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."




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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How would Eeyore respond to the gospel? Find out on @lywbblog today.

Freebie Friday! Connected

Freebie Friday

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.

If you have lots of friends, a full schedule, and a lonely feeling you can’t seem to shake . . . this book is for you.

If you feel like no one really knows you or understands you . . . this book is for you.

Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together is a book about loneliness, kind of. It’s the story of how I spent most of my life lonely. But it’s not a sad story. Spoiler alert: I’m not lonely anymore. I ran to God’s Word and found answers to my questions about:

  • What my relationships are supposed to look like.
  • Why God wired me to crave connection.
  • How to connect with God and others.

It’s good stuff, and I want to get it into the hands and hearts of lonely girls everywhere.

I’d love for you to read (and then share!) a sample chapter. I’ll pick one of you to win a free copy of Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together.

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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?


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).


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).

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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Are you fighting mad at a friend? Here are four questions to answer before you go to her. (Be sure to include a link to today’s post.)

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.



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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 …

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.

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.

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!).

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?

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?

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.

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."


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?

I'm Sending You On A Scavenger Hunt

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

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 this blog and on additional sites like Pinterest and Facebook. Our hope is to create a ripple effect where God’s truth is shared through outlets we haven’t tapped before.

So … here’s what you do.

  1. Find your favorite quotes from this book or blog. We recommend you do some digging in our archives. There’s gold in them thar hills!
  2. Leave us a comment with the quote(s) below. We will pass them on to our graphic artists who will turn them into images that we can share. (You can share them too!)
  3. Be sure to tell us who said the quote (Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Dannah Gresh, Erin Davis, etc) and where it’s from (either the book or the blog). 
  4. Keep in mind that shorter is better. Three sentences max.

I hope you find more than just great quotes. I hope you uncover a gob of God’s truth!

Go ahead, and start digging!

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?

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?

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 few questions to consider in your comments.

  • What names have you been called that have left scars on your heart?
  • Have you called others names? What can you do to make that right?
  • Jesus was bullied. He was called names and accused falsely. What can we learn through the way He handled such mistreatment?
  • What is the difference between letting God define you and simply ignoring bullies or standing up for yourself? 

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.

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. 

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
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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

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"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.


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 line too soon, but Josh Elliff makes two important points: 1) Waiting is possible. 2) Waiting is worth it. Cue wedding music!

Josh and Jacqueline ElliffI am twenty-seven years old. I have been single my entire life … something that will change today. I have been tempted, tested, tried, and challenged. I have been encouraged, discouraged, and on occasion have found courage. I have loved, I have lost, I have forgiven and been forgiven. I have prayed, I have cried, and I have been humbled.

Jacqueline and I have prayed for each other for the better portion of our lives without even knowing it. We have cried out to the Lord for His provision in our spouse. We did this believing He would provide. He has provided. Exceptionally. Beyond our expectations. I want everyone to know that tonight when we consummate our marriage, we will do it as virgins. This is an uncommon thing in our society. Sadly, it is an uncommon thing in our churches. We have saved ourselves for each other. So tonight, we will spend our intimacy with the only other person on the earth that we will spend it with … ever (each other).

I tell you this to encourage you. It is possible to be a virgin at twenty-seven. It’s possible to do that … and it’s beneficial too. We have no regrets of past partners. We have no baggage from past sexual partners that we have to sort through. We have both had our struggles at times, but we have intentionally protected this area of our lives. It is by the grace of God that we were able to do this. It is by the grace of God that we were able to protect ourselves during our engagement. It is because of Christ in us that we have held the marriage bed as a sacred place, only to be experienced between us and only once we have been bound to each other through the marriage covenant.

If you are single, no matter what your sexual history is, I challenge you NOW to commit this area of your life over to the Lord—even if you have struggles or mistakes in your past. God will honor your commitment to Him now. He looks at your heart now and beckons you to surrender this area to Him.

I challenge you to pray for your future spouse. I challenge you to be intentional in whom you date and how you date them. I exhort you to seek the glory of God and the sanctity of marriage FIRST in every relationship you have.

I promise you that when you get to your wedding day, you will be so thankful that by the grace of God you made that commitment. I know I am.

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.

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.

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?