Tag Archives: emotions

The Power of Music

Music is influential in our senses, imaginations and learning techniques. This powerful tool is directly linked to the brain waves. It can heal anxiety, depression, insomnia, and short attention spans. It brings alertness, attentiveness, and self-awareness. But it can be used for destructive purposes as well. When we saturate our minds and spirits with lyrics about making love in clubs, it warps our perspective on love. How can we expect to make solid choices when we are dousing our minds with selfish lust-filled stories that dim our spirit’s shimmering light?

I caught myself strumming my pencil to a song…

“You can have whatever you like. If you want it you can get it my dear, 5 million-dollar home… I want your body, I need your body. As long as you got me you won’t need nobody. You want it, I got it. Baby, you can have whatever you like.”

Other than the grammatical errors, the message is plain and clear: I’ll give you money and material items to make you happy and you give me your body in return. I liked the beat of this song, but it wasn’t until I caught a word or two that I started hearing the lyrics for the first time. I was mortified that I could be so pleasantly moved by such a song. The Bible says, “Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13). We need to be cautious of what we allow to filter into our systems. Those songs are seeping into our hearts. How can we listen to the words and not be influenced by them?

We are mistaken if we think these outlets of entertainment have zero effect on our interaction with members of the opposite gender. The more we feed on this monstrous, decaying cadaver the more we will see through the eyes of death. Likewise, when we feed from the grazing territories of God’s hope and truth, life abounds.  I’ve concluded it isn’t even worth it to intoxicate my spirit with the catchy tunes.

A healthy lifestyle takes some hard steps of self-control, 20/20 vision for people’s worth and a deeper respect for our spirits. We have to make some tough choices. There is junk food in each of us that must be eliminated. Take time to search out these frivolous time-consumers. It is almost unrealistic to go cold turkey on entertainment and all forms of media, but I highly respect anyone who aims for it. Some of us shifted things around a bit slower, we realized all this gorging on immoral media could create a throng of obese fakes. How can we expect God to speak to us if we are invading His temple with junk? We have to let go of this mindset: It’s all about me. My life, my choices, my rights. That life is short-lived, wasted, and meaningless in the end. We have an incredible chance to be a part of history: HIS-story. Our part can and will impact people. I would rather have the role of an extra in the greatest story ever told than the selfish star in a dull, rundown, typical story that lasts but a pencil prick compared to the space of time. Why waste away, wishing for excitement like the character of a favorite movie? Life is happening here and now. The adventure is right in front of us, beckoning us to join. We must lose some of the excess weight called entertainment. We need to run toward the finish line and claim the grand Prize. In Christ alone, my glory shines.

It may feel like a huge sacrifice to give up large quantities of Hollywood entertainment. It may even hurt a bit. But the unfathomable freedom and refreshment is worth it. The pain is a beneficial pain, like exercise. We persevere if we want results. We make right choices daily. It isn’t just a spring cleaning of the soul and then we’re done for the next six months. We can’t just throw out all the bad CDs, movies, magazines, TV shows one day and expect to check off the list of good deeds for the year. It takes daily discipline to keep our minds pure and our hearts fresh. The thoughts and dreams of our hearts will surely come out in our actions and behaviors. Whether some are going cold turkey or giving up one thing at a time, or just thinking of giving up depraved music, it will be out of love for Christ that any of us follow through and take the steps toward freedom. We obey because we love Him. We make wise choices because we want to please Him. He is HOLY, and we are His children. We are to represent Him. The only way we can do that is by living in the aperture of His Spirit. There is a soft and gentle conscience to be gained here. When our conscience is sensitive and sweet, purity will enfold us. And purity in heart is the ultimate goal because, “Blessed are those who are pure in heart for they shall SEE God,” –Matt. 5:8. Ready to catch a glimpse of God?

Music activates multiple regions of the brain which is why it has such a global impact on us. Our emotions, memory, immune systems, stress responses are affected by music. Let us reclaim this powerful outlet for God’s glory. He made everything and saw that it was good. Music, love, and words were created for God’s glory. Next time I listen to my favorite playlist I will do so with the glory of God in mind and a heart willing to give up anything for Him.

“I don’t want to talk about You like You’re not in the room.

I want to look right at You. I want to sing right to You.

…Give me undistracted devotion for only You.”

 –Misty Edwards, Dove’s Eyes


Control Freak

“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

Here we have the initial and lasting curse of woman. I wondered the meaning behind this punishment that affects all womankind. Desire in this context is not referring to the sexual kind. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a desire for sex. Why on earth would that be a punishment? God had already blessed Adam and Eve’s union and gave them the ability to delight in one another, “to be fruitful and multiply.” The interpretation comes from a Hebrew word to seek control. In essence it means, “You shall seek control over your husband.”

We want control. When we like someone, we let our emotions run rampant if the guy moves too slowly. We want things done a certain way. We see it playing out in our minds a lot quicker than it is in reality. Only God knows perfect timing. We can learn how to move in His timing when we listen to Him. Only He knows whether something should be set in motion with a relationship. It must be so hard for Him to see us walk blindly into a relationship that isn’t meant for us. I know my Father allows me to make choices-some with painful consequences. Sadly, some of those choices will affect others in the process. Ever since I read Song of Songs, one phrase was branded into my memory. No, it was not the thing about pillar legs and apple breasts. And we all thought pear-shaped women were imperfect. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, was all for it. Seriously, the phrase was: “Do not awaken love before its proper time.” This is important to note. It is relevant not only in the timing of godly relationships and the moments to pursue someone, but also for a potential relationship that won’t work out. It gives us time to get to know the other person and realize, ‘love’ is the last thing we want to awaken toward that person.

It may be painful. Some even go through withdrawals as an addict does. I can only paint you a limited view from my own experience. I choose purity over flesh time and time again. As a matter of fact, I still have to make those decisions daily. I am tempted faintly at times to turn my back on this stance and run reckless like any other girl. But I will always have the aftertaste of darkness in the back of my throat from bad choices: the angry outbursts, disloyalty to friends, and the kisses I handed out like sugarfree lollipops at a doctor’s office. I know better than to turn back and lick that bile off the ground. I’m not extra special. I’m not extra protected. My mistakes went against my heart’s standards. But what I consider major regrets the next girl might consider petty child’s play. I didn’t go off the proverbial deep end, but I saw many people who did. The conclusion is the same for every girl no matter the past.

It’s time to throw off the old ways of doing things! Redemption is here.

“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” –Ephesians 4:21-23.

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” –Ephesians 5:1-2.

Let us create and foster godly relationships so that all mankind will know to Whom we belong. Let the world see authenticity at its finest. There is power in our testimonies. I’m not saying that dating is wrong. I’m not saying celibacy is best, courtship is the healthiest method, or dowries and arranged marriages are the way to go. I believe wholeheartedly in relationships. I love having guy friends, crushes, and brother-types. I think it is crucial for us to spend time with guys and get to know them. There’s a right way and a wrong way. I know we all believe our circumstances are unique and we are the only ones going through that certain thing, but it’s not true. We’ve all experienced pain in many forms, love, lust, and even a bit of envy. Each of us goes on our own journey to find God and find out who we are, but I also know we could use a little guidance along the way. The challenges bring us closer to Christ and the blessings bring more people into our circles with which we share life, hope, and most importantly God’s love. Anything is possible with Christ on our side. It only takes one to start a revolution.


Eye On The Prize

We can’t live our lives based on a preemptive thought that marriage or boyfriends are in the near future. These and similar tracks only lead to discontentment in the present. There is nothing more depressing than living each day hoping for something else: a different life, different job, different self. By that, I don’t mean we can’t repent of sin and walk away from certain situations. We can always dream and ponder the next step. I live my life in complete wonder each day. I am amazed by God’s handiwork and His guidance. I’m amazed that He allows me to live at all, let alone in some of the most exotic places in the world.  It is so easy for us to get caught up in media and spendy, trendy fads. We’re always looking for something bigger and better. We lose sight of the small and priceless moments God has slipped into each moment of our lives. “My eyesight must be getting bad,” some may think, “because I’ve lost focus on the little things.” To those, life may be about the BIG things: the extraordinary moments, the accolades, the success, the money, the toys, the popularity, and the recognition. All of those big moments are meaningless without the small ones, without the contentment found in Christ and living for Him. We can never be satisfied by the amount of material wealth or human affection. True happiness, contentment, fulfillment, and security come from one place and one alone. He is the Author and Creator. He wrote this story we’re living in and He created the props. How can we spend so much time basking in the presence of the props when our Author has a story to tell through us? No matter how petty the simple tasks of day-to-day life seem and no matter how lonely we may be for a love story to transpire right now, nothing is worth the pain unless the Writer has penned it into the chapter. An example of this worthwhile pain is purity and taking a stand for our wholeness. It’s painful at times. I know from experience. Sometimes I get so impatient that I put hypothetical goggles on and start looking for “Mr. Right.” My standards get foggy, my self-control falters, my words and actions gain a note of flirtation, and every guy looks like Mr. Right. It’s painful to wait sometimes, but there is no comparison with the heart-wrenching consequences of sin. A guy can spill flattery from his lips that sounds or tastes sweet as honey, but the effects should do nothing more than make us nauseous. Relationships may start off hot and spicy, but often end with indigestion and reflux regret. Wisdom tells us to hold off no matter how attractive he is or how much our hearts flutter around him. We must work toward a genuine friendship with self-control intact. It is important to make sure his character is worthy of our admiration. Equally so, his goals are God-focused and his heart is strongly connected to the Lord’s. The idea of settling should repel us.

We don’t realize how each situation can mold our future. Each relationship affects us. Our hearts are continually shaped until the day we die. It is important to allow our hearts to be molded and changed through experiences. We are constantly becoming stronger and wiser people.

There’s nothing like hope. Hope is something that keeps us holding on in the midst of our hardest trials, in our deepest pits, in some of the most hurtful surroundings. Christ in me, the hope of the world. In all of life, no success story or super power can match that crucial piece of truth. Why would I worry about anything with the hope of the world wrapped snuggly in my heart? Contentment comes when we consider the truest meaning of life. It isn’t about who we marry, where we live, what career we choose. It’s about serving and glorifying God with every fiber of our beings.

“The Holy Spirit comes to bring glory to Christ and to bring results.” -Beth Moore


Meet Me In My Dreams

“I had a dream about you.”

Usually, this disconcerting line starts a very unhealthy conversation. I didn’t think anything bad would follow because the guy sharing was a respectable, older friend. “Want to know my dream?” Well, actually I didn’t and my insides screamed as much. But I was naïve and didn’t want to embarrass my friend, “Ok… I guess.” “You were wrapped in a white sarong, walking down the beach. When you saw me, you smiled so big my heart felt like it would burst. You walked toward me, hair flowing beautifully in the wind. When you reached me, YOU KISSED ME. We walked into the sunset holding hands.” Okay, Married Man, that will happen when pigs fly and elephants talk. Why on earth was he sharing this with me? I was speechless. And that gave him just the boost he needed to continue. “If I was twenty years younger, I would marry you in a heartbeat.” I’m sure he thought he was building my confidence. However, it had the opposite effect on me. I was appalled that my older friend would tell me such a gruesome dream. I wasn’t a home-wrecker. I didn’t want a time machine to warp him into his twenties. And I sure didn’t want to kiss him! That was a bad day for me.

“The tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” (James 3:6)

There are no neutral “heartfelt talks”, phrases, or words; all are hurdling in one of two directions. It is crucial for us to realize we are either speaking words of life or words of death over someone. It is up to us whether we are speaking out of selfless love for someone or selfish ambition. It is partially due to situations like the one above that have kept me in check. I am cautious when sharing my heart with people, especially members of the opposite sex. I continually allow this question to roll through my head, “Is this conversation beneficial for him?” Relationships are important and it’s essential for us to interact with one another in the most loving and edifying way. Like anything else, we learn through training. Christ petitions us to grow in love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, and self-control. All of these characteristics are integrated into every aspect of our lives. It is hard to know what an edifying relationship looks like in our world today. We all have trial and error moments. I’ve definitely had my fair share of them. That is why I am so adamant in this stance of day-to-day awareness. Self-control has been cast aside with morals, abstinence, and life-long commitment. Here’s what we can’t do; we cannot blame society for our behavior. Yes, it influences the decisions we make. But we are making personal decisions every day that affect the rest of our lives. We must live with consequences of bad choices and learn from them. We also grow through right choices. Each right decision we make in life brings us that much closer to God’s heart. He calls us to live righteously, to follow His Son’s example. Then the love of the Father will flow freely through us. Since all of life is about relationships, our success lies in how we progress from this point forward. Mistakes will occur, but it is for a desperate love of God that we not allow mistakes to become patterns. A garden can be beautiful, laden with flowers and ivy, trees and fruit. But when a weed takes up root, it quickly spreads and suffocates all the life from the garden. God cares about every part of our lives, especially relationships. And if we give Him the chance, He will teach us what real, lasting relationships look like. Take for example the awesome love expressed when He gave up His perfect Son in the most excruciatingly painful death. This was done for us, for our sins. What perfect love is this that He lay down His life for us? Now that is a love I want to mimic. Not the counterfeit version being practiced today that leaves hearts shattered throughout the earth in utter ruin. I am determined to imitate my life after His.


The Trap of Selfishness

“If I could speak all the languages of the earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” -1 Cor. 13:1

Go with the flow. The ambition of most is to keep up with popular trends and be socially acceptable. Unfortunately, our social evolution is a severe regression of the generation prior. It stems from evidence found in Genesis. This morning I read where Babylonians built a tower for themselves to magnify their greatness which was a blatant disregard for God. I’ve seen a mutation of this attitude run rampant in our culture today. All the girlfriends get together to complain about the men and this is the longstanding petition: “Think about yourself; what makes you happy?” As if all of life should be centered on our own happiness. This fickle emotion is fleeting. To base a relationship on happiness leaves many marriages in a tumultuous spin. It is becoming more common for relationships to end based on, “He doesn’t make me happy anymore.” Hear the selfishness dripping from that comment? No longer does, “Till death do us part” apply. Sadly, it would be more appropriate for those vows to be rewritten as, “Till I don’t feel like it anymore,” “Till it gets too hard,” or “Till I’m bored with you.” It devastates our morals and family values when divorce is such a quick and easy commodity. Why work at it if we can just turn him in for a newer, more exciting model? We put so much emphasis on what we can get out of the relationship. We can’t expect our relationships to look any different from those in the rest of society with this attitude.

First, it is selfish to base our relationships on what we get from the other person. There is another person—of equal value and importance—whose emotions and needs should be considered. He is loved by the Creator of the world; he is made in God’s glorious image. He deserves respect. How can we be so careless in these relationships? Are we leaving these guys better or worse at the end? We are accountable for how we interact in relationships. Each relationship is a gift. Learn from the opposite sex; see a different side of God’s character through that masculine being.

Second, it is unhealthy to be dependent in relationships. We can’t expect our partners to fulfill us. Some jump from relationship to relationship as frantically as possible to prevent an ounce of loneliness from seeping into their lives. We shouldn’t be afraid of being alone. Truth of the matter is that we are never alone (“I am with you always even to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:20b). It would be so beneficial for us to spend a good chunk of time evaluating break-ups and our attitudes. It is important to take time to heal from painful situations. It is not the next guy’s job to make us feel worthy.

What does God’s best look like? Of course it will be unique for each individual, but it will follow a set a guidelines God has created in order to protect us. We cannot simply fall into a right relationship; we bring the right relationship from our experiences. This relationship reflects the greatest relationship of all: Christ and His church. Christ gave Himself for the sake of others. The church responds for the glory of Christ. Both are selfless. What we learn from our personal relationships with God prepares us for personal relationships with people. In Him we find contentment, no matter the situation. In Him we find our confidence, our purpose, and our freedom. Everything we do centers around what we understand about God, ourselves, and the value of other people. If we don’t have a proper understanding of those things our relationships will continually crumble and fall short. It starts with understanding who God is. Only then can we understand ourselves and other people. God created each and every individual on this planet. He created all in His image and of equal value. If we could get past our selfishness we would treat others more like Christ has called us.

 “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

And this is just a taste. Christ is love. Inevitably, that means it starts with a concern for others… not our own happiness.


Relationships: Confusion Defused

I was sitting in a coffee shop enjoying the humor of my best guy friend. We were about to get on separate planes and lose each other’s delightful company for the next several months. Our laughter started to dissipate. Suddenly, I felt the temperature of our conversation change. He cleared his throat. I started to get nervous, having seen this scenario play out in previous friendships. I started to chew my wooden coffee stirrer into miniscule pieces. Subconsciously, I must have been chewing this stick into the shape of a weapon, ready to stab him for taking our quality friendship there. As he carried on, my mind was racing. Where was he going with his tirade of madness? I felt like I was in Spanish class and only catching every fifth word that was spoken. He mentioned something of appreciation for my friendship, personality, and relationship with God. I knew I needed to be patient and give him time to finish his thoughts. I also needed to gather my own before blurting out my defense which was coming to my mind in clumps at this point. I began to pray as he summed up his rabbit-hole, ‘round-the-bush escapade. He didn’t quite hit the mark he was going for by the time he finished. Truth be told, I had feelings for him that may have been deeper than friendship as well. I was terrified of messing up something so sublime by coughing up a crush-confession. Throughout the rant, I wondered if it was an ideal time to share. I sensed God say, “Now is not the time. Just wait.” When God and I have these conversations, I gain such a renewed boldness and patience in any situation. I chose to stay quiet. Apparently, he realized things weren’t clear to him either. He shrugged it off and said we would talk when he could think clearly. I teased him about his delivery and how we hadn’t established anything through that conversation, but deep down I was sighing with relief that he didn’t know how to address the relationship and I knew I wasn’t ready to face the music. As we parted ways, the greatest of friends, I felt very bonded to this man. I enjoyed his friendship immensely, but I knew something was changing for us. A few weeks after, I received the ill-fated email of affection and interest. By this point, I was more certain the answer was a negative for a deeper relationship. I sent a loving, but straight-forward response. We were just meant to be friends. Our lives began to drift apart. It was at this point I wondered, how close am I allowed to get in a friendship with guys? It seems to always end badly for one or the other party. Even if it is just a friendship, someone lets their guard down and opens up to emotions that go beyond friendship. I won’t put a black & white on this rule, but deeply personal friendships should probably be reserved for the same gender and one day, the spouse God brings into our lives. Profound friendships with guys, though fulfilling and appealing, can be dangerous. If not for us, then the guy-friend involved. One of the concepts of real love is when we allow the slow sacrifice of selfless love take precedence over the quick fix of emotional release or intimacy-building, opposite-gender friendships. Building close bonds can be unhealthy and distracting.

This begs the question; in the world of singlehood, how are those intimate friendships unhealthy? Even though we do not give our bodies to our guy friends, we still exchange pieces of our hearts with them. As deep friendships drift apart, I feel remorse for losing something so dear to me. I have a permanent reminder filed away in my brain for a rainy, lonely, dark moment when I am potentially at a weak spot in my faith. The reminder can twist the truth and tempt me to think I’m not good at relationships. I break hearts or get too close. “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts” (1 John 5:21). If anything pulls my attention away from God, why would I want to nurture it? I cannot leave any of the doors or windows of my heart open for Satan to sneak in and cause mayhem.

God writes our love stories. We can listen intently as He reads each chapter to us, or we can rush ahead, rip the book from His hands and try to decipher the coded script. This will only bring chaos and unnecessary pain. When I understand this about God, nothing takes too long. I gain a deep sense of peace that allows my heart to be comforted even when I feel I am being misunderstood by the world. There’s a deep sense that God will defend my honor, He will bring all things to light. When I walk in this peace, I am more sensible about relationships and conversations. I know that I need to be still at times and speak up at others. I know I need to comfort and encourage one minute, and possibly confront and admonish the next. We do all things in love when we walk in this peace, a sweet surrender of our lives to God.


Dark Coal To Shimmering Diamond

As important as it is to be attracted to our companion, it is equally important to be leery of the tantalizing lures of attraction. In almost every case where I liked a guy, something stood in the way of a relationship; whether age, religion, or marital status-all barriers I consider deal-breakers. But it is not easy to just turn off the switch of attraction. We have to be very careful of the emotions we allow into our daily thoughts and those with which we toy. An affair, pornography addiction, home-wrecker, and friends with benefits don’t just happen overnight.  The actions are dwelt upon in the mind and heart first. Attraction is only what we allow it to be. I won’t condemn attraction. I think it is important. But not all attraction is healthy and wholesome. We can’t just do whatever feels good. We can’t fall for just anyone our eyes deem worthy of our interest. Our emotions can have a voracious appetite for hapless victims. We must understand the importance of commitment and love so that we don’t allow our attractions to run wild and free for whomever they choose.

What do I do when he is dreamy AND eligible?

Many guys have made my heart skip a beat or two. I’ve learned the most exhilarating way of handling these feelings. Crushes don’t have to be disastrous cases with heart-wrenching endings. They can be fun and wholesome. When I have feelings for someone and catch myself thinking about him often, I have to heed caution: do I think about him more than I do about God? Am I more excited to spend time with him than I am with God? If the answer is yes then my heart is not in the right place. So I do the only thing my humanity can handle; I pray. Any time I start thinking about dreamy guy, I don’t fantasize or role play different scenarios in my head like a plot in a romance movie. Instead, I pray to God for the guy’s character to be strengthened, his future wife to be protected from impurity, his own heart to be protected from impurity, and his life to be a glorious example of God’s kind of man. The more I think of the guy, the more I pray for him. As I pray to the God of all creation, a shift takes place within my heart. It isn’t just giddy feelings when I think of the guy, now it’s excitement for his future. The extraordinary happens when God transforms so much of that crush into a true Christlike love. I am protective of the guy and want to even guard his heart from my own feelings. Any time thereafter when I’m interacting with him, I am mindful of what I say and do so that his heart is not manipulated into liking me. I learn to control the flirtation because I truly care about the guy and his best interest. If it is within God’s plan that the two of us are supposed to be together, it is going to be through a healthy foundation, not flirty actions and tons of teasing. I don’t want to manipulate my way into a relationship. As I’ve seen, those relationships usually don’t last and tend to result in turmoil and heart break.

Take this experiment for a spin. Try praying for your next crush every time you think of the person. Watch in amazement as God transforms a mere crush into pure and selfless love. It is invigorating. If and when the crush disintegrates, you will be so much freer not having experienced the freight train of emotions torturing your heart for the entirety of the crush.

When given the option of following my flighty emotions or my knowing spirit, I will choose spirit every time. I would much rather follow God’s truth in the matter than experience the heart ache of wrong choices due to frivolous feelings.


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