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Should I Be Silent in Youth Group?

Should I Be Silent in Youth Group?

Warning: If you’re like me, this email might make your blood boil a bit. A sweet, young woman asked:

I have a question concerning 1 Corinthians 14:34. I am a part of a very small youth group; there are about two girls and six boys. However, I am basically the only person to volunteer to read Scripture and pray in our youth time.

There is one guy in our group who says his favorite verse is how women should be silent in the church, but he never volunteers to do anything in the church! He has argued with me about how women should be silent, but in my case, the women can’t be silent because in my youth group, the women are the only ones who do things!

I’m confused about where my stand needs to be. I hope I made sense in what I said! I don’t want to argue with him, but I also need to be able to completely know where I should stand. Do I not need to volunteer for anything? Or what should I do?

Okay, first, it’s really hard to get past this dude’s attitude long enough to want to seek to know what God thinks about the matter. But since this girl seems able to do it, let’s follow her great example.

First Corinthians 14:34 says:

The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.

Here’s the inside scoop: I’ve been sitting on this reader’s question a looong time, because this is a super-tough, controversial passage, and it has had my knees knocking.

Rather than focusing on all I don’t know, let me share with you the little I do know:

Scripture doesn’t contradict Scripture. Just three chapters before this controversial passage, Paul writes:

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head (1 Cor. 11:4–5, emphasis added).

Obviously from this verse we know that Paul hasn’t vetoed all speaking in church for women. So what is being vetoed in 1 Corinthians 14:34?

One view is that women aren’t to publicly criticize prophets, which is what the immediate context of 1 Corinthians 14:34 is talking about.

As we look at the whole symphony of Scripture, I think 1 Timothy 2:12 can also be helpful:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

Here we reach the crux of the issue. God has chosen that women are not to teach men in the church or exercise authority over them. (We know from Titus 2:3–5 that women are encouraged to teach women, however.)

This is not because men are better than us.

Among other things, this model is a beautiful reflection of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are all equal, but they have different roles. The Father lovingly exercises authority over the Son, and the Son joyfully submits to His Father’s authority (Luke 22:42).

Similarly, men are to teach and exercise authority in the church, and women are to submit (remain under) their position and learn quietly.

So what does this mean for this girl sitting in her small, quiet youth group each week?

  1. I’d encourage her to ask her youth pastor/leader if he’s fine with her praying and reading Scripture in the group. Maybe he can even explore this passage with her youth group and help explain it.
  2. Her attitude is key, and it seems like she’s already well on her way to having a wonderful one. She isn’t grasping for authority or a teaching role in her youth group. She’s just seeking to actively participate. That’s great!
  3. I would encourage her to continue to love and pray for this young guy in youth group. Here are a few specifics:
    • Pray that he would see and be convicted by godly leaders who humbly lead in love as Christ does.
    • Pray that he would pursue love.
    • Pray that if he hasn’t truly repented of his sin and put all his faith in Christ that he would, so that he could be transformed into His beautiful image by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    • And pray that he would grow into a godly leader.

These issues are tough. We can’t wrap them up in a tidy bow in a single blog post, but we don’t have to shy away from them either. What advice would you add to this girl who is struggling in youth group? Tell me about it below!

PS: For more on this topic, check out this great post by my friend Mary Kassian, “Women Teaching Men—How Far Is Too Far?

Should I Be Silent In Youth Group? 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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Is It Wrong to Want to Make Lots of Money?

Is It Wrong to Want to Make Lots of Money?

A soon-to-be-graduate asked:  “I really want a career that not only glorifies God but also gives me financial security. Am I wrong?”

I think the answer depends on two things:

1)   her definition of financial security, and

2)   her motivation for wanting financial security.

By “financially secure,” does she mean that she will have enough to cover her expenses and bless others in need? Because that’s wise. We know from God’s Word:

It is important to work hard and earn your own living so you won’t be a burden to others.

“We hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thess. 3:11–12).

We are to honor God with our money.

“Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine” (Prov. 3:9–10, emphasis added).

It is good to have enough money to share with others.

“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28, emphasis added).

We should be prepared to provide for our close relatives if necessary. (FYI, the context of the following verse is caring for widows in your family.)

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).

So if by “financially secure,” this girl means she will have enough to cover her expenses and bless others in need, that’s wonderful!

But I don’t know her heart. She could be asking, “Is it wrong to want enough money so I can have a closet full of expensive clothes and drive a fancy convertible into the garage of my luxury home?”

Is she wanting to never have any financial needs that she might have to trust God to meet? If this is the case, God’s Word warns:

Riches are anything but secure; they are uncertain.

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).

Riches are deceitful and can choke out God’s Word.  

“They . . . hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:18–19).

If you trust in riches, it’ll trip you up.

“Whoever trusts in his riches will fallbut the righteous will flourish like a green leaf” (Prov. 11:28, emphasis added).

Trusting in God, who cannot be moved, is so much more secure than trusting in riches that can be stolen or decrease in value.

There are temptations that come with both poverty and riches.

“Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Prov. 30:89).

What a great prayer to pray! Will you pray it with me?

“Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me.”

So what does this mean as you search for a career? Ask yourself:

Would this amount of money allow me . . .

  • To honor God first?
  • Not to be a burden to others?
  • The freedom to share with those in need?

If so, it’s enough money.

How about you? How much money do you hope to make in your future career, and what’s your motivation?

Is It Wrong to Want to Make Lots of Money? was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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How to Know God’s Will For Your Career

How to Know God’s Will For Your Career

This morning a girl wrote me that she’s struggling with “how to know God’s will for my career.” I figure she’s not alone, so I’m sharing my response here in hopes that it will help you, too, as you face this daunting decision.

First, a little history.

We’re living in a super unique time. Choices abound. Schooling, military service, full-time ministry, an apprenticeship, an internship, a job directly out of high school . . . these are just a few of your options.

But it wasn’t always like this.

“During Bible times,” Gary Friesen writes in Decision Making and the Will of God, “sons usually took up the occupations of their fathers . . . daughters became wives. Asking a young Israelite if he had discovered God’s will for his life’s work would probably elicit a blank stare.”

Yet somehow we’ve come to believe that we have to discover God’s specific will for exactly where we work.

I just don’t think it works that way.

Scripture shows that God is not concerned with what career you choose (unless, of course, it’s in direct disobedience to His revealed will in Scripture, such as prostitution) as He is about how you work at your career.

As Gary Friesen shares in his book, your work is to be characterized by:

In your relationship with your employer, you:

  • Must be submissive and obedient, as unto the Lord (Eph. 6:5Col. 3:22Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18).
  • Must be diligent in your work, with the idea that your ultimate superior is the Lord (Eph. 6:6–8; Col. 3:23).
  • Must work as hard when no one is watching as you do under direct supervision (Eph. 6:6).
  • Must regard your employer as worthy of all honor (1 Tim. 6:1) and show respect even to those supervisors
    who are unreasonable (1 Peter 2:18).
  • Must not take advantage of an employer who is also a believer, but rather serve him all the more out of love (1 Tim. 6:2).

So can we tweak the question? Rather than asking “What is God’s will for my career?” can we ask “How can I best serve God through my work?”

Don’t fret when you don’t hear a voice from heaven telling you that you should move to Alaska to work in the fishing industry or that you should enroll in Bible college in Chicago. You have great freedom in choosing your work.

Instead, listen to His clear voice through Scripture and learn how to please Him in the way that you work. How can you best serve God with the gifts He has given you?

I’d love to hear from you. Have you been more focused on finding exactly where God wants you to work, or have you been obeying His moral will regarding how you work? What specific step will you commit to take after reading this post to glorify God in the way that you work?

How to Know God’s Will For Your Career was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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How Can I Know If He’s ‘The One’?

How Can I Know If He’s ‘The One’?

“How did you know Trevor was the one for you?” a seventeen-year-old asked me. “I struggle with knowing if a guy is right for me. Every day I ask God to help me figure out my confusion.”

Believe it or not, it’s surprisingly simple. Let me share with you what I’m learning from Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View by Gary Friesen and J. Robin Maxson.

1. Determine if you have the “gift” of marriage or singleness.

Dr. Friesen explains it like this:

The decision to marry or remain single lies within the area of freedom. The apostle [Paul] had a definite preference for [singleness] that he “wished” all others could choose. But he knew he could not give his desire the force of a command. For not everyone “has the gift.” God graces each believer differently. It is likely that Paul’s meaning is that some are “gifted” to enjoy singleness while others are “gifted” to enjoy marriage with its extra responsibilities (1 Cor. 7:7).

The first issue for you to work out is whether it’s best for you to be married or single. Surprisingly, “there is no command from Scripture one way or the other.” That means you don’t need to spend hours trying to discern God’s “still, small voice.” You don’t need to determine whether God is calling you to marriage or singleness.

Since both marriage and singleness are gifts from God, and since you are free to serve God as a single girl and once you’re married, both are good options. (You can read 1 Corinthians 7 for the pros and cons of both marriage and singleness.)

Now is a good time to think through this, even if there’s no guy knocking at your door yet. It will be less for you to figure out when a guy does come knocking.

2. Determine if your prospect is a believer.

Now—assuming you desire to be married, and there’s a guy pursuing you—you first need to ask if Scripture says anything about choosing a spouse. (And it does!) Scripture is clear: A believer in Christ may only marry another believer in Christ. This is vitally important. As Dr. Friesen explains:

The point is that not only are the believers’ values, goals, standards, motivations, and means of enablement for living incompatible with those of an unbeliever; they are diametrically opposed! They are serving two different lords that are archenemies of one another.

God has given you a whole lot of freedom beyond this one command. Don’t disobey Him here. Look first and foremost for a godly, Jesus-loving guy.

3. Seek wise counsel.

  • What do your parents think of this guy?
  • What does your pastor say?
  • Once you’re engaged, get some premarital counseling, and listen well to what your counselor thinks of you two.

Those around you will be a lot more clearheaded than you will with romance clouding your brain. Heed their counsel.

4. Use common sense.

Do you two share the same values? Here are just a few things Friesen encourages you to note: age, finances, employment, education, personal goals, personality traits, birth control, principles of child rearing, hobbies, family background, socioeconomic background, and possessions.

My Story

I didn’t always understand the freedom God has given in wisely choosing a spouse. I used to try to figure out if it was God’s will for me to marry a guy by praying and then watching for “signs” from God. And it was confusing! Here’s an example from an old journal entry:

I was talking on the phone with Dad tonight when Jim texted. Actually, at that particular moment, Dad was praying that my future husband would find me, when I heard the text come in. Coincidence, or God at work? I don’t know . . .

Jim was also confused, because after months of sending me confusing signals, he told me that as he’d prayed about pursuing me, he “sensed a yellow light.” He didn’t have a “red light” from God, but he also didn’t have a “green light.” He also told me that as he asked God whether now was the time to pursue marriage or not, God had been “annoyingly silent.” I think that’s because God had already given him the freedom to decide himself.

Needless to say, I ended up telling Jim goodbye (you can read how that went down in chapter 15 of my book). And oh, I’m so glad I did.

Because a few years later, God plopped Trevor Marsteller in my lap. Well, in my Twitter feed, to be exact. As I began to date Trevor (he was a believer, so he was fair game), I kept my eyes wide open and used the wisdom God has given me through His Word and community.

Make a wise decision based on the Word of God, wise counsel, and common sense.

It’s not that there were zero concerns. But as I brought those to God, to Trevor, and to wise counselors, in the end they weren’t game changers. Although Trevor wasn’t perfect (no guy but Jesus is!), I could see that he was “perfect” for me in so many ways. These three main things gave me the confidence to continue moving forward to marriage. And if you’re wondering, six months into marriage I am so grateful I chose him!

Back to you now, though.

Bottom line: Stop looking for handwriting in the sky telling you that this guy is “the one.” Make a wise decision based on the Word of God, wise counsel, and common sense. God has given you a ton of freedom. Choose wisely, and as you do, be blessed!

I’d love to hear from you. Does this sound surprisingly . . . simple? What questions do you have after reading this post?

How Can I Know If He’s ‘The One’? was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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How to Know if You’re Ready to Date or Court

How to Know if You’re Ready to Date or Court

When should you start to date (or court)? Here are three tell-tale signs (among others) that you’re ready:

1. Your authority figures give you the green light.

I heard from a girl recently who wrote:

I like this dude, and he happens to like me back. One day after school, we talked, and he told me that he likes me, and so I told him I like him, too. I have heard from many people that he is going to ask me to be his girlfriend . . . and that’s where things get crazy.

My parent will NOT let me date. And if they find out that I am dating . . . let’s just say that I will die. LITERALLY.

I am not dating him right now, but I just have a feeling that he will ask me . . . and I don’t know what to do. I really like him, and he likes me. This is very rare!!! When ur crush likes u back . . . Rare. My friends are like, “Just say yes, and just don’t tell your parents,” but I am like, “They will find out!!!”

I can relate. I told her:

We have a lot in common. My parents had the same rules . . . plus some. Growing up I thought they were totally unreasonable, and I dated behind their backs (and was always discovered).

Now, looking back, I can see that God was protecting me from myself through my parents. It sure wasn’t fun in junior high and high school, but now I am SO grateful I wasn’t allowed to get my way. I actually ended up dedicating my book to my parents. Here’s a little taste:

“[Thank you] for keeping such close tabs on me during those tumultuous teen years! At the time I thought you were just plain ol’ mean, but now I can’t thank you enough for sparing me a harvest of regret.”

You’ll end up being grateful, too, for those strict parents. Even though you feel anything but gratitude now, know this:

  • God promises to bless those who honor and obey their parents (Eph. 6:1–3). And He always keeps His promises! It’s not just
    a suggestion; He commands it. If you disobey your parents, you’re ultimately disobeying God.
  • If this guy really, really likes you, he will wait for as long as it takes. And if he is the kind of guy you want to end up with long-term, he will
    NOT encourage you to disobey your parents.

God promises to bless those who honor and obey their parents. And He always keeps His promises!

Please, please trust me. Going behind your parents’ backs will only end in regret. And if you already have, it’s not too late to get out.

(Psst . . . If you’re struggling with your parents’ rules, here are some posts I’ve written in the past that may help.)

When Your Parents Say NO
How To Get Your Parents’ Trust Back
How I Lost My Parents’ Trust
Dear Parent Hater

Let me add that just because an authority figure says you can date whenever you want doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Maybe this authority figure isn’t currently making the wisest decisions. In this case, ask yourself if you’re ready for marriage. That’s right. Marriage.

2. You’re ready for marriage.

That’s the point of dating, after all. Ben Stuart explains it like this: “Dating is not a status. It’s a process (of evaluating a person for marriage).”

That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily feel completely ready for marriage, as in, “Oh, yeah, I got this covered, no sweat.” But you’re actually at a point in life where you’re old—and mature—enough to get married. You don’t have something else you have to complete first, like a big chunk of schooling.

Scott Craft (a contributor to Sex and the Supremacy of Christ) says:

The practical advice I give the singles at our church is, if you cannot happily see yourself as a married woman in less than one year, then you are not ready to date.

But what if I met someone super special, you ask? And they actually like me? Shouldn’t I do something about that?!

Why would you, if marriage isn’t even a possibility?

I’ve gotta side with Scott and with the writer of the Song of Solomon on this one. Over and over throughout the book the warning is given, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires,” or until the appropriate time (2:73:5; 8:4).

Song of Solomon 8:7 explains why: “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.” And as the verse before says, “It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”

God knows that if we don’t wait to experience true love in the safe context of a God-blessed marriage, we will get severely burned.

Can you imagine a blazing forest fire that several rivers worth of water cannot extinguish? That would be one intense firestorm. God knows that if we don’t wait to experience true love in the safe context of a God-blessed marriage, we will get severely burned.

Better to build healthy ways of relating with all guys and to pursue your relationship with Christ at this stage in life. You will not regret it. Promise.

Another way to know if you’re ready to date is . . .

3. You have pursued and served God wholeheartedly as a single, and now a godly guy is pursuing you that you think you could be even more effective in serving Christ with as a team.

In the biggest section of Scripture on singleness and marriage, Paul writes,

In whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God (1 Cor. 7:24).

I like how Gary Friesen explains this in Decision Making and the Will of God:

Make it the goal of your life not to change your status, but to serve God as effectively and energetically as possible in whatever state you are. The contemporary poster says it well: “Bloom where you are planted now!”

In declaring this principle Paul was not forbidding marriage for single people or freedom for slaves. If the opportunity comes along and it is expedient to take it, do so (7:21). His point was that people tend to concentrate on the wrong things. They pour their energies into changing their condition for their own sake rather than into changing the world for Christ’s sake (p. 293).

I’d love to hear from you. Do you think you’re ready to date (or court)? Why or why not?

How to Know if You’re Ready to Date or Court was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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10 Tips for Interacting with an Atheist

10 Tips for Interacting with an Atheist

For the past month I’ve had the unexpected privilege of corresponding with an atheist. He first emailed me because he took issue with my post “I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist.” I responded, and we’ve been writing back and forth ever since.

When I was your age, I would’ve freaked at the idea of dialoguing with an atheist. I’m not an apologist (someone skilled in the defense or proof of Christianity), and I’ve never aspired to be one. A fair amount of the time I feel simple and not-so-smart.

God’s Word is clear that the Holy Spirit must open our blind eyes and unstop our deaf ears in order for any of us to believe in Him.

But God brought this man across my path. Plus, I have the Word of God and the Spirit of God to help me. I might as well learn a thing or two about how to use them, huh?

You probably don’t feel like an expert either. But I want to encourage you to respectfully and kindly engage with that atheist rather than running in fear the next time you cross paths. Here are ten tips to help you as you do:

1. Don’t wait ’til you have all the answers.

You’ll never have all the answers or be able to fully wrap your mind around God. He’s way too big for that! Besides, how do you think you’ll learn? (With uncomfortable situations like this that will drive you to God’s Word for answers, that’s how!) What a great opportunity for you to stretch your brain—and your faith—muscles.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16–17).

2. Don’t freak out when your atheist friend makes God sound like a fool.

If their arguments appear convincing, if they sound like they know more about God’s Word than you do, that doesn’t mean God’s Word is broken. Go study the passages they mentioned in context (atheists and Christians can both be bad at taking verses out of context). Remember, God’s Word is perfect.

The word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him (Ps. 18:30).

3. Don’t feel like you have to offer an answer right away.

It’s okay to tell them, “I’m not sure. Let me get back to you,” and then spend time thinking, praying, and researching before responding. Some people are just “quicker on their feet,” and that’s okay.

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things (Prov. 15:28).

4. Expect a whole lot of objections.

These will range from “the Bible is full of contradictions” to “the Bible has so many translations from so many different languages” to “the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament” to a whole lot more. (None of these objections “hold,” by the way, if you do your homework.) If you stick with your atheist friend long enough, these aren’t usually the main reason they don’t believe in God. Listen for their main objection. It might take several conversations to get there.

The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out (Prov. 20:5).

5. Be winsome in how you share truth.

When Jesus shared truth, it was “with grace.” (That is, except for the times He talked with the religious snobs who claimed to know God but trusted in their own “good” works.) Jessie Minassian writes about sharing truth in love. Here’s just a taste:

To paraphrase Paul’s famous love chapter (1 Cor. 13), if I can quote apologists, argue with atheists, and verbally spar with the biggest skeptics but don’t love them to pieces, then all my clever words amount to exactly nothing.

Your atheist friend is not your enemy. They’re held captive by your shared enemy: “The god of this world [notice the “little g” god—this is referring to Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).

6. Continue to share truth from the Bible with your friend, even if they don’t believe in the Bible.

How can they believe if they do not hear the truth? If you ever offend your atheist friend, may it be with God’s words and not your own.

Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).

If your friend hears God’s Word but never believes it, the fault did not lie with God’s Word, but with the condition of his or her heart (see Matt. 13:1–23).

7. Know that answering their questions and providing “evidence” will never be enough to change their minds.

God’s Word is clear that the Holy Spirit must open our blind eyes and unstop our deaf ears in order for any of us to believe in Him. Pray, pray, pray that God will do just that.

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul (Acts 16:14, emphasis added).

My heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is that they may be saved (Rom. 10:1).

8. It’s not about you.

Don’t let your hopes be dashed if your atheist friend doesn’t change his or her mind. Don’t think you’re the bomb-dot-com if he or she does. It has not been a waste if they don’t become a believer through your conversation(s). Who knows what God has done in their heart through their interaction with you. But even if their heart has only grown more hard, if you have studied God’s Word with a vengeance; if your faith has grown, it has been worth it.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:6–7).

Keep sharing the gospel with them every chance you get.

Even as you’re seeking to answer their questions, don’t forget to point them to Jesus every chance you get.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16–17).

10. Ask a wise Jesus-follower for help.

We’re a “Body” for a reason. You don’t have all the answers (or gifts), and neither do I. Ask your church elders for help. Check out books like The Reason for God by Tim Keller, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, and 77 FAQs about God and the Bible by Josh & Sean McDowell.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them (Rom. 12:4–6).

I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever lovingly challenged an atheist’s beliefs? How did it go? Do you have any other tips to add to this list?

10 Tips for Interacting with an Atheist was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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5 Tips For Interacting With Guys On a Mission Trip

5 Tips For Interacting With Guys On a Mission Trip

Christian guys can seem like an endangered species. So when suddenly you find yourself serving alongside a hardworking, Jesus-loving, baby-carrying brother, it can be easy to lose your mind.

If you should ever find yourself on a mission trip with an eligible bachelor or two, consider me your sane voice of reason and remember these five things:

1. Keep the mission the mission.

You didn’t sign up for this mission trip in order to snag a man, right? I know you chose to travel to this particular place because you want to share Christ with others through your words and actions. You want to bless others. Maybe even change a life or two for good. Don’t deviate from your mission. The mission hasn’t changed; your focus has just shifted momentarily. Cry out to God to help you live and serve fully in the moment—seeking His pleasure and others’ good rather than your crush’s attention.

2. Expect a struggle.

I’m about 92.385% sure you’ll develop a crush on someone on your team while you’re on this mission trip. (Been there, done that!) Speaking from experience, I’d encourage you to be suspicious of your sudden, intense feelings. Stop and think about it for a minute. You’re spending a concentrated amount of time with a member of the opposite sex in super-close quarters on an intensely “spiritual” trip. Throw in a little culture shock, and you’re sure to feel more for this guy than you would if you met him anywhere else.

Don’t beat yourself up over this inner struggle. Instead, share your innermost thoughts and desires with your Father God in your prayers and/or a journal. Don’t pretend that these feelings don’t exist, but also don’t let them steal the day (or week or month). Remind yourself of the mission. Stay focused, soldier!

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him (2 Tim. 2:4).

3. Guard yourself—and the guys on the trip—from unnecessary distraction.

How?

  • Dress to serve, not to impress.
  • Reserve your deepest prayer requests and thoughts for your female team leader or trusted friend. Pray in group settings or with other girls, but steer clear of praying one-on-one with a guy on your team.
  • Keep your hands off the guys. Save your backrubs and hugs for those needy kids in the orphanage or that cute baby Koala.

4. Decide ahead of time not to start a romantic relationship during the mission trip.

Emotions run high on these trips, and your feelings may very well change after you return home. Also, you may find that the guy is someone different entirely when he’s back in his day-to-day routine. Now is not the best time for a brand-new romantic relationship. (Remember, I’m your sane voice of reason here!)

5. Be yourself.

While we should always be wise in our interactions with guys, this doesn’t mean you need to leave your personality or voice at home. Be your normal, lovely self. Enjoy this adventure of a lifetime!

Have you ever been on a mission trip? If so, was it a real struggle to stay focused on the mission? Can you think of anything else that might help other girls who are planning on going on one soon?

5 Tips For Interacting With Guys On a Mission Trip was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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If You’re Scared to Trust God with Your Love Life

If You’re Scared to Trust God with Your Love Life

Her subject line caught my eye: “I’m so scared, trying to trust God with my love life.” The email continued:

I read the prayer you wrote on page 85 about relinquishing your desire to be married to God. That scared . . . me. I know what I’m doing isn’t working, but I’m so afraid that if I give God control, He’ll keep me single forever, and my one true desire is to share my life with someone.

I’d love your prayers as I read your book (got it today). I’m trying to trust God with my love life and am so afraid to pray the bold prayers you mention. I do know I need to take a break from dating for a while until I can truly feel God’s love for me and learn to love and respect myself. Thank you for writing it!

In case you don’t have a copy of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl lying around your house, here’s a peek into that journal entry I share on page 85:

God Most High, thank You that You’re committed to giving me Yourself. You don’t want me to find my happiness—nor can I—with anyone or anything less than You. Why do I think I know better than You what I need? I’m miserable in my strivings and resistance against You. Give me the gift of repentance.

I confess my lust toward men and relinquish to You the desire, need, and hope of marriage. I’m sorry for living for guys rather than for You. Break me over this sin, God.

I seem to think my Creator, Father, and King is acting foolishly. I think I deserve more, that I’m pretty good. Who am I comparing myself to, God? Certainly not You. My heart is cold toward You. I want to be in control of my own life. I don’t want You to be Lord of my life—I just want to use You to make me look good.

God, I step down from the throne of my life and invite—no, plead—with You to assume Your rightful place as Lord, as Boss. Forgive me. Thank You that You have.

Take my love, Lord, even though it is barely alive, and fan it into flame for You.

I may have written that prayer, but I get the struggle to be okay with singleness. I really do. It took years of pain and desperation before I was finally willing to pray this “bold” prayer.

I had the same fear she did—that if I chose to trust God with my love life, He would take my surrender as an irretrievable permission slip to withhold my greatest desire from me.

Whether you “give” God permission to be in control of your life or not, He is.

Is that a legitimate fear? Let’s take a closer at her email and explore these fears, shall we? She wrote, “I’m so afraid that if I give God control . . .” This overlooks the fact that God already is in control. Whether you “give” God permission to be in control of your life or not, He is. There is nothing in this universe He does not rule and reign over.

The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s,
and on them he has set the world (1 Sam. 2:6–8).

Thankfully for us, we don’t serve a cruel God with a sick, twisted sense of humor who takes delight in giving us what we hate. Matthew 7:9–11 tells us just the opposite:

“Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Being in a relationship isn’t a “right” and being single isn’t an accident.

So what does that mean if you don’t yet have what you want? I love how Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth talks about it in Singled Out for Him. She points out that being in a relationship isn’t a “right” and being single isn’t an accident. According to 1 Corinthians 7, both singleness and marriage (the closest human relationship possible) are gifts from a good God who only gives good gifts to His kids. Each gift is to be 1) received with thankfulness and 2) used to bring Him glory. If you are not currently in a committed relationship with a godly guy, you can know that at least for now, it would not be a “good thing” for you.

But don’t take my word for it. (Or Nancy’s.)

Get to know God yourself. You cannot trust someone you do not know.

It’s one thing to hear someone else say God can be trusted with your love life and another altogether to get to know Him until you know that you know that for yourself. Be patient; it’ll be a process. But do pursue Him each and every day. If you’re not sure how to do that, start here.

“My one true desire is to share my life with someone.” It’s a perfectly natural desire to share your life with someone, but is that your one-desire-to-rule-them-all? What are you willing to sacrifice or do for this desire to come true? Do you love the idea of being in love with a man more than you love the Maker of man? If so, you can expect God’s wrath.

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men . . . For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they . . . exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! (Rom. 1:18–24).

If your desires are more dear to you than God Himself, repent over your misplaced worship.

“He’ll keep me single forever” overlooks the fact that marriage—the most intimate, lifelong, love commitment a human can make—is just a faint reflection of the more wonderful, forever relationship we will have with Christ. He is using this life to prepare us to be His pure, spotless bride. This sentiment shows a very limited view of the here and now at the expense of forever.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:31–32).

As you think about your desire for a romantic relationship, are you focused on living for yourself or for your Creator?

“I’m so afraid.” Three times in her email this woman admitted she was “scared” and “so afraid.” She also said she needed to take a break from dating until she had a grip on God’s love for her. I think she’s on the right track. First John 4:18 says:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Let His unmatched love drive away your fears.

You are perfectly loved by a perfect God; own this. You can know God loves you—not because He gives you everything you want right when you want it, but because He gave up His beloved Son to absorb the righteous wrath of the Father that you deserved for your sin. Let His unmatched love drive away your fears.

How about you? Do you trust God to do a better job than you can with your love life? If not, what can you do today to grow your trust in Him?

If You’re Scared to Trust God with Your Love Life was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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3 Ways Darth Vader Points to a Greater Story

3 Ways Darth Vader Points to a Greater Story

In order to prepare for December’s epic release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, my husband and I had a Star Wars marathon. (Yes, I was one of the few remaining humans on this planet who had never watched Star Wars, but that has now been remedied!)

Do you remember the battle scene between Anakin Skywalker (before he officially became Darth Vader) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Darth’s old master)? Anakin is defeated, and then this video shows how he became Darth Vader just after.

As I watched these clips, I realized I was already familiar with a similar plot line—not from a fictional story, but from God’s infallible Word. Vader’s story parallels Satan’s story in at least three ways:

  1. Just as Vader was once a good Jedi Knight, Satan was once a good angel of light.

    We know this because all God created was good, not evil. Genesis 1:31 shows God standing back, taking His creation in:

    God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (emphasis added).

  2. Both Vader and Satan rebelled against their former masters.

    Just as Vader desired more power, so did Satan. At some point before Genesis 3:1, Satan rebels against God. Jude 1:6 fills us in on his journey to the “dark side”:

    The angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.

  3. Both Vader and Satan were wounded but given more time to work their evil.

    Vader was severely burned in the lava pits, but Palpatine fitted the disfigured Vader with prosthetic legs and an arm as well as a life-supporting suit of armor, and his fight against “the light” continued.

    God cast Satan out of heaven, but he was allowed to continue his work on earth for a time:

    The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, . . . “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Rev. 12:9–12).

    Satan was then crushed at the cross, as it had been foretold in Genesis 3:15:

    “He [the offspring of the woman, Jesus] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

    Hebrews 2:14 tells us:

    Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself [Jesus] likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil (emphasis added).

    Yet the devil still limps around, like the propped-up Darth Vader.

    Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

    Why didn’t God put a complete end to Satan long ago? Pastor John Piper explains it like this in this excellent sermon:

    Jesus Christ will be more highly honored in the end because he defeats Satan through longsuffering, patience, humility, servanthood, suffering, and death, rather than through raw power. And the more highly honored the Son is, the greater the joy of those who love him.

A Very Different Ending

This is where the similarities between Darth Vader and Satan end. Because while someone else rose to take Vader’s place and continue his dark work, no one will continue Satan’s work.

Jesus Christ has risen to ensure that the darkness will not overcome the light. He is the stronger one!

Jesus Christ has risen to ensure that the darkness will not overcome the light. He is the stronger one! Soon, Satan, sin, and death will be utterly and completely done away with. Revelation 20:10 gives us a glimpse into the future:

And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

This, my friend, is incredible reason to rejoice!

As phenomenal as the Star Wars movies are, they are just that . . . movies. But Satan’s final demise (and sin and death’s!) is as sure as an Imperial Admiral getting force-choked by Darth Vader.

Do you know what that means for you?

  • The end to all your fear.
  • The end to all your tears (Rev. 21:3–4).
  • The end to all your sin and guilt and shame.
  • The end to all your pain (Rev. 21:3–4).
  • The end of death (1 Cor. 15:26).

Hallelujah! No matter how dark your world may look, you can know this: The dark side will not win.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you (Rom. 16:20).

“3 Ways Darth Vader Points to a Greater Story was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.” 

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