Tag Archives: redemption

Beyond The Pencil-Prick Life

The question should never be, “When will I meet that special someone?” Instead, this is the question we focus on: “Does my life exemplify Christ to the world?” Whether single or married, one fact remains true of all lifestyles: the safest place to be is in the will of God. If He allows us to enjoy the benefits of marriage for the next 50 years then we will do so within the boundaries of His will. If He gives us the freedom to spend our days as a single person then we shall lavish in the moments and spend our time for the Kingdom. Without Him, I am lost. With Him, I have all I need. So it isn’t a matter of finding someone, or being someone such as a girlfriend, a wife, or an old maid. It is a matter of fostering a right relationship with the King of all creation. After our 80+ years on this earth we will move on into eternity. Everything on this earth will fade in time. We will be taking nothing more than our spirits to heaven. We won’t have Mr. and Mrs. titles in heaven either. Whoever the godly man is that we marry is not the means to an end. He plays a part in God’s story as well. Our job in his life is to build him up and encourage him forward. Too often I hear single people swoon over marriage, “Oh! If only I was married… When I get married… Things will be different when I’m married…” It all sounds so final. All the “someday-when-I’m-married” stipulations will hold no bearing to the truth about marriage being a temporary, earthly example of Christ and His Bride. The ultimate relationship is with Jesus Christ. Not even death can separate that relationship. He is our first love. Meaning nothing should EVER take His place within our hearts. Even if we marry the greatest guy in the whole world, that relationship STILL falls short compared to our love relationship with Christ. We are not necessarily held responsible for whether or not we marry, but whether or not we fulfill our calling. It is that big. It is that crazy, wild, and adventurous. It will bring us to life like nothing else in the entire world. Our callings stimulate us and shape us into the representatives Christ has called us to be.

I’ve had some of the sweetest, most exhilarating moments with God. I’ve shifted away from the busyness of life to meet with Him in some of the most remote places where His beauty shines and His Spirit speaks softly. I am filled to the brim with unspeakable joy, peace, and the assurance of His security. He is ready to pour out His blessings and share His love at all moments throughout the day. The reason the moments happen less frequently than they should is because I get too busy. I misplace my focus and start building my little earthly kingdom or I get distracted by the shiny objects in this life. He fills my heart afresh every time I meet with Him. But it goes against my human nature to seek Him and please Him. My spirit and my flesh are at war all day every day. The more time I do spend in His presence, the stronger my spirit becomes and the more Christ becomes my sole focus. I know Satan can’t stand a powerfully selfless child of God. He subtly brings on the distractions. And before I know it, it’s been weeks and I haven’t had one of those awe-inspiring, soul-refreshing, spirit-awakening moments with God. We mustn’t let go of our first love. We cannot let ourselves get so busy we neglect that meaningful and life-transforming relationship. The way we treat Him is going to hold bearing on the way we treat our future men. Will we give our time to Him even in our busiest pursuits?

And when we come fully alive, we will encourage our significant others to become fully alive. The verses concerning two being better than one truly make this point: we can do marvelous things for the Lord as a single person, but when two people come together and pray into something and encourage each other along, build one another up, and step out into darkness together, they can light up the world. That’s why it is so important to make sure we are both chasing after the same goal. And the goal above all goals is to glorify God in everything we do. We find a guy with that same focus and we’ve found a treasure.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

What amazes me is that God is always moving. Even when I sleep, He continually originates desires and plans in my life to tug me along on His glorious and adventure-filled path. Everything in the universe is the story of God. God created all things to glorify Him. I want any role in the never-ending story of God. I want my life to shine a light on Him. I desire to bring GLORY to God in ALL I DO! And when we partake in this story-no matter our role-we get to participate in the glorious, heavenly after-party of God. We are allowed to come into His presence because Jesus Christ came to this miniscule planet to save us. He saved me. He rescued me. My life BELONGS to Him. I was made for Him-for His glory. That is such a jewel to possess. This life is NOT about me. It is about Him. What can I do with my pencil-tip-length of life to bring glory to His name?

Life. He is the way, the truth, and the LIFE. In Him, our spirits come alive.

 


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.


Flirtatious Fire

In the moment, when the heat of his breath is so close and hearts are beating a hundred miles an hour as if they could visibly pump right out of each chest, it is hard-if not impossible-to say no. If we wait until we are in a situation that begs to steal our purity, our stance is harder to take. In that moment, whether we want to be pure or not, our flesh is the loudest voice. The argument may go through our heads a dozen times, but the outcome is usually the same: “I don’t care what the consequences are, I can’t say no.” We hit the crossroads and don’t have the time to think through the situation with clarity. Our minds are clouded from good judgment. We can get into two different scenarios under this lack of discipline. Either it’s too hard to say no, or we come in contact with guys who won’t listen to our “no’s.”

I was in one such situation in my party days. My best girl friend and I went to her ex-boyfriend’s house. He and his roommate were looking for fun and she answered the call. I felt uncomfortable when I arrived, but doused the discomfort with alcohol and flirtation. My friend disappeared and I was stuck on the couch with the roommate. I was bored out of my mind and ready to leave. He was building his courage and attempting small talk. A few drinks later, he was showing me his room. Was it my naivety that kept warning bells from shooting off in my head? I walked in, looked around. It was ugly and cluttered. Suddenly, I’m pinned on his bed and he is trying to kiss me. Okay, now the warning bells are working. Pop, pop, crack—they’re going off like firecrackers and my mind is racing for a quick get-away. I pushed with all my strength, but he must have been a wrestler in his earlier years because I was immobilized. My legs weren’t working, but my voice was growing louder and sterner by the second, “Get OFF right now! This is not funny and I am NOT going to sleep with you. If you do not get up, I will hurt you.” This may have been more convincing if my voice wasn’t shaking and my breath coming out in labored clumps from his weighty pressure. When he just laughed at my command, hope waned momentarily. But I’m fighter. Finally, I got a hand free and shot my fist into his throat. Cough, choke, sway… this was my chance. I squirmed free just in time to get his elbow in my eye. I took two steps back and bluffed with a fighting stance. I had one chance to connect with his face and show him that I meant business. Adrenaline thundered through my bloodstream and anger rallied toward this obnoxious creature in front of me. I saw a look of uncertainty in his eyes and took my shot. By now we’re both a bit bloody but finally at a truce. I grabbed my friend and we went home. That was my first–and hopefully last–black eye from a guy. If we play with fire we WILL get burned.

When we “harmlessly” flirt with someone just for the sake of flirting we open the door to trouble. I had no attraction for this guy. I was bored and he was the only available target for my entertainment. Playing the game of flirtation is not pure in the least. It is not fostering godly relationships, nor is it protecting the hearts of others. There is such a power trip to flirtation and the attention it ignites. It gives us a false sense of control. We call the shots, we draw the lines. So we assume “purity” is just about holding a V-card, but it is more than that. We must be aware of our surroundings and refrain from our dance around the fire.

Even though I don’t know the painful memories of a sexual encounter, I do realize that whatever tactics Satan has used on me when I’ve fallen short of my standards are increased and intensified for a girl who feels as though she’s lost her greatest gift: her virginity. Often, the stories I hear from girls who gave their virginity away and had their hearts broken, felt they had nothing left to protect so they continued the pattern of sleeping with boyfriend after boyfriend. It is hard to protect what you fear is lost. I did that with my first kiss. After that, I kissed a lot of people because I had already missed the goal of saving that kiss for the altar. I cannot imagine the pain some have gone through after losing their virginity. But here is where redemption shines through the hopelessness. No matter what we’ve done we cannot give up! With God on our side, our sins are washed away, our slate is wiped clean, and our garments are made as white as snow. Redemption gives us a story to tell with a brave and joyful ending. Redemption gives us the strength to say no and to respect ourselves enough to break the cycle and live righteously. “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it” (James 4:17). We can start over at any point in our lives. We cannot continue to sin with the expectation that God will forgive us later when we decide to repent. “Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies” Hebrews 10:26-27. It is a serious issue when we sin while knowing it is sin. We have a freedom in Christianity that no other religion allows: freedom of choice. We don’t serve our Master out of fear or condemnation. We serve Him out of love. “We love because He first loved us.” He taught us how to love when He gave up His life for us. We live righteously because we want to be more like Christ. He said, “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” He isn’t just Master anymore; He is Savior and Friend.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”  -Isaiah 1:18

 

It is there for the asking. And the Spirit will always make a way of escape. Always!

 


Hi! I’ll Take An STD To Go, Please!

“I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.” –Ezekiel 36:26-27

I went into a doctor’s office and saw a sign on the wall stating as many as one in two sexually active young people will contract an STI/STD by age 25 and most won’t even know it. Wait a minute! Let’s take a quick second to break that down. That means if I am a young person who does NOT have an STD currently, I just need to have sex with one person. Because one in two means if I don’t then he probably does. According to the Center of Disease Control, half of the estimated 19 million sexually transmitted infections that are reported each year are of the age group below 25 years. If the above poster is remotely true, then the statistics we may read about STDs are only reporting a percentage of the actual cases. Many people have STDs and don’t know it. There are three options here. Option 1: we close our eyes and go on a comfortable and sexually experimental path, like the obvious majority. Option 2: we gain a greater awareness and learn to practice physically safe sex, well until some fall into the unfortunate few that experience a casualty the “safe” way. Or option 3: the safest sex is no sex until marriage. This is also the only emotionally safe sex. Option 2 does not eliminate the emotional damage and heart break that always come from sex outside of marriage.

Before anyone can make a conclusive decision, let us delve into each notch in the spectrum. The more knowledge we have the more appropriate our choices will be. Each person is responsible for their own actions, and their own life. I respect people’s choices, but I also love people too much to stay silent concerning the truth. Now, I’ve heard some radical stances on courtship. Perhaps it is a surprise to hear, but I’m not on THAT end of the spectrum. I neither promote courtship nor do I support dating in its fullest capacity according to current society.

As time passes, darkness floods into all facets of our world. It is crazy what we may see when we turn on the television or saunter by the magazine stand, or the tone of obscenities we may hear coming from the two ten-year-olds in line behind us. We need to be aware of what is going on around us. As Christians, we cannot look the other way or close our eyes to society’s behaviors and expect to walk away unharmed. Be in the world, but not of the world, Jesus says. We can’t hide from it, but we can’t join in and justify with the typical line, “Well, everyone’s doing it.” That doesn’t work when we stand before the Throne. We will be held accountable. God loves us too much to let us walk through life blindly.

I love hearing the stories of women walking in purity. I am elated by the choices they make. If anyone has slipped up, gotten off track, or turned their back on purity for a time, I’m sitting in that circle, too. I have been in some rough patches. I have slipped up on my standards. The beautiful note here is that God has not given up on any of us. It is for that reason I stand here today with some sore spots and a pure promise. For the bad choices I’ve made in life, I’ve been forgiven. The memories are reminders of how gracious my Father in Heaven is and how He has protected me along the way even when I stepped off His ordained path. I’d like to think my pain can help guide others in the decisions they will make concerning relationships. It isn’t worth it to walk in the footsteps of the world. The world makes it look fun sometimes, but it only fosters pain and discontentment. Each selfish step is one step closer to death.

“For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5)


A Dive Into Darkness

In the struggle to find my identity, I danced around Satan’s raging fire. I will never be able to shake the remorse that comes from mistakes I made in my early adulthood. On a good day, I thank the Lord for His grace. On a bad day-when I am weak-I am haunted by faces and memories. I am appalled by my own behavior, actions, and choices which led to a whirlpool of darkness. It does not seem bad when we are in the midst of it all. It is thrilling and wild. The attention is flattering. But as we walk away, more empty than ever, we have a new gash in our hearts and another smudge on our reputations. Even still, some of those nightmares will resurface in the next chapter of our lives.

James was my go-to guy. I was safe with him and we always had fun. One night, I went on a double-date with another guy and remember thinking, “I wish James was here. Hey! I’ll just call him and get him to join us.” When I look back, I cringe at this disastrous approach. Nonetheless, I proceeded. The date was going so wrong and I could tell this guy was way more into me than I was him. The other three were having such a good time they decided the night must continue with a star-gaze, night-picnic. I excused myself while the planning went underway and made the call. To my delight, James would be there within the next few hours-which was how long it took him to drive to my location. My knight in shining armor! All the while, other-dude had no idea his date was about to abandon him. I have no excuses for being a coward back then. Just as our picnic began, James showed up. The dismal look on the other guy’s face still pricks my heart. But I was selfish and cowardly and I took my leave, offering a handshake of friendship to my poor date. For the oddest reason, he did in fact take me up on a friendship and became a great friend to me… for a while… before he proposed. I’ll save that story for another post.

James was just a great guy. He would do anything for me. He wasn’t a Christian, but respected my stance. He was just nice enough that I waivered a few standards. Just because a guy has the label of a “good guy” doesn’t ensure our purity. Even good guys can be selfish. Likewise, Christian girls can be as well. Including me. James randomly made an appearance in my life years later. It brought up a thousand selfish memories from our college days. A battle took place in my mind that was so strong I felt ill to my stomach. I knew I was forgiven. But the pain that washed over me from the mistakes I had made so long ago ripped through my heart and gnawed on my spirit. My mistakes consisted of passionate kisses and groping hands. That may not seem like the worst of deeds, but to me those actions were overstepping. Everyone has a different relationship tolerance. Mine was extremely low and I believed kissing that got too crazy was unhealthy behavior for me and unwholesome for the guy. Some have experienced a greater level of the affection train; that doesn’t make anyone a hopeless cause or a hard case.

Our redeemed hearts are what matter and how we take each step into purity. We’ve got to get past the idea that purity only involves sex. It’s so much deeper than an act. It begins in the heart.

We can’t waste our hearts without wasting our lives. “For as the heart is either pure or corrupt, so is the whole course of a man’s life.” (Prov. 4:23)

Though I have tasted the darker side and faced the consequences, I cannot possibly regret my decisions because they have brought me to the place I am today-fully aware of both sides of the track. It is not my desire to keep anyone from living life to the fullest. I advise against tempestuous behavior because I know the pain involved and I only wish to prevent others from facing some of the same foolish difficulties. I am sure we will all make our own risky choices, but I pray they do not involve the realm of purity. I have a greater appreciation for purity and wholesome relationships since I have experienced the opposite. And with the age-old saying (which still stands true), I wish I knew then what I know now [without having learned the hard way]. It would be great to learn the lessons without experiencing the pain of bad choices. I wish I had the appreciation for purity before I looked in the wrong places for adventure and fulfillment. I am wiser now-not because I learned the hard way-but because of what I am doing with the knowledge I have. We are all responsible for what we do with the knowledge we’ve been given.

God created us to live wild and free. We can have these qualities without stepping outside of God’s will. The world has taken the word ‘wild’ away from Christians and turned it into something bad and dark. But I will argue the fact that God Himself was wild. He did not follow religious rules and regulations or fall prey to the hypocrites. He was not susceptible to their manipulation. He did the Father’s will which allowed Him to turn water into wine, calm raging seas in the midst of their great tantrum, revive a corpse of rotting flesh to brilliant life, and give all hopeless and unworthy beings a second chance. He is wild in so many ways, but all His ways are pure and holy.

Whatever we have done, nothing is too big for God to forgive.


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