.  I don’t think she would have made that crack about my feet, if she thought I was ugly.  She would have expected unattractive feet.  So the positive flip side to her negative comment is that she must not think I’m ugly!

Of course that could be just shallow flim-flam; positive, but good for nothing.  So we have to go back to God’s word, which says I am His “workmanship,”** fearfully and wonderfully made.*** 

So it’s not just that we think positive thoughts.  We think positive thoughts based on God’s truth.  There lies the true power in positive thinking.

So what kind of negativity is beating you up today?  Flip that around and replace it with God’s positive truth. 

With the Lord in your corner, and His truth in your head, then no matter what anyone says, you will be able to claim everything as victory.

 (As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)

* Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

** Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

*** Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”



Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Freedom & Responsibility

This is a very simple concept.

I’ve been drilling it into my children for years now, just ask them.

Freedom goes hand in hand with responsibility.

The more responsible you are, the more freedom you get.

The less responsible you are, the less freedom you get.

If my children are responsible with their cell phones, they are free to use them.

But if they are irresponsible with their cell phones, there goes their freedom.

Now they might think this is just some crazy idea their dad dreamed up to make them miserable.  But this is actually a law of the universe.  Responsibility and freedom are intrinsically linked.

Let’s talk football.  The University of Georgia produced an awesome linebacker named Odell Thurman.  He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals 2 years ago, and as a rookie he led the team in tackles with 148. 

Then he did something irresponsible.  He skipped a drug test.  For that, he lost the freedom to play in the first four games of the 2006 season.  He was suspended by the NFL. 

Last September he was caught doing something even more irresponsible.  He was arrested for drunk driving.  For that he lost the freedom to play for the entire season.

His irresponsibility also cost him some freedom in society.  Last Friday a judge ordered him to spend six days in a treatment center.

Thurman hopes to be reinstated by the NFL.  He wants the freedom to play football again.  But remember, freedom and responsibility are intrinsically linked.  If Thurman behaves responsibly, he will get the freedom he wants.

Unfortunately, this weekend Thurman got into a well-publicized fight in his hometown of Monticello, Georgia.  Reportedly he was at a party in the wee hours of the morning with his brother, who has been accused of pulling a gun on a couple guys.

I’m not picking on Odell Thurman.  He is just the latest of a long line of professional athletes who are shocked to lose their freedom when they behave irresponsibly.

Like I said, I have drilled this into my kids.  I think it is one of the most important lessons we can teach our young citizens.

The problem is our idea of freedom.  For some reason we think freedom means we can do whatever we want whenever we want.  If we are truly free, we are free to do anything.

Not true. 

Last night my son was helping me with some yard work.  In our conversation I said something like, “Well, you’re 18.  You’re free to do whatever you want.”

“So I can just put this shovel down and go back in the house?”

“Sure,” I said.  “You’re free to do that.  And I’m free to respond accordingly.”

He kept shoveling.

Now let’s say I let my kids do whatever they want.  I raise them that way.  At home they can talk to their parents any way they want, watch whatever they want on TV, stay out late, drink, smoke, cuss, skip chores, skip school – they are completely free.

Well we all know that is not freedom.  They will become totally self-centered, which is actually bondage.

If we want to raise good kids and productive citizens, we must start when they are little, start teaching them the connection between freedom and responsibility.  If we don’t, society will have to do it for us. 

I am no sociologist, and I’ve done no research.  But my gut says that our prisons are full of people who didn’t have Daddy and Mommy teaching them from the youngest age to behave responsibly.  Daddy and Mommy did not take away their freedom when they behaved irresponsibly, so now society has done it.

Another thought.  Daddy and Mommy wanted their own freedom.  They were not responsible in raising their children, and now they’ve lost some freedoms of their own.

Look around and you will find examples everywhere.  Look at your own life, at work, at school and at home.  When you behave responsibly, you get more freedom.  But when you are irresponsible, you lose freedom.

I’m telling you, it’s the “law of the land.”  You can’t avoid it.  These two things always go together:  Freedom and Responsibility.

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)


Friday, June 01, 2007

Don't Go There

I am now about ready to give you a very powerful tool in your arsenal.

It is a powerful little saying that can change your life.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but here it is:

“Don’t go there.”

That’s it.  And if you need to you can use the “extra strength” version:

“Don’t even go there.”

Our thoughts are like undisciplined little brats.  If left undisciplined, they will run all over the place and do a lot of damage. 

Look.  There are some things you simply cannot think about.  You can’t “go there.” 

I know, I know.  Thoughts just pop into your head.  Well, then, kick them out.

What would you do with an unwanted intruder in your home?  I liked the marquee I saw in front of a business in Tallahassee one time.  It said, “I am guarding this place 3 nights a week with a shotgun.  You guess which nights.”

Unwanted intruders get shot, not entertained.  It must be the same with our thoughts.  When unwanted thoughts pop in, don’t entertain them.  Shoot them!  And right here is your silver bullet, this little phrase.  As soon as a cruddy thought pops into your head, slam the door shut by telling yourself, “Don’t go there!”

You know what, I think a lot of depression could be solved with this little phrase.  As soon as some depressing thought pops into your head, just say, “Don’t go there!”  As soon as some temptation presents itself, just say, “Don’t go there!”  If it’s really tempting, bring out the big gun, a “Don’t even go there!”

Sometimes it might feel like a shooting gallery.  Bad thoughts popping up everywhere.  And you know how it is, thoughts can be triggered by the smallest things.  Memories can be stirred up by certain scents or songs or even TV shows.  These may want to drag your mind down a certain destructive path.  Well don’t go there! 

Officials are always talking about suicide prevention.  Not long ago a friend left me a voice mail about someone she knew who had just committed suicide.  But suicide is just the end of a very bad train of thought.  If only they would have told themselves early on, “Suicide?  Don’t go there!”

God is very interested in our thoughts, and He tells us what to think about.  Philippians 4:8 says,

“Whatever is true,

Whatever is noble,

Whatever is right,

Whatever is pure,

Whatever is lovely,

Whatever is admirable,

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”

And if anything else tries to push its way through the door of your mind today, just put it square in your sights and say:

“Don’t go there!”

(As heard on Wave 94.1 FM)