RPMs: RECOGNIZING POTENTIAL MATES
May 23, 2004
If you’ve been around here lately, you know I’ve been comparing the whole dating process, this thing called “spouse selection” to a car. And if you know cars, you know this car is a Ferrari. It’s the real deal, and it cost several hundred thousand dollars, this car. It’s a lot of money, it’s a lot of cash. It’s a dream car for most everybody.
The last time we met, I talked about defective dating. I said defective daters do some dumb stuff. Why am I using a car to illustrate dating? Well, dating is sort of like a lease with an option to buy. We’re always trying to find, those of us that are single, the ultimate make. I decided what we do on this side of the wedding runner affects the kind of trajectory and the kind of relational freeway we will have on the other side of the wedding runner. This series is for single adults, it’s for students. But especially, this series is for those who are parents, moms and dads, because we spend the lion’s share of our time teaching and training our kids to make discerning decisions.
The most important decision we will make, next to our relationship with Christ, is who will we hook up with. Who will we marry? Who will we walk down the aisle with? That is a monster decision.
Are you a defective dater? Maybe you’re saying, “Defective dater? Not me, man. I’ve got it going on. You must be talking to just a few people here. No, I’m not.” But there is a lot of defective dating going on here. A lot of people are making dumb, what-was-I-thinking, defective dating decisions.
What if I told you the Dallas police department informed me that 50% of all cars that enter 635 from McArthur Boulevard get into a horrendous crash. I’m talking about hydroplane. I’m talking about serious wreckage. You would say, “Man, there’s no way that happens, Ed. I drive by that exit all the time, I use McArthur Boulevard all the time to get onto 635. There’s no way that that is going to happen. That’s not real.”
That’s right. It’s not real. But this is real: 50% of all marriages crash and burn. Fifty percent of all people who merge onto this marital freeway don’t make it; they end up as relational wreckage. Why? Because, I believe, we’re not doing the right kind of work on this side of the wedding runner. We’ve got to understand what we do and what we don’t do so we can make the strategic “I do,” and discover this great relational freeway that God has in store for our lives.
DEFECTIVE DATERS DON’T CHECK THE BAGGAGE
Last time I kind of left you hanging because I said defective daters do something that’s really dumb. Defective daters fail to pop the trunk and check the baggage. Everybody has got some serious junk in the trunk. I’m talking about baggage, I’m not talking about suitcases. Let’s talk about some of these bags because that’s what the dating process is all about.
We need to check each other’s baggage; we need to go through the contents of our bags. You might be saying, “Well, this guy I’m dating, he is incredible, he is wealthy, he is this, and he is that.” Yeah he might be this or that, but in reality, he may be Samsonite Sam. He may have a lot of baggage, and you had better check the baggage.
“Oh Ed, you wouldn’t believe this girl. Oh she’s this, she’s that, she’s beautiful, she’s blah, blah, blah….” And that might be true, but really she’s Louis Vuitton Linda. She’s got some baggage, and you had better check it out.
THE FAMILY DUFFEL
Family baggage is something we had better look through because our family of origin wields the most influence in all of our lives. When we date, we better check the family bag. You’d better go through the contents of it. In our families, we learn how to communicate or not to communicate. We learned how to resolve conflict or not resolve conflict. We learned how to be unselfish or very selfish. Have you checked the family baggage? It’s a very important bag.
Lisa and I had dinner a while back with a young couple, and both of these people came from “wheels off” families. They came from families with a lot of baggage, and I’ll never forget what they told us. They said, “You know, Ed and Lisa, we had no idea of the influence and the impact of the baggage that our families gave us.” And then they went on to say 90% of the conflict in their marriage has been because of the family baggage they did not process prior to marriage.
I said to Lisa, “They’re onto something. This family baggage thing is the real deal isn’t it? Family baggage.
THE TEMPERAMENT CARRY-ON
How about temperament? We all have unique temperaments. We are wired uniquely. It’s not every day you see a beautiful green Ferrari is it? [Ed is referring to the Ferrari on stage] Especially at church. You just don’t see them. They’re unique and they’re one of a kind. Well, we’re one of a kind and we’re unique. We’re made in the image of God. We have a unique temperament, and we got our temperament from God. But also, we got it and formulated it with our family of origin.
What kind of temperament do you have? How are you wired? “Oh man, the guy I’m dating, he’s so organized—palm pilots and everything. ABC and 123. He’s just amazing.” Good for you. “This girl I’m going out with, dude, she is something else! She is so spontaneous, I just love that about her. You don’t know what she’s going to say and I just love it.”
Let me tell you something, I’ve been married for 20-some-odd years. That thing that attracted you to that person in the dating realm can be that thing that drives you crazy when you get married. You’ll end up saying, “You are organized honey, but you’re obsessive-compulsive, and you’re just wearing me out, you know?” Or, “I’m sick and tired of all this craziness! I don’t know where you’re going and what you’re going to do and it’s driving me nuts.”
See how it happens? Temperament issues. When you say the word “temperament,” you’ve got the word “temper.” How do you handle conflict? How do you process anger? You’d better find that out when you’re dating. You had better date long enough to see conflict and see how you’re going to resolve the conflict.
Maybe you grew up in a family where anger was handled gun slinger style. [Ed whistles the theme to “Gunsmoke”] Maybe your parents were like Clint Eastwood, “Go ahead, make my day.” Bang, bang, bang! They just fired from the hip all these verbal shots here and there. Do you handle anger that way? Ahhh!
Maybe you grew up in a family where anger was handled frappacino style, and you just ice someone out. If your dad hurt you, you just iced him out. Your brother hurt you? You just iced him out. Your sister hurt you? You just iced her out. And now you’re dating somebody and you just ice them out. They ask, “Is something wrong?” and you just turn your shoulder and say, ”Oh, no, no, no.”
Maybe it’s something like we talked about a couple of weeks ago. You Tupperware your anger. You take anger and put it in Tupperware and seal it, put it in the refrigerator thinking everything is cool, no problem. Then you open the refrigerator one day, and your anger (makes exploding noise) explodes on people out of nowhere. When it comes to anger, Proverbs 16:32 says, “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”
As I’ve said before, I think the biggest mistake that Lisa and I made in our dating relationship was the fact that we did not really go through biblical counseling prior to being married. I thought I knew the score. I thought I knew what was going on—after all, I was in seminary. I was an ordained pastor working on a church staff and doing weddings, funerals, and sermons. But who was I trying to kid?
But I’ll tell you how some of these challenges hit us. This is kind of a funny story I think. Lisa grew up in a family that was highly, highly organized. For example, when they would go on a family vacation, they would spend months and months of planning for the vacation. They would take out the road maps, highlight the routes, discern how many bathroom stops they have to make along the way, where they were going to eat, how long they were going to stay at a particular hotel, and what the cost was and all this stuff. Her dad would even write down his stats and figures. It was craziness to me.
Man, my family? Talk about wheels off! We’d just jump in the car and start driving for a vacation. We didn’t know where we were going to go, where we would end up, how long we’d be there. We’d just go.
So here Lisa and I get married and we take our first vacation… [Ed calls out like the familiar boxing match call] “Let’s get ready to rumble!” You know? Different family bag, different temperament bag.
These are big issues, very important things. How do we process anger? That is why we date and we must date long enough to find the ulti-mate. And in the dating process that’s what we should go through all of these situations. Don’t be dumb. There are too many dumb daters out there. Dumb daters don’t pop the trunk and don’t check the baggage.
DEFECTIVE DATERS IGNORE DASHBOARD WARNINGS
Also, dumb daters ignore dashboard warning lights. I told you that a couple weeks ago, a friend of mine dropped off this brand new Ferrari and said, “Here, drive it for a couple of days.” He was going out of town. This Ferrari here is old [sarcastically]. It has 8,000 miles on it. His was almost brand new. It only had 1,000 miles. It was a sweet ride.
So I was driving this car, and all of a sudden my worst nightmare became a reality because the dashboard was like lighting up and flashing. I’m like, “Oh no!” I called him on the phone and he said, “Ed, don’t worry about it. You can wreck the car. I don’t care. It’s insured, just have a good time.” I said, “Yeah but these warning lights,” and he said, “Ah, don’t worry about it; I’ll get it checked out.”
When he got back home, he took the car to the Ferrari dealership and he called me. He was laughing and he goes, “Ed, you were talking about that dashboard light going on and off? Do you know what the Ferrari dealer told me?” I said, “No.” He said, “The Ferrari dealer told me, ‘Whoever drove the car last wasn’t driving it fast enough or hard enough!” I was like, “Oh, man!”
If we date our way instead of God’s way we will never drive our Ferrari hard enough or fast enough. You see, our Ferrari is made to hit on all cylinders. It’s made to have those RPMs redlined. It’s made to really cruise down this relational road. If we do it God’s way, that’s what’s going to happen. And if we don’t, we’re going to hydroplane and hit pot holes and end up as relational wreckage.
THE CHARACTER LIGHT
What kind of lights do dumb daters ignore? One light is the character light. Character counts. This whole thing called integrity is a monster issue. The word integrity comes from the word integer, and the word integer is basically a whole number. And the dating scene is so crazy because if you date for three or four months, you are pretty much giving out fractions of yourself. You’re saying, “Here’s a fourth, a third, or a half” instead of wholeness.
If you date someone long enough, then you begin to see wholeness; you begin to see what they’re all about. Don’t try to justify it, “Well, Ed, he only has a little drinking problem. He just has a little gambling problem. You know she just overspends a little bit. She just freaks out a little bit…” You know what I’m saying? Well, yeah, a little bit; that’s good. But that little bit can become [makes exploding sound] a big monster issue in the dating process. You’ve got to check out character. Does this person you’re dating have the kind of character that you’re attracted to? Does this person you’re dating have the kind of character that you would like to be around for the next 40 or 50 years? I don’t know, I’m just throwing the question out. Don’t ignore the character light.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34 says this about character, it says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God.” Character light…it looms large. You better pay attention and watch it.
THE RELATIONAL LIGHT
There’s another light—the relational light. You’d better look at those relationships. Look at the person’s friends. You can know me really well just by knowing my friends. And I could know you really well just by knowing your friends. So during the dating scene get to know the persons friends. Do they have a consistent track record of friendships, or do they have a friend for a while and then something happens and then they go to another friend? Are all their friends brand new friends? Warning, warning, warning!
I made a mistake a couple years ago—oh, I hate to tell you this, but I’ve got to. I hardly ever do weddings anymore, but a close friend of mine came to me and said, “Ed, would you please do this wedding for one of my relatives and this guy. They just met and they’ve only known each other for several months, but, man, they love each other.” I said, “Okay.” I shouldn’t have done it, because normally I will not even consider doing a wedding unless the people have been going out for a year. But I did it.
And when I was standing there doing the wedding, I had this kind of weird sick feeling in my stomach that this marriage will last about seven minutes, you know? And as I looked around in this house and as I watched the wedding party, this guy’s best man was a guy he’d only known for like 12 weeks. Warning, warning, warning! This couple got married and the deception of this guy, the lying that this guy was involved in and all the stuff, it hurt this woman. It hurt my friend, his family, and a lot of other people. It was a wheels off, humungous wreck.
So look at their relationships, look at their friends, and check them out. You’d better watch out for that. Last time I talked about the ultimate relationship. The most important relational question is to find out their story about how they met Christ. That’s number one. And after that, you’d better look at their friends.
THE MAINTENANCE LIGHT
There is another light that we ignore, I’m talking about dumb daters. Dumb daters have the uncanny ability to ignore the maintenance light. What do we say guys? “I don’t like these high maintenance women, man. They wear me out. I’m looking for a low maintenance woman.” I understand that. But guys, here’s what I discovered. All relationships are high maintenance. But I do know what you’re saying, because some women are just “high maintenance.”
The high maintenance woman, guys, will flash a unique dashboard warning sign. It’s a dollar bill sign. Ca-ching! Whenever you see a woman flashing that high maintenance dollar bill sign, head for the hills! Get out of town! You don’t want any of her, you don’t want any of that. You’ve got to marry a woman, guys, who lives up to the Bangladesh/ Bentley theory. The woman you marry has to be content if you’re called into the mission field in Bangladesh. And they’ve got to be just as happy if you are driving a Bentley into your mansion in Highland Park. Now, you find a woman like that and you’ve found something special.
The high maintenance light, you’ve got to watch for that. You know what’s so freaky about dating? Most of the time when defective daters date, they’re just so focused on a few of the features that they miss the whole scene. [To illustrate the point, Ed gets right up to the Ferrari, leans over, and stares at one spot on the car]
Look how stupid I look! See, you need to expose the relationship to your friends and your family because they will tell you the truth about this person. But we’re so mesmerized by a couple of features, “Oh man, he is so wealthy and he is so sweet,” while our friends tell us, “Yeah, but he’s not good for you.” Or your mom says, “Yeah, but you don’t know.” But we still argue, “I really see him, I know him well.” What?
Or we say, “Oh man, this girl is amazing, (makes kissing sounds) she’s incredible.” But our friend says, “I’m telling you, she’s not good for you. She’s a gold-digger. She’s this or that. She’s super, duper high maintenance. No, no, no.”
We’ve got to listen to the people who know us well. We’ve got to listen to our friends, we’ve got to listen to our parents, and we’ve got to listen to our spiritual leaders. Thumbs up or thumbs down, we’d better pay attention. Defective daters, man, we make some dumb decisions don’t they?
DEFECTIVE DATERS DON’T OBSERVE ROAD SIGNS
Defective daters do something else. Defective daters, and you won’t believe this, they don’t observe road signs. [Ed has made road signs to illustrate his points] I made some road signs for today’s talk. What’s that one?
Slow. Go slow and get to know. If you’re dating someone, go slow. Go slow. “I’m looking for the ring,” go slow! “Maybe next week let’s get married…” No! Go slow, go slow, go slow. Every time you go through another month, another quarter, or another year, you’re going to make a better decision. So go slow. You see, what happens is hormones start raging (makes engine sounds), and we’ve fallen in lust, not love. Go slow.
There’s a guy in the Bible named Jacob. He saw this biblical babe named Rachel. Rachel must have been something else because the Bible says that the first time they kissed, it was so intense that my boy Jacob started weeping. That’s a serious kiss! Genesis 29:20 says, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” Jacob worked for Rachel’s father for seven years just to get Rachel’s hand in marriage.
When all these guys started coming around trying to date my three daughters, I’m going to direct them to Genesis 29:20. That’s like my theme verse. I’m going to put this sign on my front door – SLOW!
I’ve got some more signs here. When you run a stop sign you can hurt yourself and you can hurt others. [Ed sings] “STOP in the name of love, before you break my heart.” STOP…some of you need to put the breaks on. STOP. Don’t run the stop sign. You’re going to hurt yourself and others. It’s called “collateral damage.” STOP in the name of love before you break your heart, the other person’s heart, the family’s heart, your friend’s heart, a kid’s heart. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. Just stop.
Yield. That’s what God wants us to do in this whole dating game. He wants us to yield. I like the way the sign is shaped. [Ed holds his hands out to make the shape of a yield sign] Yield, yield. Just say, “God, I want to do it your way. I want to run down your freeway. I want to hit on all cylinders. I want to redline the RPMs. I want to receive, God, your ultimate for me. That’s what I want.”
We’ve got to yield to God and do it his way, his way. Well, parents, how can you yield to God? After all, one of our biggest responsibilities is this whole thing called spouse selection training. And here’s what’s scary, moms and dads. Our kids will marry people like we are—the way we communicate, the way we love, the way we forgive. For the most part our kids are going to look for people like that. And one of the biggest things we can do, parents, is to have our kids up here engaged and involved in ministry. I am all for Christian education. Christian schools are great. And I’m all for Christian camps like Sky Ranch and other Christian camps. But here’s the bottom line. They’re not the local church.
The local church is that entity which is the most near and dear to the heart of God, and discerning moms and dads have their kids up here involved and engaged in ministry. They do. It’s not an option for your kids. You don’t say, “Well, hey, honey, do you feel like going to church this week-end? Do you feel like going on this retreat? Do you feel like coming up here on Wednesday night for student activities?” Who’s the parent? Who is the parent here? “Well yeah, but they say their friends aren’t here and they don’t want to.” Whatever.
I said the same stuff when I was growing up, and do you think my parents left it up to me to decide? Are you kidding me? They said, “Ed you are going to church now.” And parents, you’ve got to do the same thing, because when we have our kids up here and involved and engaged in ministry, do you realize what we’re doing? We’re exposing them to this awesome teaching, this awesome ministry. And also, they’re going to meet other people. And these are the people that they will end up dating and ultimately marrying. So parents, you’d better revolve and orbit your relational and social life and your kids relational and social life around the local church.
Quite frankly, the staff here at Fellowship Church is whipped. We’re worn out from parents having heard this for fourteen years. Yet they say, “No, I’ll do my own deal.” Then they come crying to us, “Oh, my daughter… what happened? My son… he’s all messed up.”
And we want to say, “I told you, I told you, I told you. I did series after series after series, and we talked about this and that and this and that and children’s ministry and student ministry and senior high ministry. But your kid was not there. What do you expect?” But we’re too nice to say that; we don’t say that. This is just me venting up here. Of course we’re going to help you, but…I’m saying, parents, please, please—if I could beg you, man, I would—have them up here and have them involved. You’ll not believe what will happen.
The church is the best place in the world to meet somebody. It’s the best. This should be a social place, it should be a relational place, it should be a place where we are engaged and involved. And I’m going to tell you something: when we do that, the sky is the limit. You’re talking about a car hitting on all RPMs! You’re talking about a car really cruising! You’re talking about a car really going fast! That will occur.
DEFECTIVE DATERS DON’T CALL ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE
You might think I’m through, but I’m not. Defective daters do something else. Defective daters don’t call for roadside assistance when they’re car is broken down. Are you ready for that? They don’t call for roadside assistance. They say, “Oh, I can fix it myself. I can fix a Ferrari myself. I can do it myself.” Wise daters get some counsel.
The Bible says in Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.” Don’t be too shy to get biblical counseling. Don’t be too shy to walk into a Christian counselor’s office and to talk to them about your life, to talk to them about your pilgrimage, about this whole dating situation. They can give you phenomenal insight and depth on this topic. Just log onto our website: www.fellowshipchurch.com, and type in the keyword “counselor” or “counseling” and you will see the list of approved counselors we have right here in Fellowship Church.
DEFECTIVE DATERS GO OFF-ROAD
Defective daters do even something else, and this is really stupid. And this is one of the dumbest things imaginable, and it has to do with sex. I think I woke a couple people up! Sex is a gift from God. It’s a good thing because it’s a God thing. And God has this relational freeway that he wants us to travel on in our sexuality. There are guidelines and guard rails. Yet defective daters build this ramp and they jump in the back seat—and yes, the pun is intended. They jump over God’s guidelines and guard rails, and you won’t believe what they do. They go four-wheeling in their Ferrari.
Now help me for a second… this car is not made to go four-wheeling. I mean, as dumb as I am about cars, even I know that. This car is made for the freeway. But when defective daters engage in sex, down the road they get in trouble. The tires start spinning and they get deeper and deeper into it. And they have no discernment and the mud has covered their vehicle. They can’t see, they can’t make the right choice and they think they know the right score, but they are blinded by the power of sex and they end up hooking up with the wrong person.
That’s what we’re going to talk about in the next session. We’re going to talk about sex. So you need to be here and you need to tug a friend along, because I’m going to tell you what the Bible says about sex. And those here who are unmarried, I’m also going to tell you what the bible says concerning sex and the marriage bed, because sex is a holy and pure thing that should be done by one man and one woman in the confines of marriage, between God’s guidelines and guard rails. And the moment we go four-wheeling, is the moment we’re just like this, “Oh yeah, I know the score! Yeah! She’s the one for me. He’s the one for me.” That’s next time.
Recognizing potential mates—that’s what it’s all about. Because God wants us to succeed, he wants us to hit on all cylinders, and he wants us to fly. And we can if we do it His way.