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One Lord, one faith, one baptism — and a billion different dating tips.

The first rule in dating is the first rule in all of life: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark ).

The people willing to actually hold me accountable in dating have been my best friends.

I’ve had lots of friends over the years, but the ones who have been willing to press in, ask harder questions, and offer unwanted (but wise) counsel are the friends I respect and prize the most.

We often come up with an idea for how someone will be after meeting them online, and it's rare that our expectations sync up with reality.

Allow yourself to really get to know this person for who they are rather than who you thought they would be before you make up your mind. If you really don't feel a connection, then do the right thing and tell them.

The first step in dating should always be the step of faith we take toward our Lord, Savior, and greatest Treasure, King Jesus.

On the other hand, what if you really do like them after finally meeting in person?

If our heart is not there — if our soul is not already safe through faith, if our mind is distracted and focused on other, lesser things, if our best strength is being spent on the things of this world — jobs, sports, shopping, entertainment, relationships, and on God — we simply will not date well. Listen to Jesus, and “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Seek him first (Matthew ), and dating will be added according to his perfect plan and timing. It’s not the first rule, but I have found that it is a “golden rule” that most often makes the difference between healthy and unhealthy Christian dating relationships.

But after embracing and applying the first and greatest commandment, I have found that the . If you’re not a Christian — if you haven’t dealt with God before trying to date — you don’t have a chance of having a truly healthy Christian relationship with someone else.

We leave the safety of the doctor’s office and choose the freedom and ease of the gas station convenience store.

Instead of getting the qualified perspective and direction we desperately need from people around us, we walk away eating a candy bar for dinner, again, and washing it down with Dr. Real friendship, with real life-on-life accountability, may not offer the same amount of information or advice, and you will not always like what it has to say, but it will bring one new critical dimension to your dating relationships: it knows — your strengths and weaknesses, your successes and failures, your unique needs.

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