monday april 22, 2013
I was recently talking to a guy who was seemingly perfect. He loves God; he respected me; he was kind and just amazing...but it didn't work out. I have a lot of...shall we say...standards? when it comes to guys, and he couldn't really hand that...I'm finding it hard to find someone who can.
Well, my friend - first of all...let me tell ya, your high standards are probably not even high enough. Marriage requires the character and love that only Jesus possesses. So, as you consider the rest of your life with one man, I would most certainly not lower the bar. Granted all of us are far from perfect, that too, is a quality only Jesus possesses. However the desire to be like Him, and be the touchable reflection of Him in this world, should be evident in those who are called by His name. Right? Right!
And second of all...You are not lacking one good thing! I'm sorry this relationship did not work out, but - you have not lost. You have gained. You have learned something about yourself, haven't you? Consider what you were like in the midst of this relationship, and honestly evaluate yourself. I know that's not easy, but it's worth it. Ask a friend - who loves you and loves God - to help you with this.
Ask yourself questions like: Did I remain strong in my relationship with God? If I think I did, how do I know? What did that strength look like in this relationship? If I didn't, what would I change? Did I treat this guy with respect? Is he better for having known me? Was I honest? Kind? Did I help him live for God? Or was I self seeking? Did I abandon my friends? Did I continue to make time for others? Was I demanding? Was I weak in matters where I should have been strong?
Take some time to evaluate what this relationship may have taught you. These are just a few questions. I'm sure as you spend time with God, pray, talk to your close friend, - you will think of more. Please know that you most definitely have gained even though this relationship is over. You have new perspective, insight; you have had an experience that has grown your heart and understanding of life, and people, and yourself. You have gained perspective about what you want for a potential husband, the kind of wife you want to be, and hopefully, and most importantly, this experience has grown your knowledge of God. So be encouraged! Think about what God has taught you, and thank Him for every moment He has been with you, teaching you, guiding you, protecting you, loving you!
Our relationship to Jesus is everything. He knows what you want, but more importantly, He knows what you need. And He alone is your satisfaction.
Marriage is the most difficult love realtionship. Yup. The soaring divorce rate testifies to that truth. Please hear me on this, okay? It's not that I don't want you to be married one day; marriage can be spectacular! I just want you to convey to you that you can rejoice in the caution that you are sensing. Your standards are a good, good thing.
Marriage is a broken place in many hearts; not just ex-wives and ex-husbands, or sturggling wives and struggling husbands, but a broken place for children and families once together and now divided. In fourteen years of ministry I hear many, many sad stories. The same young women who used cry to God in their singleness are often the same young women who cry out to Him in their marriages. Why? Because we must constantly learn and re-learn that God is our soul satisfaction - not any other relationship - not ever. Thank goodness God is patient and faithful to teach us true LIFE. We must, must, must strive to put on His character (Galatians 5:22-23) and live in that spiritual skin (John 15). Therein is love! and abundant life! in our singleness AND in our marriages.
The high standards you hold for a guy are to be commended. And they are the very same standards you must hold for yourself. God's Word sets the bar, and by His Spirit we long to touch that bar, hold on to it, and see others do the same. Isn't that incredible? I love it!!! Psalm 119:1-20!!! "Blessed are those...who keep His statutes..."
You have been given the gift of eternal life, my friend! - not beyond where you are - but right now. You sense it. Long for it. Get out there and EMBRACE it. Don't worry about what you aren't finding...Consider with much joy what you have. Trust God, like Jesus did, for what is and what is not, and reflect that beautiful Spirit of peace to the world who desperately needs to see it. Check out Deuteronomy when you get a chance; the whole book. What a picture of God in the midst of His people! He was there - loving them, providing for them...and they missed it simply because - hear this... they looked away to something else...seemingly perfect. Oh sweetest heart!!! You will see God in your life more clearly after reading His Word, putting it on, and living it out. We always do, and always will. His Word is our life eternal.
Thank you for this opportunity to think about God with you. I am grateful.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great could of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith." Hebrews 12:1-2a
wednesday september 26, 2012
but what if...
Question: Dear Laura, I know that premarital sex is wrong, but if I know that my long-term boyrfriend is the person I want to marry, is it still wrong? What if people are engaged and sexually active?
Reply: Hi! Thank you for writing to me! I am grateful for your question! You are not alone in your query. So many girls will benefit from what we get to learn from God together! Thank you for initiating the conversation.
YOU actually answered the question for yourself. It's just doubt has been inserted where you know TRUTH resideds. Sex was creted by God for marriage - not dating - not for engagement. This isn't a cultural thing - this is a Creator God thing. One man, one woman - become one flesh in their covenant commitment to one another in life. From this bond comes children - God willing! - who are the fruit of that covenant. Please let me direct you to some Scripture to encourage you with what you know is TRUTH - God's Spirit - speaking to your heart.
I Corinthians 7:1-2, 8-9 "Now concerning the things about which you wrote, (the Corinthians had writte to the apostle Paul about remaining abstinent...funny! that's what you're writing about! Let's keep reading!) it is good for a man not to touch a woman. BUT because of immoralities, each man is to hav ehis own wife (not fiance, not girlfriend - the Greek word here is the word used in reference to marriage, which is why it is translated as wife) and each woman is to have her own husband. But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. (Paul was not married when he wrote this. Let's jump to verse 9) But if they do not have self control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion."
Sex is for marriage...for so many beautiful, intelligent,safe, wise reasons that God has set in place for us as His children. His Word over our lives is heart, soul, mind, and body protection for us - His kids - and also protection for those we choose to love in this lifetime. What love from our Heavenly Father!
May I encourage you for a second??? I get that maybe you have already had sex....It's not too late to set your heart on honoring God with your choice not to. See - our choice to have sex outside of marriage - it's all about us...isn't it? I mean, it was for me anyway... I wanted to have sex for me - my good - ya know? I wanted to have sex to show my boyfriend my love for him...DUMB! DUMB! DUMB! LOVE is soooooo N.O.T. not, not, NOT sex. Let me say that again. Love is not sex. Sex is an expression of INTIMACY in marriage - and Woman, hear me out on this - puhlease hear me. Our enemy, yup - callin' him out...Satan - will do everything in his power to get you into bed before you are married - and to keep you out of it once you are. He wants you to doubt God's Word. (Genesis 3 - "Did God really say..."??? - the oldest question he still uses!) Trust me on this one. Our enemy hates God's best for us - but MORE than that - he hates our realization of it...because when we get God's Word over our lives is true - we will not live apart from it.
What you and I need to get in our heart right now, is that the purpose of sex is established by God - not us. When we make sex, or anything in this life, about us - our decsion will only cause us havoc, doubt, unrest - like you're experiencing right now - and our choice for SELF - will cause contempt in our relationship(s). Check me on this by checking God's Word. Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, King David, Judas Iscariott - check anyone who chose self over God...HAVOC!
But listen, here is something so cool for you and I! We always have an AWESOME opportunity to choose God's Word over our life. You can make a choice for God - His Way - not yours. Check it! "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:24. THAT is God's way...not the world's way - not the apostle Paul's way - not even my way for you...It's God's way. He will belss you when you choose Him - His Word - over your own understanding. I can promise you that - because He promised first! "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean on your onw understanding. In all your ways aknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
STRAIGHT!!! Straight means...DOUBT free! yuh-huh. I know. So so good, right?
I'm with you in having to STOP living our own way to choose God's. I'm right there with you. It's a daily deal, friend. One I LOVE that God directs us to out of love for Him - and love for others. It's not a drag - a drudgery - it's an exhale PEACE living - God loving - realization that is a gift of God's Spirit to us. You feel that call in the midst of doubt. You do... Doubt is your first clue that you need to seek God for His TRUTH.
Please know that God is not mad at you. (In our sin, Christ died for us! Romans 5:8~Huge grace to our messed up hearts! Huge "I LOVE YOU!" grace!) He's waiting for you with open arms. You have the opportunity to learn something of HIM, His Word, HIS LOVE! and He knew this lesson would be in your life. It is a beautiful one. And it's not too late! You can do this. You were made to glorify God! Psalm 139! He will make you able - and not only that - He will bless you immeasurably for your choice of Him. Know you are prayed for. Know you are loved!
Psalm 119:32 "I run the way of your commands, for you ahve set my heart free."
wednesday march 21, 2012
I met a man who I am so sure is my future husband. I look at him, Laura, and I just know. We have been dating for a while now and today I told him about a past with an old friend. Me and my friend had never been together, we were nothing more than friends. However, when I told my boyfriend today, he was very upset and feels hurt and stupid and betrayed. I, of ALL people, should not make him feel that way! I have so much guilt and pain in my heart. He always gives me one thousand and ten percent and I feel like I have failed him. I feel like I failed at being the kind of woman God wants me to be. That may seem a bit extreme but I just feel as though I have failed. I have failed at so many things, and this - today - just put me over the edge. I don't want attention from anyone but my boyfriend. I want to show him how much I love him. I feel like I haven't done enough when he always gives me the world. I feel sick to my stomach even in writing this email to you. I need God right now; I need guidance and comfort. I can't seem to focus on God; I am focused on trying to fix this mess I made. I had no intention to hurt the man that I love whole heartedly. I am so lost as to what to do. I feel lost. Thank you for your time!
Looking For A WAY Back
Reply:Thanks for writing to me! I am so sorry your heart hurts! I hope can encourage you with some awesome TRUTH, my friend! I've been praying for you - for your heart - and for God's Word to speak to both of us. So thanks for looping me in to this awesome opportunity to encourage you and LEARN with you!
You are definitely in a struggle - heart and mind struggle. So I want you to do something that may help you think through this battle strategically. Go back to your message to me - and read it with one focus. Ready for what that focus is...??? What have you said that is TRUTH - and what have you said is FEELING. Truth is God's Word over our lives, my friend. Truth is what drives our faith - our decision making - our peace - our LIVES...Well, it should be anyway. What happens - and this happens to all of us - circumstances start to scream at us and become our reality - our truth...and we miss the TRUTH that Jesus came for us to know and live.
You say that you are sure this man is your future husband. TRUTH - or feeling? How do you know? Woman, if I had a dollar for every time I thought the guy I was dating was my future husband, I'd...I'd...have a lot of dollars - that's about all I can say. A lot!!! I know - I was a mess - ...I was in love - with love. Not that you are me - but - feelings can be deceiving and can lead us astray in the midst of ANY situation. This young man is not your husband now - and he may in fact never be. (WHAT DID I JUST SAY!?!? Take it back! Take it back right now!!! - is that what you're thinking???) I'm sorry! I don't mean to throw water on your romance fire, but...in reality - this is true. He may not. I get he could be - sure - but...He may not. Give that marriage idea - that he is your future husband - to God. COMPLETELY!!! What will that look like? THAT kind of surrender is thinking about your boyfriend through the lens of who he is right now, and with that view - read God's Word on how you need to treat him - how he should be treating you.
I love that you consider he could be your future husband. Wise view. Why date him if he is not someone you would consider marrying! Wisdom. Great wisdom! I love it! I respect that! BUT... He is your boyfriend currently - a brother in Christ - and you owe him one thing - the love of a sister in Christ to a brother in Christ. Yes - honesty is one aspect of that love. I Corinthians 13. Love rejoices in truth. I hope he comes to the point where he can rejoice with you in this truth you are now walking in together. You have hurt him by hiding this past relationship until now, I get that... But you told him. Right? What he chooses to do with that truth is now between him and God - and then you. You are not his wife. He can choose to trust you again (Love always trusts. I Cor 13:7) - and grow with you in this lesson in being open and honest with one another - or he can choose to let you go - because he must be able to trust the one he chooses to marry - as do you - and that includes trusting that person to be able to forgive you - ya know what I'm sayin' here? Can you hear me on this one? You need to know you can be forgiven and not have your wrongs lorded over you. Cuz, you're gonna blow it. Love keeps no records of wrongs - I Cor 13 again. I could just insert that whole passage right here. Read I Corinthians 13 when you get a chance. And ask yourself as you read it: how are you loved? how do you love??? Thought provoking when we consider God's definition of love. There's no great kissing in that passage - or great hair - or great body - just love. Smokin' chemistry is not love. I'mjust sayin.' - I'm sure you know that - . ... BACK on topic - Whether you marry him or not - and I know you might not see it this way - but I sure do - EITHER WAY - whether he forgives you or not - either is a win for you, my friend. You have learned something precious about not hiding your past - innocent or not - and you have also learned the value of finding someone who will love you, forgive you, and embrace your past with you, and your present - and all God has taught you from it - in it - through it.
Forgiveness is a huge aspect of marriage. I married an awesome forgiver. THANK GOD! (Thank you, Kemper Lewis!!!) Because I am a sinner - and wearing a wedding ring, loving Jesus, and being this amazing man's wife - doesn't keep me from sin. Right? I'll answer that for you just based on my life this week...RIGHT! Your feelings about hurting your boyfriend and loving him - should be directed toward God. "Against you and you only have I sinned." That's what David wrote in Psalm 51. Not that his sin did not have consequences that affected others - but what David was expressing is that the focus of his life is God, which is what our focus needs to be. When we sin - we choose ourself rather than Him, and we hurt GOD first, and the reprocutions from that blow ultimately affect everyone else. God directs us toward realizing His love - His grace - His forgiveness - so that we will walk in relationship to Him - and bless others by the way we live for God, and then not hurt others, because of our primary relationship to HIM. Does that make sense?
SO - Do you need to give your boyfriend the world? Think about that... Does he need to give you the world? I know what you're saying - but that is shaky thinking ground where your heart meets the way you live. That is shaky ground when you are weighing what you have done with who it is you are first and foremost responsible. That is shaky ground when you consider what your response needs to be to your boyfriend in this situation- and what your boyfriend's response needs to be. That is shaky ground when you consider who is your God no matter what.
Sweet one, I love that this dishonesty crushes you - ONLY because I know that God is teaching you to pursue honesty in your relationship. That's awesome. TOTALLY BEAUTIFUL AWESOME! Don't miss that! Isn't it amazing how God unearths what we don't even realize is going to hurt us??? and He is so faithful to bring it to the surface of our heart - to bring the wrong into the open of our life to make it right... PLEASE KNOW that God forgave that sin, - before you ever committed it. ROMANS 5:8! Crazy, right? If your boyfriend can't forgive and trust you again...that is not your failure - that is a revelation about your relationship - SO learn from that what God would have you realize about this man you are "sure" is your future husband. Unforgiveness - shaky ground for marriage that is given by God to last a lifetime.
I could go on and on about the value of forgiveness - the value of honesty - the value of learning how to love one another in spite of our sin - and to grow with one another even though we are so sin riddled - CRAZY that we can love at all. Which to me - goes to show the miracle of what God does in us. I won't go on and on though - it would just be redundant at this point. You are loved by God. You are forgiven. And like Romans 8 and Galatians 5 teaches us - we don't live in relationship to God expecting that we can go on sinning and just "POOF" be forgiven. We, who love God, don't have that attitude toward sin. WE LOVE OUR GOD! WE WANT TO LIVE FOR HIM!!! isn't that amazing?!?!?! Because the Spirit of God indwells us, you and I now "Walk by the Spirit so we don't gratify the desires of our sinful nature" Gal. 5 - We have set "our minds to what the Spirit desires"...Rom 8. Check it out when you get a chance. SO - that being said - so enthusiastically - yeah I'm a little excited when it comes to the change in the way we want to live - ...YOU, by God's Spirit - will FOREVER MORE desire truth in your relationships because God's Spirit puts that desire in you. Your heart breaks over the dishonesty because God's Spirit in you is conforming you in to His image. ISN'T THAT BEAUTIFUL!?!??! Yes it is! Woman! You're lookin' GOOD!!!
I would like to encourage you to ask God to help you grip with HIS WORD - HIS value for TRUTH - the beauty that already indwells you. Like, for example - do a word study from your Bible concordance about TRUTH - HONESTY - LIES... Ask GOD - our teacher - to walk you through the passages your Bible concordance directs you to and ask HIM to IMPRESS on your heart what He would have you know from those passages WITH YOUR HEART - not just your head -...to protect you from what seems to you as an innocent coverup - but is actually a lie waiting to cause havok in your life - and to encourage you with what His SPIRIT in you lives to help you realize is YOUR new life...I'm most certain this study will draw you deeper in love with the ONE who holds your heart - you molds your life - who has given you more than the world - He's given you eternity - the ONE who is the TRUTH - John 14:6 - and the ONE - JESUS- who wants you to hear from HIs living Word - His voice speaking it to you...So incredible! Don't miss it! Please don't miss it!
One last thought - my virtual hug to you - and God's living Word around you. I Peter 4:8 "Love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." This is our Father's ETERNAL love through Christ. And this Word is a reflection of marriage, too. By His Spirit we can love this way in relationship to one another. Crazy miracle of God!!! Not every believer chooses to love THIS WAY. When you find someone who walks with you in THIS kind of love - oh Girl! you have found a love for a lifetime.
tuesday january 10, 2012
Hi, Laura.I recently got engaged, and through this engagement God has been opening my eyes to a lot of sin in my life. I'm overwhelmed by the number of idols I see in my heart. The one I am battling with most to gain a godly perspective on is working out. I want my fiance to think I am beautiful; I want to please him. I know this is not a struggle that has just all of a sudden come up. I have struggled with wanting to have a perfect body, with wanting to have a perfect image for some time now. I know that working out in itself is not sin, but my reaction to it is sin, because I place too much of my security and too much of my identity on how I look and how good my fiance thinks I look. He is a godly man, and he has told me countless times that what attracts him to me most is Christ in me, yet I still struggle with a standard of beauty that I create for myself in terms of weight. I enjoy working out; I want to be healthy, but more than anything I want to be a godly wife who finds her all in Christ. In order to do that, I know in my head I need to be hard on any sin God reveals, but my wicked heart wants to justify this sin by telling me I only have a few months to get in tip top shape before the wedding. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
Reply: Oh my friend! Sit down here, next to me a sec...Let me hold your hand tightly. You with me? I'm lookin' at ya - lovingly - eye to eye, heart to heart - girl to girl...It's okay I call myself a girl still, right? I'm 41 - and like you, I battle with the way I look and I will continue to fight for health and beauty that will sustain this shell - not just for my man - who still reaches for me after all these years - but for my babes, who at 10 and 8 look up to me - and still want to be held on my hip - even if just to make them laugh - and a goood laugh we all have!!! AmenandAMEN on for my hip held babes at 41! ANYWAY, we'll get to workin' out in a minute...
First things first - CONGRATULATIONS!!! How exciting that you have found a mate for life!!! What a beautiful gift from God! A mate for life my friend!!! One that you will laugh with! cry with! spend hours upon countless hours growing old, growing wise, growing more in love with!!! One that you will see the world with, and one whose life you will witness - and one who will in turn witness your own...A help mate! Never again will it just be you and God, but you and God and your mate. A man that you will have to love, more than you love yourself! One that you will have to forgive more than you have ever forgiven anyone or anything! One that you will have to embrace when you do not feel like hugging! One by whom you will honor God - in every act of submission - in every "yes" that you would rather be no's, of your giving when you would rather withhold - and witholdings when you would rather let him have it....
Congratulations, my friend! You will learn to ignore dirty socks, bad breath, messy toilets, and all before the night air of romance, and candles, and perfume rests on your pillow. You will learn to sit beside him in vomit, either your own or his - along with debt, due dates, and job hunts or job burdens. You will learn to deny your own desires so that he can have. You will enjoy moments so delirious with stress that prayers will overflow from tears, and you won't be able to discern whose tears belong to whom. You will want to know his pain, not just his physical pain - but his spiritual pain. And you will want him to know yours, and then you will learn only God can feel it and take it for either of you. You will want for him to realize your every dream, and facilitate it - moment by longing filled moment, and then you will come to understand by struggle or maybe - by some chance- you will learn this by ease, that only God was meant to bear the burden of your dreams, and for God alone - that burden is great Joy. Congratulations sweet girl, you have chosen to embrace a man for life....One that you will have to feed more than food, more than water - but one that you will get to feed the Word of God as he comes alongside of you for encouragement, hope, strength!
Congratulations on finding that one person whom God will use in your life, not only to encourage you in what it looks like to love without condition - but also to sharpen you with stone and steel for what it looks like to live in skin filled by Jesus. Congratulations on having the courage to enter a refining pot that is a fire unlike any other furnace, challenge or race you will ever know or want to know. It is a journey toward holiness that only God can secure, that only God's Word can bless and fortify. And oh HOW He does it!!! And oh HOW does He do it? Marriage is a marathon that few finish, be it because of pain, boredom, stress, lack of luster, creativity, self discipline, lack of loyalty - or simply just because it wasn't what they thought it was going to be...I can promise you this my friend, as I have run this course now for 13 years, I have never longed for God more, and have never seen Him so beautifully, and I haven't had to look far for Him either - only to my side where my spouse runs beside me - holding tightly to the hand of our God. Yes.I am crying. And YES! This is why some women cry at weddings, these an a thousand other reasons you will have the joy to discover.
Congratulations! So how are your abs now!?!?! Not even a thought, right? I don't mean to be hard on you. Truly. I am grateful for your words, for the reminder of where I have been and could be in a moment even today. I am a woman. And I will always be that. Like you though - I love Jesus - and like you - I refuse to be a woman who lives for any other god.
Thirteen years ago I shopped for my wedding gown with the very same thoughts you are having today. And as you said, wanting to be beautiful for him - is not sin. But also as you have so wisely stated - what we DO with that desire can in fact become a big, fat idol that is so hard to carry - and one that we were never meant to lug around. I always want my husband to look to me and desire ME. But beauty has limitations. It can't, nor was it ever meant to be - everything. Your physical beauty will indeed bring pleasure - but it can never bring joy. Joy is something that is far. far. deeper. more lasting. more real. Joy can be felt in plenty and in want, in sickness and in health; it can be felt in the skinny of your work out power moments and the plump of your possible post pardum slumb. Joy can be found in the creases of your marriage wrinkles and the scars, and in the freshness and lightness of your youth. Joy is beyond the exterior - always. What I have come to realize - not by ease - not ever by ease for me - is that I can miss joy when I am consumed with myself. When your fiance tells you that you are beautiful - do you say - "thank you." Or do you begin to think what must I do to remain like this? What do I have on that I can repeat? What must I do tomorrow to maintain what he sees? Ugh! The agony of that drill!
Psalm 119:96 "To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless." This writer - probably well aquainted with beauty - knew with His heart where beauty dwells...God's WORD! Woman - we must pursue THAT beauty with all of our efforts that are wasted on skin and hair and clothing. So what does that look like, right? Where is the balance of being healthy - and beautiful in 2012 without carting around an Aprhodite idol??? You ask your God! He is directing YOUR heart always. You sense what is sickness to your spiritual health right now. You already know sumpthin' just ain't right... God will teach you truth in His Word to help you realize what is LIFE - what is the full life you were meant to realize every single day. I do work out - I want to be strong and healthy - however, I do not EVER want to spend more time on the exterior than I do on the heart of this temple. And that "time" does not only include work out time - but thought time. Ouch. We need to train ourselves to take captive every thought of "ME" - and to consider the other heart in front of us - to see him, to see her - without seeing ourselves and how they see us...ya know what I'm sayin'???
My dear friend, - I know you know this...from the heart everthing we are - overflows -. I don't want that overflow to be the gutter ugliness of SELF. I want that overflow to be the fountain beauty of God's TRUTH. It will gleam from our eyes and and glisten on our lips before a world we get to love! - and oh girl! to our husbands!!! PLEASE do not get discouraged in your struggle to level an idol.I'm so excited for you!!! I mean - so few of us are brave enough, strong enough - and humble enough to admit our struggles, ya know? So thank you!!! Your struggle is beautiful! That is God's glory in you. Look around you, my friend, and pray for the women who are with you. Encourage them with the truths you are learning about the beauty that is God's Word. The Word of God is limitless - inexhaustible - never fading - and free. But God's Word is not for the weak hearted - it will work you out! Hard! Not Jillian Michaels hard - I'm talkin' Resurrection Jesus Hard! COME ON!!! God's Word is BEAUTIFUL! AND POWERFUL, and it will not fail anyone who wants to be trained by it to level Aphrodite, or any other idol for that matter. Come on with that, Wonder Woman! BATTLE ON!!!
Enjoy your engagement days. Ask God for what He would have you learn - one Word perhaps - to study and focus on as you prepare to be a wife - as you prepare to love one man. For life. oh my heart, oh my heart!!! So exciting, dear one!!! Every blessing!
"Your statutes - (not beauty) - are my heritage forever - THEY are the JOY of my heart. MY heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end." Psalm 119:11-12
Some pre-marriage reading suggestions - besides your personal Bible study time, and I am suggesting a word study...like look up the word beauty in your concordance and study what God has to say about it...Books that I would suggest: For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhaun, The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian, Counterfeit Gods, by Tim Keller, Love as a Way of Life by Gary Chapman (author of The Five Love Languages - also great!), So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore - every woman should read this! Those should keep ya busy for awhile. Don't forget to breathe between the lines...and know I'm with you!!!
friday november 4, 2011
looking for love
wednesday july 27, 2011
the back of my mind
"But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth." John 16:13 "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11 "See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:24 "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it." Isaiah 30:21
I recently broke up with my boyfriend. We weren't together very long, and for awhile I kept thinking in the back of my mind that this relationship wouldn't build me up in Christ. After I broke up with him I felt immense guilt and wished I had never done it. During our relationship I would ask him about God, and it felt awkward and somewhat of a topic to avoid. Do you think I should have asked different questions? Did I jump to a conclusion and assume his faith wasn't storng since he wasn't as sharing about it as I was? These questions conitnue to float through my head, and I want to make sure that I made the absolute right decision. Although it did surprise me that after I broke things off he told me he thought that perhaps that God was lettig this happen because He wanted him to get his life together and get closer to Him...So I do believe I did make the right decision, I just wish I had confirmation. Thank you very much.
a hurting young woman.
Reply: Thank you for writing to me! I hate that you are hurting! I am so sorry! Breaking up stinks...no matter what. You shared your heart with someone, and he shared his with you - and now that closeness and time - for whatever reason - is over. You are going to be in a flux of pain and regret for a little while...hopefully very little. Don't let your heart lead you though. You made a hard decision based on truth. And you can always rest in the truth no matter what.
The verses that I shared with you above are truth. You were being led by God's Spirit. Maybe in the moment you could not tie a verse to that direction you felt...but if - now - you seek Him in His Word - you will find the verbage to match that nudge. Take some time and consider carefully why you felt that this relationship did not build you up in Christ. Get a glimpse at the actions in your relationship that fueled that Spirit led realization. There is a verse that God will guide you to know and rest in. Of that I am sure. Our heart is so deceitful, sweet one! Ugh! I wish it were not so - but even that truth - that ugly truth about our heart - that Daddy wisdom for us to grow up in comes from God's Word (Jer.17:9). AND LOVINGLY...Our God has made me see and realize that His Word is trustworthy. I deceive myself time and again. And God - our patient Abba! - He directs and corrects and instructs us in love. EVEN - EVEN - EVEN - EVEN - this part kills me - when I did not know one verse...He was teaching me His Word - by His Spirit...So that later - when I read it - I realized His hand was on my life - He was speaking...and NOW I have the words to the voice I knew I had heard all along. CRAZY sweetness! Crazy and miraculous...and unbelievably mouthwatering when it comes to my time in God's Word...because now I just want to find and hear his voice... So I hear Him and do not miss His Words over my own heart. You have had this directing from God, my friend. He is directing you by His Spirit that indwells you - if you have indeed received Him and follow Him -...And He will be faithful to show you the words for that inner voice - that back of your mind ache - if you SEEK HIM IN HIS WORD. It will all become so crystal - BRIGHT LIGHT PATH CLEAR...your faith will BOLSTER! truly! truly! truly! So are you in the Word of God??? GO FOR IT! Seek that Word He is drawing you to know. Where do you begin? Great question. Begin right where you are. Without a clue...ask God..."where would you have me read and what would you have me know about YOU - about how you want me to live for YOU"...and let Him guide you. Have you been in our recent series BEYOND ME...check it out at vintagetruth.com. There is a Bible reading schedule that you can download... That would be a fabulous springboard toward hearing from God. I want to close with some guidelines that Wes has written out in the Vintage Teachings book. If you don't have a copy; I hope you'll pick one up in the fall when Vintage begins again. I'll share some very wise decision making guidelines that will surely help you in your future decision making for any situation. Love this wisdom!!! Here it is:
Biblical Principals that you can use for any decision. All you have to do is run your specific issue through each question:
1. Does it master me? (Does it exercise control in my life or influence me in a wrong way?) I Cor. 6:12
2. Will it help someone elses's walk with God? I Cor. 8:12-13; Matt 5:16
3. Is it beneficial in any way to me spiritually, mentally, physically? I Cor 10:23; Mark 12:30
4. Does it bring Glory to God? I Cor. 10:31
5. Does it slow me down spiritually? Heb. 12:1
6. Does it help me to be a good example of Jesus to non-believers? Col 4:5
7. Does it encourage me to be pure - holy? II Tim 2:22
8. Is this the wise choice? Ephe. 5:5-17 Please know I have prayed for you - and I am praying for you now. My prayer is that through all of this you will realize the love of your Heavenly Daddy - trusting His Spirit within you - and seeking always the Words that He has written to match that Spirit of Truth!
Praying this for you - for me with you!!! "May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to YOUR WORD...May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts." Psalm 119:170, 172-173
sunday may 15, 2011
"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God." Psalm 42
Have you ever gone on a hike? a long hike? If you have ever hiked a long distance - then you understand the value of water on such a trek. Water is critical to the success of the hike. The scenery could be incredulous - but if you do not have water, you might as well forget about enjoyment. Thirst - deep down thirst is a joy robber. Jesus knows - more than anyone - that we will grow tired and thirsty in our travels with Him. He, himself, in flesh, felt tired and thirsty as the Spirit led Him into the wilderness - into the cities - the mountain tops - the valleys - the cross. Jesus knows the capacity of flesh. He made it. He walked in it. He defied it. So, would He not know that, as we follow Him where He leads - we would deeply ache for times of refreshing? Absolutely. He knows all. The question then - that grips our heart and stymies us like quick sand - is DOES JESUS CARE??? I mean really, girls - isn't that what we cry out? "GOD, DO YOU REALLY CARE?!?! I can "YES!" that question with so many examples in my own life - where I have ached with thirst for God's LOVE, WORD, PRESENCE, TOUCH, ATTENTION, PROVISION, DIRECTION, INTERACTION, INVASION, HEALING, JOY, PEACE, HELP, COMFORT, and HOLD; and He indeed was there - just. when. I. needed. HIM. most. And I have to tell you - as much as I hate what I had to endure - what I love about those memories is that because of them - I was made more aware of just HOW MUCH God really. really. does care. I want to share with you a conversation I had with one young woman - who is pursuing God - and experiencing thirst in her love life with God. Maybe you will relate - and be encouraged. I hope so.
I love Christ. I truly, truly do. I know that I should seek approval from Him and not from people on earth. I know that He thinks I am beautiful, and that He loves me beyond comprehension. But even knowing this, I feel a disconnect between my head and my heart. I have extreme self-confidence issues. I feel like I have lost my passion in my relationship to Christ, and I do not know how to get it back. I pray. I read. I have been given so many opportunities from God (which I am amazed by because I am so udeserving) to witness to people, to point them to Christ in their struggles, giving them verses and advice, and yet I cannot seem to find my way out of my own struggles. I want to know how to be a woman confident in Christ...not a man - or my friends - or anything else. I'm wondering if you have any insight or advice or anything like that for me... I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.
Hi! Thanks for messaging me! I am soooo excited to hear you love Christ! That is such a gift for my eyes to read! I love that you are serving and seeking to glorify God. You have addressed so many heart issues that you are dealing with; I am praying that God's Word will wrap around each one of them. Each issue is significant as far as what God wants you to understand about HIM. Our lessons from God - always teach us about Him. And in the light of the TRUTH about our God - we are then able to understand something of ourselves...which is pretty incredible.
You expressed that you felt that you have lost your passion for Christ, and you do not know how to get it back. Have you felt this way before? or is this a new experience? I ask you this because sometimes God leads us into a desert so that we are souly dependent on Him for the faith and fruit that we may have assumed was OUR doing. ALL of it is from God. He is the author of our faith. God is the gardener. His Son is the vine. Apart from Christ - we can do nothing. Fruitless - dead - kindling is what we'd be without our God. We know that in our heads but - in the desert experience God allows us - in our hearts - to be weaned off of the authority of our emotions - so that we can be led by pure - powerful truth - and sometimes with that truth - obedience - to our God. Consider this for a moment. Will we follow Him - love Him - serve Him - even if we do not FEEL like He is there? Will we believe that He is - simply by faith? struggling - friendless - tired - thirsty - broken...will we still follow Him? It's one thing to say "I believe" in our heads - and it is also a whole 'nutha situation when we are thrown in the deep end of the faith pool that seemingly has no bottom... Is God there? and does He care?
It is often in the "desert" that we are made most aware of our true source of life. And you, my friend, may be right. there. God said to Israel, as He was growing her and shaping her to reflect His glory - "For I am the Lord who takes hold of your right hand, and says, 'Do not fear. I will help you." Isaiah 43:1 Would we understand the need for this help apart from the sense of helplessness? would I get that I must cling to faith were it not for moments that could in fact invoke doubt? I know I did not get this with my whole heart until I was challenged to live for God apart from how I "felt" in the moment. The question in my mind was, "Are you there God? Are you really going to help me? because I do not feel like you are. And maybe - just maybe you are not." UGH! Such a lie! He already told us that He would make a home in us. He told us that He would define us - help us; He would strengthen us. The doubting is absolutely a challenge for our faith - a challenge to define it - grow it - see it for what it is - OF GOD. People and circumstances should not define our faith. We must let God - HIS WORD - define what we believe. AND THEN!!! what we believe as we live in the midst of people and circumstances - is how we get to glorify GOD, and bless others, and affect circumstances because of who we are IN CHRIST!
That thought - IN CHRIST - is what I hope you will consider carefully. Who are you in Him alone? Not with your friends - or in your serving - or with family... Who are YOU - IN HIM alone? Ask Him to teach you that in this desert? He is living water - and I believe He wants to bless you with refreshing understanding. Please take some time and carefully read John 14 and 15. Consider what it means to be IN CHRST as He is IN THE FATHER. "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 13:23 This is HUGE to me for understanding what living - full life living - with God really is... Please also read I Peter 4 and Psalm 42. Lastly, remember, as you help others with God's Word, you can ONLY do so SINCERELY - if His Word is to you - a help.
Please know I have prayed for you. I have loved this learning time with you. Thank you for it! and I hope to hear from you - how God blesses and refreshes your soul! He is God, and He will do it.
"He leads me beside the quiet waters. He refreshes my soul." Psalm 23 TNIV
wednesday april 20, 2011
We miss it. Daily we miss the priceless, intimate, sacrificial gift that is our worship to The God of the Universe. Within our grasp - a gift that is ours to give to God; a gift to offer HIM, that He - THE ALL-SUFFICIENT GOD - would actually want and cherish... That mere flesh and blood - a woman - YOU and I - hold something that HE - our God - considers of greatest value... seems so incomprehensible - and yet within us so apparently clear. This gift is our will. And delicately poised on the moment of longing we deeply desire to let it go. With out-stretched arms. Open palms. Yielded heart. Complete surrender. Restless, holy moment in our souls - stirring with one question: what would happen if we simply let our will fall into the hands of our Mighty God? Would this treasure within shatter and destroy us - or break open and do what God has promised - emit a fragrance that would bring Him glory forever and pour over our lives insurmountable blessings?
"Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!" Luke 11:45
Truth, sweet woman of God, truth that cannot be denied; - truth that we must realize and embrace with all we are and all we are not. Daily - to lay down our passionate desires - for God's pure desires - this is true Worship. To let go of a dream so that we might embrace - with our own arms - the reality of God; - to utter words that sever a relationship with flesh and blood - so that we can know in our skin what it means to live by Spirit; - to step into a life picture that is not determined by our own blue print plan - but outlined by an unseen promise that God will show us a life we could not ever imagine; - to cling to a verse with heart, and soul, and mind, and strength - because we believe God alone; THIS is Worship that composes a song even angels cannot sing to The Creator. This is our worship. This is our song. Ours alone.
I want to invite you into someone's intimate moment of worship - by her permission. Listen carefully to the tugging at her heart - to the pull of the Spirit within her - and the struggle of her own understanding. And listen, daughter of the living God - to the moment of letting go - that is her worship - beautiful - pure and holy fall of faith. You, who love Him, you will hear it, because you were made to know everlasting beauty.
Hi, Laura. I didn't get a chance to introduce myself to you at Vintage, but your husband kindly gave me your email address so I can email you my story. So I will start by telling you that I just started coming back to Vintage. It has been a rough walk for me. I have been tested, and failed, and gave up on God. I was in a year long relationship that just ended about a month or two ago. My family hated him, and my friends knew I could do better - but I wanted to help him. Our relationship was based on sex, and lies and in turn I locked up my heart. I finally called it quits and told him everything that a girl like me finds wrong with a man like him. Lack of faith was definitely on the list. I was out of touch with him since March, when recently I texted him to see if he still had something of mine. We got to talking and I told him that I was going to Vintage and how powerful God is and how I realized that I was putting him - my boyfriend - before God and that could never happen. He told me that he had been meditating and praying a lot more, and he realizes how badly he had treated me. He asked for forgivenes... Now I definitely believe in forgiveness, and I definitely know that he is not the man for me, but today he texted me and asked if one day he can come to Vintage with me. I told him, - yes -, but after all the lies in our relationship, I feel it is a scam to win me back considering he knows how much this means to me. I do't want to deny the grace that I feel, but I also don't want him to ruin it for me. You know? I am torn and as much as I pray, my prayers are interrupted by memories of lies - memories of him and I.
Please help! He also wants to go to lunch this week. I am glad a public area and maybe he needs someone to steer him right, but I left him because it got to be too much, and it was so recent. If this were to happen two weeks ago - I would not think twice - but after the message about the man running along side whil I run towards God and I will eventually look over and see him, makes me want more than him - makdes me want someone who has Christ in his life, someone who understands and respects me for who I have become in Christ - and who doesn't look at my past as a mark of who I am today.
So after my venting, do you think I should have lunch with him and bring him to Vintage? I want to be the "better man" and put things behind me, especially for God. Maybe this is what he needs. I don't know. Thanks for your help.
Reply: Hi! Thank you for writing - for trusting me with your heart. As I read your message, it was very clear to me that you know what you need to do, but you are afraid to do it. "The purposes of the human heart are deep waters, but those who have insight draw them out." Proverbs 20:5 As you are processing with me your new connection to your boyfriend - you are realizing yourself, what you remember about him and the two of you together: "A relationship based on sex and lies". This is good insight. God blessed YOU with that. "Maybe he has changed" - this is where your doubt is ruling over your God given insight, and wisdom should always rule over doubt. ALWAYS! Wisdom comes from God - in light of His Word - His instruction. Just check Eve in the garden of Eden. She went against wisdom - what she knew - and WHO she knew gave her truth. She doubted - but she gave it a try anywway, because MAYBE it would be okay, right? Genesis 2. Doubt vs. God's Word. God's Word was right. And God's Word won - and is still winning today for you and I. "Do not lean on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5-6. "Maybe he has changed - Maybe he will change" this is our own understanding. He is telling you that he has been praying and meditating. Sounds good, right? Buddhists pray and meditate. Prayer and meditation is not salvation through Christ; it is a religious practice many are familiar with. You already know what the two of you together is like. In light of what God has been teaching you - you now have wisdom being poured over your past. Why would you want to re-enter the arena that God has so clearly shown you is destructive to your life in Him? Turn your face forward, using the truth God has given you to wash over yesterday. There is nothing in the past to revisit. Today is your brand new life. I hesitate to be so blunt with direction - but I know in my own life - when that advice was founded on God's Word it has served to strengthen my faith. So, my sister, I love you - and here is my advice:
You told him about Vintage. He can go if he wants to. He doesn't need you to get him there. If he is really pursuing God on his own - he needs to do this on his own. Ask yourself, what would lunch profit? It is simply an invitation to revisit the relationship. You are communicating that you are open to that invitation by going to lunch. You are making the idea of YOU a possibility. My advice - and you can take it or leave it - truly! Don't go to lunch, and don't bring him to Vintage with you. Lunch is a date, and you do not need a date with this man...been there - done that - and you have been rescued. Your own words, "I definitely know he is not the man for me." WISDOM! pure WISDOM, Baby! And as far as this young man's pursuit of Chris t- Vintage or not - He is God's, not yours. You do what God has asked of you, and for right now that direction stands with love and protection over you his daughter, "Do not be yoked together with an unbeliever." II Cor. 6:14. Check it out. And please, will you also read John 14 and 15 when you get a chance? Guard your heart with this truth as well so you know what makes a man - a man of God.
In closing - Psalm 32 washes over my thoughts in the midst of where you are and where I once was...God has forgiven our sins. This is clear...turn to this Psalm, with me right now, okay? Our sins are forgiven! OHMYHEART!!! soooo good to my soul! Then check out verse 8, "I (God) will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I (GOD!) will counsel you with my loving eye on you." YOU, my friend, are hearing counsel from God's word! so beautifully!!! so gently!!! and you know it! I hear it in your message to me. Now check out the next verse..."Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding, but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds those who TRUST HIM." OHMYSOUL! how I love that!!! You choose. I choose. We get to choose the love of God - His direction - that is apparent for us - and TRUST HIM. Would He really smash that trust? ReallY? He has never - EVER - failed. NOT one time. My friend - there is no doubt with God. There is only absolute life. What will you choose? This is your greatest worship! This is your full life! "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great unsearchable things you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3 We have no idea what is in store...will we let go of what is our own understanding to embrace the promises of God? Unsearchable things - you were made for these! Praying for you to answer your God with trust!
Her final reply: Thank you so much, Laura! I think, as I was even re-reading what I sent to you, that I knew my answer too - but it was much more clear after your reply. I have been told by my family that I am attracted to those men that I can help. It's in my nature and heart to be a kind and gentle, helping person. You are right, GOD is right. It is not my job to bring my boyfriend to salvation. The guilt that I have accumulated over the past year is hard to get rid of. I was doing so well not talking to him. I was leaning on God again and again and spending more time with family and friends. Those verses really hit me hard and I have still tears in my eyes thinking that I really am not alone in my struggle...and that I am not the oly one to fall for such things. It is because of that I want you to post this on the Vintage View. I know I am not the only girl struggling on this walk, and the other girls need to read this as much as I do. Deep down we know the truth and WHO gives it, but sometimes we don't hear God as loud as we hear the voice of our desires. It's hard to distinguish the two. I have to tell you - that I read this week's egroup bookmark guide - dated 4/8 - in Psalm 51. When I read it, it was exactly where I was at that time. That is how I know God is listening and it was then that I heard HIM the loudest. Thank you again. God bless you.
sunday april 3, 2011
online match maker.
Hello, Laura. Thank you so much for sharing honest relatioship truth with us.
I was wondering about your opinion about online church dating sites.
Hey! Thanks for your message! Great question! Online dating - "dating" specifically - is not a biblical issue. However, widsom is. God's people seeking wisdom that He can give in our relationships - THAT is a Biblical issue. SO - having said that - let's hit this issue together seeking wisdom from the word of God.
Allow me to grab some Scripture for us - to guide our thinking. Ready...(I'll try not to overload you...but shewweeee there's a lot on wisdom!)
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
"Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom , and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this; Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding." Proverbs 4:5-7
"I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers." Proverbs 4:11-14
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways." Proverbs 4:23-26
If you are reading these verses and you are thinking, that I am about to unload about how you should not meet someone online for the purpose of pursuing a spouse... I'd like you to go back again and with an open heart and an open mind read the verses for the purpose for which I am sharing them...WE NEED WISDOM. And wisdom for your paths - for your life - comes from God. And He will give it. I love that I get to encourage you to go to Him. I love that you allow me to share His truth. Thank you. It is a privilege I do not take lightly. So - with God's Word I am absolutely inserting my 40 year-old insight with this culture and dating and our desire to seek wisdom and glorify God...but YOU - one on one with the Father - His Word to YOU... there is nothing more valuable than that. Please don't just read this and think this response is your guide to dating success. God is your guide for life. He will show you the way YOU should go...and it may not be like the way your sisters are going - at all.
Online match making is a lot like facebook. It's a part of our culture now - a very relied upon aspect of our culture - emailing and texting included. It's a connection - BUT - the correct interpretation of who that person is on the other end of an unseen wire - can be lost. The better you know the author of the words you are reading, the better you can interpret them. True? If you have heard me speak...can you hear my voice? I'll bet my husband could. I'll bet he could tell you the expression on my face as I type...whether I'm wearing my glasses and if there is a glass of coke sitting beside the keyboard. You see what I'm saying? Wisdom. Who is it you are really connected to? Takes time. Takes wisdom - wise relationship building. Wow. Couldn't we apply that to reading the Bible, too? Absolutely. The better we know the Author - the more clearly we understand His Word...and our life in Him...Ahhh so good!
ANYWAY...Online dating is a virtual connection, so we must proceed with caution and MUCH wisdom. Do careful investigating concerning the online site you would choose to give your information to - and from which you would receive information about someone else. Some Christian dating sites provide a church contact phone number and email so that you can correspond with someone who personally knows the individual that you might be interested in. It's so critical to know who this person is, their roots, their reputation, the validity of their personal description - way before you agree to meet in person. And once their identity is established as true and trustworthy - any meetings should be public. Private get-togethers are always a risk...and I'm not just talking about your life - I'm talking about your purity. Right? You with me? So much to consider before you actually think you may have found someone that you want a lasting relationship with! And so many of the pearls of wisdom you must gather cannot be fully grasped online. Is he a believer - authentically pursuing a relationship with Christ - seeking to glorify God and love others selflessly... Do you have chemistry? Who are his friends? What does he do for fun? How about his family? What's his story with mom, dad, siblings? How 'bout your friends - what do they think of him? What do they think of the two of you together... If this is starting to sound like "real life" dating scearios - that's because wisdom and caution are critical no matter how you meet. I mean - yes! single women do have some virtual concerns. You gals don't want to connect yourself to a phsycho! Wait! that's "real life" dating too! See - it's ALL about WISDOM! Check out Wes's message from March 15th..."The Difference in Relationships.
1. View the relationship - your intentions for the pursuit of it - through the lens of Scripture. Just that may stop you in your tracks...or typing.
2. Pray and seek God (LISTEN to Him) as you move forward or not.
3. Invite godly accountability and counsel into your life. I've heard success stories - and I've heard the nightmares of online dating...All of my experiences (3 total) - a joke...one to tell another time. Kemper and I met in the traditional way. Someone introduced us. Go figure.
Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to CONNECT with you! I hope you hear me...hear my heart. But more than that - I hope you'll seek God and hear His. Pray for wisdom. God gives it - without reproach! "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." James 3:17. Ask God. He will not deny you - one. good. thing.
thursday march 3, 2011
his point of view.
Hi, Laura. My boyfriend and I broke up, and I wanted to ask you some questions about what he said. He told me that we could not hold hands or hug, and that's all we ever did because he didn't believe we should kiss either. But, he told me that holding hands and hugging was not "right" in dating from God's point of view and that it is bad to do this. Yes, I believe if it is going to lead to other things it isn'r right, but we were both strong in our faith and that's all that we ever did. I was just wondering if it truly states anywhere in the Bible about this, because that is what he claims it says. He also told me that this would lead him to lust. I really don't understand what that means. I know God doesn't want that. My boyfriend actually got all of this from the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Do you have any reviews on this book? I would really like any advice you can give me. Thanks!
Reply: Thanks for writing to me! I'm so glad you check out the Vintage View! Very appreciated since I love the opportunity to connect with you! I hope your heart is healing from your break up. I know this is never an easy time - but I also know God can teach us great things through heartache. So -more than anything, I hope I can encourage you - to seek for yourself - what God has said concerning HIS love for YOU and His perspective about your purity. Grab hold of your Bible and read IT! God's Word to you is the most beautiful love story you could ever know and live!
Yes, I have read Joshua Harris's book - I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I like it - a lot. He identifies some critical moral issues that absolutely break the heart of God. He encourages young men and women to "learn to build their walk with Christ before expecting to find someone to marry." Love that! Often we expect that in finding someone to marry - everything in us and in our world will be not only established - but repaired. How untrue! Only Jesus can build - and repair - a heart. No human being was every meant to bear that role. So - yes, I have read it - and Sweet One, I would encourage you to read it, too. I can't help but wonder why your boyfriend didn't invite you to read it with him...and share in the perspective he was gaining about dating - especially when he was dating YOU??? That, my friend, is very eye opening about your relationship. He did not include you - but rather held you apart from this opportunity. Now, I'm not about to try and analyze him or his reasoning - but when two come together in a dating relationship - both equally yoked in their passion to honor God - what they learn of Him - is SHARED in SO many ways - verbally and non-verbally. He should not talk down to you about what is right or wrong - but on a level classroom floor - talk to you about what you and he are learning together. You're a team as much as dating allows you to be a team. Dating is a cultural issue for sure - not a Biblical issue - but it is one that can be viewed as an opportunity to honor God. Glorifying God in EVERY relationship - now THAT is a Biblical issue.
God is very, very specific as to how we are to glorify Him - as His children - in our relationships. Whether you are dating, or not - the truths God teaches us about how to love - should be the overflow of our heart. For example: Lust. Your boyfriend didn't want to be physical with you because this would cause Him to lust, right? Girl - I respect that! If his trigger for lust was to simply hold your hand - or give you a kiss - than as someone who cares for him - as someone who cares for his relationship to our God - you not only get to respect that - but you get to help him with that. Cool calling - and yes - difficult - but still very beautiful as an opportunity to help him live for Christ. Does the Bible say, "Don't hold hands or kiss when you are dating." NO! Dating is not mentioned at all. It does say - do not lust (Colossians 3:5). Jesus teaches us in Matthew 5:27-28 that for someone to even look on a woman with lust is to commit adultery. Harsh? not at all - serious reflection of how God sees the heart and our intentions. Everything we do flows from the heart (Proverbs 4:23). So - if this young man was thinking about having sex with you when he's kissing you or holding your hand - God bless him for having the self-control - and the strong convictions - to draw a line. However, he may have missed one critical aspect to that line. - It is not just a shield that protects him...which seems to be the reason why he drew it. That line that he has drawn from Scripture -is a shield for you as well. What he could have done - what a man who loves God and loves you - will do - is help you understand how God's Word - embraced in His heart - is a covering for both of you; - how that Scripture line is both protection and a blessing to you individually and in your relationship.
Sweet Girl - my hope for you - is that on your own - you will take the opportunity that you have in your singleness to learn the truths of God that define His love for YOU. These truths will endear you to your God - and they will bless you in your relationships - so that you - with equal passion - will bring to every relationship (girls you align yourself with, or a future boyfriend) the incredible intimacy you have with our God - HIS WORD - HIS PERSPECTIVE - wrapped around your heart! to bless you AND protect you - AND those who get to see and hear God's Word living and active in you! Like Wes has been teaching us at this Vintage - and Pastor Jerry has been teaching this on Sundays...The TRUTHS we learn are not just for us alone. We are the mobile church of God - each of us - a light set on a hill. AND WE get to reflect God's Word in us - the gospel - to a world that desperately needs to see HIM. " Thank God for this experience you have had. It is good. Do not lament or look back...only forward with the wisdom YOU have gained. Embrace every lesson from God's Word, Sweet Girl, live it out fully - celebrate it, and pass it on! I'll be right behind you!
"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in THIS PRESENT AGE, while we wait for the blessd hope - the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people, that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These then are the things you should teach. ECOURAGE and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you." Titus 2:11-15
thursday february 24, 2011
I have something heavy on my heart I wanted to share with you. Maybe you could share it with some of the girls at Vintage...?
I am in the midst of the "married with little kids crowd" - the crowd I dreamed of being in when I was a young(er) woman of Vintage age. And for the most part, I am enjoying what God is teaching me. I love it, and wouldn't trade being married to my love for anything. I could use a little less boogers though.
Sadly, there are a lot of women whom I have come in contact with whose fairy tale of married with kids is pretty much a night mare. And these are Christian women who were Christians when the met their prince - who really was a toad. They were lonely, and made choices that were not godly. Sleeping with their boyfriends, getting pregnant before getting married, not knowing all the facts about their husband before saying "I do"; their lives are now a mess. Their children's lives are a mess. Pornography, addictions, abuse, isolation, and mental illness are hallmarks of these women's lives. They are married to men who have turned from God, and these women are miserable. Heartbroken. Alone. Shamed. Hardly the things these women had envisioned when they said "Yes" to these men.
It is sad. So sad. There is a lot to overcome, and I'm not saying it's not possible, however it is difficult. A very difficult path is ahead of them. And they have precious, innocent children who are dealing with the consequences of their sin.
Marriage is a big deal. Sex is a big deal. Kids are a big deal. God gives warnings for a reason. Millions of reasons! Marrying someone who isn't of the same faith - brings disaster. You know that! Tell those girls to break it off now before it is too late. Tell them don't settle. Keep your clothes on - your guard up. Love God first, trust HIM, trust HIS timing, HIS counsel which is His Word, SEEK godly counsel in His people - LISTEN - and then DO IT!
Off my soapbox now.
wednesday february 23, 2011
black and white
A picture's worth a thousand words.
This picture is actually rather famous. It's called, "Kissing the War Goodbye". It was photographed on August 14th, 1945. Though the picture depcits a couple in love, what we are actually looking at is an enthusiastic sailor - celebrating the end of the war on Japan with the nearest nurse he could find. He simply grabbed her and kissed her, and she obliged.
So, although in itself this image is rather alluring, the story behind the picture actually has less depth than the picture itself. My point? Couldn't the same be said of some of our romantic snapshot moments? You have them, don't you? You know...when you have had a conversation with a guy, shared a joke, a cup of coffee, or a table in the library; he wrote on your facebook wall, said he loved your laugh, or complimented your shoes - and there it was - a snapshot moment that you refer to often. Because -FOR REAL!!! what could he have possibly meant by that?
We often go to great lengths to recreate those moments with intricate detail so that we can acurately process them - relive them - and then invite another sympathetic viewer to join in our quest to find the hidden meaning. You know what I'm talking about, right? Because the question always persists - what did that mean???.
Sad, but quite often true, our search for depth often ends in despair. The man who captured our interest by his sparkling gesture or words - may have meant only what he said - and what he did - well, that might have been accomplished without one second thought. Sparkle gone. HOW CAN THIS BE? Doesn't everyone speak and act with double meanings? What is the value of a wink, a second phone call in one day, or a poke on facebook if there isn't any other meaning? AHHHH Virginia - do not despair! There is a Santa Clause. Men - who want to leave delightful hints of their affections do exist. And, sweet, sweet girl...THEY'RE MESSING EVERYBODY ELSE UP! Aren't they? Not really! But because those kind of guys do live and breathe, and pursue - how does a woman define the difference between the hint that leads to gold - and the one that leads to junk? Great question!
Women! All the single ladies reading! Please, please hear me out. And yes - you can take or leave this advice - but if you have a history of heartache because you have misread some guy's kindness for love - then just maybe lightly consider what I am about to say. Protect your heart from letting anyone lead you without knowing where you are going. If a guy repeatedly - and I do mean repeatedly - cuz one crumb doesn't necessarily mean there's a trail - you with me? ...if a guy repeatedly is saying or doing something that hits your heart and makes it go - boom - boom -boom - etching out a rock solid moment you have to lug around in your back pocket...SAY SOMETHING TO HIM. Think about it - we talk to our girlfriends - our moms - our mentors - or Dear Abby for that matter - anyone who will listen to how we feel about what happened and what we think it means - anyone - but the guy. AND WHY??? because we're afraid of looking like a fool, right? Well - don't we end up looking like one anyway? Broken hearted moments are not pretty. We allow ourselves to be deceived. Did you catch that? We ALLOW it. The picture of POSSIBILTY that keeps getting painted is the one we enjoy - so we let these moments go on creating a false hope album.
My best advice for those of you who are the object of some man's kind gestures - or his "let's hang out" kind of attitude that holds no anchor - only joy riding... - ask him his intentions. Yes! I'm bringing it back! No - you don't have to say it in that old fashioned way, "So, young man, just what are your intentions with this relationship?" Nah! We're sassier than that these days, aren't we? Give it your own sassy style and grace - but you could say something like: - "What you just said, - (or what you just did) - hit my heart. Now that can be a good thing for you - or a bad thing - so you better tell me if there is something more going on here - or not." If he keeps calling, and texting, and asking you to hang out - draw a line that defines his heart and outlines your boundaries. YOU ARE A WOMAN OF STRONG CONVICTIONS - right? Act like one - and he'll respect you for that - and so will the women in your life - who need to follow your lead.
"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Proverbs 31:29
friday november 5, 2010
Lie to me.
All the SINGLE Ladies!!!! My heart is pounding! Gotta talk to ya! Gotta love on ya! Passion running hot and high right now! So bear with me in this embrace…it’s gonna be tight!
There’s a battle goin’ on, Girls. A very real – Spiritual battle – and I wanted you to see it – hear it for yourselves – and maybe even from the safe distance where you now sit - by the words you realize as you read them – maybe you might sense the very real and choking death grip of the Enemy.
See the Violater – may not strike hard and fast so that you will immediately feel the sting of his poison. No – he’s so often more cunning than that. This dark intruder, Satan,will be much more cunning and tactical than that, as you will hopefully see in this email I’m going to share with you. You, Believing Heart, may not even know this cutthroat assassin has set a trap before you, because it will be so divisively camouflaged to lure and entice your human instincts.
You know that show “Lie to Me”? Well if you are familiar with it – then you know how the main character is able to read a lie in one grimace. If you don’t know the show – that is the premise. The hero is a living, breathing, well-paid, lie detector who can identify a lie and solve a crime. I was watching it one night thinking, “I WANT that ability.” But then I realized – “I DO HAVE THAT ABILITY!” Praise God! I do! And gues what, Girls??? SO DO YOU!!! We as believers – we all do!
“When the spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into ALL truth.” John 16:13
We are equipped – by God’s Spirit – to know truth. The real issue then is not so much in knowing the truth – the issue then is in doing it.
“Be sober. Be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I Peter 5:8 P Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you ay be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” Ephesians 6:11-16
Faith believes – Faith acts on belief. Without action – faith is dead. Hear this truth. Oh please, oh please – hear this truth.Faith without works is dead.
Here below I invite you – by her permission – to read a young woman’s tender heart in a crisis of belief. I hope as you read you will:
1. be impressed to pray for her – for one another.
2. see evidence of how easily we can miss truth that is right in front of our faces.
3. And lastly, I pray that you will be impressed to arm yourself, PRECIOUS, SET APART, Daughter of God, because you are up against a ferocious enemy, and you are EMPOWERED to destroy his influence over you through Christ – if only you will believe.
I’ve highlighted the“red flag” issues in her email.
Hey, how are you? I’ve had to miss Vintage due to work the past two weeks. Hopefully I will be back soon. I was emailing to ask you about a situation I am finding myself in. So, I’ve been single since May 2007 and haven’t dealt with all this stuff since then.
I met a guy, and we’ve been talking a lot lately. And I’m finding myself liking him quite a bit, and vice versa.
He is incredibly respectful, funny, outgoing…blah-blah…but the one major hang-up is that he is not a Christian. If you asked him, he’d probably say, “Yeah, I’m a Christian, you know, be a good person and love God”. But he has truly no idea what a Christian is supposed to be. He’s been raised in an “attend a couple times a year” religious home. So, he doesn’t honestly know when you pray you can say more than a “Hail Mary” to God.
We’ve had some good conversations about God, and he’s intrigued by what he hears, fascinated that he’s somehow missed out on hearing certain thigs.
So it is, of course, my hope that he becomes a Christian. But my fear is what to do in the meantime, or if he doesn’t become one. (Since we’re moving closer and closer from the “just talking” state to the “dating” stage.) Some people have said to me, “Well, tell him you don’t date non-Christians”, and that sounded good to me for awhile, but as I thought about it…I realized that it is one of the most judgmental and unloving things I could possibly say.
In fact, if I told him this…I’m sure I would get a “false positive” Christianity out of him. I don’t want that. I don’t want him to choose God just because of me. I want him to find God and love him as much as I love him.
I’ve been praying about him and this situation, telling God that I would give him up if he wanted me to. But it would break my heart. I’ve met a lot of guys in my life…and he is honestly the exact type of person I’ve been searching for; and since late summer he came crashing into my life and has been courting me by the book;(what book?) which has turned out to be incredibly sweet and endearing.
I can’t for the life of me imagine why God would send me someone like him, and ask me to A. break both our hearts B. not keep him in my life.
So I am sorry for that incredibly long rant. But my heart is breaking with confusion, and I don’t want to turn to him and say, “Can’t date you cuz you’re not a Christian, Sorry!” …Because then I would be that judgmental Christian girl who broke his heart, and honestly…that wouldn’t be of God. (Who told her to that?)
Any slim amount of advice…would be amazing.
Thanks for reading.
p.s. He’s ready to come to Vintage…but of course he JUST started a new job…too soon for him to ask for certain days off. I might be able to get him to come to The Chapel with me…or at least listen online.
My sweet, sweet friend! God is sooooo speaking to you! Loud and clear! Your heart is not breaking from confusion, Sweet One!!! Your heart is breaking because you know – by God’s Spirit who indwells you – exactly what you need to do. His Word will confirm this for you . The question is will you obey His Word – and not rationalize – or conform it to what you want – your will – not God’s.
I’m going to give you some Scripture – and pray like crazy that God impresses His love – His promise, provision, protection and blessing over your life - His best for you – upon your heat. Living for God – life from God – makes the wisdom of this world seem like foolishness. We do not rationalize the wisdom of God – we obey it. He’s God – and He knows what we do not – our heart for one thing – and the life we were born to lead for His glory – for another. Do not try to rationalize it. Read each verse. Write down what God is saying to you – word for word – and then – Ask Him what He wants you to do with it. Hearing requires obeying. I love you – I love that God is prompting you – and that you have trusted me with your heart. I’m giving it back to our God – so that He can teach you something AMAZING that you will never forget.
Psalm 1. II Cor. 6:14-18. James 2:18-19. Galatians 5:1. Jonah 2:8-9
Your concern for his salvation is indeed Spirit-led. But you are dating for the purpose of marriage – are you not? God does not need you to lead this young man to repentance. God wants you to be obedient to Him .
Let me know your thoughts - what God is teaching you...and I am praying for your courage - strength - and blessings from God in your obedience. LOVELOVELOVE!!!
p.s. I have written about “dating an unbeliever” on Vintage View (vintagetruth.com) and so has Kemper.
I am grateful to hear from you, and I am glad that you are in my life for me to speak to. These are the same verses I have found on my own... through websites and whatnot when asking the same question
I guess I am rationalizing a little bit (Do not lean on your own understanding), and I understand what the Bible is telling me, but God isn't jamming this down my throat like I figured he would be if I was stepping onto 'dangerous territory'.
I appreciate you bringing these verses to me once again.. but I find myself still in the same pickle.. still wondering what to say to him without condemning him and being some “stuck up Christian”. I know that he sees God in me and is fascinated by it. He asks me questions about it all the time… and I know his time in the world is numbered... But i know if I turn him away from not being a Christian…(who has the power to turn him???...) then I do exactly the opposite.. I send him further away from God and break my own heart (this is the real issue)… and that seems backwards too.
I know a little bit what I need to do (she knows exactly what she needs to do!).. but I also as a Christian I have to judge things by its fruit (FRUIT – is a product of the believer’s life through the work of Christ in you – the work of the HOLY SPIRIT.). The fruit of this is not a bad thing (LIE – Direct LIE from her ENEMY!). Truly.. I'm not being completely irrational… believe me.. I over-think every tiny aspect of my life. He has stopped swearing to the point of his family noticing… he loves to tell jokes and doesn't tell the raunchy ones.. in a couple short months I've already influenced this.. I've convinced him (if she has to convince him – he can be unconvinced) to come to Vintage… and when its time I think God will free up his Tuesday nights
I'm sorry if I'm being a pain.. but this is truly where my heart and head are at right now...(“The heart is deceitful above all things…Jer.17:9 – and “Out of the overflow of the heart – the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45)
Again – My Reply:
Sweet One… - your perspective of "stuck up Christian" is your perspective. God called you set apart. That is not stuck up. This is not my advice to you - this is God's Word. It is not to be taken lightly - or simply considered - it is to be obeyed. If you date an unbeliever - you are disobeying God. Plain - black and white - simple. Your choice - always. You can call what you see in his life as fruit - but that's not fruit - unless he is a believer who is connected to the Vine that is Christ - and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. What you see in his life is God's grace - plain and simple. You are at a point of experiencing God at His Word. That is an amazing place to be - and one that will bring much blessing if you choose what He says - even though it is so, so hard. It always is, isn't it....? and yet so easy. YOU see the way - you know the truth - there is light ahead - Jesus said to Mary the sister of Lazarus - "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" You have a choice to believe and be blessed - to disbelieve the very word God is pressing into your heart. I am praying you choose to believe.
For every man that I dated, –felt empathy for - like I was his help – his hope (how arrogant!)- and then tried to evangelize and win to God - there was much pain - much sin - and a long way back to the very place where God gave me His very solemn Word. I married one of them - and was divorced one year later. I shared with you the verses I read just before I rationalized my way out of those truths - and married him. I'll show you the journal entry where I wrote them down - and poured out my heart to God...and walked away to do what my heart wanted to do anyway... You are in a crisis of belief, my precious sister. I am praying you will cling to God's Word - by faith.
No Reply – I Wrote Again:
Are you listening - or are you running? I will not continue to plead with you - that is the work of the Holy Spirit. I will tell you this - because I love you - I will pray for you. Because God blessed me with the opportunity to speak into your life - I will tell you TRUTH. God's Spirit is leading you. Will you follow? There is no safer - better - more blessed place to be than on the path of His LIGHT - His TRUTH. Off that path - you miss the blessings that HiS WORD - which is love, protection, and blessing over your life - John 15! has for you. YOU KNOW the Bible does not say - "Do not look at pornographic images." Yet you know it is wrong and destructive. What the Bible does say - verse upon verse - from Proverbs to Matthew - and I and II Corinthians - I could list more! Scripture filled with every bit of wisdom and truth you can trust in with regards to lust - sexual immorality - which would include, or umbrella, pornography and its destruction to a heart and mind. AND YOU CAN TESTIFY TO IT!!! Can you not? In this same way God is speaking to you about dating an unbeliever...very plain truth - DO NOT BE YOKED with and UNBELIEVER. You can wrap that up any way you want - with where he is in his journey - with where you are in respect to that - play with that thought all you want - but when Jesus stands before you and says - Do NOT BE YOKED WITH AN UNBELIEVER - you have one response that is required of you. ONE.
I love you. I'm passionate about this - because it is my testimony! I gave up life in Christ and walked in misery for YEARS - because I yoked myself with an unbeliever...Trust God - for every situation that He knows is in your future - you will want a man who stands beside you equal in your passion to Seek God. EQUAL PASSION...not dragging him and hoping he will get to where you are maybe someday...God knows what your future holds. You do not. AND the choice of a believer with you - is His for you - your Creator - your Father - your Lord. -I am praying for you - and if you asked your egroup about this, Girl!...they would say and do the same...tell you God's truth - love you - and pray for you...Dangerous thing you're playing with - not just your future - The Word of God. "He's not a tame lion. But He is good."
God will not let me rest from praying for you...so here is Scripture I read this morning. I pray you receive it. Power and Grace over your life, Babe.
"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man who trusts in him! Ps. 34:8 - Indeed we count them blessed who endure." James 5:11 - We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5 No chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing...Blessed is the man you endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:2-4,12. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me...For when I am weak, then I am strong...2 Cor. 12:9-10
You haven't been an intrusion. I welcomed your input in. I am more than happy to let you put my question up on the Vintage View… just remove his name and replace it with another name if that’s ok. I am struggling with this, because honestly I don't feel like God is putting it on my heart to flee from being around him and whatnot. He considers himself a Christian if you were to ask him, he'd say "Yeah, God's a good guy, I like him, say a couple Hail Mary's every once in awhile." He's just a typical unexposed to God person, and I believe that I wouldn't be yoking myself with an unbeliever, but raising up a new one.
Perhaps that rationalization, but if it is disobeying.. Then I fear I will be. But for this exact moment in time, I think this is what God wants for me. I do so appreciate your wise counsel, and it has not fallen on deaf ears. I have thought VERY MUCH about what you have spoken to me about... so please do not think that I am throwing away your wisdom.
I remember your talk to us about relationships, and I was touched by it then, in fact it may have been one of the first times I encountered you. I will be careful, and I will return to these verses. But I think God is using me in his life, and I pray that things will turn around and make this a non-issue.
I am sorry if my response upsets you. Thank you for your help and prayers Laura, I respect you highly.
monday september 27, 2010
freedom from guilt
Is masturbation wrong? For women? I know that it is far more common among men, and I even believe that it is ok for men to masturbate as long as they do not accompany the action with lustful thoughts, but I feel like men have more of an excuse because there can be a physical need for that "release" where there is no comparable need for women.
I feel so dirty, scummy and low because I've stumbled onto this action of masturbation - it all began by accident and I didn't even konw what it was that I was doing, but that doesn't really matter because now I competely understand what I'm doing. I feel gross because I think of this as something a man can do, something because men have a high sex drive, and I think it makes me feel like this perverted sex addict in a way, even though I haven't had sex. I don't know, I can't really explain how I feel without sounding like a five year old who doesn't know the words to describe how she's feeling.
I've tried to stop, i've memorized verses for when I feel tempted, and I've been praying, but I haven't been really successful yet. I think that the way it makes me feel is proof that it's wrong, but am I guilting myself excessively? It's not like I accompany my action with lustful thoughts or porn or anything, it's just a physical gratification. Is this wrong?
I'm currently in a relationship and we plan to get married after we graduate from college. I've discussed this with my boyfriend to some extent but I feel awkward doing so. I know he masterbates, but I don't think any less of him, I just don't know that I can be allowed the same justification. His oppinion was that because we can't have sex for 2 more years, it may not be a bad thing to satisfy it somehow without allowing lustful or sexual thoughts to accompany it. I don't know. Partly I feel like it could be ok if I don't make an addiction out of it; for example, if I am not doing it everyday or depending on it or unable to resist it, but maybe if I do it occasionally it could be ok. Like eating ice cream - you can enjoy it occasionally but if you overindulge you will become a gluten, wich is both unhealthy and sinful(?) and a lack of self-control. On the other hand, I think that it could possibly increase my sexual desire and make the struggle for purity with my boyfriend even more of a challenge. Or, it could cause me to be more prone to thinking lustful sexual thoughts, which is something I want to avoid and stay away from all together. Or finally, it could really be a sin and I just haven't fully acknowledged that yet, and everytime I do it I push myself farther away from God - and that I DEFINITELY don't want. I mean, is this part of sexual immorality that the Bible speaks so highly against?
What should I do? Do you have any answers or advice for me Laura? Are there any books or anything I can read to help me figure out on my own what is appropriate for me according to God?
Please send me any advice you can give.
“I will walk about in freedom for I have sought out your precepts.” Psalm 119:45
Thank you for writing to me. Thank you for trusting me with your heart. Please know I do not take lightly that I get the opportunity to share God’s Word with you and that I personally get to encourage you to love and seek our Heavenly Father. What a gift to my life! I have prayed much about this reply, and have had quite a time trying to get it to you! My computer crashed and I lost everything that I had written at one point…but I am grateful that the message was first written on my heart – and my friend…that is exactly my point for writing.
I am not sure how long you have been a follower of Jesus Christ, but what I do know is that you are presently. When we choose to live for God you know He promised to put His Spirit within us (“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? I Cor.6:19) – to give us His help and His strength in this life for His purposes (. Such a gift I still do not fully comprehend or utilize to the magnitude of all He is!) However – we are learning and growing in this gift – and for that I want to encourage you (and myself) that God is a good, faithful, patient, loving teacher. It is our goal as believers – daily – to walk by the Spirit – because in doing so – we reflect Jesus Christ – who died that we might live a full life that is only possible –only desirable- by His Spirit. “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit; and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:16-17 This is for all of us, my friend: men and women.
Will you think carefully with me about how this truth presses in on the question you have asked? My sweet friend, I can teach you the do’s and don’ts of the law of God. God has all of the laws listed and clearly identified for us in His Word, so that they are clear and easily understood by even those who do not know Him. God gave us the law to teach us many things – and it is good to know His laws – they reflect the character of a Holy God. They reflect God’s love for His people. They are full of blessing, provision and protection. The law teaches us how desperate we are for a Savior.The law also teaches us what we are unable to do in and of ourselves. Israel failed miserably at keeping the law. How much more different are we? We differ by zilch. But God gave us the promise of His Salvation. God gave us the promise of His Spirit – so that help, protection, instruction, wisdom, blessing, provision – a God – would not be distant to us on stone cold tablets that had (and still have) little effect on even colder hearts. “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:19-20 Our faithful God has done this and it is evidenced in you by your letter. He is speaking to you, my friend.
I can take you verse by verse about sexual immorality. I can teach you the law as there are many laws in every place in life from being a student – to having a career – to being an American citizen. What I can’t teach you is the intimacy of the relationship – the love of the One Who gave Himself to you – who replaced Law with Spirit – not having nullified the one but glorified in both. Only God can take you to the personal meeting place of you and Himself. What is beautifully evidenced in you – is the Spirit of God calling you to hear Him. Why would I dare speak above that voice? Rather – let me encourage you to seek it fully. Let me encourage you to get alone with God – with His Word – and ask Him to teach you by His Word – not your voice – not your boyfriend’s voice - His written Word – verse by life changing verse - what He would have you know and realize about His love, provision and blessing over your life – THAT IS HIS WORD.
The entire book of Galatians is Paul’s letter to a people who needed clarification about what it meant to be under the law of Judaism – and what it meant to be Free in Christ. Paul writes in chapter 3 that before we came to faith we were held in custody of the law – locked up. It was the law – the do’s and don’ts that controlled us until Christ came that we might be justified –set free – by faith. “Now faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” Galatians 3:25 The law no longer babysits us. Does this mean we can do whatever we want? No – it means, because I live for God – my heart is to please God – and my battle is with my flesh – not my Creator. There is no longer a division between you and I and our God. He is WITH us. Christ has made a way for us to God –and we will not be kept from Him ever. WE GET THAT! By the Gift of Faith – we get that God’s love for us came in the person of Jesus Christ to bring us back to Himself – not by law – but by love. Love in me- for Him - is the gift! We want to live for Him from now on. Crazy good! Crazy hard! Crazy victory in God’s power to help us follow His Spirit. Please read Romans 6, 7, and 8 with your question about your life in Christ – (because that is what this question boils down to) keep that close in mind – and heart…and hear His love, blessing, provision, and purpose over your life.
“For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die, but if by the Sprit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Sprit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, to that you live in fear again; rather, the Sprit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by his we cry,” Abba, Father”. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:13-16
And back to Galatians 5:17-26…because one God – one message – He is consistent. “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the sinful nature are OBVIOUS.” – (That means you know it – I know it – we all know what is wrong when the Spirit of God is telling us so clearly.) “Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. I warn n you – as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Let me stop for a moment and point out that indeed no specific examples are given for each outpouring of the sinful nature…because the specifics of how we each will carry them out – God will identify in us OBVIOUSLY – by His Spirit. Play these sins out in your mind and God will pinpoint your personal Sunday School – power point or flannel graph image – of you carrying it out. And Our Grace Giving God won’t rub your nose in it either – won’t shout “shame on you!” either…– Please, don’t you worry one bit about walking through these images with God. – He has lovingly, graciously drawn our attention to His love for us so that we see that over our sinful past – to help us get what we do that is not His love over our lives. To help us get that we can run to Him and not shrink away.
And I have to continue with this verse – and then I’ll let you go to talk with God on your own (so excited for you in that!) “But the fruit of the Spirit – (those beautiful, healthy, life giving drippings of goodness – hanging off the vine that is our Savior!) is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such ( that means with these incredible spirit given treasures) there is no LAW.” That means – have at these natures that God will evoke in you! Have at ‘em allllll you want!
Sweet one, would you know if you were being held captive to a false way of thinking? Would you know if your hands were tied to something that you were meant to be free of? You would think so, wouldn’t you? I am certain that Satan is a deceiver and he has beguiled time and again what seemingly is good – and can be reasoned so – but is in fact destruction to our heart – mind – strength in Christ. Do not be deceived. Life in Christ is freedom from every sin that so easily entangles. Let Him teach you what that freedom feels like – eye to eye – heart to heart – you to Him and Him in you.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” – Jesus
We are free!
friday february 19, 2010
longing to be filled.
Hi Laura, I was reading your blog about your struggles with an eating disorder. I am currently in the same boat...I binge eat all the time and I know I'm doing it to "fill" something but I don't know what I'm filling.. I guess my question is, do you still struggle with food? Does the struggle ever go away or is it always there? Will I always feel the need to "fill" myself with something, rather it be binging or restricting food, self-medicating, or cutting? I don't want to deal with any of it anymore but it's ALWAYS on my mind! Any words you can offer would be greatly appreciated! Thanks again for all your help as I begin a new, and to be honest scary, journey with God.
My sweet friend! I am sorry you struggle with an eating disorder! Ugh! I know your frustration and it makes me ache with you! Literally! Before I get into the depth of our shared issue I want to first of all give you hope. We have a true God who will fill so we are satisfied. Of this I am most certain, and because of this I am excited for you to live anew through Him! Keep that hope in mind as I answer your question. You ready for this?
You asked: Does the struggle ever go away, is it always there?
Answer: No, sweet one. For me, the struggle never goes away. The draw to - and I do mean the DRAW - or in churchy terms - the temptation - to return to the empty ways I used to gratify my flesh DOES NOT LEAVE ME. Why? Indeed, why? For some people, I know their old temptations are gone, but you know what? Glory to God for His purposes in each of His servants – and for this girl, I can tell you – my struggle ain’t over yet.
You also asked: Will I always feel the need to “fill” myself with something?
I can’t wait to answer that one. Hold please, and hear me out for a second.
Do I feel the weight of my temptation to binge and purge every moment of the day, (or even every day)? – No; not anymore. It does ease up the more disciplined I have become in fighting it - and building up my strength to refuse to return to it (Isaiah 40:29). I cannot tell you the last time I binged and purged. It would have to be about 11 years ago. Which, having held to a habit that (ridiculously) brought much comfort – it blows my mind that I am free from its 8 year grip! The initial days of trying to follow God and not my temptation had lots of trip ups along the way. I am grateful for the power of the Holy Spirit that will not let us rest - that will not let us quit - that teaches us to endure and grow through temptation (James 1:2, 3, 12)! I love the power of the Holy Spirit that teaches us to confess our sin so we can be healed (James 5:16)! I love the power of the Holy Spirit that makes us ache for God, so that we no longer find comfort in our sin, but instead are given eyes to see what binging and purging, or any of our pathetic, sinful addictions really are – enslavement (Galatians 5:1, John 8:31-32)! And I love the power of the Holy Spirit that teaches us to realize victory through Him - because through GOD’s Spirit – we overcome again, and again – and even still again (Psalm 119:11)! AMAZING!
I hate, hate, hate, the thoughts and feelings of temptation. Makes me sick to know temptation is creeping at my door (Genesis 4:7) – YUK! But I love what God does when I allow Him to take me through it! My friend, when I have endured temptation, I am astounded by the power of the Spirit of God in ME that fought for HIM against my own strong will (I John 4:4). AMAZING! The struggle doesn't end. BUT I HAVE GROWN STRONG against these struggles (Ephesians 6:10, 11, 16). HUGE STRENGTH! “A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD!” There are days when I consider my old habits, for whatever reason, and I do not blame Satan for everything that tempts me (James 1:13-14), although I know he would do a jig around me and my frig if I gave in to binging. – Those days, Sweet One, I cling to the help of God. Those days open my eyes to the reality I am nothing without Christ (I Corinthians 10:12-13). That in all honesty is a beautiful day. Humbled, so humbled in those moments – because who do I really think I am? You know? I’d like to think I am above temptation, but how prideful is that when even Jesus endured it (Hebrews 2:18)? I HATE MY PRIDE! So, in those battle days – (and, please, I pray you join me in this) - I embrace the church that God has allowed me to be a part of (I Peter 5:8,9). I am blessed, so blessed - by godly women in my life that I know pray for me – that I know I can call in a heartbeat – that I know I have to be accountable to, and for purposes I really don’t fully realize, but I use every power that God has put in my life to overcome the spiritual battle – ‘cause He understands the weaponry that wins. Sometimes one weapon has a different tactical impact than another. Does that make sense? Some days it’s God and I at war with His Word – and that detonates and is victorious. Some days it is the godly people in my life that help me overcome. I love God’s church! And I know Satan hates that I love it, cause he’d like to throw every doubtful and hurtful situation my way so I do not trust in the help of people I love, and who love me. You with me in that? You ever wonder why there is so much conflict among believers? Women who love Jesus can let one another down! The body of Christ is a power source Satan is attacking constantly! We aren’t commanded to trust people, Babe. We trust God. We are commanded to love people. I love the people of our church and I trust God will work His purpose in my loving them, and their love over me. Hear me, okay? When I hid in my shame, I did not get better. It wasn't until I said my sin out loud – and not to God – because He and I talked about it a lot! When I told another believer my struggle, I began to fight against it - and claim victory. The Word of God is true! James 5:16!
Don't get discouraged because you are tempted. The Holy Spirit is IN YOU - working on your ability to endure. Feed yourself the Power Source of God's Word - for your mind and body. I WILL die in my flesh, even if it kills me (I Peter 2:24)! I will die trying to discipline my body to live for God. I won't know the freedom of that release until I am dead - but I will fight, because in fighting I feel most alive in Christ. I refuse to feel the weight of that burdensome lifestyle again. I was lonely - depressed - unhealthy - and I hated what I had become. For my sin issues – my flesh - I will always have to have accountability. I'm okay with that. I tell my girlfriends who love me - ask me at any time how I am doing. And I also let them know when I need them to pray for me. Surround yourself with believers, my friend. There is power in the body of Christ.
God has not taken those temptations from me. I ask Him too - but they remain...Ask Him to take them from you, Honey. For some - He does - for others - not so. I'm good with it - I know God uses these struggles - and again - not all the time - thankfully - but some of the time - to keep me very mindful that I am dependent on HIM for all I am. Keeps me close to Him; humble and merciful toward others who are in need of a hug! You know? Does that help? One verse I hold to - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil. 4:13. This isn't about like lifting cars - or making a million dollars - this is about the sacrificial things I must do in order to live life for my God - who loves me - whom I love. You claim it; memorize it - and call it out loud if you have to in the midst of the temptation. Food is an idol - the denial of it or in gorging ourselves on it – all empty rituals of idol worship. I pray daily to Our Provider God - "Give me this day - my daily bread." - The bread that my body needs - not one bite more - the bread of life that is Christ - on HIM - let me feast!!!
I want to close by addressing your last concern:
Question: Will I always feel the need to “fill” myself with something?
Answer: Yes! You will. You were created in the image of God. You were meant to be satisfied by something; that something is Him. He is your satisfaction. He is your completion. Go to Him to be filled (Psalm 107)!
Listen to what Jesus said to “the woman at the well” as she is known - who was looking for fulfillment. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13
I get that, Sweet One. I know where my old water hole is – but girl, I am not thirsty for it anymore.
Join me at the Well of Living Water!