A Guy You Can Brag About

Heads up: this is not a bait-and-switch, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend post.  When I say “a guy you can brag about,” I’m talking about an actual, physical, human guy in the 21st century that you can hold hands with.  Girls, this is practical advice on how to lead your heart when looking for the kind of guy you want to be with.

The kind of guy everybody else is jealous of.

The kind of guy you can be proud of and want to scream to the world at the top of your lungs that HE’S THE BEST.

But it still might look a little different than you’re expecting.  It came as a surprise to me when the realization hit me like a bucket of ice water, because it can be a little disconcerting, but it’s a vital concept to hold onto as you mature and begin to see the beauty in it.

In middle school and high school, sometimes in college, and for some misguided women, their entire lives, girls tend to be drawn to the “bad boys.”  I know this is a concept heavily debated between bitter nice guys in the “friend zone” and girls who insist that they don’t like the bad boys.  But, for the most part, the guys are right.  We like the bad boys.

If you think about the popular guys in your school — the ones everyone wants to be with — what makes them so amazingly cool?  If you were dating one of them, what kinds of things would you want to brag to your friends about?  Take a moment and write down some reasons.  Then see if any of these are among them:

Everybody’s after him.

He doesn’t care what anybody thinks.

He’s tough and strong.

He does whatever he wants, and his parents let him.

He’s like an unattainable god.

He’s so mysterious.

He drives 120 mph with the sunroof open and it’s AWESOME.

He’s the life of the party and can handle more alcohol than anyone else.

He manages to sneak out at night while your parents are lame and make it impossible to escape the prison of your room.

He’s proud, spirited, passionate, spontaneous, and an attractive dose of just plain cocky.  Don’t say it’s not attractive, because it totally is.

5939227-portrait-of-a-beautiful-brunette-woman-shouting-through-megaphoneWe’re drawn to these people, and we can’t help it.  The heart wants what the heart wants, right?  There’s this undeniable attraction that we can hardly describe or define.  We just know that he’s the one we dream about, the one who makes our hearts pound in our chest, the one we would do anything to be with because he’s so exciting.  We want to tell everyone about him, because he’s what everyone wants.  And if by some miracle he can be ours, we’ll be shouting it with a megaphone to crowds of bitter rivals.

But here’s the thing: it’s a temporary, immature attraction, and the heart can be deceived.  They tell you to live for today, but if you do, you won’t be prepared when tomorrow comes.

While you’re attracted to these guys now, it’s never too early to start thinking about what you want in a guy long-term.  What do you want out of a marriage?  What do you want your family to look like?

Pause for just a minute and think of one of those guys.  Got one in your head?  Can you picture him?  Now I want you to briefly sketch out your life.

Picture yourself walking down the aisle.  How do you feel?  What emotion is on his face?

Think about your honeymoon.  Will he make you feel loved, treasured, and adored as his bride?  Or will he act like a typical guy?

How will you spend your evenings together?

Imagine having your first child.  Is he ready for that responsibility?

What if there’s a dream you want to pursue?  Will he support you, or leave you high and dry to pursue his own?

The bad boy thinks only of himself, and for some reason, that’s sexy.  But when you have goals of your own and you need your partner’s support, only to have him do his own thing and never care about your ambitions — that’s a little less sexy.

When the bad boys sneaks out at night during high school to go party, it’s so wild and rebellious and attractive.  But when you’re alone in bed at night because the same boy has expertly snuck out to be with another woman — well, it’s not attractive anymore.

When he’s tough and doesn’t care about anything, the thrill of the chase makes you want him desperately.  But when there comes a day that your world is falling apart and you’re in tears, sensitivity and comfort are what you’ll want desperately.  It won’t be so attractive then for him to shrug you off.

When he disrespects his parents, it’s oh so bold and independent.  But one day when you need him to man up and take responsibility and he says “to heck with you” — suddenly it means something very different.

All these girls that you know now — your friends with whom you dream and flirt and live life and brag that the popular boy talked to you in the hall — statistically speaking, most of them will live through heartbreak and divorce and miserable marriages, all because they followed their heart.  They lived for today, but when tomorrow came, it found them brokenhearted and alone, hoping their three small children couldn’t hear them crying themselves to sleep.

And if you’re with a gentle, patient, steady man who loves you faithfully and unconditionally, you’ll be the one with a megaphone.  You’ll be bragging to everyone that he loves you and only you.  You’ll be boasting that he works hard at a job that he hates so that you can feel secure, and then comes home and changes the lightbulbs you can’t reach.  You’ll tell everyone that he understands you and holds you and talks with you.  You’ll shout from the rooftops that you never feel ashamed, afraid, or inadequate because even though he’s too good for you, he never makes you feel that way.

And by then you’ll be the one everyone envies.  You’ll have the man every other woman wants — a man you can brag about.  Do yourself a favor.  Wait for him.

A word to the nice guys: I know how frustrating it is that girls are drawn to the bad boys.  I’m truly sorry that that’s the way it is.  But please, please, don’t change.  The same principle applies to you: don’t just live for today.  Look at the future.  Be the man who treats your girl with respect and makes her feel safe and honored and special.  Set your goal to have a marriage that not only lasts, but is absolutely amazing.  There will be a girl out there who desperately wants what you have to offer, who wants to brag to her friends about you, who wants to be the kind of woman worthy of your love.  Do yourself a favor.  Wait for her.

Intergenerational Ministry: a Snapshot

Much of my undergraduate ministry training under Dr. Walter Surdacki has focused on the concept of intergenerational ministry, and integrating the youth of the church back into fellowship with adults.  One thing that I love about Dr. Surdacki — and something that kind of drives me crazy, too — is that he doesn’t always give us practical solutions.  He just makes us wrestle with a difficult concept.  I always have to work through it asking, “This is great, but how in the world can it practically work?”  Because I’m passionate and impulsive, I want everything to be fixed right now, but this can’t always be the case.  I’ve had to learn to slow down, translate the technical jargon into life application, and implement it little by little.  Volunteering with the youth group at Grace during my time in college has been such a valuable experience for multiple reasons, but also because it provides me with a way to put into practice what I’m learning.  These concepts aren’t packed away in a dusty notebook as intangible theology or ‘someday’ ideas.  I get to use them now, and while the ideas are still fresh in my mind, they become a part of my ministry that I build on as I go.

So I want to share with you one practical way I recently put the concept of intergenerational ministry into practice.  For a while now, I’ve been wanting to do something with my girls outside of church to spend some time bonding in a more chill atmosphere.  So I started planning my first subversive intergenerational attack: a movie night for the moms and girls.  The girls may have been a tiny bit less than thrilled when I told them their moms were invited, but it actually turned out great.

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It was hosted by one of our moms, Joanne Kraft (also a gifted writer — check out her facebook page here), and we ended up having 10 girls and 5 moms.  Joanne had thoughtfully provided quite the smorgasbord of cookies and popcorn and all sorts of snacks, so we had a very pleasant time hanging out and grazing.  We watched the movie Leap Year, a predictable but cute romantic comedy that of course ends with the girl leaving her personality-less fiance for the sarcastic and oh-so-cute Irishman.

After the movie, we had some open discussion about it:  What did you not like about her fiance?  What did you like/not like about the other guy?  She was kind of a diva — if you were a guy, would you have married her?  What do we learn from that about what kind of women we want to be?  I read from Proverbs 31 and its male counterpart, Job 31, and we talked about what a relationship would look like between two people who are totally focused on God.  Then I asked the moms to share some of their stories, which was powerful.  Here’s a very brief summary of the 5 in their diversity:

1) Married out of high school and divorced young before she met the Lord, but then married a godly man, and has a beautiful family.

2) Saved her first kiss for marriage!!

3) Knew that her husband was The One long before he did.

4) Just recently came to know God in the last couple of years and, while dealing with the pain of a broken family, wants her daughter to make better choices than she did.

5) Met her future husband on a mission trip and prayed that God would find him a good wife, unknowingly praying for herself!

yeah, I don't really have an explanation for this -- crazy youth minister stereotype

yeah, I don’t really have an explanation for this — crazy youth minister stereotype

From there we just had some random discussion, from crazy proposal stories, to girls asking questions, to moms giving advice and sharing their wisdom.  It was so fantastic.  And even greater — I hardly saw a single cell phone out.  They were all totally engaged in the discussion — because when a woman obviously in love starts telling the story of her romance, she’s cool even if she is a mom.  Instead of distinguishing between “girls” and “women,” it was more an atmosphere of “We’re all women in different stages of life with different things to share, walking the same journey together.”

It was a great opportunity for the girls to see their moms in a different way, to spend time in community in a more relaxed atmosphere than church, and for the moms to get to know each other and encourage one another on this journey of parenting middle school girls.  And it was a huge blessing to this girl’s heart to see how God is working in the lives of my group of beautiful and precious young women.

Ironically enough, I didn’t manage to get a picture with the girls and moms together, so this totally contradicts the point of this post, but here’s a picture of me and my girls:

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Paradigm Shift

Throughout the years, culture changes result in paradigm shifts.  It always takes a generation or two to assimilate to the change, but once it happens, future generations look back and wonder how their ancestors could have been so short-sighted, how they could have given into cultural expectations that clearly go against God’s standard.

The truth is, we all wear glasses that filter out the colors of racism and oppression and prejudice and even murder — we know they exist, but we don’t see them as a part of what we do.  It’s surprisingly easy to rationalize whatever it is that our culture deems okay — and in some cases, even to support it by Scripture.  Our glasses are great at proof-texting while filtering out the larger context.  Sadly, our humanity makes us literally incapable of removing ourselves from the culture enough to see the true horror of what we do.  Perhaps the saddest part about this is that very few Christians are actually a set-apart people of the Word.  They are products of their culture who interpret their religion based on their preconceptions.

Think about slavery.  Living in our current culture, several generations removed from the oppression of slavery, we’re horrified at the thought of it.  But in the pre-Civil War era, it was perfectly acceptable to own another person; it made perfect sense to them.  It was necessary for the economy, and probably even better for the welfare of the slaves themselves.  Scripture even condoned slavery.  They had no concept of what it would be like not to own slaves: how would they get dressed in the mornings? how would they harvest cotton? how could they live without this crutch they so heavily depended on?  So because they knew no different, life continued as normal until slavery was abolished, the societal structure was reset, and the cultural paradigm shifted.  And the world did not end.  People learned to live without their crutch.

Even after abolition, though, the Jim Crow laws were nearly as bad.  Today, as we live and work alongside our African-American friends, we ask how in the world they could have been arrested for drinking out of the wrong water fountain.  Our minds literally cannot grasp such a thing; but back then, they couldn’t grasp how it could be any other way.

Think about women’s rights.  The oppression of women stemmed from the southern ideal of “true womanhood” — a woman was the prized possession who needed to stay at home and stay out of public affairs.  As this mentality took over southern culture, it too was given religious affirmation: Paul said women should remain silent, so this made sense.  Never mind the examples of women teaching and prophesying and leading in Scripture.  The cultural glasses expertly edit that out.  Here’s just one example of this mindset, from R.C. Bell, from the publication The Way in 1903: “Woman is not permitted to exercise dominion over man in any calling of life.  When a woman gets her diploma to practice medicine, every Bible students knows that she is violating God’s holy law…God forbids her to work in any public capacity…She is not fitted to do anything publicly.”  However, in the late 19th and early 20th century there was more of a move toward gender equality and women’s suffrage.  With this paradigm shift, people began to realize that the world actually wouldn’t end if women taught school and pursued education and a career.  They were right.  It didn’t.  Now we can’t even fathom the sort of mindset that would forbid women to vote just because they are women.

Think about Jesus’ death at the hands of the Jews.  Their cultural expectation was of a political Messiah who would restore the kingdom to Israel.  Jesus was obviously not that, so He was a blasphemer.  We wonder how they could have been so stupid, but let’s face it: if we were in their shoes, growing up with the same preconceptions,

we too would have shouted, “Crucify!”

Even think about the Holocaust.  It was presented as being a good idea — rid the world of minorities, and the handicapped, and those who were a burden to society, to let the master race emerge.  We wonder how in the world people could have been okay with the mass slaughter of millions of innocent people in the name of a superior social structure.

Kinda makes you wonder how in the world people can be okay with the mass slaughter of millions of innocent people in the name of a woman’s right to choose.

You see, we can’t help getting swept into the stream of culture.  These mindsets become so deeply ingrained as a part of who we are, that we can’t imagine life any other way.  In every generation there are a few who dare to dream of things being different, and these are the ones who change the world.  But for the most part, we’re a sad lot of mindless cattle following the herd.  Generations from now, what will our descendants say about us in disbelief and disgust?

How could they have been so wasteful with their resources?”

How could they have tried to ‘fix’ gay people?”

How could they have thought it was okay to abort a baby?”

For one moment, try to take off the glasses and ask these questions.

It’s so hard for us to imagine what life would be like without our cultural mindsets, but the truth is, Jesus called us to look beyond the comfortable.  To think outside the box.  To travel the narrow and difficult road.  This is precisely why so few are able to enter the Kingdom: it’s freaking difficult to find.  I think it’s much harder than we’ve assumed all these years.  Living Kingdom life requires that we take a good hard look at “the way we’ve always done it.”  We have to ask the difficult questions and upset the status quo if we are to be truly not of this world.  Living this way is offensive to the world, because we stand against the tide of culture.  This is why early Christians were martyred: they were seen as a threat to the social system and the established order.  Have you ever wondered why we fit in so well these days?  Because we love our culture.  We immerse ourselves in it.  The media, the consumerism, the politics.  As Pastor Steve Berger once said, “If we’re not being persecuted, it’s because we don’t look enough like Christ to a Christ-hating world.”

There are so many sincere Christians who have been led astray by the incremental deception of Satan as he infiltrates our churches with cultural values.  We’ve accepted Christ, but our lives look no different.  And we’re the ones losing, we’re the ones missing out on what the world could be.  Instead of bringing the Kingdom to earth, we’re promoting our own kingdom.  We’re living in our story instead of His.  When Jesus comes again, will He look at our castles in the sand and say “Well done, good and faithful servant?”  Or will He have to clear His temple of its cultural bias?

Jesus compared the Kingdom to hidden treasure for a reason.  If we can’t listen for the still small voice in a world that clamors for its agenda, if we can’t see past the filthy lens of our culture-colored glasses to defend the marginalized and the oppressed and stand for Kingdom values, then we’re no better than any of the generations before us.  We’re no better than the ones who crucified Christ.

God, grant us forgiveness for our blindness and syncretism.

A Beautiful Guy In the Image of a Beautiful God

In my life, I have met three men whom I could only describe as beautiful.  I couldn’t really think of any other way to describe them — handsome wasn’t exactly what I was talking about.  They were just stunningly, unbelievably, breathtakingly beautiful.  Here is how I described one of them: “In him, God has created a masterpiece.  It’s not just his looks — it’s everything about him.  It’s the depth in his eyes when he’s thinking.  It’s the way his heart shows in his actions.  It’s the way he responds to God in worship.”

Beauty has become a descriptor which we attribute only to women, or to delicate and feminine things like flowers and sunsets and snow.  We don’t typically think of men being beautiful…

…or two perpendicular beams of blood-stained wood…

…or the God that died there.

But one day I was reading Psalm 27 and noting all the characteristics of God that were mentioned.  I paused for a moment when I came to verse 4 — “that I may gaze on the beauty of the Lord.”  God? Beautiful? I had to think about this.  In a world where “beauty” is constituted by a sexy body and eyeliner and perfect hair, I wasn’t sure how to process what it really meant as a description of God.

But as I thought about it, I remembered God’s declaration of His creation: “It is good.”  It was…beautiful.  Because God created beauty, I realized, maybe He’s the only One who knows what it really means.  Maybe beauty is some kind of mysterious, intangible concept, inseparable from the reality of being fashioned by the hand of a beautiful God.  Maybe beauty is simply the quality of being made in His image.  Maybe beauty is everything God is, and everything He desires us to be.

This began to make sense to me as I thought about the three guys.  The first time I ever thought a guy was beautiful was when I saw a picture of him holding a baby goat.  Kinda random, but there was something about the gentleness and simplicity of it that was attractive.  The second time I thought a guy was beautiful, it was a pretty ordinary setting, but a powerful moment.  He was sitting on a couch across the room from me during a time of worship, and his faraway gaze happened to catch my eye.  It was like that line from the Benjamin Francis Leftwich song, “I know if I find what you hide in your mind, I’ll get lost in it.”  There was something beautiful going on behind that contemplative gaze.  The third time I thought a guy was beautiful, he was literally on his knees on the ground crying out to God.  It was so raw and…well, beautiful.  However, the word “beautiful” has never crossed my mind for a shallow, lazy, or arrogant guy.  Ironically, I never find guys attractive when they try to prove their worth or impress girls.  Beauty comes from who they are in the little moments, when the rest of the world is forgotten.

Last Wednesday when I was leading small group, my junior high girls and I were talking about the description of Jesus in Revelation 1 and the unlikely aspects of beauty.  I briefly shared with them about the concept of beauty being the image of God, and one of the girls commented, “I think it’s so beautiful to see a guy worshiping with his eyes closed and hands raised, not caring what anybody else thinks of him.”  Several other girls agreed: “Seriously, the most unattractive thing ever is when a guy thinks he’s too cool to be in love with God.”

Thinking about all of this, I came to realize what “beautiful” really means:  Guy or girl, we are beautiful when we become what we were created to be and do what we were created to do.  When we can return to the ideal for which God designed us, when we realize our full potential as His creation made in His image…that is when we truly attain beauty.  Beauty is in the intricate workings of the mind, in creative expression, in a surrendered heart, in unconditional love.  Beauty is in everything that reflects the very heart of God.

Girls, two lessons for you here:  first, beauty isn’t what the world tells you it is.  They distorted the definition.  They got it wrong.  Chasing after things that will make you attractive by the world’s standards only draws you away from true beauty.  Chase after God and His beauty, and when you become the woman He designed you to be, that is when you are truly radiant.

Second, never marry…or date…or give a second thought to a guy who doesn’t have beauty that takes your breath away.  They’re few and far between; in 20 years, I’ve only met 3.  But trust me, you want a man who is seeking God’s highest potential for him, and a man who will amaze you for the rest of your life.

Wait for a beautiful man, in the image of a beautiful God.

Ribbet collage

On Sex and Emotional Consequences

“He was the only guy I’ve ever really loved,” she told me, tears sparkling in her eyes. “He cared about me more than anyone else ever has.”

“No, he didn’t,” I answered. “He treated you like crap, and you know it. Why in the world would you go back to him?”

“Because…there’s not anyone else for me. He’s the One. It’s like we’re meant to be.”

I sighed. “Did you have sex with him?”

“What does that have to do with anything?!”

“She” represents far more than just one girl; I’ve had this conversation more times than I would like to.  I can always tell when a girl has slept with a guy because it shows in the aftermath of the breakup when her heart is shattered and she’s desperately holding onto the past.

Girls, listen to me, and listen close.  Sex is not something to play with.  It has serious emotional consequences because it was designed to bind you to one person, for life.  And even though it’s abused and mistreated and taken lightly, it still serves its purpose.  Even when a relationship is broken off, that ghost of an emotional bond will always be there to haunt you.  The hurt runs deep, because you will never really forget your “first love.” Even if you convince yourself it wasn’t a big deal…it’s still a big deal.  Even if you’ve numbed yourself to the pain of loss, it’s still there.

Vulnerability creates strong emotional ties to people.  When we share with others our deepest hopes and dreams, fears and failures, we share something unique with them because they’ve seen a part of us that very few others have seen.  Why else did we love to play Truth or Dare with friends late at night when we were in middle school…especially in mixed company?  Because somehow, it changed the dynamic of relationships.  When you share intensely personal things, you come away thinking, “Oh my gosh, we’re like best friends now,” when really, you still hardly know each other.  You’re not just playing a game with your friends; you’re playing a game with your feelings by sharing too much.  Our innermost thoughts and feelings, the things that are closest to our hearts, should be shared with someone we trust; they shouldn’t be shared to create a shallow sense of trust.  Be careful when you share pieces of your heart, because you may not get them back.

Sex makes us more vulnerable than any Truth or Dare game, especially if it’s the first time.  As women, we struggle a lot with body image, so when we expose ourselves physically, we’re also exposing ourselves emotionally big time.  You’re revealing everything you are, and giving them everything you are.  And when a guy accepts us, with our insecurities and imperfections, it makes us feel valued and validated.  But you have to realize that any guy who tries to pressure you is not out to make you feel valued. When you ignore that fact, there’s an emotional disconnect where you think he cares about you far more than he actually does.  And he can lie to you, cheat on you, treat you like crap and make you feel worthless, and you still can’t get over him, because in your mind there was a “connection.”

Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t.  It’s not worth the emotional heartache, the long lonely nights of regret and “what if” and waiting for him to come back around when there was never anything real to hold the relationship together.  It’s not worth crying yourself to sleep asking what went wrong, when maybe you were never right for each other in the first place.

If that’s a mistake you’ve already made, know that it’s time to move on.  Yes, even from him — the very guy you’re thinking about.  You’ll never find healing by holding onto the past; it’s not coming back.  Stop waiting and start living; give Christ the pieces of your broken heart and let Him make something truly beautiful out of it.

so I had this dream…

Sometimes, God sends you those dreams, you know? Where He really needed to show you something that you could only understand by feeling it and experiencing it… experiencing Him. And what He showed me last night was probably the most powerful dream I’ve ever had, and I just wanted to share it with you.

So I had just stepped out of the shower, wrapped in a towel, with wet stringy hair. True to real life, I immediately began to critique and criticize my appearance. Looking down at my feet, I thought, “I really need to paint my toenails.” I tip-toed across the floor to the sink and looked closely in the mirror. “I need to pluck my eyebrows, too…and why am I breaking out? Ugh.” I reached for my makeup bag, scattering dozens of little brushes and containers across the sink.

And then in the mirror, I saw Him behind me. I’m not sure what He looked like, but I knew it was Him. He wrapped His arms around me and held me tight. I caught my breath. It had been so long since I had felt a touch like that, so different from just any guy. There was no hint of inappropriate desire to make me feel uncomfortable. I felt only safe, and in that moment I knew I never wanted anyone but Him, never wanted anyone else to touch me because this was real, this was pure, and every other touch was tacky and cheap in comparison.

I wanted to relax in His arms, but common sense told me it was time to get ready for the day. I wiggled away and reached for my foundation to smooth my complexion and my tube of concealer to take care of the random stress breakout. “Don’t look at me yet,” I laughed, half hoping He wouldn’t obey.

He didn’t, of course. We stared into the mirror together. He gently touched the side of my face. “Are you ashamed of this?” He asked in disbelief. I wasn’t sure how to answer.

He stepped back, hands on my shoulders, looking me over, eyes straying to the smear of blood on my knee where I had nicked myself shaving. He bent down on one knee, tenderly wiping away the welling red droplets. He looked up at me, His tender eyes confused. “You make yourself bleed trying to be beautiful? Don’t you know I bled to make you beautiful?”

Again, I was speechless. He didn’t say anything more, just stood and took me in His arms again — and for perhaps the first time in my life, I let myself be held without worrying, without being afraid, without trying to control anything. I knew, somehow, that I was perfectly understood, perfectly accepted, and perfectly loved.

Published in: on May 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Big Picture

You know when you’ve been thinking about a lot of different things and processing what other people have said, and all of a sudden, all of these seemingly unrelated thoughts come together in one realization? That happened to me today. It might not sound impressive, but here was my revelation: God does not give nit-picky commands. The guidelines in the Bible are all about lifestyle, not moment-by-moment decisions. Individual decisions are important because they shape our character, but God is not waiting to zap us for the smallest infraction. We need to step back and take a look at the big picture, because we will never find God in bits and pieces of misinterpreted Scripture.

So here’s a couple of specific thoughts:

1. Lying. Why would God bless the Hebrew midwives for lying in Exodus 1:20 when one of the Ten Commandments is “you shall not bear false witness”? Not everything is black and white.  First, this command refers more to falsely accusing your neighbor. Second, being honest has to do more with integrity than following the letter of the law. Also, if I am out getting your Christmas present and you ask where I’ve been, I find it perfectly acceptable to twist the truth. If you later accuse me of sinning, I will laugh at you.

2. Using God’s name in vain — “The Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name” (Deuteronomy 5:11). This verse is often interpreted very narrowly, something to the effect of “Don’t say ‘oh my God’.” But if we interpret the 3rd commandment as being about cursing, I think we trivialize it significantly. I think it encompasses a much broader concept. I think it encompasses a lifestyle.

When you think about it, what is a greater misuse of God’s name than to call yourself a Christian and lead a life that draws others away from the truth? Identifying yourself with Him while going your own way is the worst form of hypocrisy. If you’re going to bear the name of Christ, you must bear the cross as well — anything less is truly using His name in vain.

So if you happen to hear someone swear, before you gasp and point fingers, really think about this command and then take a look at yourself. At some point in your life, have you not misused God’s name in a much more serious way?

3. The role of women in the church. I realize that this will probably create a lot of controversy among readers. But this is the only way it makes sense to me. I do believe that men and women were created to fill different roles, but I think Paul’s passages on women in the church are taken too far. Some people believe that because women are not supposed to “teach” men, it is wrong for them to witness to men as well. I say heck no. Again, it’s a big picture thing. As a woman, do you live a life of humility and grace, allowing men to be leaders? That’s what important, not splitting hairs over what you are and are not “allowed” to do.

These are all lifestyle choices. In the end, what will people say about you? How did you live your life? I think the big picture is more important than interpreting rules too narrowly. After all, look at the Sermon on the Mount. What is the constant refrain? “You have heard…but I tell you….” Jesus clarified the guidelines people had distorted, pointing out that it was all really a matter of the heart. When asked what the #1 commandment was, he replied that the entire law is summed up simply in one word: love.

So step back. Look at the big picture before you try to put the puzzle together. And I think you’ll find, as I did, that maybe it’s not so complicated after all.

Published in: on December 5, 2011 at 12:49 am  Comments (1)  
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For the Girls

When God created woman, He did not pattern her after the sluts on the cover of Cosmopolitan. No, He patterned her after Himself. Girls, why compare yourself to a mold you were never made to fit? Compare yourself only to the image of God, for you will never find completion until you become who you were intended to be. Starving yourself into the shape of a mold not made for you will never make you feel accepted. You will only belong once you can rest in knowing you have lived up to the true image God created you to fill. So fill it! Become everything He made you capable of becoming.

When God created woman, He made her exactly the way He wanted her. He doesn’t do anything halfway. He didn’t make a mediocre girl and then say, “Hmm, with some hair dye and a boob job, she’ll be good to go!” Heck no. God made her perfect. God made YOU perfect, and trying to change yourself to match the expectations of society only draws you away from the perfection you had to begin with!

When God created woman, He made her to be a helper for man. A strengthener. Something he needed, not something for him to use. He did NOT create her to be a sex object! You should never allow yourself to be degraded that way; you were made for so much more than that. You do not deserve that, it will not bring you security, and you are more than a one-night stand. Don’t ever buy those lies. Any man who treats you as less than you were made to be, is sadly less than he was made to be.

Girls, if you don’t know who you are, it’s because you’ve lost sight of the original pattern. If you don’t know who you are, let me tell you: you were created in the image of God and you were made to look like Him. That means you are smart. It means you are strong. It means you are self-sufficient. You are a beautiful, valuable creation of the Most High God, the desire of His heart and the love of His life. That’s who you are. So tell that to the world… and be who you are.

Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 12:12 am  Comments (2)  
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Currently Untitled

Disclaimer: this is NOT one of those “Confessions of a Creature of Habit.” This is not about me. The general frame is the mindset of a young woman deceived by the lies of the world.

I looked in all the wrong places searching for something to make life worthwhile.

I tried to find security in money. But once it was spent, all I had was a house filled with useless things, and still I felt no security.

I tried to find love in sex. But sex without commitment is nothing more than an instinctive human desire, and all it did was leave me empty and devoid of love.

I tried to find beauty in makeup and jewelry and push-up bras. But vanity took over my personality, destroying my beauty from the inside out and leaving me nothing but a made-up shell with a fake smile.

I tried to find acceptance by conforming to everyone’s expectations. But I soon came to find that everyone expected me to be someone different. I became a role-player, accepted for the faces I put on and not for who I really was. I was nothing more than an actor.

I tried to find value in others’ opinions of me.  But by now, everyone saw me as a greedy, vain, two-faced slut. My life had become everything I didn’t want it to be. Everything I had run from had caught up with me, and everything I had been reaching for was just a mirage, untouchable, still shimmering miles away on the distant horizon. I had lost sight of what was important. I had lost myself.

Oh God…this isn’t who I wanted to be. Let me feel security in faith and love in Your salvation. Give me inner beauty and true acceptance based on the personality You gave me and my identity in You. Please don’t judge me the way everyone else has because of what I’ve become, but let my value come from grace. Make me the me You meant me to be.

Published in: on May 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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