(Photo courtesy of Pastor Chet and Andrea Lowe)
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS CONTENT FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY
His and Hers
An Interview with Pastor Chet and Andrea Lowe
By Sarah Komisky
When I thought about couples I wanted to feature this month for Valentine’s Day, Pastor Chet and Andrea Lowe definitely came to mind. Senior pastor of Coasthills Church in Aliso Viejo, CA and Bible teacher at the Monday night “Lift” study at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Chet and his wife authentically live out what they preach. Together they’ve ministered to the Liberian nation in the middle of a civil war, served in church leadership, pioneered a young adult discipleship ministry known as Patmos: Reality Discipleship, raised seven children together, and continue to have a deep passion to reach a younger generation. Consequently, inviting them to impart some of their wisdom when it comes to singleness, dating, romance, and sex only felt natural. Here is their shared dialogue; may you be encouraged this Valentine’s Day.
Sarah: First of all, thank you so much for taking time to chat with me. I am so excited to sit down and hear your story! Since this issue is dedicated to Valentine’s Day, I really thought it would be awesome to hear from a couple I respect. For those who don’t know, how did the two of you meet and what attracted you to each other?
Chet: We met at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Andrea was leading worship and I thought she was the most beautiful (and still do) worship leader I had ever seen. She was not leading anyone. She was just talking to Jesus in front of all of us and it was such a blessing that I fell in love with her.
Andrea: Like Chet said, we met at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale. At the same time we were attending the same local university. I remember attending a singles bible study one night and Chet led us in the song “I am Yours” by Terry Clark. I remember watching him a little stunned and thinking – oh wow! He loved Jesus, was handsome (standing above 10,000 people, hehe) and he can SING!
Sarah: I am going to put things in reverse for a bit. Prior to your meeting, how important was it for both of you to pray for each other before you even met and to also be honest with God about the desires he put on your hearts for a future spouse? How did those prayers impact your marriage?
Chet: I gave a list to God of all that I desired in a wife. There were spiritual qualities that I prayed for and also what I desired. The Lord answered my prayers exactly in all that I prayed for. Prayer is still the foundation of our marriage. Without prayer, we would not be who we are today as a couple in Christ purposing to honor Him. I am weak without prayer and so is Andrea. We realize that our lack of connection allows confusion into our marriage. When there is confusion, it has become a reminder to us to get back to God in prayer.
Andrea: Having come back to the Lord with a surrendered commitment just after high school, I had some very specific prayers to God as to who I wanted to marry and how long I was willing to wait. Having read some missionary biographies as well as Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot, I told God I was willing to wait 30 years for a man like Jim Elliot. A man that would be willing to lose his life for the gospel and a man that would run after the Lord above all. I was surprised when only 3 days after uttering those words, I ran into Chet in our University lunch room and walk away from our conversation thinking – this guy is a lot like Jim Elliot…God I said 30 years, not 3 days! Chet was heading to the mission field for a year. This was the time I needed to build my relationship with the Lord. As well, our relationship grew through letters (when the mail would deliver) and mostly prayer for each other. Prayer is still the thing that leads, directs and shapes us as a couple. My other desire was to go on the mission field and the Lord gave me every request and desire.
Sarah: You have both also spoken on the importance of friendship in a relationship as it being the foundation to a good relationship. Why is it important to build a good friendship first?
Chet: I have emphasized to all of my kids to be friends first and let a relationship grow. When you start with relationship there is too much pressure for performance. But when you allow yourself to be a friend first, you will find the best relationship. Andrea and I started as friends and remained friends and have become best friends. This allows us to enjoy our good times and get through our struggles.
Andrea: Sometimes, many people think the intimate part of our relationships is made up by our physical relationship, when in actuality it goes so much deeper. Having a close friendship opens us up to the deepest level of intimacy. A friend loves at all times. And in marriage, you need that especially. Expectations aren’t always met, simply because we are human beings. But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. To be honest, I don’t know anyone who models this kind of friendship other than Chet. He has taught me what it is to be a friend.
Sarah: I know the subject of purity is something that is really important to both of you. Pastor Chet, I know you recently did a series on the Song of Solomon in the summer at church and God really moved in incredible ways. I’ve heard you say, “God isn’t afraid of discussing sexuality. The world isn’t afraid of talking about sexuality, but the church is.” How do both of you want to change that?
Chet: We have made this conversation comfortable and holy. Using the guidelines found in the Bible, we know how far is too far, but most importantly how best to honor God in our relationships.
Andrea: We do always teach our kids that there is more to saying “NO” to sex or any other kind of physical intimacy that doesn’t honor God, for just that reason. The “more” to it, is the heart to wanting to honor God and please Him. Knowing that His commands are given for a purpose. That purpose is for our protection, well being, and blessing. Blessing comes with obedience. There is so much pain and destruction that comes with wandering outside of God’s guidelines into sin. No matter how attractive it may seem, the consequences are devastating no matter how you cut it.
Sarah: Both of you are so real. You’ve very humorously shared some stories of your dating relationship. As church leaders, what are you seeing as some of the number one struggles teens and young adults are dealing with and how can they be addressed?
Chet: It is an issue of self control. In our world of self-gratification, we have got to put spiritual disciplines into our daily routine. You don’t get self control in the moment. IT comes with consistent daily practices of choosing to control the self. IN this way, when the event happens, you have already made the practice of being a self-controlled person.
Andrea: To add to Chet’s answer here, another topic young people today and in times past really struggle with the same dilemma of their identity. In actuality, for me, there is no solid lasting identity for us apart from our identity in Christ. When we are settled and standing firm on who we are in Christ, we have a strength that enables us to walk in self control beyond our flesh that fights us and the world that screams a different theme.
Sarah: It has been said: “guys give love to get sex and girls give sex to get love.” Expand.
Chet: Girls want affection and will sometimes compromise to gain affection. Guys are physical and will give affection to get further. Recognizing our gender weaknesses can become a prayer request for God to make us stronger.
Andrea: Amen to Chet’s response. I think it’s concise. Being aware of our motives and finding all of our needs fulfilled in Christ better equips us to give and not take.
Sarah: Boundaries and accountability are so important to healthy sexuality. How can we begin to figure out what those should be so we can honor God in our actions and how can accountability play a role in that?
Chet: Study Song of Solomon. My point is, the Word will direct you in this and the Spirit will guide you.
Andrea: If the heart is to please the Lord and honor Him, than His word to – “Avoid every appearance of evil”… would be defined as: Even if you are not “doing anything”, but it could appear as so…don’t allow yourself in that situation. People always think, “I’m strong- nothing will happen.” Be careful…all human beings are weak flesh. Yes, God is able to keep us from falling, but have the wisdom to not only put boundaries in place but pull in others as accountability.
Sarah: It’s hard to wait in a season of singleness. How would you encourage others who are in this place?
Chet: There is no easy answer to wait. God commends patience and endurance in the Bible. This would be like asking how to encourage someone to win a gold medal. You gotta put the hard work in to achieve the goal.
Andrea: God’s word says…Wait on the Lord, patiently. Who better to wait on than the King of the universe. Who loves you with an everlasting love and has good plans for you.
Sarah: How would both of you say that the Word of God encourages you to live lives that please Him?
Chet: Peter said it best, “Where should we go, you have the words of eternal life.” The Word is life. It is the only way to live life. Finding life somewhere else will lead to dashed expectations and disappointments.
Andrea: We are studying Psalm 119 right now. What a Psalm depicting the wonder to be found in His Word. The Psalmist tells us there, that following the word of God and hiding it in our heart will actually help us keep from sin. Such hope!
Sarah: It’s hard for couples to stay together a few weeks (not to mention years), and you both have had an incredible marriage relationship that has stood the test of time. For both of you, what has made it work?
Chet: A strong commitment to Jesus and to each other. Try to laugh at your mistakes with each other and purpose to get through struggles. Give each other time to grow and keep your expectation…Christ in you the hope of glory. Marriage is incredible and should be viewed as God’s opportunity to use another human being to make you a complete person. I’m a different man because of my wife. To God be the glory!
Andrea: It is amazing to think about the joining that God creates, making two into one. That really means you can’t live for yourself and be joined to someone else. Little bits of you have to die, jokingly – lot’s of bits of you 🙂 Us human beings have a hard time dying to our needs, our wants, our desires. But if we walk by the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Ultimately, we can’t do much ourselves, but Jesus sent us the helper, the Holy Spirit. When we walk in Him, He helps us accomplish these things.
To find out more on Pastor Chet and Andrea Lowe visit: www.coasthillschurch.org/lowe-family