Fantasy Love

We all desire real love, but in a world full of unrealistic expectations, social media highlight reels, online dating profiles, and “reality” TV shows, it can be hard to know what real love is. In this message, we look to God’s Word and biblical principles to discover what real love is and how you can find it.

Message Transcript

Let me start by telling you how The Porch is set up a little bit. We have about 250 volunteers who make this happen every week. As we gather with those 250 volunteers, they're divided up on about five teams. Those five teams have a male and female leader over each one of those teams. Those are our Porch leaders, kind of the elders of The Porch, if you will. Every year we get away with those Porch leaders. We go out of town. We go on a retreat, usually to a lake house.

A couple of years ago, we went to my in-laws' lake house on Lake Whitney. What this looks like is usually a lot of praying, a lot of dreaming, asking God what he wants from the ministry, how we can best minister to you guys, those kinds of things. At night, we're usually sitting around a campfire. So we're sitting around a campfire, the guys and the girls, and we're talking. There's this big field out there where my in-laws' place is, some public land, if you will.

I asked the leaders, "Hey, have any of you never been snipe hunting?" About half of them raised their hands. They had never been. Let me just ask you guys. How many of you have never been or you don't know what snipe hunting is? Would you raise your hands really high? There are a lot of you. So come back with me. If you have been snipe hunting or you know what it is, would you raise your hands really high? Okay, that's some of you too. A little more than half on that first one.

This is kind of what was there. It was like half of us had been, half of us hadn't been. I'm like, "Guys, we've got to go. We've got to go snipe hunting. It's going to be so much fun." Everybody who has been were like, "Yes, it's so fun." Don't tell them. I know, I know. Here's the deal. We go out there, and I'm explaining it to them.

"So a snipe, if you don't know what it is, is this little white bird, and it runs on the ground. It comes out at night. It runs on the ground like a quail, if you will, and it comes out at night, and you can catch them. They're actually pretty easy to catch. The way you do it is you get this headlamp, because they're attracted to the light. You get a little bag, like a burlap sack, and you have to be out there all by yourself in the field. It's the only way to catch them, and you have to call them. The call is irresistible to the snipe."

So my friend Sheetal is out there. She's a legend with our Porch leaders. I'm telling Sheetal, "This is how you catch a snipe." I teach her the call. I'm going to teach you guys the call so you can use it. You go out there and you go, "Ooga-looga-looga-looga-loo! Ooga-looga-looga-looga-loo!" You have this headlamp, and it's pitch black. So she's out there. We leave, and she's out there in the field. "Ooga-looga-looga-looga-loo!" She's holding the bag. "Come on, little snipe!"

Those of us who had been, we drive around the corner. There's this big shed there. We drive around the corner, and we're just watching and laughing, because here's the deal. This is what they don't want me to tell you: Snipe aren't real. There's no such thing. I know. It's funny when you're looking for something that's not real, and it's even a little entertaining if the way you're looking is foolish.

So many of you came in here this evening in search of love. Everyone wants love, and I have to break it to you, just like I did for friends about this silly animal. The love you're looking for is not real. It doesn't exist. You've defined it incorrectly. Furthermore, for so many of you, the way you're looking is foolish. I think the Enemy is laughing at you, watching you hurt yourself and bring pain into your life, remaining single, having unsatisfied desires. He's watching you and laughing at you.

So I want to, from the Scriptures tonight, show you that it's not real, that to find love you have to define it in the right way. Actually, it turns out… I did a little Google search on the snipe hunt. It turns out there is a real bird called the snipe. Since the 1930s, this has been a prank people pull. Here's a picture of a snipe. It looks nothing like I described. It turns out it's nowhere near where we were looking. It lives near the beach in the sand on the shores. The way you catch it certainly isn't with a bag and a flashlight and a silly call.

To find a snipe, you'd, first, want to know what it looks like, and second, you'd want to know where it is, and then third, you'd want to know how to attract it, how to catch it. In the same way, we can make this so simple. You're searching for love. To find love you have to know what it is, you have to know where you find it, and then you have to know how to look.

If we can just solve those three mysteries, that's going to send you out of this place with such a major upper hand than you came in here with. You're going to be so much better off if you know what it looks like and where to find it than when you came in here or when you started listening this evening.

So we're talking about finding real love. We're in this series called Fantasy: Finding Real Love in a Fake World. You might ask, "What do they mean by a fake world?" A fake world is what has defined love for you before you came in here. It's social media. It's the highlight reel of everybody else's life. It's the airbrushed images in magazines. They're not real.

It's the movies and the TV shows that are painting the picture of, "Hey, this is love," yet it doesn't last. It never lasts, yet that's where you have gone to be educated on such topics. It's the dating profiles and getting catfished and Tinder out there, swiping right or left. This is not going to lead you to biblical, sustaining, sacrificial love.

It's going to lead you exactly where you've been before, like a dog to its vomit: hurt, crying in the middle of the night, sad, going back to check, "Has he texted me? Has she texted? I wonder why. I wonder what they're doing. I wonder where they're at." Lost, confused, crying out. I want something better for you. I believe your Father in heaven wants something better for you.

I want you to look for something that's real. I want you to look in the right place. I don't want the way you're looking to be silly, like you're standing in a field making some silly sound with the Enemy laughing at you. As we think about love as you defined it when you came in here, let me ask the question…Is it even necessary? I'll read to you two statistics. These come from Aziz Ansari's book Modern Romance.

The first one says, "Waiting for true love was a luxury that many, especially women, could not afford. In the early 1960s, a full 76 percent of women admitted they would be willing to marry someone they didn't love." The vast majority of people said they would be willing to marry someone they didn't feel romantic love toward. Crazy, right?

Then it says, "The generation that came of age during the sixties and seventies rejected companionate marriage and began to pursue something greater. They didn't merely want a spouse—they wanted a soul mate. By the 1980s, 86 percent of American men and 91 percent of American women said they would not marry someone without the presence of romantic love."

So the vast majority of one generation used to say, "No, romantic love is not necessary," and then in one generation later you have the vast majority of Americans saying, "I wouldn't even consider marrying someone without romantic love." My hunch is you are firmly in that second camp. What happened between the generation that existed in the 60s and the 70s and 80s? What happened in between there? Something called the sexual revolution.

We thought we got so much smarter when it came to sex. You had the invention of birth control. You had the invention of Playboy magazine. The very way was created that we're still coasting on today. We think we're better at it. We're like, "Of course I wouldn't get married without love." Let me ask you guys a question by show of hands. Campuses, you could participate as well.

How many of your grandparents were divorced? Would you raise your hand if your grandparents were divorced? Not if they were widowed and remarried, but if they actually got a divorce, would you raise your hands? I want to see them. Okay, got it. How many of your parents are divorced? Wow.

Can I tell you something too? You have twice as many grandparents as you do parents. In theory, that first question should have been twice as many hands, but it was much fewer than half as many hands. Are we getting better at this? You can answer for yourself if what your grandparents had is true love or real love or more real love than what your parents have, if you know them.

I'm going to be jumping around more topical this evening, but there's one verse I want to look at up front. It's Romans 12:9. It says, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." A very simple verse. Love must not be fantasy. Love must not be fake. Love must be real and true and honest and authentic. Love, if it's real love, has to be sincere.

I think the problem is we have not hated what is evil. We've clung to what is evil and hated what is good, and we've settled for a fake love. We've settled for an insincere love. So as I move through this, we're going to look at What is fake love?What is real love? and How to find real love.

1._ What is fake love?_ So many people find fake love because you have no idea what you're looking for. You're just out there, and you're trying to find something, but you don't know what it looks like. How can you find something that you don't know what…? You hear this phrase. People try to help you with this phrase: "Well, you just know when you know." Isn't that so helpful? "You just know when you know." Or you could know when you find what it is you set out looking for. Wouldn't that be a better plan?

Yesterday my friend texted me and was like, "Hey, I'm going to go to the Allen outlet mall. Do you want to go with me?" I'm like, "Of course I want to go with you." I like to shop. He picks me up, and I'm like, "What are you doing?" He's like, "Well, I'm looking for a rain jacket." Because it has been raining for, like, seven months here. He's like, "I'm looking for a rain jacket. My rain jacket got a hole in it, so I was going to go to The North Face outlet." I said, "Great. I'd love to go with you."

It was interesting our shopping experiences, because I wasn't really looking for anything, which is to say I was looking at everything, just kind of wandering around. I'm like, "Oh man, Zumiez skateboard. I think I need a… Oh no." Then over here, "This coat, jacket. How about this shirt? These shoes, though." I'm walking around looking at all this, but his experience is so different. He's like, "Raincoat. Does it have this in this size? Okay. North Face. I'm going to go check out Columbia."

Then he goes to Columbia, and he just goes to the raincoat racks. He's on a mission. He's focused. He knows exactly what he's looking for. Meanwhile, I'm just wandering around with a little bit of money in my pocket, thinking, "Hey, I don't know what I'm going to take home." That's how some of you date. Right? "I don't know what I'm going to take home, who I'm going to take home or who I'm going to go home with."

I know it's so simple, and I'm sorry. I know a lot of you have missed it. What if right now you just said, "Hey, I'm going to look for exactly this, and I'm not going to settle until I find that"? What if you left here with that reality, with that idea? See, we're getting married later. We're training for divorce, jumping into a relationship, jumping out, jumping in, jumping out. As soon as something goes wrong, jump out. That's not training for marriage. We're not getting married at all. More than any other generation before us, I think we have to ask the question…Why? So what is fake love?

A. Fake love is defined by fake sources. Fantasy begets fantasy. If your teacher is fake, then your results are fake. If what they've taught you is fake, then what you're looking for is fake. So you have to ask the question…What defines love for you? Do you want what your parents have? Do you want what your grandparents have? Do you want what Kim and Kanye have? What is it that you're actually looking for? Who has defined that for you? Do you want what Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have or Ariana and Pete had? What are you looking for?

What's crazy is it's not even the celebrity relationships you're looking for. It's the relationships they have on a show where they're playing a part that's what you're looking for. "I want what I saw on The Notebook." I mean, really? That's confusing. Which one? You really have been taught this by people who are playing a part from a script, acting for money, and you say, "That's what I want."

"I want what the 27 failed bachelors or bachelorettes want." Really? That's what you want? That's confusing. What's defining your source of love? That will help you know if it's fake. See, biblical love is sacrificial. It's not self-serving. It's not something that reality shows would be made of. You've been fed this lie of the manic highs and the manic lows, and in a really strange way, because we've met and we've talked, you and me… You want something that's incredibly broken.

You say, "No, I don't want something that's broken," but in here you're like, "You know, I kind of do. I kind of want him one minute to tell me he loves me and the next minute to tell me he hates me. I want him to bring me close and then throw things at me." "No, I would never want that." Yes, you do, because that's what you've been entertained by. In a really weird, twisted, broken way, somewhere inside of you that's what you want.

The Enemy is laughing at you in a field, holding a bag, with a flashlight, making crazy sounds. He's laughing at you. God wants something better for you than that, but they won't make any movies about it. When a man loves a woman and gives himself for her and a woman loves a man and gives herself for him, do you know what it is? Can I just be honest with you? You're going to think I'm crazy on this. I'm going to lose all credibility with you. Try to listen after I say this. You're going to have to try.

It's boring. That's the truth. It's not entertaining. It's amazing, it's beautiful, it's sacrificial, it's incredible, it's godly, but honestly, what you want is a boring marriage, a marriage that no director or producer is calling you, saying, "Hey, can we come over and film? I heard you from three blocks away yelling at each other."

No, you don't want that. You want, "I've never heard you guys yell or even raise your tone or anything. It just seems like you guys love each other." That doesn't sell. Nobody came in here tonight, thinking, "Man, I really want a boring marriage," but I hope you leave here wanting a boring marriage.

B. Fake love is self-serving. Fantasy is all about the pursuit of ecstasy, the fantasy suite or Fantasy Island. That's fake love. If you're thinking about what they can do for you or what you can do to them, that's fake love. We think about sex all the time. This is a big felt need you came in here with. You want to have sex. You want to experience intimacy, and I get that. I've been there. I have had all of the bad expectations that you guys have.

I thought marriage… I was like, "You just have sex all the time. That's what it is." I thought that. I'm like, "She's going to wear lingerie every single night," just like I'd seen in the Victoria's Secret magazines before I was a believer. "That's what she's going to do, because that looks comfortable. I'm sure that's what she wants to do." Then you get married, and can I tell you something? It's not like that.

I know here's what you just thought. I heard it it was so loud. "That's just you, JP." Can I tell you something? I've spent the last 12 years meeting with hundreds, maybe thousands of couples. I've seen the ones that are really successful. I've seen the ones that have failed. People will talk with a pastor about very intimate issues. It's the reality. It's not going to be what you think.

Marriage is not one big hookup session. It just isn't. In fact, I'll come behind that with some data. My friend is a CPA, so he did a little research for me. Couples that have a lot of sex have 3,240 minutes of sex a year. That's a lot. There are 526,600 minutes each year. That means that this couple that has 3,240 minutes of sex spend less than 1 percent of their time having sex. In fact, it's 0.62 percent.

Here's what that means: a couple that has a lot of sex spends 99.38 percent of their time doing not sex, everything else. I'm just going to get real with you for a minute. Maybe I shouldn't. I think my wife and I are better than average. I'm just shooting you straight. Here's the deal. We spend a lot of time like, "Okay, can you take him to that soccer game?"

"No, I have this soccer practice over here."

"Okay, you go over there. No, I'm actually speaking over here. Okay, I'll see you Thursday. Maybe Thursday. Okay, you go here. Okay, grocery story. Then dinner? No, I'm going to eat… Okay, I have the… Oh, it's Tuesday. I have The Porch, actually. I'll be there until about 10:30."

That's real life. If she was just great at intimacy, that means she potentially would not be great at 99-point-most of marriage. Make sure you're looking for what matters, and it's not sex. As my friend says, wisely: you don't even want to have sex; you want to experience godly intimacy, and that's available for people who know what godly love is, and it's available exclusively for them and not anybody else.

In fact, where the Scripture talks about marriage in 1 Peter 3, Colossians 3, or Ephesians 5, it tells you, "This is how to be married well." Nowhere does it say, "And here's how you be a better lover," or "Here are some tips and tricks on being a…" It's all about, "You lay your life down as Christ did. Sacrificial service. Strive to live in an understanding way." These are from those verses. The verses that are about marriage don't say anything about improving your intimacy but improving your service to one another. Even intimacy is not about receiving. It's not about you experiencing pleasure, but it's about serving in the Scripture.

C. Fake love is rooted in how they make you feel. If you're going about thinking about how they make you feel, this is fake love. I do weddings every now and then, and every couple I marry I ask this question: "Why do you love him? Why do you love her?" There's this pattern in their response. Sometimes they'll say, "Well, I love the way he makes me feel."

I just call them out on that, because I'm like, "Man, that's incredibly selfish. What you love about him is about you? What you love about her is about you? That's what you're chasing? How someone can make you feel? What about when they can't make you feel that way anymore? Love is serving. It's giving. It's sharing. What you love about them is how they make you feel?"

If we're chasing someone to make us feel a certain way… This is what so many of you came in here thinking, and it's not your fault. That's the truth. It's not your fault. You've been fed this lie. This is the lie they're feeding you slowly, meticulously, and strategically. The people who are really bad at love are coming alongside you, saying, "Let me coach you up. Let me teach you what love is. Love is like a drug." This is the popular message.

In fact, let me show you something crazy. We're coming out of our Lyrics and Lies series. Just as a little overlap tonight, let me read to you some lyrics, which is always awkward. These are the songs you're listening to. The big idea? Love is a drug you use. Camila Cabello says:

Something must've gone wrong in my brain

Got your chemicals all in my veins

Feeling all the highs, feel all the pain

Let go of the wheel, it's the borderline

Now I'm seeing red, not thinking straight

Blurring all the lines, you intoxicate me

Just like nicotine, rushin' me, touching me

Suddenly, I'm a fiend and you're all I need […]

You're to blame

Just one hit of you, I knew I'll never be the same.

Kesha just says it outright: "Your love is my drug." It's the name of her song. Justin Timberlake in "Pusher Love Girl" says this:

Tell me, can I get a light?

Roll you up and let it run through my veins

'Cause I can always see the farthest stars when I'm on you

I don't wanna ever come down from this cloud of loving you

Now you got me hopped up on that

Pusher love

So high I'm on the ceiling, baby.

We'll go Camila again with Machine Gun Kelly.

And we're both wild

And the night's young

And you're my drug

Breathe you in till my face is numb.

Which reminds me of another one: "I can't feel my face when I'm with you…" The Weeknd. That's what the song is all about. "You're a drug. I want to use you." Even Fifth Harmony got in on this. Fifth Harmony. Say it ain't so.

I'm like that drug, drug, drug

He trip when he on it

One taste and he want it…

This just in. Public service announcement: Love is not a drug. You don't use it to get high. You don't use people. Dating is not a drug. If you have bought into that lie, if you're chasing the next high, chasing the next feeling, it's also going to come with the hurt and the hangover, the withdrawal, if you will. When you begin to try to learn how to do it right, it's going to be painful, because all you know is what's wrong, and you're hooked on it. You're addicted.

What happens with drugs? What do we do with drugs? We use drugs, we get addicted to drugs, and we get hurt by drugs. What happens with the way you date? You use people, you get addicted to people, and then you get hurt by people. I know, as you look in your rearview mirror, I just described a lot of your dating lives, and the Enemy is laughing at you while you're in a field making silly noises with a bag and a flashlight.

Your heavenly Father never, ever meant for you to experience the heartache and pain you've experienced. He didn't want that for you. And you're mad at him. "Why did he let me date him?" He didn't want you to. You didn't ask him. You never asked him. Then when you did, you did the things he asked you not to. And you're mad at him. That's insanity. "I'm not going to listen to a word you said. I'm not going to do it your way; I'm going to do it my way, but when it goes south you're to blame." Are you sure?

Love is a verb. So if you're looking for it, look for people who live out the verb, who serve, someone who enjoys serving others. My wife and I were watching this movie on VidAngel. If you don't know what VidAngel is, find out. We're watching The Break-up on VidAngel, and there's this scene, Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. It's so intense. They're in this fight. So intense.

He's like, "You want me to do the dishes?" and she's like, "No, I want you to want to do the dishes!" and he's like, "Who wants to do the dishes?" I would just say people who love serving want to do the dishes. That's what you're looking for: someone who loves serving others.

2._ What is real love?_ It's this. I'm going to read it to you. This is real love straight from the Bible. It's so clear. It's like God loves us so much. Close your eyes as I read this to you. Just picture it. You see it, if you would.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

A. Real love is defined as sacrificial service. Here's the simple assignment for you: you can compare what you're looking for to this list. This should be your list. "I want her to be tall and brunette." No, no, no. This is your list. "I hope he's a doctor." No, no, no. This is your list. It doesn't say "Doctor." It doesn't say that. "She'd better be a virgin." No, no, no. This is your list. All that other stuff is silly.

Just so you're not tempted to email, I want to be really clear. All that other stuff is silly. Is that clear? Are we clear? Am I clear? Am I being clear? It's silly. This is your list. This is what you're looking for. How do you know when you've found it? It's not you just know when you know. You know when it's this. "Now I know. It's this." "Are you saying I can just marry anybody who meets that…?" I am. Crazy. I know. Let's keep going.

Understanding first that you have been loved, you are loved right now, perfectly… I get so sad when I see my single friends, both male and female… When they don't find someone or their heart gets hurt they turn from God, the one who has said he's never going to leave you or forsake you. You're upset because you're alone, and what he wants you to realize is you're not alone. You'll never be alone. You've never been alone since you've known him. You don't need to be mad at him. He's not the one who brought sin into the world.

The world we live in is broken and there's heartbreak here. The world you've been reserved for, the world you were meant for… There's no heartbreak there. There are no breakups there. There's no divorce there. So many of you raised your hands. I hate that. My heart hurts when I see that, because I know that didn't come easy, to live in that home, to see the things thrown about. Maybe it happened after you left, and you got the phone call, and it's like, "What? But you guys promised."

If you define love as giving of yourself for the good of others, then you can look for that. You can look for someone who is constantly giving of themselves for the good of others. John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." This isn't just a Jesus juke. This is the reality. God has demonstrated love for us. He's the author of love. I'm going to show you in a minute that love comes from him.

He's the one who invented love. He gets to define love. If you're not looking for his love, then you're not looking for love. What you're looking for is not love if it's not God's love. God is the author of love…not Hollywood, not the movies, not the songs you're listening to…the Creator of the heavens and the earth.

B. Real love is sincere. He says, "Love is sincere." It's Romans 12:9. I gave it to you up top. Real love is sincere. "Love must be sincere." Guys, what this means is you can just be honest and truthful. You don't have to text message and hint around or play games or slide into DMs with something crazy. You can just be honest and speak from your heart. This removes all of the complications. Imagine if everyone left here and you were just honest and didn't play games.

What are games? What do I mean by that? You receive a text message, and you see it and you want to text them back, but you don't because you want them to feel… What? That's love? I mean, really? That's what you think the Creator wants from you, for someone to be sitting on the other end of the phone wondering? That's what you thought was going to get you a real solid marriage, one grounded in truth?

Guys, are you serious? He has better for you than that. No need to play games. So many of us have learned to love selfishly. In fact, the only question we ask when considering an opportunity is, "What's in it for me?" To you I would say, "Serve." Get out there and give of yourself, because in marriage you have to do a lot of serving.

If you don't enjoy doing the dishes, you're not going to enjoy marriage. You're going to be doing the dishes as often or maybe even more than you're going to be making love. Think about that for a minute. You'd better like doing the dishes. My married friends are getting whiplash nodding their heads so hard. I see you.

The Enemy is so good. He makes me so mad. He makes me so angry, because he keeps those of you who are selflessly serving single, and he allows the people who are selfish and stuck on themselves and narcissistic and all concerned about the way they look to get married. Can I tell you something? He allows them to get married two times, three times, four times, five times.

I promise…I've been doing this for a while…the one who's selflessly serving wins. They win every time. Winning looks different, but they're always better off than the selfish one. Don't play games. Don't make it complicated. Keep it simple. If you like someone, tell them you like them. If you don't like them, tell them why. Be honest.

C. Real love is not motivated by fear. Are you looking for love out of fear or are you not looking for love out of fear? Both are wrong. Real love is not motivated by fear. First John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

If you're here and you want to be married because you're afraid to be alone, you don't have to be afraid to be alone. Like I said before, you've never been alone. You need to know your singleness is not a punishment. In fact, we did an entire series of messages on this reality: singleness is a gift. Please go listen to them. After I finished that message, churches from around the country literally said, "Can you come and give that message here? Because we love our single people, and we want them to hear that."

The Scripture says singleness is a gift. Please go back and listen to that message. Here's the truth. I have to tell you the truth about marriage. If you hear me and you believe me… If you don't believe me, it's fine, but prove it. You know what I'm saying? Like, leave here and test it and wrestle with it and think about it. That's what I want to do tonight. I almost want to leave you with questions. I want you to begin to question the things you knew to be true when you came in here. Not the gospel but the things about love and what the world has taught you about love.

Here's the truth about marriage. I love marriage. It's a gift. Some of you need to hear that. Marriage is good. Those of you who are afraid of it, I want you to know it's really, really good. Those of you who can't wait to get married, I want you to hear it's really, really hard. It's really good and it's really hard. Both are true. Here's the truth about marriage: it's much more practical than any of you want to believe it is. It's a partnership on life. It's like, "Hey, life is hard. Let's go through this together."

It's not about all the feels. All the feels aren't going to be there for a lot of the days that you're married. We heard in the 60s they weren't there for 76 percent of people who got married at a time when we even learned in this room that the divorce rate was lower. That should challenge your thinking. See, here's the reality. Once upon a time, like in the 50s and the beginning of the 60s, marriage was the foundation of your adult life.

Here's what this meant. You graduated from high school or college, and you looked out, and usually you would marry someone within a five-block radius of where you lived, which challenges the whole "one" mentality. The one was your neighbor right down the street. That was the one. So you would get married, and it was this reality of, "Man, life is really hard. I have to go to work now. I'm in debt. I need help with these things, so let's come together and help each other." It was the foundation, and you would build the house on that foundation. This is how it used to be.

Now you feel a pressure. You need to build the house. It needs to all be there. You need to have the job, make this much money. You have to be able to afford a ring, get out of debt, get everything all polished up, and then marriage is the furnishings. Once the house is built, I'm going to put the furniture inside. You view marriage like the sofa you buy after the house is built. It's not that. It was never meant to be that. What are we doing? We're waiting longer and longer and longer to get married. Some of us aren't getting married at all.

If you want marriage… I believe God is a fan of young marriage, and if you want to challenge me on that, I would just look at biology, when your body begins to prepare itself to procreate. I believe we obey the laws of the land. I believe this is an area we've been heavily influenced by culture, but I will go on record and believe that God is a fan of young marriage, based on his design. It's not a capstone; it's the cornerstone. It's not the furnishings; it's the foundation.

3._ How do you find real love?_ Monica and I do premarital counseling, and we have the couples take this test called the PREPARE/ENRICH test. It asks them all of these questions. I believe this to be true. I think every couple we've met with has missed one of the questions. I mean, they miss different questions, but every one of them has missed one question in particular that talks about love and how you define it.

It shows us, as we look at the results, "Hey, you need to help this couple with expectations." That's what I believe. If I can help you with expectations tonight from the Scriptures, if we can look at what love is from the one who invented it, then you're going to leave here better off than you came in. That's going to help you find what it is. If you know what it looks like and where to find it, you are set up for success, at least more success than you came in here with.

If love is serving, then where you find it is among the servants. That's where you look for it. Here's what's ironic to me. My friend told me about this term today called missionary goggles. Anybody heard of this? I hadn't either. Girls, I'll just talk to you for a second. You're so concerned with what you look like and the makeup and the hair and all of that and just making sure everything is in order, and that's cool. God has made you that way, and I think that's fantastic, but I want to tell you an observation my friend said today, and I was like, "That's so true."

What I see is we go on these overseas trips. We go to a third-world country. A girl leaves her blow dryer behind. We're lucky if she brought deodorant. You know, hasn't taken a shower in three days, and she's out there serving people on the side of the Amazon River in the Amazon jungle, caring for widows and orphans. Some dude is across the way like, "Man, I never noticed her before. Wow! She's hot." Like, literally, she's hot. Pit stains and all.

They come back, and their relationship takes off. I've seen that. Launch Retreat is the same way. I know it's not serving like that, but you get out there… The sparks don't fly when you're all dolled up for the party. It's when you're all sweaty on the field and everybody is nasty, but we're just running together and we're having fun together and experiencing the body of Christ in fellowship together. Just think about that. I may be wrong, but just think about it for a second.

So you look among the saints. You look among the servants. Second Corinthians 6:14 says, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." What does this mean, "yoked together with unbelievers"? We were on vacation this past weekend, and we were walking through a museum, and I saw a literal yoke. A yoke is something you would use to put two oxen in. They would be yoked together, and they'd have to go the same direction at the same speed.

I took a picture. Here's my daughter and her friend. Doesn't he look like the average married guy and she looks like the average married girl? I thought that was funny, because he's like, "Why are you taking a picture of me?" This thing right here, this yoke… That's what it's saying. "Don't be yoked together with unbelievers," because if someone goes right, you're going to have to go right with them or you're going to break your neck.

In fact, you want to be yoked to someone who's going the same direction at the same speed. That's what you're looking for: someone going the same direction at the same speed, someone pursuing Christ at the same pace. Let me say this in case you're confused: you should be pursuing Christ with reckless abandon, with everything you have, hard and fast, and you should find someone who is pursuing Christ that way.

Listen. I know this stuff is hard. I know Christian dating is complicated. I know we've complicated it with all of these made-up rules that aren't even in the Bible, and I just want to make it simple for you. Just challenge me on this. What if it's just that simple? What if you're just to leave here and find someone who's pursuing Christ as hard and fast as you are and you're to be pursuing Christ hard and fast? What if the Creator of the heavens and the earth wants you to leave here and it just to be that easy? Not more complicated than that.

You're going to leave here and think about that and say, "But what about chemistry and this and that?" I would say let's just consider, I wonder what the success rate… Let's just say we took 100 people and they had wild chemistry. Let's say we made up this show, just pretend. We took a guy and we took about 25 girls, and we said, "Hey, we want you to go on dates. In fact, we're going to pay for some crazy dates, helicopter rides and whatnot, and we're going to throw parties, and we're going to create chemistry."

Let's just say we did that 27 times, hypothetically speaking, and we saw how many of those were successful versus over here we just took a man and a woman who loved God and put them together and said, "Hey, y'all be married." They both loved God. Do you know what the divorce rate among a man and a woman who are recklessly pursuing Christ is? Zero. There has never been a divorce between a man and a woman who are recklessly pursuing Christ. It has never happened in the history of the world. The divorce rate is zero.

Girls, I know you're thinking, "But it's not that easy." I know you are. I want you to know that God controls the hearts of kings and of boys. You not getting asked out may be his incredible mercy in your life. It may be his incredible grace. This is not a slam at the guys, but I see a lot of boys. The Lord who loves you may be protecting you from something. Men, I want to help you, if I can help you in any way prepare yourself for that, because I also see a lot of men. That's the truth.

Men, find someone godly. If you want marriage, find a godly woman and ask her out. That's your assignment. You can even say, "Hey, I was at The Porch, and he told me I had to do this." Find a godly woman and ask her out. The one that you're like, "My friend should date her." That one. And girls, when a godly guy asks you out, say, "Yes." Can I tell you something? He's scared. You need to know that.

I know you're like, "Why don't godly guys ask girls out?" Here's why: they're scared, because you guys are terrifying. It's the truth. You're terrifying. In that moment, what we've done is we've taken all of our strength and authority and any power we have and just set it in your hand, and we sit there vulnerable, waiting for you to say yes or no. If you say no, you are rejecting us. This is what you're saying. You look at us and say, "You know what? I don't choose you." I know. It hurts. And we go like this. It feels like we can't recover from that.

So you're like, "Man, I wish guys would ask more girls out." Well, guys are like, "Man, I wish girls would say yes." So girls, if a godly guy asks you out, say yes, and if you have to say no, say why. Girls email me all the time, truly. "Hey, what do I say if I'm not interested?" Say you're not interested, and say why. "But that feels mean." Listen. We'll bounce back. We're going to call our Community Group. They'll rally around us and pray. James 5:16: "The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective." We'll come back from that. The Spirit of God will move.

But guys, ask a godly girl out. Girls, if a godly guy asks you out, say yes. What if it's that simple? You say, "Well, what if I'm not attracted to them?" What if attraction comes later? I can't tell you how many marriages I've done… "Man, I was not into him, but man, today…" I hear it all the time. So, men, be agents of God and ask out godly girls. Girls, if you feel like, "I just feel so helpless," do you know what you can do?

There's one simple thing you can do, and you can do it every single day. You can pray. Some people will say, "Well, JP, but is that messing with my heart?" I trust God in that. If you pray, God is going to align your heart with what he's doing. Before you get angry at God, make sure you've prayed every single day for the past three years…or however long. If you haven't prayed, I wouldn't waste any time being angry.

I'm just going to end with a verse. It's 1 John 4:7. "Dear friends, let us love one another…" It really says in the Greek beloved or loved ones, those who are loved. "…let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him."

It says, "Cling to what is good." I want you to cling to the Father. Love comes from the Father. Here's the reality: Someone who doesn't know God cannot live out 1 Corinthians 13. They can't. What I'm saying, so I'm clear, is your atheist friend cannot love like God calls them to love. It's impossible. Someone who has been born of God…they know God, they're walking with him, they're pursuing him…can't not love that way. That is how they love.

That is why I believe the Scripture says, "Hey, this is all you need to know." You've made it so complicated. You've been listening to Kim and Kanye too long. It's simpler than that. It's this simple. This is what you need to know. So, in summary, fake love is defined by fake sources, it's self-serving, and it's rooted in how they make you feel. Real love is defined by sacrificial service, it is sincere, and it is not motivated by fear. So find real love, knowing what it looks like and where to look.

We were at the fair this past weekend. On Sunday we went out to the fair. Anybody been to the fair yet? Okay, cool. So you've been out to the fair. We were out at the fair. I went with my kids. The fair is the only place where you pay a bunch of money to go in and pay a bunch of money. I know; it's so true. They were doing the rides and whatnot, and then I was like, "Let's go. We have to go do something else."

Two of my kids were complaining. "No, Dad. We still want to do rides." I'm like, "No. Daddy is broke. We can't." I'm like, "Let's go do something else." So two of them are really complaining. I have three kids. My oldest wasn't. She was cool. "Hey, guys, we can trust Daddy." I'm like, "That's right." So what I did then was I said, "You know what? We're going to come back and do one ride, and you get to decide what it is, but we're going to go do other things."

She goes, "Oh, Daddy, I want to do that ride…" It's like a roller coaster, but it goes in a circle. It kind of goes in a room and comes around. It's called the Love Bug. I don't know if you saw it. They play that music in there, and it's like this roller coaster. It goes up and down, but it's not really a roller coaster. It's these cars that are on a track, and it just goes around in a circle really fast. She was like, "I want to do that one." I was like, "Great."

Then we went and saw the animals, and we went to the car shows, but she just kept saying, "I can't wait to do that ride. We're going to do that ride. It's going to be great." I was like, "Hey, listen. Enjoy where we're at right now. We're going to do that, but right now let's enjoy where we're at. Look at that car. Look, there are 600 bunnies, and there's a cow." I'm like, "Enjoy where we're at." She's like, "But I can't wait to do that ride."

It came time before we were going to leave… We go back into the midway, and we're going to do that ride. So we get some more tickets, you know, mortgage the house. She's standing in line. I'm just going to send the kids on it. Monica and I are watching. They get on to go onto this ride. My son, my youngest, is the smallest, and then my middle, and then the oldest. What they did is they said, "Well, the youngest needs to be on the inside because of the centrifugal force."

So they put the youngest on the inside, and then the middle, and then my oldest, the one who wanted to ride the ride, is on the end. They start the ride, and it starts going around. At first it's that look of pure joy. She's having so much fun, because it's not a scary ride. She's just having so much fun and laughing. It's like everything she thought it was going to be. Well, then the guy is like, "Let's go faster."

As they're going faster, her brother and her sister are coming toward her. I'm watching, because I'm even filming on slow-mo so I can Instagram it. I watch her face as her face changes from joy, and she starts trying to push them off of her, like, "Get off of me!" Then it kind of turns to sadness, and then it turns to terror. In the middle of the ride she starts weeping. It's hard to watch as a dad. I'm like, "Oh my goodness. Stop the ride. Stop the ride."

She just starts crying, and I'm watching it. The ride comes to a stop, and Monica and I are like, "Oh no." She gets off, and she runs to me and just buries her head in my stomach and just holds me. She says, "Daddy, they were hurting me. Daddy, they were hurting me. They were hurting me, and it wouldn't stop."

There's this thing that you're so looking forward to, you're so excited about, but if you've defined it incorrectly you're going to get on that roller coaster, and it is going to hurt you, like it has so many people. Some of you have been on that roller coaster. You said, "I love you," "I love you too," long conversations, the text messages late at night, "Good night; I love you," and you've been hurt. Some of you are on the ride right now, and you need to get off.

Those of you who came in walking with a limp because you know you've been hurt… There's heartbreak. You're losing hope in love. You need to do exactly what my 12-year-old daughter did. You need to run to your Father and embrace him. Cling to what is good. He understands. He understands loss. He lost his Son for you. There is no greater love than that. Love comes from him, and he has never left you nor forsaken you. He's crazy about you. He is crazy about you. If you're wanting to know how to love, you leave here and you start with him. Let me pray that you would.

Father, help us to know what love is, and help us to cling to what is good and hate what is evil, and help us to leave here with a sincere love. Thank you for the example you've given us in Jesus Christ, for all that you've done for us in Jesus Christ. Father, help us to live for you through him. Help us to be sincere with one another and kind and honest. Father, would you take the things we came in here with that are not of you and help us to leave them behind, and the things that are of you, God, help us to cling to them, to know them, to look for them, to search them. In Jesus' name, amen.

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