Date Night Ideas

Date Night Ideas

Here’s a quick run through of date night ideas. My wife and I actually use these. And with it being close to Christmas, maybe there’s a few good ideas you can turn into a gift…

Cheap/Basically Free:

  • Netflix and Chill. Come on it had to be here! My wife and I like to watch a favorite series and eat ice cream in bed.
  • Interview Questions. This is fun, and can be done in combination with almost any other date ideas. We ask each other questions, specifically intended to find out more about each other – and we still do this after 15+ years of marriage! We’re still discovering more and more about each other, and loving very step along the way. Some of our responses have changed over the years also. Don’t know what to ask? Start here.
  • 2-player video games. We’ve been playing Overcooked on Nintendo Switch lately and it’s a blast!
  • Nice Dinner at home. I love to cook, so I’ll occasionally grab a couple steaks, or scallops, or mussels, and cook up a simple, quick, elegant meal for just the two of us. There’s something intimate about cooking together.
  • Cleaning Party. Ok, no lie, this is nowhere near my first choice. I’d much rather “Netflix and Chill”! But we get some needed things done around the house, and that makes both of us feel more romantic.
  • Run errands together. We hear couples complain about never having enough time together. So turn ordinary things into a date! Buying groceries? Get a coffee together and make it a date!
  • Coffee and Prayer. I’m trying to do better at this. With 4 kids and a constantly busy house, there’s plenty to interrupt us. But we try to consistently have some regular morning time to pray for each other… over a cup of home made coffee.
  • Board/Card Games. These are so fun together, but also a great idea for family nights. We like Sushi Go, Game of Life, Ultimate Werewolf, and, yes… Exploding Kittens.
  • Overnight date at Home. This one’s for all the married with kids folks! We have a few other trusted families who we swap off watching our children overnight with about once a month to every other month. Our kids get to have sleepovers, and so do we with each other.

Moderate Cost:

  • Dance Lessons. Contrary to my Baptist roots, dancing is fun, romantic, and not inherently evil. There’s a great little affordable class you can do together in-home here!
  • New restaurant. We love to eat out, and we’re very adventurous with trying new foods/cuisines. We’ve got a favorite ramen joint, Ethiopian spots, plenty of Indian, Korean, phò, and of course Mexican options all around us. More importantly, we love experiencing them together.
  • Night at a nearby hotel. Occasionally, we’ll take a night out – in or near our own town! It’s like getting away but with far less travel time. And for the cost of a single hotel night, it’s pretty fun.
  • Art Gallery. We’ve only gone to a few art galleries, but have had a lot of fun each time! These are reasonably affordable trips, and this is another good family “date” for kids in many cases.
  • Comedy Show. These can be tough to find decently clean shows, but we recently went to Gabriel Iglesias and LOVED him. Hilarious, and decent.
  • Nearby travels. We have the good fortune of living in the SF Bay Area, and we’re surrounded by lots of great date day options that amount to a day trip. We’ve toured San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Paso Robles, Downtown San Jose, Willow Glen, Fremont, and several other parts of our greater Bay Area just to discover people and places together.
  • Fire pit. We have a enough yard space to enjoy a fire pit. It’s perfect for cuddling, talking, and enjoy a drink or meal, and just unplugging from all the other distractions for a bit. This is the one we use. We paid less, and we’ve had it for years.

Special Occasions/Pricey:

  • Michelin Star Chef. As a big food nerd, I found out there was a 3-star chef nearby that I was dying to visit. We saved a considerable amount of money for this trip, but enjoyed what is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime meal. We’ll share the memories of that meal for the rest of our lives. WORTH IT.
  • Hawaii. We went here for our 13th Anniversary a few years ago. As an Army brat growing up, I lived on Oahu for 3 years, and already knew several “must do” stops. But we spent half the trip on Kauai and just relaxed. Maui and the “Big Island” are also great. Lanai is tiny!
  • Missions Trip. We recently went to Kenya together and got to serve some missionaries and Kenyan pastors. It was a joy to serve together, and reminded both of us of what our marriage is centered around.
  • Family Reunion. My extended family is literally spread coast-to-coast. We had a big family reunion a year ago and reconvened with most of them in Oklahoma where my parents live. The trip there and back was as rewarding as the time with our relatives.
  • Conference/Retreat. We’ve both spoke at different conferences, and have attended dozens more. Some were focused on ministry, our marriage, or just a getaway with other couples. They are all rewarding and great to experience together.
  • Special Experience. We have loved some of the wine tours around us. We’ve gone fishing together on charter boats,
  • Visit another part of the world. We’ve got more travel plans. I promised my wife when I married her that I’d take her to Ireland. So Ive got plan that out soon! We’ve been to Germany, and hope to also go to A few tropical places sooner rather than later.

This is just a simple kick-starter list – the point obviously is to spend time together, enjoying each other’s company and building intimacy. What are some other favorite married date ideas you’ve enjoyed with your spouse? Anything I should have added?

Blessings,
Pastor John

Why Our Marriage Works

Why Our Marriage Works

marriageOur church is starting a new series this weekend (in a new place!) before Valentine’s Day called Mr. & Mrs. Betterhalf in which we are focusing on building lasting marriages. I was out with my wife this week walking downtown San Jose on a date – call it research. We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary this June and I got to thinking about why we’re beating the statistics; according to divorce rates, we should have ended it at least 5 years ago. Yet, we’re better and stronger than ever. Here’s why I believe our marriage works…

  1. My wife is my best friend. This sounds cliche, but I genuinely mean this. I would rather spend time with my wife than any other person. While we do have our separate interests, we enjoy most things together; ministry, sports, family time, mutual friendships, etc. She knows me. And I know her. Like best friends should.
  2. We solve problems. Every couple fights. Or at least they should. Too often, to avoid conflict, many couples just bottle up their frustrations until it eventually explodes, resulting in an even uglier conflict. While Tiffany and I don’t like to fight, we would rather the air be clear between us than fake our way through a single day.
  3. Nothing is more important to us. My marriage takes second place to nothing. Really. Nothing. “What about your kids?” The best gift I can give my children is a good example of a strong marriage. Where do you think kids get their strongest impressions of what a family should/shouldn’t be like? That’s right, the one they come out of. “What about your relationship with God?” This may come as a shock, but God is not the first priority of my life. He’s bigger than that to me. He’s the center of every priority in my life. So it isn’t “God and then my marriage,” it’s “God in my marriage.” According to the Bible, my marriage is a reflection of my relationship with God. That only makes my commitment to Tiffany that much stronger.
  4. Two words: Date. Night. Tiff and I have some form of a date every week. With four kids, we don’t have the time or money to get out as often as we like, so “date night” means a tub of ice cream and Netflix some weeks. But about every other week, we do get out, and go do something together. After 10 years, I’m still dating my wife and pursuing her heart. I plan on continuing to date her for the rest of my life.
  5. Our marriage has a vision. We talk about growing old together. About watching our grand kids grow up, and seeing their marriages last. We are trying to have the kind of marriage now that we want them to have one day. We hope to be the beginnings of a godly legacy of men and women who beat the cultural trends and make it work.

It’s important for me to point out that my marriage doesn’t work because I’m better than anyone else. What I do know, is that if others had the same self-sacrificing love that I have for Tiffany, and she has for me, than more marriages would last. We want everyone to have as good (or better!) of a marriage as us. And that is what this new series is about. Strengthening marriages God’s way. Whether you’re married, single, or single-again, we believe God wants to work powerfully through your relationships. So if you’re in the area, we hope to see you!

Blessings,
Pastor John

“The VIRGIN Bachelor”

“The VIRGIN Bachelor”

virgin

That’s what the magazine read on my way through the checkout line at WalMart (yes, WalMart, don’t judge me). Not that I’m racing home to catch Sean Lowe picking through two dozen plus women on national television for The Bachelor, but it’s hard to miss all of the buzz as the season is apparently winding down. The cliff notes of the buzz stirring lately seem to be that Sean, “a devote Christian” has been saving himself for marriage, sexually speaking – something difficult to maintain as a contestant of the show, from what I understand.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that The Bachelor is a suitable show, nor am I advocating getting emotionally (or physically) entangled with multiple people for the sake of millions of viewers’ entertainment. I also am not verifying that this season’s Bachelor is a role-model Christian. I don’t know the guy! However, if he has indeed committed to saving his sexuality for marriage, I certainly support such a commitment.

The rub for me, is that many of the news articles I’ve seen are treating Sean as if he has some disability for being an attractive man in his 20’s that is not sleeping with any number of the potentially willing women on his show. Apparently, now engaged to one of the “contestants,” he still insists on waiting until their wedding to have sex.

I’m tired of the way the media, internet, and movies try to brainwash our culture about our own sexuality. To the point that a man who appears physically healthy is criticized for valuing himself enough to save his sexuality for a commitment (a.k.a. marriage) where it can be freely expressed with a trusted person (a.k.a. his wife). If he isn’t “doing it” there must be a reason, right? Because “normal” people don’t wait until marriage for sex… right?!

Listen up men…

  • Having sex does not make you a “real man”.
  • Choosing to delay your own gratification makes you wise, not weird.
  • Having sex with virtually every willing female does not make you a man – dogs do that.
  • Real men commit to keeping their God-given sexuality for their wife alone.
  • Sex before marriage ruins good relationships and prolongs bad ones. I haven’t seen an exception yet.
  • If you’ve made some mistakes in the past, you can be different from this point forward – your past does not have to define you.

Assuming this season’s Bachelor and his fiance do maintain their sexual boundaries, I am very confident that it will all work out on their wedding night. For all the talk of the need for “sexual compatibility,” our culture forgets that their talking about people, not used cars. I know far more people who slept around that regret it, than those who saved themselves and wished they had not.

Be unique. Save your sex… And find something better than The Bachelor to watch, too! Gees, people…

Blessings,
Pastor John

Discerning God’s Will: Part 2

 

FINDING GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE

This is one of the most misunderstood subjects among Christians. We talk about “God’s will for our life” as though it were this big mystical enigma that only a few people get lucky enough to get right while the rest of us flounder around hoping that we end up tripping over some kind of “destiny”. Sadly, many people don’t ever seem to grasp it, and end up spending their lives trying to figure out how to live their life.

They don’t lack for praying any. Many people in this position have prayed and prayed and prayed… hoping that their future would unfold before them with some kind of supernatural certainty and Divine blessing of promised success. And when they don’t get it, they feel lonely, as if God has kind of left them hanging, or has refused to show them anything. So, spiritually speaking, they conclude that the reason for this is because of a personal sin issue. “I’m just not trusting God enough, when I believe in Him enough, then He’ll show me.”And the cycle continues until the person either makes some big decisions for themselves or, often times, walks away from their faith – entirely frustrated.

Any of that sound like things that have happened in your heart or life? Then maybe these questions can help you get traction in discovering and following God’s will for your life:

  1. What is in your hand?: God asked Moses this when He revealed His purpose for Moses life in Exodus 4, and at the time all Moses had was a staff. Nothing fancy, it was basically a good walking stick. But this “walking stick” showed up almost everywhere through the rest of Moses’ life. God used his staff as a means of showing Moses His will. So what is in your hand? What talents, gifts, resources, connections has God given you that He may want to leverage for your good and His glory? Don’t overlook what you think of as “ordinary”; Moses had a stick, for crying out loud!
  2. Who has God put in my life?: Throughout Scripture, we see God calling people into His will together. You were meant to live in community. You are a part of a whole, just like me. we need each other to be all that God has called us to. Who are the people that are unmistakeably placed in your life by God?
  3. What are you doing now?: It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. There’s a good chance that you’re closer to God’s will than you know, yet you are trying so hard to look far into your future that you didn’t realize that you were standing on it all along. God isn’t waiting to use you “someday,” He desires a purpose for you right here – right now! So how could the things you are doing now fit into God’s design for you?
  4. What is my plan?: Form your dreams and desires into a functioning plan. Leave some flexibility room, because plans do change. But if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. What are the steps that need to take place in order for you to get where God is leading you? This is the part where most people quit. Whether it’s due to the fear of asking themselves the tough questions of “how?” or just laziness, many people with all of the potential never get to see it materialize for lack of a plan.
  5. What’s it going to take?: Too many well-intentioned people are stationary for fear of the unknown. At some point, despite the things you are unsure of, you have to begin to make some decisions and acting on those decisions. How much certainty do you need to have before you act? That is a legitimate question. Are you waiting for the finances before you enroll for college? How much of the money do you need to see first before you trust God for the rest? Create if/then decisions and take action. And if you wait for absolute 100% certainty, you’ll never do what God wants for you. Period.

Certainly, more could be said. But I hope this helps you chew over the big questions and that you will refuse to settle for less than God’s best for your life.

Blessings,

John

You know you are mature enough to get married if…

You know you are mature enough to get married if…

  1. You have a job and pay your own bills. Don’t make excuses. Just get a job!
  2. You can put someone else’s needs before your own.
  3. You are honest with yourself regarding the areas you need improvement.
  4. (Guys) You are capable of leading a wife/family in the right direction.
  5. (Ladies) You are humble enough to follow a man’s leadership without being a doormat.
  6. You have a specific, high degree of certainty of what you want to do in life, and a realistic plan on how to get there.
  7. You’re not trying to run from anything by getting married (i.e. your parents, job, ex, etc.)
  8. You realize that you will not do everything perfect and neither will your spouse. In other words, you’re honest about your faults, and forgiving of your spouse’s.
  9. You can communicate your emotions (guys) without being emotional (ladies).
  10. You see compromises on non-moral issues as a win-win, because you got some of what you wanted, and made your better-half happy as well. Everything doesn’t have to be your way.