Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Benefits of Singleness

I know quite a few people are unmarried, as I am, and they are in their mid to late twenties and still single. I understand how discouraging it can be to hear all the comments about young marriage being Biblical and so on and so forth. To say that young marriage is Biblical would be incorrect, because then everyone would be married young, as God intended, according to those who say so. But not everyone is. God sometimes doesn't bring along the right person for a very long time, and that's okay. So today I wanted to encourage everyone who is unmarried, because we get so little encouragement about being single in the latter years! So here is a list of benefits to later marriage that I came up with. (By the way, in no way am I demeaning or criticizing those who married young. This is solely to encourage the singles.)

1.) Your Viewpoint on Marriage Has Changed- Whether you noticed it or not, your viewpoint on marriage has probably changed for the best. All those hormones you had as a teen have calmed down,  your maturity level has gone up, and hopefully you have realized marriage isn't about the wedding day. It is so much more! When I was a teen, and even into my early twenties, I was excited about The Wedding Day. I wanted to get married for my happiness, to be loved, to experience falling in love, for me, me, me. It was all about me. Then something happened as I got older. I suddenly realized the point in marriage. It was as if one day God pulled the blinders off my eyes and showed me what marriage was for. Yes, we all know it is meant to glorify God, but those are just words. You could have said that all you wanted to me, and I would have nodded my head and agreed, but my actions showed I didn't fully understand. And I didn't until the day I realized, not with a head knowledge, but with a heart knowledge that this was a beautiful way to glorify God. Forever you would be able to tell others about the remarkable way you met, as only God could plan out, allowing the hearer, disappointed singles, and those in need of encouragement, to be able to hope and glorify God for His goodness to us when we least expect it, to be able to revel in the fact that God can do the impossible. This story glorifies God. And I have heard remarkable stories where God did the impossible for a single and their story is retold over and over, leaving others speechless, and amazed at the goodness of God. I realized I wanted my marriage to be like that- a God-centered testimony to others. And this I would have never have learned had I married young. I would have gone into marriage with the me, me, me mentality, the wrong perspective. I have God to thank for not being married when I was so immature in this respect!

2.) Your Viewpoint on Children Has Changed- Who doesn't melt at the sight of a cute baby? What girl doesn't enjoy looking at baby clothes at the story and thinking about how cute her baby will be dressed? Those are all enjoyable things, but for the longest time that was what I wanted children for, to dress them up in cute outfits and to name them. Sounds very silly, but that was my purpose for having children, not a mature or Godly one for sure! As I hit my twenties, I realized one day that was not the real purpose for having children. Children are hard work, require energy, patience, and decades of your nurturing affection. They are not simply objects to be entertained with; they are human beings with souls, impressionable and vulnerable. They are literal gifts given to glorify God with by raising them accordingly. It suddenly hit me that whatever children I have, I can raise them according to Biblical standards and ground them in the faith, cultivating them to live for God and work for His kingdom. What an impact just one child can have upon who knows how many people just because you trained them up in the knowledge of the Lord! Imagine if one of your children became the next David Livingstone or Amy Carmichael, what an impact your decades of service to God through raising children would have! All the hard work and decades you spent investing in their lives, all the times you wondered if it was worth it, what was your purpose in investing in them, would all be rewarded when they grew up into Godly adults making an impact on others. It was then I realized how having children could truly glorify God by investing in one life to invest in thousands of others. After that I started praying for these future human beings, to come to a knowledge of God someday and be faithful all their lives to Him. Whether they be adopted or not, I want children to be able to glorify God through them.

3.) You Have Been Able to Observe the Hardships of the Married- Had I married young, I would never have known that marriage isn't a bed of roses. You too have probably been able to observe the married couples around you, and if you have been around them long enough, you can figure out there is tension at times. I never thought about observing married couples for future reference, but it has been one of the best ways of preparing for marriage! More often than not though my observation entails what not to do. I have learned that we women love to nag, nag, nag, but we never realize we are doing it! It has helped me to become aware of potential nagging issues. I have also realized that although a newlywed may dote on her husband and talk about how wonderful he is, in reality, he isn't perfect. Just remember that. I remember one time feeling sad like I was missing out as I listened to this marvelous depiction of someone's husband, until later I saw an undesirable selfish character trait he exhibited. Reading books on marriage and listening to the trials of the married, has enabled me to appreciate and value singleness. It has also helped to fix current issues that could become a potential problem in a marriage. Yes, I encourage observation of couples. It will enable you to prepare for the future, so you can avoid certain issues. And you will be all the wiser for it when you are married.

This in no way means that I will have it altogether when I get married, or I won't be a nagging wife, or that I have no selfish desires (I still struggle with selfish desires too), but it just means I am better prepared and have a God-focused perspective instead of a me-focused perspective, of which is still a struggle to maintain!

 But those are my top three benefits. Those are the unselfish reasons. I could speak of how wonderful it is to be able to do your own thing without consulting anyone else, hang out with friends any time you wish, not worry about running after children, but those are more of selfish benefits, rather than Godly benefits. Yes, enjoy those benefits to singleness too, but don't get so comfortable in them your are unwilling to marry or have children. Marriage and children have their own set of hardships and blessings, just as singleness does. Eventually you will be missing the single days or even regretting how you wasted the single days, instead of putting them to good use. I continue to remind myself about those things when I get lazy and sit around wasting my time doing nothing important. It is what helps to keep me focused on the importance of serving God doing what I am doing at this stage in life. So enjoy this stage of life, make the most of it, redeeming the time, because it certainly won't last long!

And post below if you have any other additions to my list! I would love to see your comments!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Common Sayings That are Not Acceptable

I wanted to write a list of "pet peeves" that aren't so much "pet peeves" rather than incorrect Doctrine being tossed around and over and over.

1.) Have you seen ____________ movie? - Movies are fine and good, if they're appropriate. Why are CHRISTIANS asking other Christians if they've seen a movie with nudity, sexual content, or cussing in it? They know better of all people. And I need to get this out- Les Miserables is not appropriate to be watching folks! You cannot justify the prostitution scene by saying, "Well, it showed how horrible sin was!" Does that mean we should go down to Vegas and see their shows to recognize how horrible sin is? Or how about going to an adult entertainment center to see how horrible sin is- is that acceptable? You would say "NO!" of course! Then how much more inappropriate content in a movie? Let's be mindful of what we watch. If you want to watch those movies, then please don't talk about it amongst other Christians.

2.) "I made this decision because I wanted to/I like  . . ."  - Does the Holy Spirit not work today? Is He broken and unusable? Why on earth would you make a big decision without involving God's direction? Yes, it's tempting to do what we want, but aren't you scared about the consequences? What if that happily ever after marriage you dreamed of is ruined because you never consulted God? What if you lose that job you got because the Lord was against you working there and you insisted on having your way? Christians don't live for themselves anymore. They live for God, and in every big decision they make- God needs to be in it. So please do not say you decided to become a lawyer because you wanted to. You will have plenty of trouble down the road if you base all your decisions on your own feelings and likes. Don't say that you are going into the ministry because you think it's a "neat" idea. The only ones are supposed to be in the ministry are the ones who are called. If you aren't called your teaching and preaching will be flavorless. You won't have that anointing of the Holy Spirit. And believe me, nobody wants anymore boring preachers!

3.) "Marrying ___________ was the happiest day of my life . . ." - I guess you are a Christian who never received the Lord? Shouldn't our salvation day be the happiest day of our lives? We've got our priorities all mixed up if the person of our dreams is the only thing that can make us happy. What happens when we become widows/widowers? What happens when he/she fails you or hurts you deeply? Take a step back, and remember who our greatest joy is- our great God!

4.) "You can't say he/she is not a Christian!" - So if Johnnie wants to do drugs and call himself a Christian we can't say otherwise, despite the fact that there is no fruit? Or what about Mary who made a profession of faith at seven and then falls into prostitution as a teenager- she is still a Christian? No way. You cannot associate any of those words with a Christian. You will know them by their fruits is what the Bible says. If they aren't bearing fruit, you have every legitimate reason to doubt their salvation. And what, if because you are so concerned for their soul, you lead them to repentance by telling them bluntly that one cannot be a Christian and continue in sin? Imagine how many other friends and family members are fooling them into thinking they are on their way to heaven just because of a prayer they prayed at seven. Be the mature Christian, confront them, and pray for them. And if they never turn from their sin, be relieved that they died knowing they were not saved and willingly refused to accept Christ, instead of falling into the pit of hell unexpectedly and surprisingly- not realizing everyone had fooled them their entire life!

5.) "You have to say things in love . . ." - How come pastors can tell the truth bluntly and call sin sin? Are pastor's that much higher and holier than us that we can only let them do the confronting? Why is it that in order to confront Johnnie about his sin, I have to beat around the bush, tell him I am a sinner too, then explain that God still loves him but . . . . Isn't the fact that we are pointing out the sin in order for them to turn back to God showing love? Only a person who cares for another person will have the guts to confront sin, because they don't want that person to fall away. Saying the truth will hurt- that doesn't make it done out of meanness and hate. And yeah, the truth is harsh too at times, but Jesus never shied away from telling the Pharisees they were hypocrites, so we shouldn't shy away from confronting sin, as long as we are not in that sin as well.

6.) "Christian girls shouldn't expect to marry Adoniram Judson or Hudson Taylor- they need to be realistic and set standards accordingly" - So are you saying that the high standards I have are so unattainable, no man on earth can reach that and therefore I should lower them? What if I lower my standards to some disheveled young man who says he is a Christian, yet doesn't live like it. That's okay, as long as he calls himself a Christian? So the young man shouldn't be attaining a deeper spiritual walk because nobody does that these days? Really? The spiritual walk of a young man should be at the top of a young woman's list, after salvation. If he is not desiring to grow, then he should not even be considered. How about young women stop saying they can't court so-and-so because he doesn't have the same interests as them or he isn't handsome? Those are standards that should be lifted- not the spirituality of the young man.

7.) "I went 100/ _______ mph tonight!" We do not have the Audubon in the United States . . . and the highest mph you can go legally is in Texas, and that is 85 mph. So why are we boasting about breaking the laws? I understand nobody likes speed limits. I don't either, but that's beside the point. We are told to obey the laws set by the government. Shouldn't we be ashamed that we broke the law? And yes, at one point I actually thought it was okay to speed 5mph over the posted speed limit. Isn't that silly? But then I realized I was wrong, and it sure took a long time to accept that the posted speed limit was what I had to maintain. I still struggle with maintaining the speed limit, but let's not boast about committing a sin!

8.) "Don't Judge" - I saved the worst for the last. This one really crawls under my skin, because Christ told us to judge other believers except if we are committing the same sin or doing it in a mean and unkind way. How else will we be held accountable for the sins in our life? I don't know about you, but as a believer, I really would like people to point out my sin. Oh yes, I will be hurt and perhaps upset about being told that, but in the end, it's better to know than to continue on in sin never realizing I was in the wrong!

Please know that I am in no way saying I am perfect. I can tell you many times that I have be in the wrong for certain things I listed, and later realizing I needed to work on those issues. This is just to help remind fellow believers that our conduct affects our outward appearance to the world. Will they see Christ in me when I do these things?

Where's points 9 & 10? Well, you answer that and post in the comments below what are two of your "spiritual pet peeves."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ordinary Christians

In all reality, I would say 90% of Christians are- ordinary Christians. Christians who like to watch movies with sexual immorality, cussing, and other inappropriate content, Christians who go home after church and forget what they have learned, Christians who pray for five minutes a day and read the Bible a mere fifteen minutes a day, Christians who go to a prayer meeting that lasts for five minutes because nobody wants to pray, Christians who love to be like the world and social drink, Christians who believe in having fun and doing as they please. These are ordinary Christians. And most of us are ordinary Christians. We have no idea that anything could be more meaningful. We have no sense of the enormity of our sin in acting like the world. We have no idea that we are far off from something even greater in our spiritual walk. We have absolutely no idea that going to church on Sunday, spending a few minutes with God on a daily basis, then going off and doing as we please for the rest of the day is sin. We have no idea that something is off balance. So how do I know? Not from experience, I can say that. From reading R.A. Torrey's book on prayer, from reading missionary biographies on the greats like David Brainerd. That is what it means to be a real Christian. None of this God on the side stuff. I would challenge everyone who doesn't understand what I mean by "more to the Christian life" to read a missionary biography and see if you don't get it then. When you come to the realization that there is something more to attain in the Christian life, you realize how petty and silly your life of having fun for the happiness of self is, you realize just how similar your life compares to the unbeliever, you realize how sinful you are, and you realize that you want that power of the Holy Spirit in your life.

I know I want it- I've seen what it can do from other's lives. But it's a hard road to achieve that higher place in the Christian walk. It can only come through a sincere desire to serve God even more than what is being done right now. It means sacrificing hours a day to the Word and in Prayer. It means directing your thoughts back to God day and night. It means living, eating, and breathing God. And I think that's something Americans don't want to do. It's too hard. It means making an effort. I want to challenge everyone this week to make a commitment to spend more time in the Word or in Prayer. I myself have made it a challenge to pray more and gradually increase the time spent in prayer. Knowing God in an intimate relationship means making the time for Him through sacrifice. So I challenge everyone to change something this week and make it a goal to know Him like the greats knew Him. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Winner of Giveaway . . .

is Esther! Congrats- your book will be shipped out immediately.

New post coming by tomorrow evening- so stay posted!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Giveaway!!!!!!

Sorry it's been awhile since I posted. I will be posting soon though! In the mean time, I am having a blog giveaway. I figured why not share the most convicting books I have ever read with others? And what better way to do so by giving a free copy of one of my favorite books?! So this giveaway will be R.A. Torrey on Prayer- and look similar to this copy


It will profoundly change the way you pray and how you pray. Excellent reading. So if you want to enter to win the drawing for this book- please post below. The winner will be announced a week from today.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Plea to Graduates

It's the end of May, close to June, and I know many are graduating from high school or college around this time. This is not just a post for graduates, it applies to everyone in whatever season of life they may be in. But I want to speak in particular to high school graduates, because their choice now affects their entire life. If you've already graduated from college, you can't take back a mistake you've made. You can fix it where you're at, but it won't be the same as if you had fixed the problem ahead of time. A high school graduate can reverse the mistake before any major damage occurs, and so I want to speak to you all.

May is the time for many graduation speeches concerning the destiny of a student. Students will be told by well-meaning Christian adults to follow their hearts, major in whatever subject they are interested in, without giving a second thought to what God wants. I say this because the Christians have allowed the world to slowly infiltrate their worldview concerning the topic of  "destiny." The waters have been muddied and many Christians feel that whatever their child enjoys doing is what their child should major in, instead of urging their child to pray about what God's will is for their life. The world believes you should be whatever you want to be in life and pursue all of your dreams. That's not what God wants for those who are Christians. May I urge you NOT to follow your college dreams. No, instead pray for God's will concerning what you will major in, or even if He might lead you down another path. If I would've done as I pleased and pursued my dreams, I would be getting my Master's in the medical field. Yes, I have this great desire to do so. No, it is not God's will right now- maybe later? Possibly. Highly unlikely, but there is always a possibility. I know right now God has said no to that desire, and He has a purpose in that. I would rather be disappointed in letting go of my dreams than to endure a life-long punishment from the Lord for my disobedience. We are called to live a life of sacrifice, daily dying to ourselves. Sometimes our dreams are good, and not bad- like my dream of getting another degree. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's not the good, perfect, and acceptable will of God. It's good, but not His perfect will. And it obvisouly isn't acceptable to Him if He has not okayed it. I find myself constantly having to let go of dreams, replacing my will with His. It's not easy, and it's not fun until we can see the purpose in it. I want to make something very clear right now though. If you are doing everything you have ever wanted to do, fulfilling every dream of yours as a Christian, and you have never had to make a sacrifice for God, then there is something utterly wrong in your walk with the Lord. I know that is a bold statement, but this verse clarifies what I am trying to say

"Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry."

(1Pe 4:1-3 ESV)

If you're thinking, "I want to do what I want to do though," you did, when you were unsaved. When you walked in open rebellion towards God, you were able to do as you pleased. There was a time for that, but now that you committed your life to Christ, you cannot do as you please anymore. Now it is time to pick up your cross and give up the things you hold so dear to live for Christ. We won't always be given what we want in life. There are things required of us that we will not want to do, but we have to because God wants us to. In Hebrews, the author mentions that the people in the hall of faith lived, not according to what they wanted to do, but what God wanted them to do. Why? Because they were Heavenly-minded. They remembered this world will pass away, but the next will not. They were able to make sacrifices because of this mindset. They were able to know if what they were pursuing in life was in accordance with God's will, because they knew it would benefit the Kingdom. It would not be destroyed by moth or rust. Whatever they were doing would have eternal impact. And so I challenge everyone to think about where you are at in life right now. Did God call you to it? Are you doing what you want to do, or what God wants you to do? Will this impact the eternal Kingdom? Is it impacting it at all? Think about those questions and answer them honestly, being willing to change and do what God wants you to do if you're not already. We live for Christ, not for ourselves. Fulfill His calling for your life.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Filling in the Gap

I've been meaning to blog about this for a month, and now I am finally sitting down to write down my thoughts about the saddening problem of the youth and young adults leaving the church in copious amounts. In some statistics, I've heard 80% of young adults leave the church after high school. That's a HUGE number. I never really thought about it until I realized it's happening in my community too as we speak.

A couple months ago I went to a community prayer breakfast and was shocked to see the large turnout of elderly folks and NO turnout for the young folks. In a group of about 50-60 people I was the only young adult, besides the young lady who was with the guest speaker. I couldn't believe it. No youth, no young adults, no 30-somethings, possibly 40-somethings, but mostly 50+. This wasn't an isolated event either. I recently went to a missions conference and was shocked at the same age gap between older folks and elementary children- nothing in between, besides parents of the children.Many of the churches I have attended have very few young adults attending services. Even my own church maintains a very low percentage of young adults. Only one other person at my church is a young adult. Most are over 50. Now there's nothing wrong with older folks participating in these events, what's wrong is "Where are the young adults?" These people are aging quickly. Most of the faithful older Christians will be gone within one to two decades. What happens after that? I continue to think of that question. It's a scary thought, to realize there is no one to fill in the gap. Christianity is declining among young people. That troubles me. What will become of the Church? I believe this question troubles many others as well. The one young lady at the prayer breakfast I talked to said to me, "Finally- a young person!" This girl travels around a lot with the main speaker; it was a breath of fresh air just to see a young adult, instead of older folks. Even older folks I've met talked about how despairing it is to see so little young adults in attendance for church-related events. It's sad. Because of this, I have been prompted to go out and participate in those things that edify the body. We who are young need to stand in the gap and be more involved in serving the Lord and the body of Christ. Don't skip out on church events because you have to do school work. Since when is school more important than Christ? God comes first, everything else second. Don't skip out on those "boring" prayer meetings your church has. Pray for God's Spirit to move within your heart so they don't seem boring anymore. When you are asked to participate in an evangelism event, GO. When you are invited to be refreshed by a Godly guest speaker, GO. Don't be a typical "Christian" and stay in your comfort zone, watching movies, playing video games, living the good life, making money, while your life slips away and you do NOTHING of value for Christ. There's nothing wrong with making money, or some of those other things, but when they take precedence over the Savior and when they become the only things you do in life, your life is worth nothing. Let's fill in the gap.