Category: Lies Young Women Believe

A Gospel for Serial Killers

A Gospel for Serial Killers

Ted Bundy was convicted of killing thirty-six women and girls, making him one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. While waiting on death row for his execution, Ted turned his life over to Jesus and became a Christian. He repented publicly for his crimes and spent his final night praying with his pastor.

Ted Bundy was a rapist.

Ted Bundy was a murderer.

Ted Bundy was a liar.

Assuming Ted Bundy really did confess his sins and put his whole trust in Jesus, today Ted is in heaven with Jesus.

The gospel applies to people in every nation and age bracket. It is for “good” people and really, really bad people.

Many people have questioned Ted’s conversion. I guess it’s hard for our minds to conceive that someone guilty of such evil could truly turn from their wicked ways and run toward Jesus. But I can only assume that Ted’s decision to become a Christian was legit. If I’m honest, there’s a part of me that is irritated by it. How could Jesus forgive a serial killer? That’s not fair!

God must have of known I would have this internal tug of war, because He addressed it often in His Word. Though not an easy pill to swallow, here is some hard-hitting truth about who really deserves the gospel and how to wrap our heads around the fairness of God.

The Good News is For All People

When the angel told the shepherds about the birth of Jesus, he announced it this way: “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

The angel wasn’t talking in generalizations. He wasn’t from the south, using the term “all” like “y’all” to include whoever was standing around at the moment. The Good News of Christ’s coming was for all people.

Jesus repeated this idea in Mark 16:15 when He gave the Great Commission.

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

The gospel is for all people. It applies to people in every nation and age bracket. It is for “good” people and really, really bad people. It is for young and old people. It is for people who have gone to church their whole lives and people who have never sat in a pew.

The Gospel is for Sinners

For most of us, there is a pocket of our hearts that questions if God’s grace should really extend to them. This is nothing new.

In Matthew 9, Jesus called Matthew to be a disciple. Matthew was a tax collector. Meaning, Matthew was scum. Nobody liked tax collectors because they were notorious thieves and schemers. So when Jesus called Matthew, the Pharisees got their feathers ruffled.

And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (vv. 11–13).

The gospel is not about making clean lives even cleaner. It’s not about making good people even better good people. It is about extending undeserved grace to those who have earned death because of their sin. The end result is that we get to become more like Jesus.

Be Glad God Is Generous

In Matthew 20, Jesus told a story designed to give us perspective on who deserves His grace. You can read the entire thing in Matthew 20:1–16.

Here are the highlights:

  • A man needs workers to work in his vineyard.
  • Early in the morning, he recruits a group of workers and agrees to pay them a denarius for a day of work. (That’s about $20.)
  • The men get right to work.
  • About mid-morning the vineyard owner goes to the grocery store and hires two more workers. He agrees to pay them $20, too.
  • He goes out again at noon and then in the late afternoon. Each time he hires more workers, always for the same wage.
  • At the end of the day, he paid all of the workers $20, no matter how long they worked.
  • The guys who had been working all day were mad! They couldn’t believe that the guys who had only been working an hour or two were paid the same amount that they were for working all day.

The vineyard owner replied this way, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be first, and the first last” (vv. 13–16).

If I’m honest, I often feel like those workers who got hired first. Because I’ve known Jesus a long time, I feel entitled to greater blessings from Him. But God has the right to do what He wants. (He’s God after all!) He certainly doesn’t need me armchair-quarterbacking when it comes to the salvation of others.

And more importantly . . .

God’s generosity has been a great gift to me. At the end of the day, I shouldn’t want God to be “fair,” because that would mean that I deserve punishment instead of grace. Instead of secretly hoping God will be stingy toward others, we can celebrate His crazy generosity.

The Thief Beside You

Jesus was crucified between two thieves. They admitted they were guilty. What happened to them might fit into our definition of “fair.” They were getting what they deserved.

One thief mocked Jesus, never admitting his need for him.

But one recognized Jesus’ divinity and innocence. He publicly proclaimed his desire to be with Jesus forever.

And [Jesus] said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

That thief didn’t deserve paradise. He never did a single thing to earn grace. He didn’t go to church, didn’t lead a Bible study, didn’t pay back the money he had stolen . . . but God’s grace is crazy big. He offers it to us freely because He loves us, not because we’ve done anything to earn it.

Maybe it’s not serial killers or thieves who make you question the fairness of the gospel.

  • Maybe it’s that girl at school who is into such dark stuff that you don’t even bother to pray for her.
  • Maybe it’s people from a certain religion that you think would never accept the truth.
  • Maybe it’s someone who hurt you so deeply you secretly hope they will have to pay a heavy price for their sin.

The bottom line is that the gospel isn’t fair. None of us deserve the gift of grace that God so freely offers. With that in mind, would you ask God to show you where you have “begrudged His generosity” toward others, and then start praying radical prayers for the lost around you?

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Eeyore's Response to the Good News

Eeyore's Response to the Good News

Last week, I asked you to define the gospel. Nearly one hundred of you responded, many with fantastic ideas about what the gospel really means. Here are just a few of my favs:

Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been rescued from sin, death, and separation from God.

We all are born with Adam’s sin nature. We are destined for hell from birth. The gospel is that Christ died for His chosen people, because of His great love for us. We have salvation in Christ alone by faith alone. —Abbie

Man’s indwelling sinfulness overcome by the perfect power of our Savior! —Haley

The gospel is the good news that all of the sin I have ever committed has been paid for in Jesus Christ: His life, death, and resurrection. By His blood, I have been adopted as God’s own child and will stand blameless before Him, ransomed and redeemed. —Jenn

All of these descriptions of the gospel hit on three important highlights:

  1. We are all chronic sinners. (I loved how Haley called it our “indwelling sinfulness.” That means we are sinners to the core.)
  2. Jesus died to pay the penalty we deserved because of that sin.
  3. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been rescued from sin, death, and separation from God.

It all sounds pretty warm and fuzzy on paper or when we hear it from the pulpit. But if you’re like me, you have a tendency to respond to the gospel in ways that aren’t all rainbows and butterflies. To put the ways I tend to respond to the gospel under a microscope, we need to take a little field trip to the Hundred Acre Wood. (In case you’ve forgotten, that’s where Winnie the Pooh and his friends live!)

“Thanks for Noticin’ Me”

Do you remember Eeyore from the stories of Winnie the Pooh?

There’s nothing spectacular about him. He’s just an old, gray donkey. He’s gloomy and grumpy, always looking at the ground. He’s famously fond of saying, “Thanks for noticin’ me,” as if he’s surprised that anyone would ever want to pay attention to him. He’s definitely a glass-is-half-empty kind of donkey. In fact, did you know that his corner of Pooh’s forest is called “Eeyore’s Gloomy Place: Rather Boggy and Sad”?

Eeyore is the kind of friend who sucks the life out of you. After fifteen minutes with him, we would all feel a little worse about the world.

My natural disposition isn’t quite as gloomy as ol’ Eeyore, but when it comes to the gospel, my response sometimes is. I often catch myself thinking thoughts like these:

  • “I’m stuck.”
  • “I’m such a screw up.”
  • “I will never get it right.”
  • “I will never overcome my sin.”

Have you ever felt those things? Then you know what we tell ourselves when we take the Eeyore approach.

  • “God doesn’t love me.”
  • “How could He?”
  • “I’m such a failure.”

Gloomy.

Hopeless.

Downcast.

Just like poor ol’ Eeyore.

The Antivenin for Eeyore Syndrome

It’s not about trying harder or winning more. It’s about Jesus. Our victory is through Him and because of Him.

Here’s how an Eeyore approach the to gospel plays out practically. We don’t try to get free from our sin. We don’t repent. (What difference would that make?) We live like slaves, even though God wants us to be free!

In fact, the gospel is the only antivenin to our Eeyore mentality. Because the gospel makes it clear that it is no longer our responsibility to cure our sin problem. We don’t have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. It’s not about trying harder or winning more. It’s about Jesus. Our victory is through Him and because of Him. The gospel is a billboard seen throughout all of history that screams, “God loves me! Because of Him I am free!”

Eeyores assume that God just kind of tolerates us, but the gospel is proof that He doesn’t just tolerate us. He loves us with an everlasting love. He was willing to pay any price to rescue us.

When we look at our sin and Christ’s sacrifice and our heart starts responding like Eeyore would, we’ve got to learn to run to God’s Word for the truth that is anything but gloomy and hopeless. Whenever I feel Eeyore start to rise up in me, I run to one of my favorite verses . . .

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Gal. 5:1).

God set me free so that I could be free. Not so that I could be:

  • stuck.
  • depressed.
  • downtrodden.
  • hard on myself.
  • mopey.
  • hopeless.

So how about you? Do you ever get an Eeyore response to your sin or Christ’s sacrifice? How have you seen that impact your relationship with God and others?

PS: Be sure to hop back on the blog tomorrow to see how Tigger might respond to the gospel.

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Freebie Friday! Connected

If you’ve ever looked at your list of Facebook friends and felt like none of them really know you . . . this book is for you.

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Freebie Friday! A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms

Freebie Friday

I’m so proud of you, LYWB.com readers! If I had a refrigerator big enough for all 30,000 of you, your picture would be on it! Why?

Because you have a genuine desire to study and learn God’s Word. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago when I tested your biblical literacy, you told me things like . . .

As the summer starts and school ends, I am going to make a real effort to get into the Word more—more than once a day.

I seriously needed a slap in the face to stop claiming I’m a devoted Christian but not studying the Word. I will put in the effort to read it every day.

I’m gonna try to read the Bible on a daily basis! Pray for me that earthly distractions won’t get in my way.

If you’re one of those girls who made a commitment to reading God’s Word more this summer, I know what you’re thinking . . .

Now what?

How do I study the Bible?

Freebie Friday to the rescue! For the next three weeks I will be giving away great Bible study resources guaranteed to help you dig into God’s Word.

First up is A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms by Lies Young Women Believe co-author Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Based on thirty of Nancy’s favorite psalms, this book will show you how to:

  • prepare your heart.
  • listen to God.
  • discover what the passage says.
  • explore what the passage means.
  • make the passage a part of your life.
  • respond to God.

Sounds like great summer reading to me!

How to win

Leave us a comment with your response to the question below (be sure to click the “I Commented” button in the giveaway widget once you’ve done so). For extra chances to win, share about this post on Twitter or Pinterest using the giveaway tool. If you don’t have a Twitter or Pinterest account, no worries! These are more like extra credit. Be sure to give us your correct email address with your comment. We will only use this to contact you if you win. No spam . . . ew.

Giveaway Question: What’s your favorite psalm?

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A Godly Girl's Guide to Fighting

A Godly Girl's Guide to Fighting

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matt. 18:15–17).

God gives very specific instructions for how to confront a friend. Let’s break it down.

When to confront a friend.

Did you notice when this passage instructs us to confront a friend? “If your brother sins against you” (v. 15).

If it’s just your preference or your feelings that are on the line, it’s probably best to let it slide.

If your friend is gossiping about you, that’s a sin (Rom. 1:29).

If she has taken something that belongs to you, that’s a sin (Luke 18:20).

If she often loses her temper with you, that’s a sin (James 1:20).

If she just doesn’t want to hang out as often as you’d like, that’s not a sin.

If she has a new friend she’s spending a lot of time with, that’s not a sin.

If she put something on her Facebook wall that might or might not have been directed at you, that is not a sin.

To be clear, sin violates the standards of God. If it matters to God, it matters. If it’s just your preference or your feelings that are on the line . . . it is probably best to let it slide.

Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

In other words, it is wise to simply let some things go.

With this in mind, if your friend’s sin still warrants a confrontation, this is how God wants us to go about it.

Step 1: Have the talk.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (v. 15).

How do you confront a friend? You go to her and talk to her.

Sounds simple enough, but usually we complicate it.

Notice it doesn’t say “send her a text.” (And I don’t think that’s because texting hadn’t yet been invented yet!) It doesn’t say “talk to someone else asking for advice before you talk to your friend.” It doesn’t say “act really weird around her and hope that she will get the hint and come and talk to you.”

If there is a problem, go to your friend one on one. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 dollars. Do not skip this step. The only way to have godly conflict is to start with a one-on-one conversation.

Step 2: Get a mediator.

“But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (v. 16).

So you talked to your friend and it didn’t go well. What next?

You take one or two other friends and all gang up on her, right?

Wrong!

Yes, the Bible does say to try the talk again with two or three others (it’s talking about other members of the Church here), but this is not about ganging up on the friend who has sinned.

Look again. What is the purpose of those additional friends? To collect evidence.

They are there to listen. They are there to hear both sides. They should also be willing and able to pray.

They aren’t there to act as your backup. They aren’t there to bully. They aren’t there to intimidate.

This step is called mediation. Mediation is intervention that leads to reconciliation. Choose mediators who love God, know His Word, and love both you and your friend.

Step 3: Get your church involved.

The Bible doesn’t say that now is a good time to jump ship. It doesn’t say to ditch the friend because you’ve tried and she just hasn’t listened. The Bible urges us to keep trying with more and more assistance from others who want to see godly reconciliation happen.

“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church” (v. 17).

Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”

It’s good for Christians, it’s good for the church, and it’s good for the lost world for Christians to get along. If mediation doesn’t work, ask your pastor or youth pastor to get involved.

Step 4: Love extravagantly.

“And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (v. 17).

Gentile?

Tax collector?

That sounds like some pretty nasty name-calling, right? Surely Jesus is giving us permission to write our friend off at this point. Not exactly.

When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18).

And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclined with Jesus and his disciples (Matt. 9:10).

What did Jesus do to Gentiles and tax collectors? He befriended them. He offered them grace they didn’t deserve. He loved them extravagantly even though they couldn’t reciprocate. He continued to teach them the truth.

If you’ve confronted your friend God’s way and she still doesn’t respond, you don’t get to jump ship. Instead you get to continue to offer love, prayers, and hopes of reconciliation.

Willing to fight God’s way.

If you’re like me, God’s plan doesn’t exactly match up with how I handle conflicts in my life. Instead, I tend to vent, gossip, and brush friends off. But I’m asking God to teach me how to handle conflict His way in the future.

Join me?

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God’s guide for fighting fair today on @lywbblog. (Be sure to include a link to today’s post).

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Four Questions to Ask Before You Confront a Friend

Four Questions to Ask Before You Confront a Friend

You call your best friend and pour your heart out about a big event coming up in your life. When the big day comes, you don’t hear a word from her. Not a call. Not a text. Not an email. You feel ignored and unimportant.

The two of you used to do everything together. You were so much alike you joked that you were sisters separated at birth. But lately she’s just stopped calling. When you see her she acts totally weird.

It’s because you both love Jesus so much that you’ve become such great friends. You always sit together in youth group. You’ve done Bible studies together. You keep each other accountable. But lately she’s started seeing a boy in secret that her parents don’t approve of. She doesn’t want to talk about it with you, and you can tell her passion for Jesus is starting to fizzle.

I wish these were hypothetical scenarios, pulled from my imagination.

They are not. All of these situations have happened to me. In some cases, I was the girl who was wronged. In many, I was the girl hurting others. Whether you can see yourself in these exact stories or not, I’m sure you can think of situations in your life when friendships were strained. That’s because . . .

Relationships are messy.

Loving others like God means agreeing to get messy.

I love how Colleen Chao put it in this post on TrueWoman.com. (That’s our big sister blog!)

Until my late twenties, I thought agape love was synonymous with simple, harmonious relationships. Life experience has proven, however, that to love someone selflessly often means opening myself up to relational conflict, hurt, and disappointment.

That word agape comes from the Bible, and it describes selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. It’s the kind of love God calls us to have for others. Sometimes we think that God’s plan for love must be sweet and nice and easy. But agape love doesn’t work that way. Loving others like God means agreeing to get messy.

This can be especially true when we need to confront a friend. But God’s got our backs. He outlines very specific instructions for how to confront a friend in His Word. We’ll get to that soon, but before you confront a friend, here are four questions God’s Word urges us to ask.

Question 1: Am I angry?

Anger might be the first red flag that you’re not ready to confront your friend.

Proverbs 29:11 says it is foolish to give full vent to your anger but wise to stay under control. James 1:20 urges us to be slow to anger. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says that anger resides in the lap of fools.

Let me say it another way.

Just because you feel it, doesn’t mean you have to say it.

Perhaps there needs to be a bigger reason to confront your friend than simply that she made you mad.

Question 2: Am I judging?

Matthew 7:1–5 says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Before you run to your friend about the sin in her life, make sure you are judging her by God’s standards, not simply your own preferences.

Confronting our friends about sin is serious business. While we shouldn’t shy away from it, we also need to realize that we have a responsibility to deal with our own sin before confronting someone else about theirs.

Before you run to your friend about the sin in her life, make sure you are judging her by God’s standards, not simply your own preferences, and that you have been just as watchful for your own sin as you are for hers.

Question 3: Am I trying to win?

What’s your real motivation for confronting your friend? Do you want to prove that you’re right? Do you want to make her feel bad because she made you feel bad? Do you want to impress someone else?

Philippians 2:3–4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

The most important person in any potential confrontation is the other person. Instead of thinking about what you will get out of a conflict, the Bible urges you to think of the other person first. If you’re not ready to see it from her point of view, you’re not ready to confront.

Question 4: Do I love peace?

Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

I know what you’re thinking . . .

“But she . . .”

“But you don’t understand what’s going on . . .”

“But I’ve tried and she just won’t . . .”

God knew about our tendency to pass the buck, and that’s why He says, “So far as it depends on you.” In other words, do your part to get along. Who should we live at peace with? All. Everyone. Even that friend who is hard to live at peace with.

Do you love peace or do you love drama? Do you do everything in your power to live at peace with everyone in your world or do you do things to contribute to conflict and chaos?

Before you confront, you need to spend some time asking God to help you love peace.

A Godly Girl’s Guide to Fighting

After you’ve wrestled with these questions, there may still be a need to confront your friend. Then what? God gives us a step-by-step guide for confrontation in Matthew 18:15–17. We’ll put that passage under the microscope in tomorrow’s post. Would you mind reading it today as homework?

In the meantime, tell me about a time when you confronted a friend. Looking back, did you ask these questions first? How would things have turned out differently if you had?

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Freebie Friday! Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl

Freebie Friday

Wanna play Simon Says?

Simon says if you like free stuff. As in . . .

  • F-R to the double E
  • Swag
  • Something that costs free dollars and freedy free cents
  • A gift

Raise your hand!

I’m assuming your hand is up!

We all like free stuff. That’s why I am so excited to announce LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com Freebie Fridays!

How does it work?

You visit our blog every Friday, and we give you free stuff! And not just any free stuff. We have plans to give you great resources loaded with truth from God’s Word.

What’s the catch?

There isn’t one. Just read the post, and do what it asks. Sometimes we will ask you to leave a comment. Sometimes we will ask you to share us on your social networks. Sometimes we will pick your brain. (Don’t worry; it doesn’t hurt!) We will pick a winner each week and send free stuff your way.

Drum roll please

Let’s kick it off with Confessions of A Boy-Crazy Girl by our very own Paula!

Why this book? Check out this description:

     
  1. You spot a cute boy (we’ll call 
him Boy A).
  2. You dream about Boy A.
  3. You do whatever it takes 
to make Boy A notice you.
  4. Even though Boy A doesn’t pursue you, you hang 
on to your dream of Boy A until he (a) moves to the North Pole with no access to 
a cell phone or computer, (b) dies and is buried or cremated, or (c) begins dating 
another girl.
  5. You mend your broken heart by hating Boy A and finding another cute boy (Boy B). You replace Boy A with Boy B and begin all over again . . .  

Paula has gone through an entire alphabet—and more—of boys over the years.
As she shares her journal entries and stories—the good, the bad, and the ugly—you’ll be encouraged to trust God with your love life and buckle up for the ride!

Simply put, it’s a book every girl needs!

How to win it

Answer a couple of questions, and you’ll be entered to win. You can get extra chances to win by sharing us on your social networks. We will pick a winner next Wednesday. You are welcome to enter every day between now and then.

Oh, and . . .

Simon says put your hands down!

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A Test You Don't Want to Flunk

A Test You Don't Want to Flunk

I once heard the story of an old man who knew the Bible frontward and backward. He had huge chunks of Scripture memorized. He was so familiar with the Word that he could look up what he needed in it without a concordance or fancy Bible app. His copy of the Bible was well worn and well loved.

Not surprisingly, knowing the Bible this well made a huge difference in the old man’s life. After all, God’s Word has the power to:

Seeing the difference the Bible made in his life, a young man approached the old man and asked how he could know the Bible so well.

The old man said, “You don’t want to know the Bible like I do.”

Shocked, the young man asked why not.

“Because you don’t want to do the studying that’s required.”

The young man walked away sad, because he knew the old man was right.

Just the Facts Ma’am

The bottom line is that knowing the Word of God takes work. We can’t simply download it into our brains. We won’t learn it by looking at our Bibles as they sit on our nightstands. We can’t just quote John 3:16 every once in a while and say we know the Bible. To know God’s Word—really know God’s Word—we have to study.

The reality is that most of us aren’t willing to do that kind of work. Researchers have done some digging, and they’ve found that Christian teens don’t know much more about the Bible than their non-Christian peers. Only 16 percent of you read your Bible daily. Only 12 percent of you manage to read it once a week. Only 9 percent of you say you are highly knowledgeable about the Bible.

It is impossible to grow in your faith, understand who God is, and live the way He wants you to live without regularly studying His Word.

I’m not trying to embarrass you; I struggle to study my Bible regularly, too. But I want you to understand an important bottom line . . .

It is impossible to grow in your faith, understand who God is, and live the way He wants you to live without regularly studying His Word.

There are no Cliff’s Notes (or Wikipedia entries) for knowing God’s Word. Diligent study is required, but I am confident that if the old man were the one writing this post, he would tell you that without a doubt, the benefits of knowing God’s Word are worth the effort.

So how well do you know God’s Word? Wanna find out? Here are some questions to use as a litmus test. You’ll find the answers at the end.

The Quiz

  1. Name the Ten Commandments.
  2. Did you know? Sixty percent of Americans cannot name even five of the Ten Commandments?

  3. True or False: “God helps those who helps themselves” is a quote from the Bible.
  4. Did you know? Eighty-two percent of Americans would answer “yes”!

  5. Genesis tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. What were Sodom and Gomorrah?
    1. sisters
    2. a husband and wife
    3. two cities
  6. Did you know? Fifty percent of high school seniors think they are a husband and wife.

  7. Name the twelve disciples.
  8. Did you know? Research shows that most Christians cannot identify more than three disciples.

  9. Which of these quotes came from the Sermon on the Mount?
    1. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.”
    2. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son.”
    3. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
    4. “You shall have no other gods before me.”
  10. Extra credit: Who preached the Sermon on the Mount?

Did you know? Only 37 percent of teenagers can answer this question correctly, and many teenagers think the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.

The Cheat Sheet

  1. Here is an abbreviated version of the Ten Commandments. Be sure to check out the real deal in Exodus 20:1–17.

    • No other gods before God.
    • No idols.
    • Do not take God’s name in vain.
    • Remember the Sabbath. Keep it holy.
    • Honor your father and mother.
    • Do not murder.
    • Do not commit adultery.
    • Do not steal.
    • Do not bear false witness.
    • Do not covet.
  2. False.
  3. Sodom and Gomorrah were cities destroyed by God because of their sin in Genesis 19.
  4. The names of the twelve disciples (also known as apostles) are listed in Matthew 10:2–4 and include: Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddaeus, Simon, and Judas.
  5. a. The Sermon on the Mount was preached by Jesus in Matthew 5–7.

The Grade

How’d ya do?

Option 1: You did great! You know your stuff. Why do you know your stuff? Because you make a habit of regularly reading God’s Word. But don’t give yourself too many gold stars yet. There’s still so much to learn. Here’s your homework: study the Bible often.

Option 2: You didn’t do so great. Here’s something to make you feel better—12 percent of high schoolers think that Joan of Ark was Noah’s wife. For real! The good news is that today is a great day to become someone who studies God’s Word. Here’s your homework: study the Bible often.

We’ll be talking more about why the Bible matters later this month. In the meantime, who are you more like—the old man who is willing to do the work to know the Word of God or the young man who isn’t?

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The Perfect Summer Internship

The Perfect Summer Internship

 

Summer is great. Swimming . . . yay! Watermelon seed spitting contests . . . uh huh! (Or is that just something we country girls do?) Fireworks, BBQs, telling the alarm clock to take a hike—these are the many perks of summer.

But let’s be honest, it’s only possible to have so many movie marathons before we all start to feel a little . . . bored.

You may not have hit the summer slump yet. (Some of you may still be smack dab in the middle of finals—yuck!) But I’ve got an idea to keep summer boredom far, far away.

Are you ready for it?

It’s the perfect summer internship!

I’m not suggesting you call up a doctor, a lawyer, or a dentist to shadow them for the summer. I’d rather prepare you for a more important role. This summer, I’d love for you to spend time learning the craft of motherhood.

A mom? Really?!

Yep, really!

Here are a few reasons why.

God sees children as a blessing.

Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a blessing and a gift from the LORD.”

 

We don’t need to compare the Greek and the Hebrew here. We don’t need to ask a Bible professor to help us break this down. The Bible is clear. Children are a blessing from God.

Most moms would tell you that even though their children demand much of them, they are in fact a blessing.

But it doesn’t always feel that way, does it?

That’s because children demand much of us. They require us to alter our plans for our lives. They demand much of our schedule. They change our bodies.

It is very easy to look at parenting from the outside and think, No way! I don’t want any part of that.

That’s why you need an inside view. Most moms would tell you that even though their children demand much of them, they are in fact a blessing. But you’ve got to spend some time with moms to have these conversations, and you’ve got to spend some time with kiddos to realize that’s not just something moms say. God’s right. Children really are a gift.

God thinks moms rock!

God highly values mothers throughout His Word. We live in a culture that says motherhood is a lesser calling to getting a degree, having a great job, and traveling the world. But God doesn’t hold that view.

 

Moms have tremendous power to influence their kids toward following Jesus.

Why is God such a fan of moms? Because He sees them as missionaries! Moms don’t just do laundry, cook dinners, and dish out discipline. Moms are the first place most of us ever hear about God. For better or for worse, our moms are where we look for spiritual guidance and wisdom. Moms have tremendous power to influence their kids toward following Jesus.

God esteems moms because what they are doing matters so much. (Think about your own mom for a minute. Hasn’t she played a HUGE role in your faith?)

Moms need help!

I’m a mom of three boys under age seven. My house is always engulfed in beautiful chaos. An extra pair of hands to serve up plates of mac and cheese, bandage skinned knees, and help find Star Wars LEGOS would be welcome any day.

 

Yes, children are a blessing. Yes, motherhood is a ministry. But that doesn’t change the fact that motherhood is tough!

You could be a tremendous blessing to a mom in your world by offering to help a couple of mornings a week this summer. (If you happen to live in Nowheresville, Missouri like me . . . hook a momma up!)

Helping a mom gives you a chance to serve someone in need. The Bible promises that this is the way to get our hearts filled to the brim.

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered (Prov. 11:25).

If your heart is feeling a little dried up these days, serving someone else is just what you need! I know for certain that there’s a mom in your world who would love to be served in this way.

 

So, whadya say? Are you up for the perfect summer internship?

Leave me a comment below with your game plan.

And just in case you still need a little motivation to get off the couch, here’s a great video about motherhood. Watch it, then give your mom a hug and get to work.

 

World’s Toughest Job

 

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The Best Friend a Girl Could Want

The Best Friend a Girl Could Want

I’ve got a great friend.

He’s always available to listen to me and give advice. In fact, He gives better advice than anyone else I’ve ever known. He never steers me wrong. He is a capable and compassionate advisor.

He nudges me to be more like Jesus, gently pointing out sin in my life, and reminding me who God calls me to be.

When I am tempted, He pulls me toward an alternative, always reminding me that Jesus is better than the things my flesh desires.

When I am wobbly, He’s always on the scene ready to help. He’s never too busy for me. He’s always available.

He prays for me often. In fact, when I’m at the end of my rope and don’t have a clue what to pray, He just starts praying even harder. And let me tell you, when He prays, things happen.

He teaches me so much every single day. He’s the best friend a girl could hope for.

Want a friend like that? You can have it! Because these are the specific jobs of the Holy Spirit. (In fact, they’re just the tip of the iceberg.)

Here are some of the specific ways the Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers.

We can’t lose our salvation. The Holy Spirit seals it. And when you doubt if you are really saved, you can know you belong to God by the evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life.

He is our counselor (John 14:16). Don’t think school guidance counselor, helping you pick which math class to take; think a great conversation with the wisest person you know. He listens to us and then points us toward God’s truth.

He dwells with us and lives in us (John 14:17). If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives in you. Don’t believe me? Check out Jesus’ words:

“Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (emphasis added).

Remember that the Holy Spirit is God.

God dwells with you and in you! That’s a game changer. It means we are never alone. We are never without help. We aren’t left to try to figure everything out on our own. The Holy Spirit is with us and in us. Mind blowing, right?

He is our teacher (John 14:26). Have you ever been in a situation and suddenly a Bible passage just pops into your head? Have you ever learned a truth about God even without hearing your pastor preach on it? That’s the Holy Spirit! It’s His job to teach us about the things of God. Just like in school, the teacher can’t force us to listen in class or apply what we’ve learned. That’s our job.

He makes us more like Jesus (Rom. 15:16, Gal. 5:22–23). It is the Holy Spirit’s job to sanctify us. That’s a churchy word that simply means to make holy. The fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Brownie points if you have them all memorized!) It is the Holy Spirit’s job to make us more like Jesus. It’s not something we can do for ourselves. The Holy Spirit makes the difference between a good girl and a godly girl.

He convicts us of sin (John 16:8). You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know you’ve sinned? That’s from the Holy Spirit. Even though it may not feel like it, conviction is a gift because it reminds us of the holy standard God calls us to.

He keeps us away from sin (Gal. 5:16).

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Listening to the Holy Spirit keeps us from getting trapped by sin.

He changes our hearts (John 14:26, Rom. 8:14, 1 Cor. 2:6–14). Can’t seem to forgive that girl who hurt you? Can’t stop thinking about that guy who’s no good for you? Can’t stop thoughts of jealousy from swirling in your head? That’s because it’s nearly impossible for us to change our own hearts. (We can change our behavior, but that’s not the same thing.) Ask the Holy Spirit to change your heart. That’s His job.

He prays for us (Rom. 8:26).

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

I love this promise! When you don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit prays for you.

He seals us (Eph. 1:11–14).

Paul describes the Holy Spirit as a seal that guarantees the inheritance (heaven) that God has promised us.

We can’t lose our salvation. The Holy Spirit seals it. And when you doubt if you are really saved, you can know you belong to God by the evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Have you seen the Holy Spirit work in these ways in your life? Leave me a comment to tell me about it.

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Why Doesn't God Speak Out Loud to Me?

Why Doesn't God Speak Out Loud to Me?

the·ol·o·gy noun : the study of God

We study God through His Word each Thursday on the blog. Our goal is to present the truth of God in a way you can digest and apply. This week we’ll continue our conversation on how we hear the voice of God.

Last week, we looked at four ways God speaks. Here’s a recap:

  • God speaks to us through creation (Ps. 19:1).
  • God speaks to us through our conscience (Rom. 2:15).
  • God speaks to us through Jesus (Heb. 1:1–2).
  • God speaks to us through His Word (Heb. 4:12).

Here are four more ways we can hear the voice of God.

The Holy Spirit speaks to us.

Acts 8:27–29 records Philip hearing from God:

And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”

Something similar happened to Peter in Acts 10:19–21:

And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?”

In both cases, the Spirit gave very specific instructions.

Learning to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit takes some practice.

The Holy Spirit still speaks in this way. When you’re sitting in math class and you feel a sudden compulsion to go and talk to that lonely girl in the corner, that is likely the Holy Spirit telling you how God wants you to minister in that moment. When you’re in the middle of a fight with your mom and something inside you tells you to stop yelling and get quiet, it’s possible the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do what God has written in His Word by honoring her.

Learning to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit takes some practice. But once we learn the voice of the Holy Spirit, we are wise to follow the lead of Philip and Peter in the stories above and immediately obey.

We’ll talk more about the job of the Holy Spirit in next week’s Theology Thursday post.

God speaks to us through the Church.

In Acts 13:1–3, Paul and Barnabas receive specific instructions for missions work from the Holy Spirit, but pay close attention to who confirms the calling:

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

Paul and Barnabas were in a church service, worshiping and seeking the Lord with other believers, when the Holy Spirit spoke clearly. They obeyed, but first they prayed with the other believers in the room and were sent out with their blessing.

God often uses other Christians to confirm what God is saying to us. There is wise accountability in surrounding yourself with other believers who can help you discern God’s voice.

God speaks to us through visions and dreams.

There are many occasions in the Bible where God speaks to people through visions and dreams. Here are just a few examples:

  • Daniel recorded his visions in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7.
  • Abimelech was visited by God in a dream in Genesis 20 after sinning.
  • Isaiah had a vision of God in heaven, which he recorded in the book of Isaiah.
  • Joseph (the shepherd with the fancy coat) received a prophecy about what was going to happen to his people through a dream in Genesis 37.
  • Joseph (Jesus’ stepdad) had a dream in which an angel told him to take Mary as his wife in Matthew 1. Matthew 2:13 records “an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt.’”

Since Malachi 3:6 tells us that God does not change, we can know that He is still capable of speaking to people through dreams and visions.

Joel 2:28 says, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”

Job 33:14–16 confirms that dreams are one way that God speaks to His people:

For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings.

While hearing from God in dreams and visions has never been the norm, there is clear evidence that this is one way He chooses to speak to His people.

God speaks out loud.

Both Jesus (Mark 1:11) and Paul (Acts 9:3–6) heard the audible voice of God speak from heaven. Moses heard the voice of God boom from a burning bush in Exodus 3.

God doesn’t need to speak out loud to us; He has written so much down for us in His Word.

It is possible for God to speak out loud to us, but it’s rare.

I know what you’re thinking (because I’ve thought it, too!). I wish God would give me a vision of heaven! I wish I could hear God speak out loud. I think we all have a tendency to want to have a conversation with God like we do with our best friend. But God doesn’t need to speak out loud to us; He has written so much down for us in His Word. Instead of waiting for some mystical experience in which God speaks, we can read His thoughts over and over in our Bibles.

Here are some great thoughts by John Piper on this, written after he had a dramatic encounter with the voice of God.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to guess about who God is or how He wants you to live. He has proven over and over that He is ready and willing to speak to us. We can hear from Him every single day through His Word.

How about you? How have you heard God speak?

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Giving God the All-In Card

Giving God the All-In Card

I was traveling recently and met a young woman who was doing big things for God. Things that stretch her beyond her comfort zone. Things that make her weird or different from other girls her age. Things that force her to lay her plans for her own life on the altar of God’s will.

When I asked her how she started down the radical path she was on, she said:

“Simple. A few years ago, I gave God the all-in card.

I doubt she offered God a physical card. But in her heart, she told God, “I’m all in. You can have every part of my life.”

It was a prayer God heard and responded to. It is a prayer not many of us pray.

But Elisha did!

In 1 Kings 19:19–21, we find a little story jam-packed with truth about what it means to really go all in for God. With talk of oxen and cloaks, the context may seem a little odd, but stick with me as I introduce one of my favorite people of all time—Elisha. (I love him so much because he went all in!)

So [Elijah] departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.

Here’s the backstory: Elijah was a powerful prophet whom God used to clean up the land of Israel by kicking out false gods. Elijah’s mission was to call people back to a pure worship of God. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah had a little breakdown. He got super stressed because living on mission cost him a lot. In fact, the leaders of the nation wanted to kill him because of his preaching.

I’ll shoot you straight—giving God the all-in card usually comes with a cost. Elijah vented about all of this to God, and God responded by giving Elijah instructions to anoint Elisha as his successor. That’s where we pick things up in verse 19. Elijah finds Elisha in the field, he puts his cloak on him as a sign of taking him under his wing as an apprentice of sorts, and just like that Elisha is faced with the choice to go all in or to settle for a lukewarm faith.

Elisha went all in.

“Let me kiss my father and mother, and then I will follow you” (1 Kings 19:20).

Then he destroyed the oxen and headed off into a whole new life singularly focused on serving the Lord. Elisha didn’t hesitate. He didn’t play twenty questions with Elijah to make sure everything would work out according to his plan. He didn’t do a risk assessment. He kissed his old life goodbye and watched it burn.

Whatever’s keeping you from surrendering your whole life to God cannot compare to the adventure He has for you.

That’s what it looks like to go all in.

If your first reaction to Elisha’s bold response is to be afraid of what going all in might cost you, I want you to know that’s normal. We all have parts of our life we have a tendency to cling to. Going all in means putting those things all on the table and inviting God to do what He wants with them. That’s scary!

But for some perspective, consider what Elisha’s life would have been like if he had not gone all in.

On his very best day, he would have nothing to show for his life but a well-plowed field. He would spend his days looking at the hind end of an ox instead of the magnificent displays of God’s power he would experience in ministry.

Have you ever told God you’re all in? Have you surrendered every corner of your life and invited Him to do His will above yours?

If not, what’s keeping you from giving God the all-in card? What are you holding back from Him? What parts of your life are off limits to His control? Whatever it is, it cannot compare to the adventure God has for you. A life spent living lukewarm will ultimately look like plowing the same ol’ field year after year. Sure, there may be neat lines and familiar paths, but it’s still just a pile of dirt compared to what life totally surrendered to God’s plan looks like.

With that in mind, are you willing to go all in?

PS: Parts of this post are taken from my book My Name Is Erin: One Girl’s Mission to Make a Difference.

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If Your Donkey Doesn't Talk, Does God?

If Your Donkey Doesn't Talk, Does God?

the·ol·o·gy noun : the study of God

We study God through His Word each Thursday on the blog. Our goal is to present the truth of God in a way you can digest and apply. This week we’ll look at how we hear the voice of God.

A talking donkey

A burning bush

A quiet wind

A voice from heaven

A big book

A sheep fleece

A rainbow

A pillar of fire

A cloud of smoke

What do these things have in common?

They were each used as a mouthpiece of God, a tool through which He chose to speak to His people.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard the voice of God thunder from a burning bush. I am the proud owner of one ornery donkey named Bart, but I’ve never heard God’s voice boom through his bridle. I’ve never had a conversation with God in the same way I could talk to you if we were grabbing coffee together right now. (Caramel latte extra whip here, please!)

I believe that God still speaks to His people, but how does He do it?

If I want to hear the voice of God (I do! Don’t you?), where should I be listening?

Jesus put it this way:

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:4–5, emphasis added).

Just like a herd of sheep that follow the shepherd wherever he leads because they have learned to recognize the sound of his voice, we can become confident and obedient followers of Christ because when we hear Him speak, we know it’s Him. In other words, part of knowing God is knowing how to recognize His voice.

So how exactly does God speak? Here are four ways you can hear the voice of God.

God speaks through creation.

Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the gory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 8:1 says, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.”

No one can ever say they’ve never heard of God, because He chooses to let creation speak to us about what kind of God He is.

A beautiful sunset is God’s way of saying to us, “I am majestic!” A towering mountain peak or the waves crashing on a beach of sand are how He tells us about His magnificence. God has a message He wants to say to us about his glory and majesty. Creation is the billboard through which He speaks about these things.

That’s why Paul said, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

Creation is God’s first missionary. No one can ever say they’ve never heard of God, because He chooses to let creation speak to us about what kind of God He is.

This can get a little trippy. Creation itself is not God. We do not worship trees or flowers or birds. And creation itself does not speak on behalf of God. It doesn’t work like in Lord of the Rings, where the trees audibly speak as God’s messengers.

It’s more simple than that. God speaks to us about His character through the majesty of creation.

God speaks through our conscience.

Do you remember Jiminy Cricket? He was the adorable little cricket in a top hat who served as Pinocchio’s conscience in the iconic Disney movie Pinocchio.

We seem to live in an era that thinks Jiminy Cricket is dead. While the culture says that anything goes and that individuals are free to determine their own version of right and wrong, the Bible teaches a different truth.

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them (Rom. 2:14–15, emphasis added).

God wrote His law onto our hearts so that each of us would know right from wrong. That’s why as children, we knew we shouldn’t lie, steal, or punch even if our parents had not taught us that specific lesson yet. God speaks to us about who He is and how He wants us to live through our conscience. (Wouldn’t it be nice if we each had our own top hat-wearing cricket to help translate?)

God speaks to us through Jesus.

We don’t have to guess about who God is or how He wants us to live. He told us clearly and then took the time to write it down.

Have you ever wondered why we no longer have prophets like they did in the Old Testament, who relayed a specific message from the Lord? (Think Jonah’s message to Nineveh or Moses’ message to Pharaoh.)

Hebrews 1:1–2 gives us a very specific answer:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

When we study Jesus’ sermons and teachings, we are hearing from God. If you want to hear from God, study the words of Jesus.

A great place to start is the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5–7.

God speaks to us through His Word.

We don’t have to guess about who God is or how He wants us to live. He told us clearly and then took the time to write it down. Hebrews 4:12 says that the Bible is a living book—that’s because it was inspired by and points to a living God.

You don’t have to strain your ear and try to imagine the voice of God on the wind. You don’t have to wonder if you’re hearing your thoughts or God speaking in your head. God speaks to you through His Word. Studying the Bible is how you learn to recognize His voice.

Next week we will look at four more ways that God speaks to His people. Until then, I’d love to hear from you. Do you feel like you have ever heard God speak? How do you recognize the voice of God?

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Five Extra Reasons To Celebrate

fireworksI wish I could have the readers of this blog over for a big BBQ this evening. We’d eat summer food (think corn on the cob, popsicles, and juicy hamburgers). We’d chase lightning bugs, and once the sun set, we’d all pile on a blanket (that would be one HUGE blanket!) and watch the fireworks.

I do love the Fourth of July. It’s great to celebrate our freedoms as a nation, but this year I’ve been thinking of some of the even greater freedoms we have—freedoms that don’t belong to Americans alone—those that are promised to us by God because we are His children, citizens of His kingdom.

What is freedom exactly? It’s the state of being unchained or liberated from something or someone. The earliest American citizens set off fireworks on this date many years ago to specifically celebrate their freedom from the King of England. That’s still a victory worth celebrating, but the Bible promises us freedom from so much more.

Second Corinthians 3:17 gives us this beautiful promise:

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

God is the in the freedom business. Because of Him, we are free from forces even more oppressive than a foreign king. Every once in a while it’s good to remember all that God has liberated us from. As Christians we are free from …

Sin
Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Sin had us in a chokehold. We were chained to it. Other places in Scripture remind us that we were once slaves to sin (Rom. 6:17), but because of what Jesus did on the cross we don’t have to live our lives bound to sin any longer. Paul’s words are a wise reminder to live like the free people we are and to refuse to be chained to sin ever again.

Fear
Being an American doesn’t insulate us from fear. There are wars being fought with our soldiers, terrorists who strike in our very own cities, economic challenges, moral decline…. That scary list could go on and on. The truth is, in every country in the world, there are things to be afraid of, but God offers us freedom from fear because He is sovereign. We can trust Him. There is nothing He cannot handle.

Isaiah 41:10 reminds us to live as people free from fear.

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Worry
God also offers us a ticket off of the hamster wheel of worry. Worry can make us feel out of control, upset, and paranoid. God asks us to choose freedom by handing our worries off to Him instead (Phil. 4:6).

The Opinions of Others
Living for others is exhausting. Trying to be popular or liked all the time will simply never work. God must know that, because He tells us how to be free from living for the applause of others.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”

A Me-Focused Life
Romans 12:3 urges us not to think of ourselves too highly. Philippians 2:3 asks us to consider others more important than ourselves.

This one may not feel like freedom at first, but God is really handing us the keys out of the prisons of purposelessness, selfishness, and an all-about-me attitude. When we live like the world revolves around us, we must carry the weight of that world on our shoulders. God gives us an alternative. There is truly freedom in living like others matter more than ourselves.

So as you twirl your sparklers tonight and eat your funnel cake, certainly celebrate your position as a free citizen of the USA, but also celebrate all that God has promised you freedom from. Thank Him that where He is, there is deep and lasting freedom, and choose to live like the free girl that you are.

What has God set you free from? Leave me a comment to tell me about it. I promise I’ll read every one and celebrate with you (right after I chow down on a big slice of watermelon!).

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There's A Hole In My Sidewalk

My pastor recently read us this short, five-chapter story as a way to explain the progression of temptation in each of our lives.
hole in sidewalk

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit … but my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

So many of you have written to us lately that you feel trapped in patterns of sin. For you the image of sin being like a hole you’ve fallen into and must struggle to get out of probably makes a lot sense. That’s how sin feels, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why Isaiah 38:17 describes our lives without God as a “pit of destruction.”

If you’re in a pit of sin, whether you’ve fallen in willingly or unwillingly, it’s so important for you to understand that you don’t have to stay there. But just like avoiding that hole in the sidewalk, it’s also important for you make the hard choices necessary to avoid the sin pit the next time it’s in your path.

The Bible describes the sidewalk scenario this way:

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:14–15).

Let’s break that down …

First, we desire something that is outside of God’s best. Maybe it’s a desire to find our worth in what others think of us or a desire to be noticed by the guys around us. Maybe we desire more stuff or revenge or for the world to revolve around us just for a minute.

Those desires may not exactly be “sinful,” but they open a hole in the sidewalk. We find ourselves in trouble when we willingly walk toward it.

Sin happens when we jump into that hole. We start doing whatever it takes to get noticed, and suddenly we are trapped in sexual sin or wrapped up in gossip or pride because we fed our desire for attention. We sit at the bottom of the pit of selfishness or unforgivneness because we allowed our desire for those things to change our behavior.

And the pit is dark. And we are afraid. And if we stay there we will face death—death of potential, death of relationships, death of intimacy with the One who died to save us from the “pit of destruction.”

This is why we must always be on the lookout for holes in the sidewalk—traps that would lure us into sin. It is also why when we find ourselves trapped by sin, we must turn and run down a different street. The Bible says that this way:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13).

God has promised that He will always, always, always provide another street for you to walk down. You don’t have to keep walking down the same path and falling into the same pit. You don’t have to climb out on your own either. God has provided a way out.

So what are the holes in your sidewalk? What are the desires swirling in your head right now that make you vulnerable to the “pit of destruction”? Let me encourage you to take that question to God through prayer, and ask Him to show you if you’re walking toward a hole.

And if you’re already in the hole, even if you’ve been in the hole a really long time, be encouraged that God’s Word says that God will give you a way out. You do not have to stay in the pit. True, it will likely require you to walk down a whole new street. You will have to choose a radical change in direction. New streets can be scary and uncomfortable, but they sure beat life in a hole. How is God encouraging you to choose a new street?

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Snapshots of Persecution Happening Right Now

Yesterday, Paula wrapped up her series from the Beatitudes by focusing in on persecution. If you missed that post, be sure to check it out here.

prisoner's hands clasped in prayerI loved the post, but can I be honest? Persecution is a reality that gives me the willies. I don’t like to think about the persecution the disciples faced after Jesus’ death (like the fact that they were stoned, imprisoned, and eventually killed!). I squirm when I consider Jesus’ words that persecution is a blessing, because to be honest it’s hard for me to see it that way. Safety feels like a blessing. Freedom of religion feels like a blessing. But persecution? That seems much more like a curse.

And so sometimes I try to convince myself that persecution is a thing of the past. Maybe Jesus was simply talking to the members of the early church when He uttered “blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you.” It’s a warm and fuzzy theory, but the reality is that Christians are being persecuted right now. I’ve gathered a few of their stories. Let me encourage you to read them, pray for them, and ask God to give you wisdom to see how God is working in the midst of the persecution they face.

The Deadliest Place To Be a Christian

I was struck by this article when it came across my Twitter feed several weeks ago. It details the horrible conditions faced by Christians in Nigeria. Nigeria is a small country located on the west coast of Africa. Christians there face extreme danger, and many have been killed.

Here are some fast facts:

  • Last year, Nigerians alone accounted for almost 70 percent of Christians killed globally, making Nigeria the deadliest place to be a Christian.
  • In 2012 more than 900 Nigerian Christians were killed because of their faith. 
  • The destruction and burning of churches, Christian homes, and businesses is common practice in Nigeria. 
  • Christian neighborhoods are denied basic services such as roads and sewers.

An American Pastor Imprisoned In Iran

Pastor Saeed Abedini is an American citizen. His wife and two small children live in Idaho, and yet, right this moment, Saeed is sitting in a prison around the globe in Tehran, Iran.

Officially Saeed’s crime was “threatening national security” by leading house churches in Iran several years ago. He has been sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in pastoring home churches. He has been tortured during his imprisonment.

Despite all that he faces, reports indicate that Saeed is experiencing the blessing that Jesus promised concerning persecution.

“Despite his suffering, Pastor Saeed’s faith continues to keep him alive,” his attorneys say. “Other prisoners reportedly told Saeed’s family that when Pastor Saeed was released from solitary confinement, ‘he was glowing,’ and that miraculously he ‘was filled with more joy and peace after solitary’ than he was before solitary.”

You can write Pastor Saeed a letter or sign the petition for his release here.

Texas Cheerleaders Fight To Show Their Faith

Much closer to home a squad of Texas cheerleaders had to fight hard this year in order to showcase their faith. Cheerleaders at Kountze High School in Kountze, TX, were forbidden from putting religious slogans such as “If God is for us, who can be against us” on banners for games. They fought the ruling, went to court, and were eventually granted the right to place slogans and Bible verses on the banners again.

While it’s true these girls didn’t face angry mobs intent on burning down their churches, murdering them for their faith, or throwing them in prison, they did face opposition because of their faith. They were told to be silent about their beliefs in God and ordered to keep the Bible out of their everyday activities in their public high school. They are a great example of the fact that Christians should expect persecution, even if they live in an all-American town in Texas. Standing up for their faith against school officials and in the midst of what eventually became a full-blown lawsuit likely wasn’t easy, but they did it. Would you have the guts to do the same?

These are just snapshots of a reality in all four corners of the globe. Jesus meant what He said when He predicted “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22), and we have the choice to see persecution as the blessing Jesus does or to avoid it at all costs.

With that in mind, here are a few questions to consider:

  • What can you do to be a blessing to those who are being persecuted for their faith right now?
  • Have you faced persecution in your own life? How did you respond?
  • Do you see persecution as a blessing?

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Should I Submit To My Boyfriend?

girl making a heart finger frame“Should I submit to my boyfriend?”

That’s the question that one of the smart readers of this blog submitted recently. To be honest, it’s a bit of a stumper. Since a boyfriend is not the same as a husband, isn’t submission in that relationship a bit misplaced? Part of me thinks yes! But since I see dating as preparation for marriage (as opposed to just having fun), is it reasonable to think a girl could disregard what the Bible teaches about submission while dating then suddenly flip a switch after saying “I do”? Hmmm … that’s a little trickier.

Those same questions may be swirling in your mind as you consider how to act in your own dating relationship (now or in the future). If so, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Your boyfriend is not your husband.

You may really, really like your boyfriend. He may have everything you are looking for in a future husband. The two of you may have even talked about getting married. But none of that is the same as actually being married.

The reality is that break-ups happen. They happen to couples who love each other very much. They happen to couples who were sure they would be together forever. Break-ups can even happen after a couple becomes engaged. (Here are two stories where that’s exactly what happened: “Lessons Learned From a Cancelled Wedding” and “Hope for Broken Hearts.”

As you consider your relationship with your boyfriend, it is critical to keep in mind that he is not your husband. There is no place in Scripture that places a boyfriend as an authority over a girlfriend—likely because there is no guarantee that this is a permanent relationship.

This doesn’t mean that you can disregard everything your boyfriend says or treat him with disrespect. Ephesians 5:21 urges all Christians to submit to each other because of our loyalty to Christ. (By the way, if your boyfriend is not a Christian, please take time to read this post. It is always a good idea to treat others with love, respect, and consideration. However, don’t fall for the temptation to “play house” with your boyfriend and pretend that you are already husband and wife. The guidelines the Bible offers for married couples are just that—for married couples.

God has given you arenas to learn submission.

How’s a girl supposed to learn submission if she doesn’t submit to her boyfriend? God’s Word has that answer covered.

Ephesians 6:2 says, “‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise).”

Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Another way to think of submission is to respect, defer to, or honor. Marriage is not the only relationship where we are called to submit. You are clearly called to honor and submit to your parents. In fact, this is really the classroom where God intends for you to learn biblical submission. He also calls you to honor and obey your spiritual authorities. This could include your pastor, youth pastor, or mentor.

Do you find it difficult to submit to your parents? Do you tend to disregard it when your youth pastor calls out your sin or challenges you to live more Christ-like? Don’t be fooled into thinking that submission will be easier when you’re married. It will not. Make a habit of respecting others and deferring to those whom God has placed in authority over you now instead of assuming it will come more naturally later.

Remember what submission is all about.

The Bible clearly calls wives to submit to their husbands in Ephesians 5:22–24:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

This passage gives us a hint about why submission really matters. Marriage is to be a picture of Christ and the church. Paul really hammers this point home a few verses later.

This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32).

Submission isn’t about power trips. It’s about putting the mystery of the gospel on display. When you submit to your husband someday in marriage, you’ll be showing the world what it means for the Church to willingly surrender to the Lordship of Christ. That’s big stuff!

But you don’t have to be married to determine to let your relationships put Jesus on display. Look for ways to honor and glorify God in all of your relationships, including your dating relationships. Speak with kindness. Forgive freely. Run away from sexual sin. These are ways you can showcase Christ without treating your boyfriend like a husband.

“Should I submit to my boyfriend” is a good question. Perhaps an even better question is, “How can I use my relationship with my boyfriend to most honor God?” I’ll let you answer that one. Leave us a comment, and tell us what you think.

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A Soldier's Wife Redefines Marriage

Widow of WWII Soldier Waits Over 60 Years For the Love of Her Life – Tear Jerker! from joylights on GodTube.

The video above is a real tearjerker. The first time I watched it, I thought it was simply a Hallmark-card-like take of a soldier’s wife who understood sacrifice, patriotism, and loss. I suppose it is a story about those things, but one thing that the soldier’s wife said landed like a dart in my heart …

“Billy was married to me all of his life, and I chose to be married to him all of my life.”

Gulp.

The truth is, the woman in this story had only been married six weeks when her new husband shipped off to war. She never saw him again. Before they even celebrated their first anniversary, he was gone and she was left as a wife without a husband to hold, to be loved by, to build a life with.

It doesn’t sound like a very happy ending, but the soldier’s wife seems to have learned a lesson about marriage that we all need to know.

The goal of marriage isn’t to make us happy.

Sure, it’s possible to be happily married, but feeling happy isn’t the barometer we should use to decide if marriage is good. Did the soldier’s wife have a “happy” marriage? I would guess not, since the majority of her marriage was spent alone. But she was faithful. Perhaps she knows the truth that the Bible spells out in Ephesians 5:31–32.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

She faithfully loved one man her whole life even though he could not offer the same love in return. Does that portray Christ’s love for us, His Church? You betcha! She chose to keep her promise even when her husband failed to be able to keep his. Sound like a little like what Jesus did for us? Yes. It does.

In Lies Young Women Believe, Nancy and Dannah wrote about the mystery this way:

God did not design marriage to make you happy, but to glorify Himself. If you approach marriage in God’s timing and with a pure heart, it will likely prove to be one of the most wonderful experiences and gifts of your life. However, God’s ultimate purpose in marriage is not to make you happy. It is to glorify Himself.

When you look to a relationship with a guy to make you happy, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and potentially for disaster.

So … grab a box of Kleenexes, and watch that video one more time. This time ask yourself these questions:

  • If you were the soldier’s wife, would you have waited faithfully for a lifetime?
  • How do you think this story would be different if the wife looked to marriage to make her happy?
  • When you think about your future marriage, are you more concerned with how it will make you happy or how it will make you holy?

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I'm Sending You On A Scavenger Hunt

I’ve always loved scavenger hunts. That’s why I’m sending you on one.

Your assignment? Find the best quotes from the book Lies Young Women Believe or from posts on this site. We will turn your favorite quotes into shareable images for use on thi… Read more →

Should You Play Sports?

I read an interesting article recently that pointed out some troubling facts about the role sports is playing in many of our lives. For many of young women, soccerinvolvement in sports or other after-school activities may be in the driver’s seat, and they’re not taking you to a destination you should want to go.

Check it out:

  • The pastors of sixteen churches where attendance was dropping said that kids in sports was the number one reason why less people were coming to church.
  • More than one third of churchgoers in a separate study said that school- and sports-related activities were “quite a bit of an issue” when considering their church attendance.
  • Of those who only attend church a couple of times a year, more than two-thirds said they were too busy with other things, naming school- and sports-related activities as the biggest competitor for church attendance.

In other words, lots of people are going to church less so they can play sports more.

Why does that matter?

Church is more than just a building. It’s more than a place to hear a good sermon or sing a few worship songs. Church is the place where we are discipled to be more like Christ, where we ask for accountability from other Christians, where we can serve others often. For Christians, church shouldn’t be optional.

And yet, for many of us a busy schedule tends to push church down on the list of priorities. And church attendance isn’t the only place we see a flag on the play. I don’t have an article full of stats to back this up, but my time with teenage girls tells me that busyness also makes it hard to do some of the other essentials of the Christian life such as prayer and Bible study.

I’m not saying that sports are bad. It is possible to be an athlete and have a strong faith. I’m not claiming that the Bible says that when it comes to sports all Christians must sit the bench. But I would like us all to think through what we are really gaining through all of those practices, games, and tournaments.

If you’re involved in sports, it’s likely that you do it for the love of the game or as a way to get involved in what’s happening in your school. No problem there, but it is wise to ask yourself if being involved in sports or other extracurricular activities is pulling you away from something more important and kingdom-focused.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus gave this simple advice:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Kingdom priorities are to be our top priority. Anything that competes for seeking God and His kingdom first simply isn’t worth it.

With that in mind, I’d like you to think through the questions below. Leave us a comment with your answers.

  • Does my participation in sports make it hard for me to be regularly involved in church and youth group?
  • Does my practice and game schedule for sports make me feel too tired to pray and read my Bible on a regular basis?
  • Judging by my schedule, what am I putting first—God’s kingdom or my activities?

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What's The Big Stink About Submission?

When you think of a woman who’s a champion athlete, model, and celebrity, you might not use the word “submissive” to describe her. But that’s exactly how Gabrielle Reece describes herself when talking about her marriage.

Gabrielle has made a name for herself as a professional volleyball player, but recently she’s made headlines for something she said off the court. In her new memoir she wrote:

To truly be feminine means being soft, receptive, and—look out, here it comes—submissive.

That little sentence ignited a media firestorm, including a few heated interviews and lots of Internet backlash.

strong womanReece responded by saying that she thinks submission is a “sign of strength.”

I’m not telling you all of this to focus on a pro volleyball player and her marriage. I don’t know enough about Gabrielle Reece to know what submission means to her or what it looks like in her marriage. But I do think that such a loud reaction to one woman’s stance that submission is good for her marriage points to the way our culture tends to see the submission thing—for many “submission” has become a dirty word and an idea that makes them fighting mad.

And yet God’s Word says this:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22).

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands (Eph. 5:24).

What is submission exactly?

To submit means to lay down your will for the will of someone else, to yield to, to let someone else call the shots. In the context of marriage, this means that it is God’s plan that ultimately the buck will stop with your man and that you won’t always fight for your way. But marriage isn’t the only context that God calls us to submit.

In Hebrews 13:17, He asks us to submit to our spiritual leaders (such as pastors, youth pastors, and Christian mentors).

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Ephesians 5:21 asks us to approach other Christians with an attitude of submission out of respect for Christ.

All of these situations are just practice for the ultimate relationship where we are called to submit.

James 4:7 states it plainly, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.”

As Christians, God asks us to submit. That means instead of constantly fighting for our way, we are to defer to the requests and needs of others. When it comes to our relationship with God, we are to willingly swap our will for His.

Clearly, this is not a popular idea. In fact, it may make people mad if we choose to submit. We are likely to face our own internal fight as well. Submission isn’t easy. Perhaps Gabrielle is right, maybe it is a sign of strength, because it takes a strong woman to defer to others.

From pro volleyball players to average gals like me, we will likely all have to wrestle with the concept of submission at some point. We can choose to join the roar of the crowd, which screams that submission is crazy and outdated, or we can listen to the Word of God and ask Him to show us His plan for how we relate to others.

Does submission seem like a dirty word to you? Why do you think the culture gets so angry about the idea of submission? Do you agree with Gabrielle that submission is a sign of strength?

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Sticks And Stones And Broken Hearts

 

 

The video above tells a powerful story of the effects of bullying. For today’s post, I’d like to simply use this video as a jumping off point to launch a discussion about words, bullying, and hope.

Here are a … Read more →

A Radical Way To Pray For Mother's Day

FACT: Only 9 percent of teenagers say that they definitely plan to become parents in their early adult years. giving Mommy a kiss

FACT: About half of the public says it makes no difference that a growing number of women don’t ever plan to have children.

What do those numbers mean?

They mean that fewer and fewer girls your age ever plan to become mommas. There are probably lots of reasons for that, but the bottom line is that we live in a culture that no longer holds up motherhood as an important role. As a result, more and more young women are saying “no thanks” to the idea of becoming mothers.

Since Mother’s Day is fast approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about this trend. I’ve been thinking about you and wondering if “mommy” feels like a bad word in your vocabulary. Are you among the 90 percent of young women who don’t plan to become mothers, or among the radical minority looking forward to motherhood someday?

For a long time I pitched my tent in the first camp. For all of my teenage years and most of my young adult life, I wanted nothing to do with motherhood. Career? You betcha! “Big” ministry for God? Yes, please! But motherhood? No way!

This is one area where God has done major open heart surgery on me. Through His Word, He has shown me that motherhood is a high and holy calling. Now, three kids later, I shudder to think about what I might have missed if I’d stuck to my boycott of motherhood.

Check out what God says about children in Psalm 127:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
When he speaks with his enemies in the gate (vv. 3–5).

There’s some old-fashioned sounding language there. Let me see if I can sum it up in modern talk.

  • Children are a blessing from God.
  • Being a momma is a reward, not a curse.
  • Children are like ammunition for the battle.
  • They should be a source of respect, even among our enemies.

The culture may say that children are a burden. You may have even bought into some of that. But God’s Word is clear—children are a blessing.

I’m not saying you all need to rush out and become mommas ASAP. (I know you still have math homework!) But this Mother’s Day, I’d love for you to start praying a new prayer. Something like …

“God, would You show me Your heart for motherhood? And help me to be open to Your plans for my future family? Amen.”

It may be a long time before you receive a Mother’s Day card with your name on it. And for some of you, motherhood may not be in God’s plan for you at all. But the clear message of Scripture is that children are a blessing and motherhood is a good thing.

It’s a lesson I wish I’d learned a few Mother’s Days sooner.

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Can You Honor Mom If You Can't Get Along?

mother and teen daughterThis week wraps up with Mother’s Day, a holiday dedicated to telling mom how great she is and showering her with love, gifts, and words of affirmation.

But …

What if your mom isn’t so great?
What if your mom has disappointed you? Or you just can’t seem to get along with her? Or she’s not in the picture at all?

There isn’t exactly a Mother’s Day card dedicated to saying all of that! If you find that it’s hard for you to express love to your mom this Mother’s Day, here are a few points to ponder.

Honor—No Ifs, Ands, Or Buts

Over and over in Scripture, God commands us to “honor” our parents. Here are a couple of examples.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Ex. 20:12).

“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise) (Eph. 6:2).

Notice that there is no escape clause at the end of these verses. God doesn’t say honor your mother, unless she really gets on your nerves. Or honor your mother, unless her rules seem unreasonable. Or even honor your mother, unless she’s been a really crummy mom. In fact, it doesn’t talk about what kind of moms should be honored at all in these passages. That’s because God knows that we will want to find loopholes and push back against this particular commandment.  

To honor means to treat with respect. That doesn’t have to mean warm fuzzies, but it does mean to talk to your mom respectfully and to honor or follow her rules.

Even if your relationship with your mom is less than perfect right now, look for ways to honor her this Mother’s Day.

Try …

  1. Vowing not to argue or talk back for the entire day. (No eye rolling either!)
  2. Doing what she asks the first time.
  3. Writing her a card or letter that tells her what you respect about her. (I bet you can think of at least one thing!)

Be a Peacemaker

There are always two sides to every story. If your have a difficult relationship with your mom, it is likely that you are both at fault. However, since this blog isn’t liesmomsbelieve.com, I’ll have to stick to advising you in your unique role in your relationship with your mom.

Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Note: You’ll learn more about this verse soon as part of Paula’s series on the Beatitudes.)

If we want to be recognizable as God’s children, we need to make peace.

As Mother’s Day approaches, ask yourself these questions:

  1. In what ways am I contributing to the difficulties my mom and I are having?
  2. What can I do to make my relationship with my mom better?
  3. Is there anything I need to apologize to my mom for?

I bet your mom would accept your attempts to make peace with her as a beautiful gift this Mother’s Day.

Look For a Spiritual Mother

What if your mom isn’t in the picture? Then what? You can’t exactly honor or make peace with someone who isn’t there, can you?

First, let me say that to those of you who have lost a mom to death or divorce, I am so sorry. Your loss is huge, and I’d imagine that this is a particularly difficult holiday for you. But God sees your loss and heartbreak, and He calls His Church to reach out to you.

Galatians 4:27 says, “For it is written, ‘Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.'”

At first glance, this verse doesn’t seem to make much sense. How can a barren woman have more children than a woman with a husband? Why should a woman who cannot have children of her own rejoice? God is calling women to “spiritual mothering.” It’s an idea repeated in other places in Scripture like Titus 2:3–5.

If your mom is out of the picture, ask the Lord to provide someone who can mentor, love, and guide you.  No one will be able to replace your mother, of course, but it is possible for a wise, Christian woman to mother and nurture you.

You might consider taking a proactive approach instead of waiting for a spiritual mother to drop into your lap. Who are some women you respect and admire? Ask if you can spend some time with them. (Coffee? Sushi? Lunch date?) Invite them to be a part of your life.  

The bottom line is that the mother/daughter relationship doesn’t always feel like a Hallmark card. This holiday may be a reminder that you want your relationship with your mom to be better. Don’t spend the day wishing you had a different mom; do what you can to make your relationship as strong as it can be.

Let’s get that started right now. Tell me three things you respect about your mom in a comment below or three ways you plan to make peace. No flowers or mushy cards required. 

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The Big Mistake Your Tongue May Be Making

Is your tongue on fire? That’s the question I posed in Tuesday’s blog post based on James 3:5–9. That passage says:

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

gossipingJames was making a powerful point that we tend to forget—just like a single spark can burn a forest to the ground, our words (even just a few of them) have the power to destroy. If you take a minute to let James’ words sink in, it’s obvious that he’s speaking the truth. You’ve been burned by the words of others, haven’t you? And I bet you’ve allowed your words to singe others in return.

If we keep reading just a little bit further, we find a specific way our words can scald:

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so (v. 10).

James specifically addresses “my brothers” in this verse, but I have a hunch that James knew a thing about girl-world when he penned these words. We’re exceptionally good at spouting blessings and curses simultaneously. What might that sound like?

“She’s really pretty, but she can be so stuck up.”
“Yeah, she’s nice, but sometimes she really gets on my nerves.”
“She’s such a flirt, but I just love her to death.”

Blessings and curses coming out of the same mouth … often in the same sentence. We girls know how to sugarcoat our burning words, don’t we? But James simply reminds us that “these things ought not to be so.”

In other words, stick to the blessings and ditch the curses all together. You’ve got no business using your words to tear down others, even if you wrap it in a compliment.

But sometimes, we just need to vent, right? After all, we’re just being honest. If you’ve ever justified blessing and cursing that way, you need to check this out:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29).

This verse draws a hard line in the sand. If it tears others down, don’t say it. If it builds others up, do. Good advice in light of the fact that our tongues are a spark capable of setting an entire forest ablaze, huh?

‘Fraid you can’t straddle the fence here—you can either seek to tame your restless tongue by sticking to words that bless and build up, or you can keep starting fires by cursing and tearing down. So take a look at that hard line, and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you use your words to tear others down (even when they can’t hear you)?
  2. Do you refuse to say anything that is unwholesome? That means that if it is harmful, impure, or unhelpful, you don’t say it.
  3. Do you bless and curse at the same time? Do you wrap your put-downs in a compliment?

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From The Archives: Excuse Me, Your Tongue’s On Fire

Is your tongue on fire? No, I’m not talking about eating spicy food. I’m referencing our power to set things ablaze with the words that we say. I’ve been struggling a bit with guarding my words lately, so I pulled up this post on the subject from our archives. Just in case any of you have a tongue that’s been smoldering, I’ve decided to repost this video and blog as a reminder that our tongues can cause a lot of damage.

 

 

In case you couldn’t load the YouTube video above, here’s a play-by-play. 

In the middle of a dark night, a single arrow is set on fire. It’s not a big fire; a little more than a spark, really. We see the arrow fly through the air. It meets its target, and BOOM! Suddenly a bonfire is raging. 

This video is a picture of a truth that James lays out in James 3:5–9:

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell … no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

Aw, c’mon, James! Aren’t you being a bit dramatic? Is the tongue really capable of setting a forest ablaze? Is it really a “restless evil full of deadly poison”?

‘Fraid so. 

Let me put it this way: How many of you have been badly burned by the words of others? How many of you have deeply wounded others with just your words? Yeah, me too. 

In fact, I think our tongues are a lot like that pile of kindling from the video, just waiting for a spark to burst into flames and cause us to sin. And sins of the tongue are a lot like bonfires. There’s no such thing as a little lying or a little gossip or just a little bit of being rude to your parents. We don’t usually do just a little bit of complaining or a little bit of tearing others down with our words. Sins of the tongue can quickly become raging fires in our lives, and without God’s help we cannot reign in the flames. 


I spoke on this passage recently at a girls’ retreat in Oklahoma. After exposing our tongues as a weak spot where many of us fall into sin, I shared this verse of hope. (It’s one I write about often here on the blog because I think it matters so much in the life of every Christian.) 


Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16). 

Soon afterward, the craziest thing happened. One by one the girls stood up and did what James urges in this verse. 

They said …

“My tongue is a weak spot in the area of anger, and I want you to hold me accountable.”
“My tongue is a weak spot in the area of sassiness, and I want you to hold me accountable.” 
“My tongue is a weak spot in disrespecting my parents, and I want you to hold me accountable.”
“My tongue is a weak spot in the area of flirting, and I want you to hold me accountable.”
“My tongue is a weak spot in the area of judging others, and I want you to hold me accountable.”

As they shared, they worked as fire extinguishers for each other, combating the bonfire effect that sins of the tongue can have. Owning up to the fact that our tongues are an area where many of us struggle and asking for others to help us choose God’s truth can have the same effect on the readers of this blog. 

So here is my challenge to you. Leave us a comment telling us how your tongue is a weak spot when it comes to sin and how we can pray for you. Consider us your fire safety patrol, interested in pointing you toward God’s truth as we all work together to tame the tongue.

Psst … for more on this passage from James, be sure to check out Erin’s post on Thursday.

 

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The Words Of A Groom On His Wedding Day

From the LYWB.com team: The following thoughts were posted by a twenty-seven-year-old groom on Facebook the day of his wedding. We thought his post was so sweet and encouraging that we couldn’t wait to pass it on to you. I hate to jump to the punch li… Read more →

Don't Hit The Snooze On This

hit the snooze“I’m so glad I got to spend this time with you, Erin” she said, “because now I know how to pray for you.”

These were the words of a sweet lady named Emma who was tasked with picking me up at the airport and driving me to a recent event. We had never met before, but over lunch and a short road trip we got to know the basics of each other’s lives. I learned about her grandson with special needs and her accountant husband who was busy crunching numbers in anticipation of tax time. I filed these kernels of information away as typical “getting to know you” stuff, but Emma went way beyond that. Emma was determined to use what she learned to inform how she prayed.

Emma is a prayer warrior—one of those people who operates as if she truly believes in the power of prayer. Because, of course, she does. She’s seen God work over and over, and she knows that the most important thing she can do for others is to pray.

I want to be more like Emma.

My prayer life has always been a bit wimpy. I want to be a prayer warrior, want to be a girl who runs to the Lord first and often, want to stand in the gap for others through prayer … but I rarely do.

What Emma seemed to get that I have been missing is that prayer is simply a conversation. She talked to the Lord all day long about all kinds of things. Big things. Small things. Things that matter to other people. Things that matter just to her. Things where she needs God to move RIGHT NOW and things where she is simply asking for a gradual change.

Emma didn’t pigeonhole her prayer life into a time slot or category. She simply talked to God all the time. And God listened and responded … all the time.

The rhythm of Emma’s prayer life is actually described in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, which says, “Pray without ceasing.”

That’s a fancy way of saying start praying and don’t stop. When it comes to prayer don’t back off, don’t break off, don’t call it a day, don’t discontinue the conversation. Just talk to God.

That’s good news. It means to be an Emma-caliber prayer warrior I don’t have to know exactly when and where to pray. I simply need to talk to the Lord and keep talking.

So with that goal in mind, I’d like to challenge us all to set our alarms for a different kind of reminder. Actually, I’d like us to commit to each setting two alarms a day for the next ten days, one for 5:17 p.m. and one for 5:17 a.m. (Yep, I know that’s early!) When the alarm goes off, we need to do a simple task—start praying. That way we will start every day by opening a dialogue with the Lord and head into each evening by keeping the conversation going.

So who’s with me? Are you willing to set their alarm as a reminder to “pray without ceasing”? If you’re in, leave me a comment below to tell me about it.

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A Wise Checklist

Some of you are feeling foolish.

You left us a comment telling us so after I posted a list of what makes a fool last week. The Bible gets pretty specific about what kinds of choices fools make in orderwise girl to guide us toward the opposite of foolishness . . . wisdom.

Fortunately for each of us, the Bible doesn’t just warn us what not to do in order to avoid living foolishly, it also gives us some firm advice of what wise living looks like. So let’s revisit those verses from our “foolish checklist” and see if we can come up with a picture of what it means to be a girl gone wise.

A wise girl …

Whew! Those are high standards to live up to! The truth is, we will all fall short and make foolish choices from time to time, but Proverbs helps us see exactly what wise living should look like in order to help us avoid foolishness.

If you try to tackle that entire list at once, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed. Instead, ask the Lord to show you one or two areas where you’ve been making foolish choices and to help you choose wisdom. Then head right back here and tell us how you plan to flee from foolishness and choose wisdom this week.

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A Foolish Checklist

On Tuesday I wrote about the “foolish woman” described in Proverbs 7. What makes her foolish is mostly the way she interacts with guys. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been known to act a fool around a fella a time or two. But the Bible gives strong warnings about this kind of woman. A foolish woman is someone we should all work hard to avoid becoming.

Proverbs 7 isn’t the only place we find a description of foolishness. In fact, the books of Psalms and Proverbs are loaded with warnings of what foolishness looks likejester in action. Most of these verses also offer a contrasting reality, which is wisdom.

The writer of Proverbs 7 offers this bit of advice, “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call insight your intimate friend” (v. 4).

We should know wisdom as well as we know our very own siblings. We should keep it as close as we keep our best friends. I suppose, in contrast, we should treat foolishness like that toxic friend who only brings us down—we need to keep our distance. We should work to be so familiar with the face of foolishness that we recognize it when it comes into our lives so we can turn on our heels and run. With that in mind, here is a description of foolishness based on Psalms and Proverbs. If you see any areas where you’ve been living foolishly, stop reading and look up the passage that are mentioned to find out what the wiser choice is.

  • A fool says, “there is no God” (Ps. 14:1, 53:1).
  • A fool loves to be the center of attention and is overly confident in herself (Ps. 49:12–14).
  • A fool despises wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7).
  • A fool hates knowledge (Prov. 1:22).
  • A fool loves to maintain the status quo/resists change (Prov. 1:32).
  • A fool rebels against and embarrasses her parents (Prov. 10:1, 15:5, 20).
  • A fool talks too much (Prov. 10:8, 14).
  • A fool is a backstabber (Prov. 10:18).
  • A fool thinks doing the wrong thing is funny (Prov. 10:23).
  • A fool is reckless and careless (Prov. 14:16).
  • A fool has a quick temper (Prov. 14:17).
  • A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing her opinion (Prov. 18:2).
  • A fool is always quarreling with those around her, a.k.a. drama queen (Prov. 20:3).
  • A fool spends all she has instead of saving (Prov. 21:20).
  • A fool worships herself (Prov. 30:32).

Based on that checklist, do you treat foolishness like a good friend? Do you let her into your world and let her influence the way you live? Or do you treat wisdom like your bestie and tell foolishness to keep her distance?

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LYWB.com Makes Big Announcement

From the LYWB.com team: After more than five years as a blog dedicated to exposing lies and replacing them with God’s truth in the lives of young women, we’ve decided to switch directions. From now on this blog will be dedicated entirely to the subject of goat herdinggoat. You can follow us at our new url www.liesgoatherdersbelieve.com. 

Clearly, I’ve never been good at practical jokes … as you can tell by my sad attempt above which is a) a day late for an April Fool’s Day prank and b) not very believable. But I wanted to get you thinking about the subject of fools. April Fool’s Day is a strange tradition where we create a national pastime out of making people feel foolish, but the truth is that foolishness is no joke.

Did you know that the Bible mentions the word “fool” nearly 200 times? Most of those references can be found in the books of Psalms and Proverbs as descriptions of a foolish person. These passages tell us that to be a fool is much worse than falling for a practical joke. A foolish person is likely to find themselves in a lot of trouble as a result of their foolish ways.

In fact, Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

One of the first hallmarks of a fool is that they plug their ears when someone offers them wise advice. If we want to avoid being fools, we need to be eager to learn all that God wants to teach us in His Word. With that in mind, I’d like to take a couple of days to study God’s definition of foolishness so that we can all seek to live like wise women.

Proverbs 7 describes a foolish woman. Certainly, guys can act foolishly too, but since this site is dedicated to the lies young women believe (NOT to lies goatherders believe), this passage is a great place to start as we seek to understand what foolishness truly looks like.

Let me encourage you to read the entire passage yourself, but here are some of the highlights.

A foolish woman…

  • Flatters with her words (vv. 5, 21). In other words she is known to tell people what they want to hear and can be a flirt when it comes to the fellas.
  • Puts herself in bad situations (v. 9).
  • Dresses immodestly (v. 10).
  • Is loud and attention seeking (v. 11).
  • Is aggressive toward guys (v. 13).

Before you wave this passage off and assume that it could never be describing a Christian girl, notice what it says about her in verse 14:

“I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows.”

Home girl had been to church. She’d made sacrifices like a good girl should and probably dropped a few coins in the offering plate, but she came home and acted however she wanted to. She checked the boxes of someone living for God, but ultimately chose to live for herself. That is what foolishness looks like.

Which brings me to you. Do you have the characteristics of a foolish woman? Here are some specific questions to help you think that through.

  1. Do you tend to tell people what you think they want to hear even when it is an exaggeration or twist of the truth?
  2. Do you talk to guys in a way that makes them think you’re interested in them?
  3. Do you approach the guys you like first instead of waiting for them to pursue you?
  4. Do you frequently find yourself in bad situations or situations where you are tempted to sin because you don’t have good boundaries in place?
  5. What does the way that you dress communicate to those around you?
  6. Do you need to be the center of attention?
  7. Do you use your words, your talents, or your presence to grab the spotlight whenever possible?
  8. Do you go to church, read your Bible, or go to youth group but tend to be someone else entirely when you are away from that scene?

I’m not looking for “right” answers here. I bet that foolish woman in Proverbs 7 could have told me what I wanted to hear if I’d given her the chance. (Remember how good she is at flattering with her words?) But I would love for you to use this list as a jumping off point to think about areas where you might be living like the foolish woman.

We’ll chat more about how the Bible defines foolishness on Thursday, but for now I’ve got to run. I’ve got a goat blog to launch!

PS: For more on the foolish woman, check out this great article on Proverbs 7 by Lies Young Women Believe author Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

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What's The Big Deal About Sunday?

3 crosses

Raise your hand if you’ve been going to church since you were in the womb. Keep it up if you’ve celebrated at least fifteen Easters in church.

I can’t see those hands through the computer screen, but I am sure there are many of them raised. That’s a good thing! It’s great that so many of you are so familiar with the Easter story. But sometimes that means that when the day rolls around, we move into auto pilot—moving through the motions of pastel dresses, church services, and dinner with family without every pausing to consider why the empty tomb matters so much.

I don’t want you to miss it this year, so let’s start with the basics. As Christians, we set aside Easter to celebrate the fact that three days after Jesus was crucified, His friends came to His tomb to find it empty (John 20). At first they panicked, thinking His body had been stolen. Peter and John took off running to tell the bad news to the disciples. Mary Magdalene stayed at the tomb, glued there by her grief until she heard some of the most powerful words ever spoken …

“Woman, why are you crying?” (John 20:13).

Those words came from angels. They weren’t being insensitive. They simply already knew that her grief was misplaced. Jesus was not dead. He had risen. Soon afterward, Jesus Himself appeared to Mary, then to the disciples, and then to people throughout the region before ascending back to heaven and promising to prepare a place for those of us who love and follow Him.

The moment the empty tomb was discovered was a turning point, a game changer. In fact, it changed everything. Jesus was dead. His body was in a tomb that was sealed with a stone. Mary’s wept because her friend and Savior was buried. Because He is our Savior, too, our hope was buried with Him. Everything seemed dark.

But then … everything changed in an instant. Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. The grave was empty. He wasn’t dead. He was alive. Hope wasn’t buried. It was resurrected.

Here’s a little perspective on that reality.

Buddha’s body was cremated and placed into relics.
Muhammad is buried in a mosque in Saudi Arabia.
The founder of Scientology was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.
The central figure of Rastafarianism is interred in a cathedral in Ethiopia.

Jesus alone conquered death and rose from the grave. It’s the most dramatic difference between Him and other spiritual leaders. The resurrection not only confirms His divinity, it reveals why Jesus is a safe place to put our hope.

Since He overcame death, there is nothing in our lives or in our world that Jesus cannot overcome.

To be clear, Easter is not about you. It is about a God so big that nothing, not even death, can defeat Him. But the reason we should celebrate with intentional gladness this Sunday is that there is nothing in our lives that is impossible for Jesus to overcome. There is nothing dead in our hearts or circumstances that He cannot breathe life back into.

Are there circumstances in your life that feel hopeless?
Have you had to “bury” something that you love dearly this year?
Are you facing something that feels impossible to overcome?

That’s good. You’re in a prime position to look into the empty tomb this Easter and see hope. There is nothing that can defeat Jesus. There is no power that can hold Him. There is nothing that can stop Him. All of that means He is a safe place to put our hope.

What’s the big deal about Easter? Simply put, Jesus is alive. May you worship Him with that in mind this Sunday.

Note: Portions of this post are taken from Erin’s book Beautiful Encounters: The Presence of Jesus Changes Everything, set to release June 1st.

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Strap On Your Mining Hats, We're Digging For Treasure!

I’ve often said there are two kinds of girls in this world. There are the diamond-loving girls, who would rather have one itty-bitty, sparkling piece of glass on their finger than a thousand rings made of cubic zirconium. And then there are the girls who prefer funk to flash. They’d rather have chunky bracelets and necklaces made of plastic than drop the dough required to wear the real stuff.

I myself hang out in the second group. I asked for a guitar for my sixteenth birthday. When my parents got me diamond earrings instead (my birthstone), I almost burst into tears. I never did become a rocker, but my love for costume jewelry has only grown since then. My bucket (yes, bucket) of fake, plastic jewelry is on my list of items I’d grab in a fire. Even so, I can appreciate the value of the real thing. There’s something special about a diamond that was mined from within the earth rather than being manufactured by a machine. When you set my plastic jewels beside the brilliance of a real diamond, it’s clear where the real value is.

Truth is like that.

minerPsalm 119:160 says this about the truth found in God’s Word:

All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

John 17:17 says, “Your word is truth.”

It’s tempting to follow the crowd, to believe everything that seems true or to live as if there is no truth at all, only “my truth,” “your truth” and the squishy stuff in-between, without every stopping to ask, “Is this true?”

That way of thinking may work for a while. You may sew together a patchwork theology of ideas about God that makes sense to you, but when you hold those ideas up to the real thing—God’s Word—it will be very clear they are fake.

Which makes me wonder … are you mining for truth?

Did you know the biggest diamond ever found was more than 3,000 carats? In its original size, it was about as big as a small apple. Now that’s a lot of bling! The man who was tasked with cutting the diamond into smaller diamonds was named Joseph Asscher. Because the diamond was so rare, Asscher studied the diamond for months before making a single cut.

Can you imagine studying one rock for months? (Yawn!) Why did Asscher do that? Because he had been given a treasure that was unbelievably valuable. In fact, the first time he tried to cut the diamond, he fainted from the pressure.

Girls, I want you to be diamond cutters. More specifically, I want you to be students of the diamond, the treasure, God gives us in His Word.

Proverbs 2 gives us this bold promise:

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you … if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God (vv. 1, 4–5, emphasis added).

Do you see the Bible as a treasure? Do you study it like you’re mining for precious silver?

Learning God’s Word won’t happen by accident. You can’t set your Bible on your nightstand and expect to find the kind of treasure God promises in His Word. Your youth pastor can’t download it into your brain. Your parents can’t force-feed it to you. You have to seek the treasure of God’s truth for yourself.

It will take work. It may feel like studying the same rock for months before making a single cut, but the treasure found in God’s Word is so valuable, it is worth the effort.

Sometimes, we all need a reminder that God’s Word is a treasure. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Bible is “living and active” and that it works like a sharp, two-edged sword, doing surgery on our hearts.

Do you need answers today?
Does your heart need some work in order to heal properly?
Is it hard for you to separate fake truth from the real deal?
Do you want to understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God?

If so, let me give you a simple action step today. Study God’s Word. Don’t study it like it’s homework or something you have to check off some invisible good girl to-do list. Study it like it’s a treasure (because it is!). Study it like it holds the answers to what you’re looking for (because it does!). Read it like you’re mining for something precious. Then hop right back here on the blog, and tell me what you discover.

Note: Portions of this post are taken from Erin’s latest book, My Name Is Erin: One Girl’s Journey To Discover Truth. Watch for it this summer. My Name is Erin

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Who's Having The Best Sex?

The culture says it’s best to take partners for a “test drive” when it comes to sex before marriage. God’s Word says to save sex until after you say, “I do.”
Just Married

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who really understands how sex is supposed to work?

One way to find out is to ask a bold question—who is having the best sex? The answer may surprise you.

The culture may be screaming that practice makes perfect when it comes to great sex. But proponents of that thinking simply aren’t doing their homework.

In an article titled “Sex Without Marriage Often Ruins People’s Health and Well-being,” physician John R. Diggs Jr. outlined the specific and often devastating consequences of unmarried sex, including promiscuity, abortion, unstable family life, displacement of men, and exposure of women and children to high risks.

Clearly, sex outside of marriage is not “practice” without potential pitfalls. Perhaps that’s why research proves that married people are having the best sex. An article titled “Aha! Call It the Revenge of the Church Ladies” published in USA Today concluded that Christian women (and the men who sleep with them, aka their husbands) are among the most sexually satisfied people on the planet.

Yep. You read that right. According to a neutral, non-Christian magazine, Christian, married couples are having the best sex.

Why? Because sexual enjoyment flourishes in the context of a committed relationship. In contrast, sex outside of marriage isn’t “practice.” It isn’t a “good opportunity to measure future sexual compatibility.” It is outside of God’s plan and the result is baggage—not freedom. The very best sex comes from sticking to God’s plan.

Beyond simply waiting for great sex, there is a lesson here about God and His Word. When He asks us to wait for something, or to avoid it altogether, it isn’t to punish us or to keep us sidelined from the fun. When He gives us boundaries, it is always for our good.

Psalm 119:75 says, “I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous.”

First John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (emphasis added).

The facts about great sex are just one example of the truth that God has our best in mind. His laws are for our good. The way He asks us to live is the very best path we can choose.

Is He asking you to wait for something right now? Do you wonder if the culture is right and you need to “test drive” those things that God asks you to postpone? If so, here’s a prayer, straight from God’s Word, that I want to encourage you to start praying:

Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
I cling to your testimonies, O LORD;
let me not be put to shame!
I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart! (Ps. 119:29–32).

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Clean the Slate

Is “Born-Again Virginity” Possible?

Yesterday I mentioned that this year’s star of The Bachelor, Sean Lowe, has made headlines by declaring himself a "born-again virgin." Presumably what he means is that he was once sexually active, but decided to take a different path and has now committed to saving sex until after marriage. I am not holding Sean up as the poster boy for… Read more →

bachelor

Bachelor Buzz: Is Virginity “Ridiculous”?

Tonight is the season finale of The Bachelor. Millions of viewers are expected to tune in to find out if the bachelor will drop down on one knee to propose to the one girl who survived another season of high drama, elaborate dates, and rose ceremonies. I’ll admit it; I’ve been sucked into a season or two of The Bachelor… Read more →

A Place For All Those Tears

In Luke 8:51–52 Jesus approaches a crowd mourning the death of a twelve-year-old girl. His words to them may seem strange considering that they had good woman cryingreason to be upset.

But He said, “Stop crying” (v. 52).

In Luke 7:13 He says the exact same words to a momma whose only son had died. She sure had reason to cry. Her situation was exceptionally hopeless. And yet …

“He said, ‘Don’t cry.'”

When we tell someone not to cry, it’s usually because we are uncomfortable with their emotions or because we think they’re overreacting. But when Jesus told people not to cry, it was because He had a plan to do something about their pain. He had the power to dry up their tears.

The crowd who was mourning the death of the young girl? Just a few minutes later they received the amazing news that Jesus had raised her back to life. The widow who was burying her only son? She saw Jesus raise him from the dead with her very own eyes.

In both cases Jesus said “don’t cry” because He was about to take the pain away.

But I bet there are things you’ve had to bury that Jesus has not raised back to life. I am sure there are situations that make you cry where it seems like Jesus has not intervened. It may feel like there’s no reason to stop crying over the things that cause you pain.

I get that. I do.

I’ve got junk in my own life that makes me cry. There are times when I cannot hold back the tears. When that happens, I tend to wonder where my miracle is. Does Jesus even see my tears?

It was in that state recently that I stumbled across this verse.

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book? (Ps. 56:8).

Where is God when my tears start to flow? He’s keeping a tally of what makes me toss and turn. He’s collecting my tears in a bottle. He is recording them in a book.

In other words … He sees me. The things that keep me up at night don’t fly under His radar. He keeps a record of the junk that causes me pain.

And just what will He do with those tallies? What’s His plan for a bottle full of tears with my name on it? What’s the use of a book full of tears?

Revelation 21:4 gives the answer.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

I believe He is collecting my tears in a bottle because one day He will pour the bottle out and refill it with joy. He may not say “don’t cry” to me every time I am sad now, but a day is coming when He will, because He does have a plan to set all things right. It’s a promise that we can hold on tightly to whenever the tears start to flow.

What makes you cry these days?
What kind of tears is your bottle full of? Angry tears? Disappointed tears? Wounded tears? Shameful tears? Worried tears?

God sees them all. In fact, He keeps them in His collection, because one day He will look you in the eye and say, “Don’t cry.” And when He does it will mean He’s dried up your tears—for good.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! (Ps. 126:5).

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Walking With The Wise

friendsHas anyone ever said something like this to you . . .

“Birds of a feather flock together.”

“If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?”

Since we aren’t birds and our friends are unlikely to go cliff jumping, the message of these phrases can get a little lost in translation. Perhaps a few words from a juvenile court judge can clear the matter up.

Recently, an email from a former juvenile court judge found its way into my inbox. The focus of his email was prayer, but a few sentences he wrote at the beginning got me thinking about Y-O-U.

As a juvenile court judge, I often told young people who entered my court, “Show me who you are hanging around with, and I will show you what you are going to become like.”

Scripture puts it this way: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20).

You don’t have to enter a juvenile court room for these words to have meaning. The judge and the writer of Proverbs are preaching a simple message that all of us would be wise to remember.

1. When you spend your time with wise people, you will become wiser yourself.
2. When you spend your time with unwise people, you are guaranteed to get hurt.

I’m sure the judge could tell lots of stories of young criminals whose feet were set on the wrong path simply by choosing the wrong friends. I can tell you plenty of stories from my own life of times I got burned because I let myself be a “companion of fools.” I bet you have some of those stories too.

Certainly, we should be friendly to non-Christians and are free to spend some time with people that might fall into the category of being “unwise.” But our closest friends—the people we spend the most time with—should be wise. That means they should fear God—the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). And they should know and seek to live out the wisdom found in God’s Word. We should notice that when we’re around them, we become wiser ourselves.

So let me join the judge in asking you, do you have wise friends? If so, you get a gold star. Even more importantly, you get the promise that those friends will help you grow in your own walk with Christ. On the flipside, are you closest friends non-Christians? Or maybe they’re Christians who consistently make unwise choices or disregard the wisdom found in God’s Word. Be warned! Those girls are likely to cause you harm or to encourage you to do harm to yourself. (Ah . . . that’s what all that bridge jumping talk is about!)

The choice is simple, but not always easy. Choose wise friends, and gain wisdom. Choose unwise friends, and gain trouble and pain. So go on, and take the judge’s advice. Show us who you are hanging around with. Your answer will inevitably show us where you’re destined to end up.

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labels

New Labels

What does your label say? No, I’m not talking about the tag in the back of your shirt. (Why do those need to be made out of such itchy fabric anyway?) I’m talking about the invisible labels that no one else can see, but you can. I’m talking about the kind of labels you wish you could rip right off.… Read more →

adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure

Thanks for taking our people pleaser quiz yesterday. There were no right or wrong answers, but I did want to get you thinking about whether or not people pleasing is your standard operating procedure. What is people pleasing exactly? It’s making choices based on either:    a) impressing other people.    b) avoiding disappointing other people. Many of you fessed… Read more →

peoplepleaser

Are You A People Pleaser?

On some level, each of us wants to please the people around us. People pleasing seems to be stamped into our DNA, especially as girls. However, working too hard to please others can be like stepping into a trap. More on that tomorrow . . . for now, I’d like to get the wheels in your head turning as you… Read more →

A Call To Pray For Your College Campus

Are there things about your school that you’d like to see God change?

Are there people on your campus who desperately need to know the powerful message of the gospel or the reach of God’s love?

Do you sometimes feel like the only one at your school who is willing to live like God’s called you?

If you answered “yes,” let me follow up with one more question. (Zero guilt intended. Promise.)

When was the last time you prayed for your school?

With that question in mind, I’d like to invite you to check out this video, promoting the 2013 Collegiate Day of Prayer.

Will you join those who have already agreed to set aside the day to pray for campuses across the country? Will you pray for the college campus close to you on February 28, or make plans to pray for your own high school?

If so, leave us a comment to tell you what school you’ll be praying for just ten days from today.

PS: Click on this site for more info.

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More Than Waiting Well

We talk a lot on this blog about waiting for God to bring the right kind of guy at the right time. It’s an important message. Much heartache has been caused by rushing into love or forcing a relationship that is outside the parameters of God’s best for you.

girl and balloonWhen it comes to love, I want you to wait well. But I also want you to know that waiting well doesn’t work like a magic formula. You can guard your purity. You can trust God with your love life. You can write lists and save pennies and work on being the right person for love, but none of that guarantees that you will end up happily married to the man of your dreams until death do you part.

I want to temper the good advice we’re offering you on this blog about waiting with the reality that God is in charge and He has not promised our version of a fairy tale ending, no matter how well we wait.

It’s a reminder that Lies Young Women Believe author Nancy Leigh DeMoss gives in the book Lies Women Believe. She addresses unfulfilled longings—those desires we have that go unmet. Nancy teaches two key lessons about unfulfilled longings that seem worth repeating this Valentine’s Day.

Lesson #1: We will always have unfulfilled longings this side of heaven.

“If we could have all our longings fulfilled down here, we would easily be satisfied with staying here, and our hearts would never long for a better place,” Nancy writes.

She goes on to point out that instead of taking matters into our own hands, we must learn to be content. Contentment means to be satisfied . . . to stop looking over the fence and admiring the green grass of other circumstances and to decide that the way your life is right now is okay with you. It’s an idea that reminds me of something the apostle Paul wrote:

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through [Christ] who strengthens me (Phil. 4:11–13).

Paul knew what it was like to go without, but he also knew a secret: contentment doesn’t come from having everything we want; it comes from looking to Christ for strength.

God may or may not grant your desire to be married just like He may not grant many other desires, even the things you really, really want. As you look at your life, do you take Paul’s approach? Have you learned to be content, even when things don’t go the way that you want them to? Single or married, in love or out, can you say that you are satisfied because your strength, joy, peace, etc. comes from God? That’s the sweet spot, and choosing to be content—even when things don’t go like you want them to—is even more important than simply waiting well.

Lesson #2: The deepest longings of our hearts cannot be filled by any created person or thing.

“This is one of the most liberating truths I have discovered in my own pilgrimage,” Nancy writes. “For years, I looked to people and circumstances to make me happy. Time after time, when they failed to come through, I would find myself disgruntled and disappointed.”

Do you feel like having a guy will make you happy? Would being married ease the disappointment you feel about your life? Maybe. For a while, but the truth is no person, no matter how great, can meet your deepest longings. That’s God’s job.

That’s the message I want to seek deep into your hearts today, girls. God is enough. He is the answer to:

  • your loneliness.
  • your longing to be loved.
  • your desire to be known.
  • your fears about the future.

I think it’s great to desire marriage. God designed it after all! I want you to wait for God’s timing for romance and to keep your eyes on Him while you wait. But I don’t want you to think of love like a race, where you will someday cross the finish line. Instead, know that married or unmarried unfulfilled longings are part of our citizenship on the planet. There will be things we want that we do not get and the deepest holes in our hearts can only be filled by God.

If you’re waiting for love this Valentine’s Day, let me encourage you to do more than wait well. Instead, be satisfied. Let God be enough for you today, and trust Him with the desires of your heart that have not been met yet.

What do you find most difficult about being content in your current circumstances? Leave us a comment to tell us about it. We’d love to pray with you that God would show you that He is enough.

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Worth The Wait

Candy hearts. Chocolate kisses. Red roses. Yep. Tomorrow must be Valentine’s Day. It can be a great day for those who are in love. For those who are not, an entire holiday dedicated to romance can be a little (okay a lot!) discouraging.

I know that many of the readers of this blog are single. You have written to tell us that you are committed to God’s will when it comes to romance. To you I send out a colossal pat on the back. (I’d send you each a bag of chocolate if I could!) I know that waiting isn’t easy, especially when the whole world seems to be celebrating being in love.

That’s why I wanted to tell you Stephanie’s story. Stephanie knows what it’s like to wait for love. She also knows the rewards of waiting well with her eyes on Jesus. If you find yourself waiting this Valentine’s Day, be encouraged by Stephanie. She’d tell you that spending a few Valentine’s Days alone is a small price to pay for letting God write your love story.

Meet Stephanie. She’s my super-talented, super-fun, music-loving friend. She also happens to be thirty-nine years old. Oh, and she’s single. She’s been faithfullyStephanie waiting for God to bring her the right man at the right time for a long time.

Several years ago, Stephanie decided to do something while she waited. She started collecting pennies. I’ve been with Stephanie when she’s seen a penny on a sidewalk. Watch out! Little old ladies and small children best not stand between Stephanie and a penny. That’s because for sixteen years Stephanie has put the pennies she finds in a jar. For more than six years she has saved every single penny she comes across. When she puts a penny in a jar, she prays this prayer:

Jesus, thank You that You are going to bring me the man of my dreams in Your timing. When You do, I will cash in these pennies to buy his wedding band.

Stephanie's penniesThe pennies keep Stephanie’s heart focused on God. Every penny is a reminder that God is good . . . He is faithful . . .He can be trusted. The pennies have become a reminder to trust, to wait patiently, and put her hope in God.

Stephanie isn’t the only one who needs this reminder. As people heard about Stephanie’s penny collection, they remembered that they are also called to put their hope in God and to wait patiently for His plan to unfold. They started sending her pennies as a thank-you. She has pennies in her penny jar from all over the world.

Stephanie has waited a long time. She’s collected a lot of pennies—over 20,000 to be exact.

Then one day last year, Stephanie met Eloy. (Eloy happens to be a super-talented, super-fun, music-loving guy!)
Stephanie and Eloy

I happened to be in the room for that electric introduction. Sparks flew, but they were tempered by two hearts that had learned long ago to let God call the shots. After that day, Stephanie and Eloy prayerfully moved forward. They sought wise guidance from others who committed to pray. They looked to God for direction every step of the way.

God’s direction led to a diamond ring.

Next month, Stephanie will walk down the aisle to the groom she has waited so long for. Her promise will change from agreeing to faithfully wait on God’s timing to agreeing to faithfully be the wife God has called her to be. She will still need to put her hope in God. She will still need to keep her eyes on Him. And He will prove that He is still faithful, every step of the way.

Stephanie's engagementWhat happens to the pennies? Well, Stephanie has officially cashed them in to buy Eloy’s wedding ring. On the inside she had these words inscribed, “Ur Worth Every Penny!”

I don’t know how many Valentine’s Days you will spend without a valentine, but I do know this: God is faithful. He can be trusted. His plan is what’s best for you. This year, instead of pining for love or pushing for romance, let me encourage you to start a penny collection of your own. Grab a jar. Toss in some pennies, and offer this prayer.

Jesus, I want You to be in charge of my love life. If it’s Your will, please bring me a man who loves You in Your timing. While I wait, I want You to know that You are my treasure.

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Bucket with holes leaking water

I Want To Be Noticed!

"My heart cries for acceptance, for love." "My heart cry is to be cherished. I want to be loved, really loved." "My heart’s longing is for people to love me. Some days I barely feel noticed, let alone loved." These are among the many brave comments left under a post Paula wrote weeks ago about the heart cry of one… Read more →

Loves me...

Best Of: I’ve Got A Fever And The Only Cure Is . . .

From the LYWB.com team: It’s our fifth birthday here on the blog. To celebrate, we are featuring the "best of" the blog all month. This blog on spring fever sure got you talking. I know it’s the middle of winter now, but the points made in this post apply in any season.   Spring fever is a real condition. I… Read more →

Best Of: Being The Girl That No One Wanted

From the LYWB.com team: It’s our fifth birthday here on the blog. To celebrate, we are featuring the “best of” the blog all month. This vlog was part of our series from The Jesus Storybook Bible. With more than 100 comments and over … Read more →

Best Of: I've Never Been Exposed To Satanic Activities

From the LYWB.com team: It’s our fifth birthday here on the blog. To celebrate, we are featuring the “best of” the blog all month. This blog on exposure to evil was one of our most popular posts ever. It was originally posted around Halloween, but even after that holiday has come and gone, clearly many of you are wondering if you’ve ever been exposed to satanic activities.  

Where I live, there are skeletons hanging in the grocery store, zombies at Walmart, and lots of opportunities to attend events and movies that are dark and scary. I bet the same is true in your neck of the woods.

scary movieA trip to the movie theater turns up the same scary results. Invitations to attend these movies or watch scary movies at home may well be coming your way along with opportunities to go to haunted houses ripe with depictions of the “un-dead” (think zombies, ghosts, and mummies).

I posted a “Lies guide to Halloween” with my thoughts on how to best navigate this spooky holiday, but long before the trick or treating begins it is important to consider what God’s Word says about dabbling (that doesn’t necessarily mean participating!) in things like witchcraft, sorcery, and the occult.

Deuteronomy 18:10–12 says, “There shall not be found among you … anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD.”

Leviticus 20:6 says, “If a person turns to mediums or necromancers … I will set my face against that person.”

Let me translate. Divination is telling the future (fortunetelling). Sorcerers communicate with evil spirits. Necromancers seek to communicate with the dead for the purposes of magic.

I know that sounds like some pretty trippy stuff. The reasons to stay clear are many, which is why the Bible warns so strongly against it. But it is important to be aware that these things might not show up as overtly as you might think.

Almost all of the girls I interviewed for Lies Young Women Believe told me that they had never been exposed to satanic activities, and yet a study of girls who were actively involved in their youth groups found that in the previous three months:

  • 72 percent of young women had looked at or read their horoscopes.
  • 28 percent had their palm read.
  • 42 percent had participated in psychic-related activities.
  • 82 percent had watched supernatural and spiritual themes in movies or on TV.

I imagine that these numbers likely represent many of you, meaning that you have been exposed to satanic activities, maybe in the past few weeks, and you don’t even know it.

That’s why the lie, I’ve Never Been Exposed to Satanic Activities made the list of the top twenty-five lies addressed in Lies Young Women Believe.

Nancy and Dannah wrote about it this way:

It’s easy to become comfortable with evil when we are exposed to it casually or repeatedly. And while casual exposure alone may not destroy your faith and values, you need to be aware that exposure plus a lack of awareness of what you’re exposed to can be dangerous…. Be aware of what you are getting close to and what God says about it (Lies Young Women Believe, 64).

If there is one month out of the year when you are most likely to experience casual and repeated exposure to satanic activities, it’s this month. In response, put things like divination or sorcery on your list of things to stay clear of.

What can you do to guard your mind against casual or repeated exposure to evil this month (and all year long)?

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Best Of: To Those Wrestling With Lesbianism

From the LYWB.com team: It’s our fifth birthday here on the blog. To celebrate, we are featuring the “best of” the blog all month. This blog on homosexuality was one of our most popular posts ever. It received 90 comments. If you’ve struggled in this area, this post is for you.

sad girlI love it when you ask tough questions. Digging into God’s Word to find answers about the complex issues you are thinking about and dealing with is one of the best perks of my job. That’s why this week I want to tackle an issue that many of you have written to us about—homosexuality.

Here’s a quick look at some of the comments you’ve sent us on this subject.

I’m a lesbian. I’ve known I like girls since I was four. I believe in the power of Christ and accept Him into my heart, but I also believe that the love between two women is in no way inferior to the love between a man and a woman. I know the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, but I pray that Jesus will love and accept me as I am. I have never liked guys, and I’m not going to live my entire life pretending I do to please Jesus, though I love Him. Just wanted to share a different perspective.

Just as the color of your hair or skin, your sexual preference is decided by your GENETICS. People who identify as being gay or homosexual do not have a choice in who they love. It is unfair to try and force a person out of a trait they cannot change. Imagine for a moment why, for any reason, you have the right to judge another person for the way that they LOVE another person. Homosexuality does not harm any aspect of this world, economy, or marriage. These are real living people who are as dedicated to each other as the oldest couples you know. Please stop spreading the prejudice toward individuals who identify as homosexual. Please don’t let your personal opinions choke another’s right to live and experience.

What exactly does the Bible say about homosexuality? I know it says stuff against it in the Old Testament, and I don’t believe it’s right, but I was wondering which specific verses talk about it.

Before we go much deeper, we need to establish this baseline—God sees homosexuality as sinful. His point of view on this issue is stated clearly in His Word. In fact, I dedicated an entire post to this subject several months ago. You can read that post here, but here are some key verses to keep in mind.

Leviticus 18:22 says, “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.'”

Leviticus 20:13 says, “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.'”

First Corinthians 6:9–10 says, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”



Since God’s Word is so clear on this subject, why has the issue become so cloudy in the minds of so many? I think the first two readers I quoted hit on a key area of confusion—the common belief that homosexuals are born gay. You might be shocked to hear that the Bible actually agrees, but not on the terms that the world gives. You see we are all born with a bent toward sin.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me (Ps. 51:5).

In Romans 7:18, Paul said, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”



We are all born with a desire, a tendency, and a capacity to sin. For some the tendency is to abuse substances or to have angry outbursts or to act promiscuously in heterosexual relationships. For others, possibly as a result of family history, environment, and poor choices, the tendency might be to gravitate toward homosexuality. But just because it feels natural doesn’t mean it isn’t sin or even that it is in our best interest. Sin is our nature, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it always wreaks havoc in our lives. 



So to you, sweet girls, who are struggling with an inclination toward lesbianism, let me offer you this hope. Jesus came to break the power of your sin nature in your life. 



In Romans 7:25 we read, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”



You may have always had homosexual feelings, so much so that if feels like you were created a homosexual. But that’s not what God’s Word says. The Bible acknowledges that yes, you were born sinful, but you were also created as a child of God, redeemable by His sacrifice on the cross. God asks you to throw off your sin and run the race of life for His glory (Heb. 12:1). 


I know this is a complex topic, so let’s keep talking about it. And let us work together to satisfy our natural inclination to sin less and to honor our powerful God more. In what other areas of your life do you naturally gravitate toward sin? What verses do you rely on to remind you of God’s truth in this area?

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Best Of: What If I've Blown It?

From the LYWB.com team: It’s our fifth birthday here on the blog. To celebrate, we are featuring the “best of” the blog all month. This post on sin was one of our most popular posts ever. It received over 100 comments. If you’ve sinned (we all have!), we hope you will be encouraged with these truths from God’s Word.

upset young womanIn response to our posts on love and romance, many of you have written to us to tell us that you’ve messed up in the area of purity. When it comes to being physically and emotionally pure, clearly many of you feel like you’ve blown it. You’ve shared with us that the end result of bad choices has been disappointment, pain, and heartbreak.

I know for sure that one way the enemy seeks to take young women out is to trick them into making compromises in their romantic relationships. He tells a million lies like “purity isn’t possible,” “it’s okay if you love him,” and “everyone else is doing it” to get young women to forfeit emotional or physical purity. The end result is devastating.

I wish that none of you had to wrestle with the pain caused by messing up in the area of romance, but since so many of you have bravely shared that you’ve made mistakes, I wanted to write a post to give you hope.

I’ve talked to many young women who mistakenly believe that once they’ve compromised, they cannot stop or turn back. Having already lost their virginity or given away their hearts, they see no way to get it back, so they decide it’s too late for them and keep making things worse by perpetuating their sinful behavior.

If that describes you, I want you to know that it is absolutely not too late for you. If you’ve sinned sexually, it’s true that you can never become a physical virgin again. If you’ve failed to protect your heart, you cannot undo the pain that’s resulted. But that’s water under the bridge. God can wipe the slate clean.

It is not too late to turn and go in a different direction. God has made a way for you to experience His love and forgiveness and to turn away from your past sin and patterns of behavior.

To do so requires you to take specific action.

1. Acknowledge your sin.

Don’t say “I blew it” or “I made a mistake.” Don’t come up with excuses. Call your sexual or emotional activity what it is—sin. This step is called repentance. Repentance begins with agreeing with God that sin is sin with no rationalizations or intent to commit it again.

2. Confess it.

In 1 John 1:9 we read, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

3. Accept Christ’s forgiveness.

For many young women this is the most difficult step. In 1 John 1:9, God promises that He will forgive us of our sin and wipe the slate clean. But young women who have stepped outside of God’s boundaries for relationships often feel cheap, used, and unworthy of God’s love, and so they continue to sin. If you’ve fallen into this kind of thinking, the reality is that you have given up on God’s forgiveness. When you refuse to forgive yourself and to approach the throne of God to seek His forgiveness, you are saying that God is a liar and that Christ’s sacrifice is not enough. When you consider yourself beyond forgiveness, you are saying that God is not all-powerful and that He is unable to cope with the magnitude of what you’ve done.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

God’s love for you and His forgiveness through Christ’s death on the cross is far greater than anything in your past, present, or future. The basis for your forgiveness is not the level of your sin or even your feelings about what you’ve done. The basis for forgiveness is Christ’s death on the cross.

God in eternity past knew we would sin. So He provided for His Son, Jesus Christ, to take on human flesh and to go to the cross. Jesus had the infinite capacity to take all our sins upon Himself and pay the price. He went to the cross and said, “It is finished,” meaning everything that was necessary for you to be forgiven had been done.

Colossians 2:13–14 says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

When you accept Christ’s forgiveness for your sin, you agree that God’s grace—evident in Christ’s death on the cross—is sufficient payment for your sin.

You can make a choice that today is the first day of the rest of your life. You can step off the path of sexual or emotional sin and accept Christ’s forgiveness for your sin. But you can’t stop there.

Matthew 3:8 says, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” Fully embracing God’s forgiveness means making choices to keep you from falling back into the same trap. Bearing the fruit of your repentance means making choices to keep you from returning to sin. Just as sin is a choice, a renewed commitment to God’s standards is a choice—one that often takes hard work.

What’s holding you back from accepting Christ’s forgiveness and choosing a different path in your romantic relationships? What choices do you need to make to keep you from returning to sin?

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