Dear Diary: Musings on Love from Last Year

Recently, I acquired my own bedroom in the house that I am living in.  Yay!  As a result, I have been going through boxes and papers and miscellaneous items, trying to figure out which things I can keep and which things I can part ways with.

In my sorting, I came across an old pad of paper upon which I had written “Love vs. Fear.”  The words that followed minister to me today a year and change later.

6/17/2014

“We know how much God loves us and we put our trust in His love.  God is love and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect” (John 4:16-17) .  My deep desire is to experience love in this lifetime that would be rooted and centered in Jesus.  When you love another person, you are giving yourself to someone with flaws.  Someone who will let you down.  When you make God’s love the center of your relationship, you are putting your faith and your effort into something you can trust.  As we live, move and breathe in His love, making Him the center of everything, we grow more perfect in love for each other.

When your focus is His love, it leaves little room for fear.  His love must be your all consuming focus.  It must seep into and permeate every area of your life.  The scope of God’s love, the vastness of His power is far too great to fit into anyone compartment of your life.  Try to confine Him to one area of your heart and you will experience great discomfort.  He wants all of you!

I want this principle to guide my relationship with the man that I will eventually give my heart to.

I have several fears about relationships.  I have a fear of not being understood.  I want to spend my life sharing the heart of God with others…my family, friends, children, and the young people I serve in ministry.  I was wired for it.  Because of this I make alot of sacrifices.  I sacrifice my time and my finances to be a part of reaching a broken generation.  It’s an adventure that Iong to share with a partner.  But I need a man to understand that its an adventure that comes at a cost.

Teenagers are looking for hope, for something to believe in, for someone to believe in them.  They need us to put hands and feet to the message of the gospel.  More than hearing about God’s love, they need it modeled for them.  For this reason, they are always watching us, their leaders.  They want to know if the Gospel message is as important to us as we claim it is.  I make my decisions with the constant awareness that I am a role model to a generation.  You won’t find me going to bars or going out for happy hour, because I know it would be more harmful than it would be beneficial to the young people I am invested in.  I can’t be careless with my body or get physical in a dating relationship because it would mar my example.

I think about the young people in my life who have parents that have demonstrated that the bottle takes priority over them, whose mothers give their hearts and bodys to men who will never value them the way they deserve.  If I were to take to drinking recreationally and begin to compromise in the area of physical purity, I would lose any authority I have to speak into their lives.  That is something I can’t risk and I need my man to understand that.

I fear compromise.  I need my man to understand my values and my relationship with Jesus…and have one of His own.  As a couple, I want to encourage each other to change for the better and to grow in love with Jesus.  I have seen too many relationships where girls and guys have been persuaded to compromise deeply held convictions for the sake of “love” and “passion.”

I need to be fought for and I need to be pursued.  I need to know I’m beautiful and that I’m worth it.  But before you pursue me, I need for you to have already made Jesus your number one relentless pursuit.

Looking back on this a year later, these are still my convictions when it comes to relationships.  I would only add one thing:  

There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear…(1 John 4:18)

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Arise and Stand

In Judges chapter 4, we find the story of Deborah, one of the Old Testament judges. It is explained to us at the beginning of the chapter that during this time period God would raise up one judge after another in the nation of Israel. While the judge lived, the Lord would spare Israel from the hands of their enemies. It is explained to us that during Deborah’s rule the Israelites were being severely oppressed by Jabin King of Canaan, something that had been going on for 20 years.

Deborah sends for Barak. She makes a bold statement, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.”(4:6-7) Barak refuses to go unless Deborah will go with him. Deborah agrees, but not before reminding Barak that because of this choice the Lord would deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman. Everything happens as Deborah prophesied that it would. Barak follows Deborah’s instructions and the army of Sisera is defeated. In an unexpected plot twist, Sisera flees to the tent of Jael due to a long standing family alliance between her family and King Jabin’s. Jael murders Sisera in his sleep by driving a tent peg through his head…ouch. In this manner, the final victory was wrought at the hands of a woman.

Through my study of Deborah, God is teaching me what it means to stand. The word stand means to stand to one’s feet, to arise, to face and to encounter, to remain firm and steadfast.

We need to stand to our feet.

In the following chapter of Judges, Deborah gives praises to God and I love what she says: “Villagers in Israel would not fight; they held back, until I, Deborah arose; until I arose, a mother in Israel” (5:7). Deborah was a woman. Woman were undervalued in this time period. The fact that Deborah was elected to be judge was unheard of. It was even more unheard of that she was asked to accompany Barak at the head of army. Yet God had chosen Deborah and set her apart for a very important purpose. He had called her to take a stand.

Israel would not fight until she arose. There are people in your life who are waiting for you to arise. There are people around you who are waiting for someone to take the first step in standing for what is right. God is looking for an army of people who will arise, even if it means that they stand alone in fighting against the enemies schemes. We need to be people who can say with sincerity, “I’m a leader not a follower.”

We need to stand and fight.

We are all battling against something. In the fight that we are in, the Lord has gone ahead of us (Judges 4:14). As David writes in Psalms 18:32-35, “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great.” We are encouraged in Eph. 6:13, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand.”

We need to stand in worship.

As we stand firm, our praise will be our weapon of warfare. As it says in Psalm 118:14, “The Lord is my strength and my song, he has become my victory.” It is so important that we worship through the storms of this life. As we worship, we send a message to the enemy’s camp that our Savior has already overcome. As Deborah says in verse 5:3, “I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

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Go into all the Nations

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

This is a verse that most Christians would be familiar with.  I think of it as the mission statement of Christianity.  As followers of Christ, everything we do should be centered around bringing the Gospel message of God’s love to a broken world.

There are many ways that we do this in our day to day lives.  We bring the gospel to our family members and friends.  We can bring the love of God to our communities by performing acts of kindness and encouraging others with the Word of God.  We can bring hope and life into our workplaces.  We should treat our neighborhoods as our mission field.

Yet there is something so special about actually going to the nations.  I have traveled overseas several times for short term missions trips.  The first time I ever got on a plane it was to go to Ghana.  While there, we were able to do evangelism and prayer, open air crusades, play with children in an orphanage and provide backpacks and medical supplies to the community.  The other three times I traveled to Palmira, Colombia.  The church I attended before supported a children’s home in Palmira.  I had the amazing opportunity to stay with children, at one time for six weeks, teaching a vacation Bible school program.  It has been amazing to watch the kids grow over the years and see all that God is doing in their lives.  I have grown so much in my walk with the Lord through these experiences.

Because I know the value of missions (and I also know how challenging it can be to raise support), I always support my friends who are seeking the opportunity to go on their own Great Commission adventure.  And this is where I insert a shameless plug.

My friend Josh has the opportunity to participate in a worship-focused Discipleship Training School with YWAM (Youth with a Mission) this September.  For those of you unfamiliar with YWAM, it is an amazing organization that equips and mobilizes young people to do the work of the Great Commission through classroom learning and practical, hands-on, cross-cultural ministry overseas.  Josh will have the opportunity to travel to Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and South America.  Please consider clicking on this link and contributing to Josh’s trip.  He will need to raise $10,000 all together by September 13th.  If you can’t give finances, please share his Go Fund Me page within your circles.

Let’s partner together in seeing the Gospel message spread around the world!

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Give it a Rest

Anxiety is a theme that keeps coming up lately.  More and more I am hearing that Christians I know are  battling with it.  Even at work, several of my clients have shared with me with tear-filled eyes that they are scared all of the time.  One told me she was afraid to leave her house.  The other told me she only experienced peace outside of her house.  I believe that the body of Christ is in a war against fear.

Some of you reading this, may be suffering from anxiety as well or maybe you are just dealing with chronic worrying and doubts.  Worry is just another manner in which fear expresses itself and displaces our trust in God.  The following passage comes to mind:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much  more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matt. 6:25-27).

I believe that as we face the challenges of this life that the Lord wants us to lean into Him.  I think of a child being carried by her Father.  When any perceived threat presents itself, the child responds by burying her face into the chest of her daddy.  When a stranger comes and attempts to hold her, the child clings even harder gripping daddy’s shirt with her tiny fingers.  This needs to be our response to the threats of this life.

I am convinced that even in the midst of our darkest storms that we can find rest in God.  Even in times of exhaustion, fatigue, and lack of sleep, we can experience what it truly means to rest in the Lord.  We can relax in His presence, knowing that He is good, that He is for us and that His love is everlasting.

Remember that your heavenly daddy is your protector and comforter.  Even when your flesh and your heart fails, He is the strength of your heart and your portion forever (Ps. 73:26).  He is your refuge.  He promises us that as we place our trust in Him that our strength will be renewed and that we will soar on wings like eagles (Isa. 40:28-31).

As the Pslamist writes in Psalm 62:1-2, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Whatever it is that you face today, whatever trouble comes your way, lean into your heavenly Father, take a deep breathe, and give it a rest.

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God Didn’t Promise You a White Picket Fence

Lately, I have been thinking alot about my dreams and what I want my future to look like.  My perspective has changed alot over the years.  I have always assumed all my life that someday I would be married with two or three kids living in a big house somewhere.  That would be the dream.  I think most people grow up thinking like this.  There is nothing wrong with dreaming.  It’s good to dream.

I think where the problem lies is when the dream doesn’t happen right away (or maybe not at all) or doesn’t come in the package we were anticipating and we start to lose hope.  We can start to feel a lack of trust and confidence in the plans that God has for us.  For some, a sense of failure and fear can set in.  In so many ways, our culture equates success with the achievement of the American Dream.

I’m choosing not to think this way anymore.  I have realized that certain things are not guarantees.  We are not guaranteed to get married, have children, a dog and a house with a white picket fence.  Now, I do believe that God knows the desires of our hearts and loves to give good gifts to His children.  I don’t believe that God withholds from us things that we desire to torture us.

However, I do believe that God knows what is the best for us.  He not only knows what we want, but He knows what we need.  In John 10:10, Jesus states that He has come so that we may have a full and abundant life.  This tells me that when I set my eyes on following Him, He will lead me along the path of a fruitful life filled with joy and His love.  His desire is for me to live my life to the fullest, whether I be married, single, with children or without, in a big house, or sharing one with 4 other girls….are you catching my drift?

My life has changed so much this year and it looks nothing like I expected, but I am loving the journey.  There have been so many unexpected surprises along the way and God has blessed me in more ways than I can count.  My desire every day is to lay down my own agenda and blueprint to follow His leading knowing that He is wanting to do far more in my life than I can even begin to comprehend.

Enjoy whatever season you’re in.  Live each moment to the full.  Don’t focus so much on what you don’t have and instead choose to open your eyes to all the blessings that surround you every day.  Like Paul, be one who can say, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:12-13).

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Changed Hearts. Transformed Lives.

I have grown up in the Charismatic stream of Christianity.  For those unfamiliar with that terminology, “charismatic” is the word used to describe churches that believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Charismatic churches believe in the gift of speaking in tongues, the prophetic, creative miracles, etc.  So, in charasmatic circles, we really emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit.  It’s not uncommon in a Charismatic church to see some really unusual behavior, as someone is touched by the Spirit of God.  We tend to flock to prophetic meetings and love to see outbreaks of the healing and the miraculous.

I believe in the gifts of the Spirit.  I identify myself as a charismatic person and have seen the power of the Holy Spirit in my own life and the lives of those around me.  However, as great as prophecy, healing and creative miracles are, I believe there is no greater miracle than a changed heart and a transformed life.  I long for our churches to be filled with people who have not merely attended “powerful services,” but rather live powerful lives because they have been so radically impacted and transformed by the love of God.  My passion is to see broken people made whole.  I long to see prisoners set free.  My heart’s cry is to see an army of men and women of God contending for change and transformation in their churches, families and communities.

I think about my family members and friends who have not yet accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  My prayer is not that they would not merely receive a healing or prophetic word, but rather that they would encounter the love of God in such a profound way that the power of addiction would be broken off of them, their deeply wounded hearts would be healed, and that their smiles would radiate with the joy that comes from God.  My desire for them is that the transformative power of the Holy Spirit would train them in the ways of God, making them men and women of integrity, godly moms and dads, and husbands and wives who would raise up their children in the ways of the Lord.

I’ll say it again the greatest miracle is a changed heart and a transformed life.

It makes my heart beat faster that my Father in Heaven has caused me to be an agent of transformation.  He has called me to be one that bears influence to bring change.  I am confident that walking hand in hand with my Savior that the Holy Spirit can use me to change environments and atmospheres.  He is calling you too.  I bear the DNA of Jesus himself who identified His call in the following manner:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight  for the blind, to set the  oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)

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How Can a Young Man Keep His Way Pure?

In 1 Peter 1:13-16, we are told, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'” (1 Pet. 1:13-16).  As Christians, we strive to live holy lives and follow the example of Jesus.  But at times, this can feel overwhelming.  In a world that’s saturated in sin, we can be left feeling like the Psalmist who writes in Psalm 119:9, “How can a young man keep his way pure?”

As humans, we are all tempted with the same basic sins: anger, pride, lust, deceit, fear, drunkeness etc.  The Bible tells us that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind” (1 Cor. 10:13).  In today’s society, things that the Bible tells us are sin, popular culture tells us are “normal,” “fun,” “letting loose,” and “having a good time.”  This is especially true of sexual immorality.  It is no secret that our music, movies, tv shows, magazines are sex-saturated.  As a result, Christians are caught in the tension of trying to live a lifestyle of holiness in a world that is governed by the “if it feels good, do it” principle.

We are told in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, that in the battle that we are up against, God has given us “weapons of divine power to destroy strongholds.”  We are also told in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that God has provided us with an escape from every temptation that overtakes us.  In Psalm 119, the Psalmist answers his own question “How can a young man keep his way pure?”  “By guarding it according to your word.”(Ps. 119:9).

Here are three ways that we can guard ourselves:

1. Guarding our eyes

2. Guarding our thoughts

3. Guarding our relationship with God.

In Luke 11:34-35, we are told, “Your eye is the lamp of your body.  When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.  Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness” (Luke 11:34-35).  We need to be careful of what we will allow into our spirit by guarding our eyes.  If you find yourself in the struggle of guarding your purity, as most people do at one time or another, take a moment to ask yourself, what darkness and impurity are you allowing in through your eyes?  Do you watch television shows and movies that are graphic in a violent or sexual nature?  Consider the music you listen to.  Does it glorify a lifestyle that is immoral and sinful?

However, even when we guard our eyes, it’s not enough.  As much as we may try to guard our eyes, we are still going to see things we shouldn’t and hear things that we would prefer not to.  We need to learn how to guard our thought life.  I read somewhere recently about the importance of “bouncing our thoughts.”  Because we are human, all kinds of thoughts will come in and out every day.  Some of these thoughts will be less than holy.  The thoughts in themselves are not sinful, unless we choose to dwell and focus on them.  When a bad thought comes in, we need to learn how to bounce it right out of our minds by choosing to focus on something else instead.  My pastors talk often about the importance of moving in the opposite spirit of whatever sin is attempting to overtake you.  If an angry thought comes, turn your mind to focus on the love of God.  If a lustful thought comes, turn your mind to focus on purity as described in the Word of God.  We can take each thought that comes through and “make it obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).  We can choose to follow the principle of Philippians 4:8, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8).

 

Most importantly, we need to guard our relationship with God.  Our aim cannot be to simply avoid impurity and sin.  Rather, we need to be proactive about filling ourselves every day with the love, life, truth and grace of God.  Every sin we commit poses itself as a counterfeit to fill a void and a need that we perceive in our lives.  If we are proactive about allowing God to fill each deeply felt need of our heart, the amount of temptation we experience will be less.  When we draw close to God, it causes Satan to run and hide.  As it says in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  Our primary focus needs to be God’s grace.  It tells us in Titus 2:12-14 that it is the grace of God that teaches us to say no to “ungodliness and worldly passions” and to live “self-controlled, upright and godly lives.”  If our main focus is to not be tempted, we will inevitably find ourselves lacking in power to overcome the temptation that we are facing.  This way of thinking, whether or not we realize it, relies on our own strength and power to resist sin.  As humans, we lack the power to resist temptation for very long.  However, when our focus is pursuing God’s love and grace, we shift over into relying on the Holy Spirit to enable us to be overcomers.  With the Holy Spirit as our driving force and power, there is no temptation that we cannot overcome.  Nothing, then, will be impossible for us.  We can say with confidence, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

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Identity Crisis and the War on Truth

Lately, issues of identity have been making headline news.  Bruce Jenner becomes a woman.  As it turns out, the now ex-leader of the NAACP Rachel Dolezal isn’t even black.  Despite what race or gender these individuals were born with, we are told that it’s not the issue.  Rather, the issue is how they “identify.”Jenner identifies as female and Dolezal has stated that she identifies as black.

*Before I dive in to my thoughts on this subject, please know that my desire in writing this post is to simply express my viewpoint and to generate some healthy thought-provoking discussion.  I am aware that many will not agree with my views.  Let’s just keep the discussion respectful.  Please and thank you.*

Recently, my pastor touched on this subject and mentioned that there are two issues at play here: an issue of identity and an issue of truth.  I think he’s right. I believe that each human being was designed with purpose and intentionality.  I believe that God didn’t make a mistake when He created us.  If you were born male, I believe there is a reason for that.  If you were born white or black, I believe there was purpose in that.  I recognize though, that within all of us, there are those areas of our physical and personality make-up that make us uncomfortable in our own skin.  For most, the issue isn’t as extreme as a problem with their gender or race, but if we are honest, most would agree that there are aspects about themselves that they wish they could change.  We tell people that they are beautiful the way they are.  We tell people that they need to love themselves and to develop a healthy body-image and self-image.  We coach young girls and boys in raising their self-esteem.  Why should it be any different when it comes to one’s gender or race?  Like it or not, your gender and race are things that you are born with.  In my mind, a compulsion to change the most basic traits of your design and make-up is a form of self-hatred.  I understand some may think my viewpoint is extreme, but if you are unable to love yourself without the help of surgery, make-up, or an extreme makeover, I think that’s a problem.  Instead of encouraging people to spend thousands of dollars to change their gender or race, I think we should be focusing on championing individuals to love who they were designed to be.

I think about my own struggles with my physical design and personality.  There are certain aspects of my body that I love and those I am less than pleased with.  I can tell you that any good friend of mine or positive influence would never advise me to start saving up for plastic surgery until I can love myself.  I hear things like “Rock it” and “Own it.”

No amount of surgerical modification or make-up is ever going to make you love yourself.

The second issue I mentioned was the issue of truth.  Does anyone else get scared about how much truth is twisted in our society?  We live in dangerous times, in which truth is seen as relative.  People think that there are no absolutes.  Now, even cut and dry matters like gender and race are up for discussion.  We live in a day and age where a white blue-eyed girl like myself can make the argument that I am an African-American male.  Does anyone see  the problem with this?

No matter how far the truth get’s twisted, I am one who chooses to believe that I was designed specifically and intentionally by God who has a unique plan and purpose for my life.  When it comes to the things about myself that I am less than pleased with, I dig deep into my heart and into the truths of God’s Word to discover why I was made the way I was made and to love and embrace who I am.  I believe that truth is absolute and not subject to the whims of human feeling and opinion.  I believe that the crisis of identity and the war on absolute truth is a strategic attempt to rob a generation of their true calling and purpose.

 Don’t buy the lie that says you need to change and alter yourself to be comfortable in your own skin.  You were born with a purpose.  Don’t lose sight of that.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Ps. 139:14)

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On Dating: Understanding the Influence of your Choices

I don’t want to get all Taylor Swift here by putting boys on blast, but I do want to share with you my perspective on some personal situations I have gone through to offer some words of advice and encouragement where it pertains to the opposite sex.  I have never dated anyone before.  To be truthful, I’m not upset about it, because there were times when I wanted to date that I wasn’t ready to make responsible choices.  There are things I thought I wanted that would have been really bad for me at the time.  You may have heard the saying, “Every rejection is God’s protection.”  I believe that this is true.

While I have never dated anyone before, I have made really close guy friends…over the years there have been a few that I fell for.  None of those situations landed me a boyfriend and none of them were supposed to, but every situation did teach me something.  There were times I fell for someone that was meant for someone else.  Now that they are married with children, I can see that God had a different plan for their life.  I have gone through scenarios with guys who toyed with the idea of me and kept me in their back pocket, in case anything better came along.  I learned from those situations my own worth and value.  I learned that I never want to be somebody’s plan b because I deserve more than that.  I have fallen for really nice guys who have been hung up on exes.  There have been other situations where the guy I wanted had a reputation for being quite the drinker and a bit of a party animal on the weekends.  Others have not been able to see eye to eye with my love for Jesus…the one thing I am most passionate about.  Some of these guys are really great and still good friends of mine.  It’s just that we wouldn’t be good for each other given the timing and particular set of circumstances.

One thing I have learned from all of these situations is that my decisions impact not only me, but also the people around me.  At one point or another, we have all been tempted to settle for less than what is best for us.  We go through seasons where a particular option seems so appealing that we are willing to overlook red flags to get what we believe our heart desires.  I am learning that if I become willing to compromise my convictions and overlook potential pitfalls, the impact would be more far-reaching than I know.  I have nieces and other young girls in my family that look up to me.  The young girls in my family have been impacted by dysfunction and alcohol/drug abuse on a profound level.  What message would it send to them if I wound up dating or marrying someone who viewed getting hammered as a recreational passtime?  I serve many young girls in the ministry I work with.  I preach the message of the Gospel to them on a regular basis.  What message would it send if I chose to involve myself with someone who thought the Bible was a fairytale?  What message would it send to these girls about matters of self-esteem and self-worth if I had allowed myself to be strung along by a guy who thought he could do better?

Most girls desire marriage at some point.  I fall into this category.  However, in the pursuit of our dreams, we cannot compromise and waver in the things that are most important: our values, our convictions and our faith.  Our decisions impact not only us, but those we care about.

My challenge to you today is to ask yourself this one question: What message do you want to send to those around you with your relationship choices?  What message are you sending now?

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example  for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Tim. 4:12)

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It’s Time to be a Big Girl Now

This week God has been speaking to me about being a big girl.  The job where I am currently working is my first full-time with benefits position.  When I got the job, I referred to it as my big girl job.  I bought a big girl purse and started wearing big girl clothes.  All that means is that I stopped carrying my plaid backpack to work every day and traded my jeans and a t-shirt look for a pencil skirt, blouse and earrings.  I felt as though it was time to shed a few things and to grow up a little more.

I have realized that many adults are still stuck in adolescense.  I have mentioned before that I work with low-income people to help them to find work and to become self-sufficient.  I am astounded to find that many of the people we serve still act like teenagers, even though they may be well into their 30s or 40s.  We have people that come in wearing pajamas and club attire.  We have people that don’t come at all and who refuse to call to cancel their appointments.  We have people who swear at us, roll their eyes and try to pick fights.  On a bad day, our classes can look like an unruly after school detention.

I have noticed the overgrown teenager phenomenon outside of work as well.  Facebook is replete with it.  Grown adults cursing people out and putting their business on public display day after day.  I have seen many adults unable to fulfill the responsibility of holding a job and bringing in an income.  I once knew a couple who divorced because the man would spend 12 or more hours a day playing video games and refused to help the wife with household duties.  The one thing that people that fall into this category all seem to share in common is that they can always find someone else to blame for their circumstances.

It’s time to be a big girl…or boy.

Now, I think some of us equate adulthood with huge milestones like marriage, buying a house and having a career.  Some people feel stunted in their maturity, growth and success because they have not yet achieved these milestones.  Although these are all wonderful things that we get to experience in our adult years, I do not believe that they are synonymous with maturity or success.  Rather, I believe that maturity and being a “grown-up” are all a matter of attitude.  Here are some traits I have found to be true of people that have shedded their adolescense and are rocking adulthood:

1.  You have your emotions in check.

It is so important that we have control over our emotions.  This is not to say that we won’t have our emotional days and moments, but rather that we know how to vent, express and process our emotions in ways that aren’t self-destructive and adding to the problem.  We need to learn how to handle other people’s negative attitudes in a way that doesn’t end with us stooping to their level.  Physical violence and substance abuse are not appropriate ways to deal with feelings of anger or sadness.  Blasting people on facebook with vicious remarks is unacceptable behavior for a grown adult.  Simple as that.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Pet. 1:5-7)

2.  You take responsibility for your own actions.

The choices you make, your actions, the things you say, you take responsibility for it.  We all know that one person who always places the blame on someone else when things get rough.  I have known people who can never seem to see the role they play in their own negative set of circumstances.  It’s time to face the music.  Instead of placing the blame everywhere else in a futile attempt to protect your own image, start focusing on what you could do differently to create a more positive situation.  There is nothing more refreshing than when a man or woman can own up to their mistakes, learn from it and move forward.

For each will have to bear his own load.  Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that he will also reap.  For the one who sows to this own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Gal. 6:5-8)

3.  You are motivated and ambitious.

I think sometimes the guys are oblivious to this one, but every girl I know is looking for a guy who is motivated…someone who knows they want out of life and works hard to make his dreams a reality.  Most ladies have experienced the frustration of meeting a great guy who seems perfect, but can’t seem to think past the video games he is going to play with his buddies over the weekend.  Not only is motivation and ambition a necessity for adulthood, but it’s also attractive!  When you are passionate about your calling and your dreams, you attract other like-minded individuals to yourself.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:11)

4.  You are independent

Some of us rely on others for help to make things work and that’s okay, as long as we are doing all that is within our power to be independent in the ways that we can.  You should have a job.  Finding work is difficult for everyone, but if you are unemployed you should make job searching your new job.  I consider going to school a job.  Some have been called to ministry, which often means that the work you do relies on the support of others.  But it is still work…very demanding work at that.  I’m just saying that in my mind there is no reason for fully grown adults, who are not disabled in some way, to be hanging out all day.

Independence also means being able to do your own laundry, cook your own dinner and clean your own house.

Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children.  In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. (1 Cor. 14:20)

5.  You love yourself and enjoy the ride!

Lastly, I think it’s huge that in our adulthood we learn to love ourselves and enjoy the adventure!  None of us have mastered being an adult.  We all have our weaknesses and insecurities.  Learn from the process and allow God to continue to shape you and mold you into the man or woman that he has called you to be.

 

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding  the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:18)

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