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Is Singleness Punishment for My Sin?

Is Singleness Punishment for My Sin?

Dear Single Girl,

I know that you associate singleness with punishment, but nothing could be further from the truth! How can I be so confident? Because God’s Word is crystal clear on the matter. Please do yourself a favor and give this lie the boot!

1. Someone else was punished for your sin.

You have a substitute. A Savior.

Jesus Christ willingly stepped into your place and took the full brunt of the Father’s wrath and punishment for your wickedness. If you have put your full trust in Christ, it is done. You are cleansed. Forgiven. Loved. Free.

“Every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

“And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us . . . ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’ Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin” (Heb. 10:11–18).

You can know that God the Father accepted Christ’s substitution for your sin because He not only raised Jesus from the dead, Jesus returned to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. Intimacy was restored. The deed was done.

Clearly, it would be unjust of God to punish His Son for your sin . . . . and then turn around and punish you as well! And God is anything but unjust.

You will never know His punishment, only His favor through Christ . . . if you trust in Jesus alone as your Savior.

2. Jesus was single, and it was not because He had sinned!

Hebrews 4:15 says, ” For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (emphasis added). Obviously, singleness is not the result of sin, because Jesus never, ever sinned.

Not only is singleness not punishment . . .

3. The apostle Paul says that singleness is a gift.

In 1 Corinthians 7:7–8, Paul writes:

“I wish that all were as I myself am [single]. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am” (emphasis added).

Paul goes on to explain why singleness is a gift: because “those who marry will have worldly troubles,” because he wants you “to be free from anxieties,” and because the married woman’s interests are “divided” trying to please both God and her husband (vv. 28–34). Paul summarizes all this in verse 35:

“I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Sweet girl, the real problem is not that you are being punished for your sin. The real problem is that your hopes are misdirected.

Do not waste the gift that this season of singleness is.

Marriage is a beautiful gift . . . if and only if you are not looking to a man to fulfill you and complete you and replace your sadness with joy.

Marriage is a beautiful gift . . . if and only if you are running to Christ daily to fulfill you and satisfy you with His love and replace your sadness with joy.

Do not waste the gift that this season of singleness is. Use it to repent of your misplaced hopes and to find Christ to be your all-in-all. Only then will marriage or singleness be able to be received—not as punishment—but as the gift they both are.

Is Singleness Punishment for My Sin? was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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No Boyfriend? What’s Wrong with You?

No Boyfriend? What’s Wrong with You?

Lately several girls have told me they’re convinced something is wrong with them because they’ve never had a boyfriend. Most chalk it up to being plain ugly, like this girl:

I’m twenty-three and have never dated anyone. I honestly feel like the weirdest, ugliest girl in the world, and all I can do is question what’s wrong with me. I feel if I was pretty like other girls or more dateable, I wouldn’t be single. And quite frankly, sometimes I even question if I’m worthy of being loved or if I’m so horrible I can’t even be liked.

I know life shouldn’t just be about dating, but it’s so awkward when all your friends are or have been in relationships, and you’re just there thinking, It must be because I’m ugly. I’ve come to hate everything about my physical appearance. It’s like my whole youth has passed me by. Because even when I’ve had any crush, they wouldn’t even notice me. I’ve now come to the point of thinking maybe love isn’t for everyone, but I don’t know how well I can accept it.

Single girl, nothing is wrong with you. Not in the way you think, anyway.

Nothing is wrong with being twenty-three and not having dated. In fact, you have the advantage, in my opinion.

My hubby was twenty-six when we started dating. Until I came along, he had never had a girlfriend. That wasn’t weird to me. It was pure relief!

If you read this blog often, you know my story. While I always had a crush on someone, I was boyfriend-less from ages sixteen to thirty—well over a decade. Do I look back and regret the fact that I didn’t have a boyfriend during those long years? No way!

Let me try to give you a little perspective.

Having a boyfriend, dating, is a fairly recent phenomenon in our culture. But marriage was God’s design from the beginning of creation: one man and one woman exclusively committed to each other until death parts them. It’s okay—wonderful, in my opinion—if you don’t drag a string of old boyfriends into this lifelong covenant.

Also, if you’re not dating, you’re saving yourself a whole lot of temptation, as the world claims that boyfriends and girlfriends get to enjoy all the benefits of marriage, but God’s Word doesn’t back this up.

And then there’s the fact that you grow and mature so much in your twenties. You learn who you are, what you believe, what you stand for, what you actually want in a lifelong partner. This time of singleness is valuable.

I can hear you protesting, “That’s all good if someone eventually pursues you, but no guy will ever like me. I’m too ugly.”

If you’ve been telling yourself over and over that you’re ugly, why would one guy telling you you’re not ugly change your mind?

It wouldn’t.

You need to choose to believe what is true about yourself before you put a poor boyfriend or husband in the impossible position of convincing you otherwise.

You are beautiful.

How can I know this, as I’ve personally never laid eyes on you?

Because I know that God, the ultimate source of beauty, made you. And God doesn’t make junk.

I was in your shoes once. You can read all about it in my book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey From Neediness to Freedom. A guy who led me on for over a year and a half finally admitted why he hadn’t officially asked me to be his girlfriend: “The spark comes and goes.” With that admission, the Liar (Satan) lodged a big, hairy lie deep within me: “You’re just not beautiful.”

That lie rang in my ears for months.

Until one morning when I lifted the bathroom blinds. The beauty before me nearly took my breath away—this delicate, purple flowering tree reaching up, up, up. While washing my face and combing my hair, I kept glancing at its beauty, drinking it in.

That’s when I saw it. You make beautiful things, God. At that moment, I chose to stop listening to Satan’s lies and to believe that my Creator had not made me ugly.

You make beautiful things, God.

As I write this post, I’m sitting in my backyard surrounded by wildflowers, vegetables, a Rose of Sharon bush, and decorative grasses. Each plant is different from the others, but I would never call anything surrounding me ugly! God doesn’t do ugly.

God made you, and you are not His one mistake.

May I challenge you to repent of believing this lie? Even if you don’t yet feel beautiful, agree with God that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Ps. 139:14).

Then I challenge you to change your focus—not on being loved but on loving God and others. After all, Jesus said that this is the greatest commandment in the law:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second
is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37–40).

This is what you were made for: to love as God has loved you. And ironically, as you shift your focus from yourself to God and others, this is what will put your beauty on full display.

This is what you were made for: to love as God has loved you.

So how about it, beautiful girl? Will you choose to believe that God makes beautiful things—including you?! (If you doubt this, I challenge you to take a walk outdoors for a glimpse of His beautiful world!)

Also, I need to ask, is being loved more important to you than loving God and others? If so, will you confess this as sin to God and ask for His help to keep the greatest commandment?

There is nothing wrong with you, single girl. Go live beautifully.

No Boyfriend? What’s Wrong with You? was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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Do More Better: A Productivity Tool That Could Revolutionize Your Life

Do More Better: A Productivity Tool That Could Revolutionize Your Life

I can’t stop talking about it everywhere I go. Tim Challies’ book, Do More Better has revolutionized my life.

It’s a slim little book, which is probably why it’s the first book on productivity I’ve actually read cover to cover. Not only that, it’s such a practical book that I’ve been able to implement most of what I’ve read along the way! And oh, how drastically I needed someone to come alongside me and help me figure out how to change . . .

For years, I left untold emails unanswered. I have also been guilty of failing to return voicemail messages and asking for grace when returning a purchase a few days after the thirty- or sixty- or ninety-day return policy had ended. Piles around the house have remain untouched; great ideas of doing good for others have remained just that . . . ideas.

I have worked frantically, moving from one incomplete project to the next, attempting to keep my world from crashing down around me. As a result, I have not loved people well, I have not enjoyed life, and I have been a slave to work without ever feeling like I was getting anywhere.

This book has and is changing all that, though. When I read the true measure of productivity, I was stunned at its simplicity. I wrote in the margin, Could it really be this simple, God?

What Productivity Really Is

Productivity is not about crossing every task off our to-do list. It is about organizing our lives so that “you can do the maximum good for others and thus bring the maximum glory to God.” Matthew 5:16 summarizes this well:

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Tim Challies writes, “Your primary pursuit in productivity is not doing more things, but doing more good.”

He then pointed out the “productivity thieves”: laziness and busyness. If you’re like me, you’ve come to normalize and even spiritualize busyness. But Challies puts an end to that with this enlightening paragraph:

Busyness cannot be confused with diligence. It cannot be confused with faithfulness or fruitfulness. Busyness does not mean you are a faithful or fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy, just like everyone else. Busyness . . . probably just means that you are directing too little attention in too many directions, that you are prioritizing all the wrong things, and that your productivity is suffering.

Ouch! But it got worse. He went on to diagnose my condition perfectly. I have been “Busylazy”: I put tasks off until I absolutely can’t avoid them any longer, and then I work like crazy to meet the deadline.

Getting Practical

With that foundation, Tim led me through some super practical exercises:

In chapter 3, he showed me how to define my areas of responsibility and then fill in the roles, tasks, or projects that fall under each.

In chapter 4 he encouraged me to define my mission. In his words:

You haven’t begun to live a focused and productive life until you have said no to great opportunities that just do not fit your mission.

In chapter 5 he taught me a basic organization tool: “A home for everything, and like goes with like,” and he recommended a task management tool, a scheduling tool, and an information tool. Because . . .

Appointments always need to go where appointments go, information always needs to go where information goes, and tasks always need to go where tasks go.

In chapters 6–8 he honed in on each of these areas:

  • collect your tasks
  • plan your calendar
  • gather your information.

In chapter 9 he encouraged me to “live the system.” He writes:

Your day needs to have two phases: planning and execution. . . . While planning does not need to take much time, it is very important, and when done right, will dramatically increase what you are able to accomplish throughout the rest of the day.

And then in the final chapter he emphasized the importance of maintaining the system consistently. “Nothing in this world coasts toward order,” he writes. “You need to free yourself from thinking that organizing your life is a one-shot deal.”

Ever since, I’ve scheduled a “daily review” first thing each morning (Tim outlines how to do this in chapter 9), and I’m starting up weekly reviews each Friday as he recommends.

He closed the book with two bonus sections that were perfect for me. The first, “tame your email,” taught me to start at the top of my inbox and take action on each email before moving on to the next:

  • trash it
  • archive it
  • reply to it
  • or move it to my reply folder.

And then his final bonus section included twenty tips to increase my productivity. A few I especially appreciated:

  • Stop multitasking. Whenever possible choose a task, take it to completion, and then move on to the next one.
  • Move around. Sometimes a change of scenery is as good as time off.
  • Learn to delegate. What you do poorly someone else may be able to do with excellence.
  • Don’t send unnecessary email. Send sparingly, and you will receive sparingly.

It’s For Us All

With all this talk of email, you may think this book is just for someone with an 8:30–5 desk job, but it’s not. I believe this book will be revolutionary for the student, the housewife, the women’s ministry leader . . . for you.

That’s why I’m so grateful Tim has agreed to give away three copies. If you think you, too, could use some help thinking about productivity biblically and practically, log on to the giveaway widget over at ReviveOurHearts.com for a chance to win one of three copies of Do More Better.

Do More Better: A Productivity Tool That Could Revolutionize Your Life was originally published on ReviveOurHearts.com

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When You’re Not Number One

When You’re Not Number One

At some point this school year you may bump into a girl who outshines you: on the basketball court, in science class, on the piano . . . or maybe with how well she is liked by others and how beautiful she is.

If and when you start noticing that you’re:

  • comparing yourself with her
  • criticizing her (if only in your thoughts)
  • being ungrateful for the gifts God has given you
  • minimizing the gifts God has given her
  • feeling hatred toward her . . .

. . . you can be glad.

Why? Because this girl’s success is shining the spotlight on the sin of envy in your life. That is a good thing because all sin is a disease that will kill you if left unchecked. Envy will destroy you . . . unless you ask for God’s help to destroy it!

How can you fight back against envy? The key lies in 1 Peter 2:1–3:

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

First, when envy pops up, you and I need to “put it away.” Wage war against it. Confess it as sin to God. Turn away from it and have nothing more to do with it.

Envy will destroy you . . . unless you ask for God’s help to destroy it!

Second, instead of miserably focusing on others’ successes, you and I need to take the “medicine” of the pure spiritual milk of God’s goodness toward us.

Jonathan Edwards does just that in this paragraph (read slowly so you don’t miss these rich thoughts that he wrote way back in the 1700s):

Christ came into the world to deliver us from the fruits of Satan’s envy towards us. The devil being miserable himself, envied mankind that happiness which they had, and could not bear to see our first parents in their happy state in Eden, and therefore exerted himself to the utmost to ruin them, and accomplished it. The gospel teaches how Christ came into the world to destroy the works of the devil, and deliver us from that misery into which his envy had brought us.

When Jesus came into the world, He humbled Himself beyond what we can imagine and gave everything for us. And He did it joyfully. I love how Ed Welch points to Luke 12:32 (“Your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom”) and says, “Fathers can give begrudgingly and kings can give simply because they made an oath, but God gives out of his pleasure and delight.”

Jonathan Edwards says it like this,

The doctrines of the gospel teach us how far Jesus Christ was from grudging us anything which he could do for or give to us. He did not grudge us a life spent in labor and suffering; he did not grudge us his own precious blood; he hath not grudged us a sitting with him on his throne in heaven, and being partakers with him of that heavenly kingdom and glory which the Father hath given him.

As you consider Jesus’ complete lack of pride, envy, and jealousy and meditate on His humble, self-giving love, would you ask the Holy Spirit to remove envy from your heart?

Let’s take a step in that direction together by focusing on God’s goodness. What good gift has God given you lately? Tell me about it in a comment below.

PS: I’d like to thank my Michigan pastor, Brian Hedges, for his third chapter in Hit List. It helped me immensely as I wrote this post.

When You’re Not Number One was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Should You Tell Him You Like Him?

Should You Tell Him You Like Him?

Have you ever thought a guy you liked was interested in you, but at the same time you’ve felt super confused after your interactions with him? Yeah, me
too. I think it happens a lot, unfortunately. Here’s what one girl asked me recently:

I’m in so much emotional turmoil. I cry almost every day over whether he’s interested in me or not. I know it’s absolutely silly and I determine not to do it, but I can’t help how I feel. I don’t know if I should just end my turmoil by telling him how I feel and then let whatever happens happen. Is that acceptable or is that wrong to tell him I’m interested and let him accept or reject me? I’ve never believed in the woman pursuing the man, but he is okay with that. I just don’t know if this is an issue if I should tell him I am interested in him. Please help!

Here are a few questions I sent her in response. I pray they will also help you if and when you find yourself in a similar bind in the future:

  • What specifically leads you to believe this guy is interested in you?
  • Have you given your friendship enough time to develop naturally, or are you impatiently pushing for more (Prov. 19:2)? If this describes you, check out what these guys have to say in “Should a Guy Pursue a Girl Like a Dying Man Looking for Water in a Desert?
  • Have mature, wise adults in your life also noticed this guy’s special interest in you (Prov. 1:5)?
  • Are you aware of other girls who are confused by this guy’s interactions with them and who also wonder if he’s interested in them? If so, you may need to gently confront him about his unwise interactions with young women (Matt. 18:15).
  • If you put yourself out there and tell him you like him, how do you know your turmoil will end? What if he responds by telling you he’s not sure how he feels about you?
  • What do you think would be best for this guy at this point in his life? If he’s extremely busy, do you think he even has time for a committed relationship?
  • Can you trust God—and this guy—to open this conversation if and when it’s the right time (Ps. 25:3)?
  • Do you believe that if this guy is settled in both his feelings for you and in God’s blessing of your relationship that he will have the courage to tell you how he feels about you? If you’re not certain he has the guts to do this, is he really a man you could respect for life (Eph. 5:33)?
  • Imagine this guy doesn’t respond as you hope. Will telling him how you feel about him leave you feeling free and peaceful . . . or desperate and worthless?
  • What if, rather than pressing the issue with this guy, you changed your focus and began seeking and serving God wholeheartedly until He sends a guy who makes his intentions for you clear (1 Cor. 7:24)?

What do you think? Have you ever told a guy you liked him? How did things turn out? Do you think this girl should tell her crush that she likes him? Why or why not?

PS: For more on this topic, check out the post “Why Not Pursue Him?

Should You Tell Him You Like Him? was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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What to Do While You Wait

What to Do While You Wait

“What did you do while you waited for Trevor?” a girl asked me. (Trevor is my husband of almost ten months.) “It’s so hard to wait patiently.”

I can tell you I sure didn’t wait perfectly! There were lots of hard days, and more and more really sweet days as I learned to put my hope in God rather than in a potential boyfriend or husband.

What did I do during my days as a single?

I did the next thing—whatever was right in front of me.

I spent time with people—the old and the young.

I took dance lessons.

I kept journaling.

I wrote a book.

I pursued God through His Word and in prayer (which really means He was pursuing me!).

I picked Michigan cherries and canned applesauce.

I laid on my beach towel by the waves.

I served in my local church.

I played volleyball at the YMCA.

I did laundry and grocery shopped and cleaned my apartment.

I looked for others who were lonely and tried to encourage them.

I “crashed” from constantly go-go-going, and then I slowly re-learned how to live.

I learned how to say “no” occasionally instead of automatically saying “yes” to every invitation. (Goodbye, burnout!)

I learned how to identify my emotions and communicate what I really thought.

And slowly, without even realizing it, I stopped waiting for a guy and started living for God.

Slowly, without even realizing it, I stopped waiting for a guy and started living for God.

What that doesn’t mean is that I “earned” Trevor because I stopped wanting a guy so bad or because I lived well. Not.at.all.

Trevor was and is an undeserved gift from God.

I love my life with Trevor now. But I also had a purposeful, fulfilling life before Trevor.

I say that to assure you that you are not waiting on a guy to start living. In fact, you have a whole lot of good works just waiting for you to do! Ephesians 2:10 tells us:

We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

How can you—this very day—do the most good to the most people?

“May the world this day be happier and better because I live.” —A Puritan prayer

What to Do While You Wait was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Anne Steele: A Voice That Still Sounds Today

Anne Steele: A Voice That Still Sounds Today

(To give you a little context, this post was originally featured in a series titled “25 Women Who Impacted the World for Christ” over on ReviveOurHearts.com. Enjoy!) 

As cars speed past my home with windows open and music spilling out, I wonder if singers—and more specifically, songwriters—are not among the most influential voices in our culture.

A couple centuries ago—before radio, iTunes, iPods, Pandora, or Spotify—I imagine hymn writers were some of the most influential people of their day. Men, women, and children sang their songs both corporately and as they went about their everyday work.

Anne Steele (1717–1778) was one of these major influencers—the first significant female hymn writer in history and purportedly the most popular Baptist hymn writer in the history of the church.

I was introduced to the late Anne Steele a couple years ago by my hymn-loving husband. In fact, if you ever unearth her three-volume work* in a used bookstore and sell it to me, Trevor and I just might name our first child after you in profound gratitude! (Anne is Trevor’s favorite hymn writer, and this book is a highly coveted treasure.) But I digress . . .

A Humble Heart

Anne never set out to become a successful writer. She wrote for her own personal reflection until her beloved pastor-father began to use her hymns in the church he pastored.

According to John Gadsby:

From early life [Anne] was exceedingly fond of poetry, but was very unwilling for her productions to be submitted to the public eye. When at last she gave her consent, she would not have her own name attached to the volumes, but published them under the signature of Theodosia (“The Gift of God”), and gave all the profits to charity.

Anne’s hymns first appeared in a hymnbook in 1769. Her father wrote in his diary:

Today Nanny sent part of her composition to London to be printed. I entreat a gracious God, who enabled and stirred her up to such a work, to direct in it and bless it for the good of many. I pray God to make it useful, and keep her humble.

Humble she remained. In one letter to her father—whom she affectionately referred to as “honoured father”—Anne wrote:

If while I am sleeping in the silent grave, my thoughts are of any real benefit to the meanest of the servants of my God, be the praise ascribed to the almighty Giver of all grace.

Oh, how they have benefitted Christ’s Body! And not because she was perfect. Anne wrestled with doubts and assurance of salvation. In fact, that’s one of the things I appreciate most about her writing: She’s so candid about a believer’s doubts, pain, fears, and—at times—profound suffering.

Centuries later, it’s apparent that Anne’s hymns have stood the test of time. Kevin Twit, founder of Indelible Grace—an organization that produces old hymns set to new music—writes, “I find her hymns so rich, and yet easily understood even by those living 250 years after her death!”

A Deep Faith

Another thing I appreciate about Anne’s hymns is that they aren’t merely intellectual exercises. As John Sheppard, author of a short memoir about Anne, wrote, “The emotions expressed were ever genuine, and the faith which awaked them was true and operative.”

That is probably due to how much she suffered:

  • Just three years after Anne was born, her mother passed away.
  • She suffered physically, living with chronic recurring malaria, painful stomach issues, and severe teeth pain . . . as well as seriously injuring herself when thrown from a horse at nineteen.
  • When she was twenty-one, her fiancé, Robert, drowned.

And yet those who knew her personally testify that in spite of all this, she . . .

possessed a native cheerfulness, which not even the agonizing pains of her latter days could deprive her of. In every short interval of abated suffering, she would, in a variety of ways, as well as by her enlivening conversation, give pleasure to all around her (Dr. Caleb Evans).

The only explanation is her rich, intimate relationship with God. For a glimpse into her enjoyment of Him, look at just a few of the unique ways she referred to God in her hymns:

  • Thou lovely source of true delight
  • Dear refuge of my weary soul
  • Eternal source of joys divine
  • Great source of boundless power and grace
  • Father of mercies in Thy word
  • Dear center of my best desires

Personally, I wonder if the closeness she experienced with her heavenly Father was related to her relationship with her earthly father, who referred to her in letters as “dear little Nancy, more and more entertaining.”

Anne lived with her father and stepmother until her father passed away. She spent her days writing (144 hymns, forty-eight psalms in verse, and about fifty poems) and helping her father with his pastoral duties. Anne herself died at age sixty-one, after nine painful years confined to her bed. Dr. Evans writes:

She often spoke, not merely with tranquility, but with joy, of her decease. . . . she took the most affectionate leave of weeping friends around her . . . her last words: “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”

Her tombstone in Broughton churchyard reads:

Silent the lyre, and dumb the tuneful tongue, that sung on earth her great Redeemer’s praise;
But now in heaven she joins the angelic song,
In more harmonious, more exalted lays.

Anne’s hymns live on; may her legacy live on in you and me as well:

  • Are you and I thoughtful and cheerful toward others even as we’re suffering?
  • Are we diligent but humble in stewarding our gifts to bless members of Christ’s Body?
  • Is our hope fixed on that day we will be with God face to face . . . or on the trivial pursuits we experience here and now?
  • Are we honest with God and with others about our doubts and struggles?
  • Do you and I deeply enjoy our glorious God and shower Him with the praise He deserves?

I leave you with two songs by Anne, set to music by Indelible Grace. The first is for those in pain; the second for those with hearts full of praise. Enjoy!

Thou Refuge of My Weary SoulIFrame

Thou Lovely Source of True Delight

IFrameWant to learn more about Anne Steele? Kevin Twit lists several resources at the beginning of this post.

*possibly under her pen name “Theodosia”

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“It’s All Downhill After Marriage”

“It’s All Downhill After Marriage”

I wonder what you’ve been led to believe about life after marriage.

The message I heard before becoming a bride is that it’s all downhill after you exchange wedding vows.

Oh, no one ever said those words to me exactly. What they did say was, “Enjoy this [dating] season, Paula. Your boyfriend will never treat you better than he does now.” Doesn’t that sound a whole lot like “It’s all downhill after marriage” to you?

While Trevor and I were dating, I often shared this belief/fear with him, and he always told me he didn’t believe it; things would only get better. Oh, how I wanted to believe him, but I was skeptical. Could he really be right?

Well, nine months into marriage, I can joyfully say he was.

Wait for a humble, servant-hearted man who is on board with God’s beautiful design for marriage.

I love and enjoy my husband so much more than I did while I was dating him, and he loves me so much better than he did when he was dating me. Don’t get me wrong; wedded bliss doesn’t magically increase without the occasional tear-streaked faces, pained hearts, difficult conversations, and hard work. We had our fair share of these this past week. But we also had a wonderful date, punctuated by sweet, heartfelt conversation.

We blew our entire dating budget for the month at a Brazilian steakhouse, and then went shopping (yes, I managed to get him to shop with me!). But the delicious meal we consumed and the clothes we returned home with weren’t what made our date so wonderful.

It was the discussion my husband initiated. “I was listening to a rap song called ‘Date Night’ today,” he began, “and the lyrics said, ‘How am I doing good? How should I repent?’ What do you think?”

And so we sat at our table holding hands, building each other up, and then sharing how we can be even more helpful to each other. It was the kind of meaningful conversation nearly every wife longs for.

Why do I tell you this? To make you feel bad because you’re still single and I’m not? No way! I tell you this because you need to know that it is not all downhill after marriage.

Well, to be perfectly clear, that depends entirely on whom you marry. Since marriage, my burden has only increased that you choose and marry well. It matters, big time.

Wait for a humble, servant-hearted man who is on board with God’s beautiful design for marriage found in Ephesians 5:22–33. He won’t be a perfect man. But he–and your relationship–will only grow sweeter with time.

This is what I long for you. This is God’s desire for marriage: a tangible display of Christ-centered, Christ-like love that shows how awesome His
sacrificial love is for His Bride.

I wonder, what have you been believing about life after marriage?

It’s All Downhill After Marriage” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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How to Tell if He’s a Christian

How to Tell if He’s a Christian

Sweet girl,

I hear a really nice guy has been showing you a lot of attention lately. I know you’ve gone on a couple dates, and you like him a lot. He’s told you he’s a Christian, but you’re not sure how strong he is in his faith.

Maybe he is a Christian; maybe he isn’t. I don’t know. But here are a few thing I do know . . .

Be on the lookout for the fruit of faith. Anyone can claim to be a Christian (just like anyone can claim to be an astrophysicist), but there should be
evidence of Christ’s transformative work in His followers. James (Jesus’ brother) puts it like this:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? . . . So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (2:14, 17, emphasis added).

Pay attention to how this guy lives. Is he living like a young man who has been redeemed from the slave block of sin? Or is he still living like a slave to sin (Rom. 6:15–23)? Put him to the test (1 John 4:1). I’ve included one below.

You shouldn’t have to wonder if this guy is a Christian or not. It should be obvious. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

No, he’s not going to be perfect. Yes, we’re all in process. But if he truly has the Holy Spirit of God living in him, he will look more and more like His adoptive Father.

If he truly has the Holy Spirit of God living in him, he will look more and more like His adoptive Father.

Trust me on this one. You don’t want someone who maybe, possibly, probably, hopefully is a Christian. One who just barely squeezes by. You want a thriving Christian. A white-hot Christian. A young man who is well on his way to being able to lead you spiritually.

So here are a few questions to ask about him, straight from 1 John:

  • Does he walk in “light,” or does he walk in “darkness” (1 John 1:6–7)?
  • Does he confess his sins, or does he claim not to have sin in his life (1 John 1:8–10)?
  • Does he keep God’s commandments, or does he live differently than Jesus lived (1 John 2:3–6)?
  • Does he love others, or does he hate others (1 John 2:9–11, 4:7–21)?
  • Does he love the Father, or does he love the world and the things in the world (1 John 2:15–17)?
  • Does he confess that Jesus is God, or does he deny that Jesus is God (1 John 2:22–23)?
  • Does he practice righteousness (1 John 2:29) or does he make a practice of sinning (1 John 3:4–10)?
  • Does he believe that Jesus came to earth and took on human flesh, or does he not believe this (1 John 4:2–3)?
  • Does he have the Spirit of God? The Son of God? Or is he just doing life on his own (1 John 3:24; 4:12)?

If the majority of your answers were on the right side of the comma rather than the left, this guy is not for you, nice as he might seem. God is the
treasure in this life—and in the life to come—and you will want a man who will consistently point you to this treasure . . . through his words and his life.

How about you? Are you currently dating or considering dating someone you have doubts about? Where does this post find you today? I’d love to hear from you.

How to Tell if He’s a Christian was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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Dear College Grad . . .

Dear College Grad . . .

Dear College Grad,

Congrats! You’ve worked so hard, and now commencement is over. I was cheering big as you walked across the stage, and I’m praying for you as you make this transition out of college. I remember well the conflicting emotions: mourning all the goodbyes, anticipating all the adventures just ahead.

Speaking of adventures just ahead . . . let’s talk about that, because if your experience is anything like mine, reality won’t quite meet your expectations.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Friends

Your circle of peers is likely going to decrease. Significantly. You’ll no longer have a built-in community to play intramural basketball or to go out with for ice cream.

You’ll need to work to find new friends. You might look right past them at first, because some will be older than you, others younger, and most not much like you at all. And while that might not feel okay, it really is. They have a lot to offer you, and you have a lot to offer them. Befriend newly-married couples. Befriend preteens. Befriend families with kids. Befriend senior citizens.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Local Church

Where can you find all these new friends? The best place to look is at a local, Christ-centered, Bible-teaching church. Of course, that’s not the only reason you’re attending, but as you spend time with these brothers and sisters in Christ week after week—hopefully in smaller settings throughout the week
as well as in corporate worship on Sundays—you will begin to feel and receive true affection for and from them.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Relationship with God

It’s not enough to just hear about God. You need to hear from God through His Word.

Attending a local church is important, but it’s not your only connection to God. And while the Christian life is not meant to be an individual affair, it is deeply personal. It’s not enough to just hear about God. You need to hear from God through His Word, as that’s the way He’s chosen to reveal more about
His character.

  • Are you aware of and in tune with His presence as you go about your day?
  • Are you regularly spending time studying His Word?
  • Are you talking to Him about everything, as He is your Father, your Counselor, your Lord, and your Shepherd?
  • Are you praising Him with songs—even if you have a terrible voice or you’re feeling depressed? (That’s the best time to sing, actually!)

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Career

It’s rare that you’ll get your dream job right out of college. Don’t be discouraged if your first job seems . . . beneath you. Mine sure felt like that. But I had a ton to learn about blessing my employer rather than making a name for myself.

Learn, learn, learn. Grow, grow, grow. Give more than you take.

So be patient. It’s not likely that your first job will end up being your lifelong career. Learn, learn, learn. Grow, grow, grow. Give more than you take.

Trust God and know that a) He doesn’t waste anything, b) He is still writing your story, and c) He is where satisfaction is found. True contentment is found in Him, not in a dream job.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Ultimate Purpose

True happiness and peace come from knowing, enjoying, and seeking to make much of Him, not much of ourselves.

Life is not about us; it’s all about God. They won’t tell you this in your business classes, but that doesn’t make it any less true. We were created by God and for Him. True happiness and peace come from knowing, enjoying, and seeking to make much of Him, not much of ourselves.

I’d love to hear back from you. What are your expectations for friends? Do you plan to commit to a local church? What’s your plan for pursuing God daily? What are your career dreams? And what do you consider to be your ultimate purpose?

Rooting for you,

Paula

Dear College Grad was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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