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10 Practical Ways to Push Past Social Anxiety

10 Practical Ways to Push Past Social Anxiety

Do you deal with social anxiety? This girl does. She asks:

How do you deal with social anxiety? I get so nervous around people sometimes and always feel awkward. I’ve been praying about it, but it’s still bad. I want to witness to others, but I practically have a panic attack when I do!

So for her—and anyone who can relate—here are ten helpful ways I’ve personally found to push past social anxiety.

You have to push past social anxiety to love others well.

First, though, a disclaimer: If you’re an introvert, you don’t need to become an extrovert! Think of the following list of suggestions as a few tools for you to take or leave. No one is asking you to get a whole new personality and become the most gregarious person at the party. What we are seeking is to love and welcome others as we have been loved and welcomed by God through Christ.

Hopefully one or more of these suggestions will be helpful to that end.

10 Practical Ways to Push Past Social Anxiety

1. Don’t hide behind your phone. Put it away when you’re with other people. It will help others feel more cared for and will help you engage them more easily. I’m guessing you’re actually better than you know at engaging people when the phone isn’t vying for your attention. You’ve got this!

2. Know that your approval comes not from people but from God. If you are looking to people to tell you what you’re worth, you will fear them instead of love them. Remember that we are all equal, each made in God’s image. If you have surrendered your life to Christ, you now have God’s full approval. And you have been given a mission to love Him with all your heart and to love others as you love yourself. You have to push past social anxiety to love others well.

3. Don’t be afraid to be awkward. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said or done awkward things. But here’s the deal: It’s not a sin to be awkward. It is, however, a violation of God’s law not to love others. In order not to stay perpetually awkward, give yourself permission to be awkward for a while. And if you hurt someone in the process, be sure to seek forgiveness.

4. Ask questions. If you can’t think of questions to ask on the spot, it’s not cheating to have some prepared. For example, when I see someone new at church, I’ll often ask, “How long have you been attending?” followed by “How did you hear about us?” Then I can think of other spontaneous questions to ask them once the conversation is rolling.

5. Listen well. Now that you’ve asked a good question, your job is done, right? Wrong! Don’t let your mind wander. Listen well to how they answer your question. Don’t worry about thinking through your response or your next question—just listen well.

6. If you really want to go the extra mile, jot down notes after you talk to them while the conversation is still fresh in your mind. I often take notes on my phone when I meet someone new whom I think I might bump into again. My notes consist of their name plus an identifying characteristic and maybe something interesting I learned about them. That way, I can always go back and reference my notes later if (okay, when!) I forget their name.

7. Pray. Even though I usually feel like leaving the building right after service on Sundays, I’ve gotten into the habit of asking God, “Who do you want me to talk to today?” I then look for someone to introduce myself to or to say “hi” to. My husband and I are almost always the last to vacate the premises!

8. Practice. Stretch yourself. Try sticking around on Sunday until you’ve found someone to talk to. Practice striking up a conversation with the cashier at the mall. Try smiling at the strangers you pass on the street or in the halls at school. See and engage people wherever you go, just like Jesus did while He lived on earth.

9. Remember that others are insecure, too, and don’t take it personally if they don’t seem interested in talking back. You don’t have to be everyone’s friend, but you should seek to consistently be friendly. Don’t only talk to the friends you’re comfortable with. Seek out new faces, and do your best to make them feel welcome.

10. Focus on becoming a “there you are” person. There are a few blog posts you read and never forget. This one by Jani Ortlund is one of them for me. I hope it’s as helpful to you as it was to me!

What did I forget? Any other tips you’ve found helpful for pushing past social anxiety? Why do you think it’s so important to work on it?

10 Practical Ways to Push Past Social Anxiety was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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Staring Death in the Face

Staring Death in the Face

My husband and I have been staring death in the face for the past couple of months.

We were first reminded of its presence the afternoon our next-door neighbor told us his wife was going downhill quickly after a two-year battle with brain cancer.

Death called again the day we noticed the medical van in their driveway advertising hospital beds, wheelchairs, and oxygen. Then came the newspaper obituary and the knock on our door: Our neighbor’s wife had died at home on Saturday, surrounded by her family.

A couple weeks after the visitation, death visited again. This time it was our neighbor’s dad who was taken.

And suddenly I can’t escape the cold, hard truth that all of us share this destiny of death. Every time I look at my neighbor’s house, I am reminded of the reality of death. And while none of this is pleasant, I am glad for this sobering reminder. As the teacher says in Ecclesiastes 7:2:

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.

The wise will live with the reality of death ever before them.

Do you remember the motto, YOLO, that gained popularity back in 2012? “You only live once” served as encouragement for reckless living and obscured our destiny of death.

If we had a chance to sit down with the writer of the wisdom book Ecclesiastes, I believe he’d tell us that YOLO had it all wrong. Rather, our mantra for life should be YODO: “You only die once.”

And After Death . . .

Why should we think about our inevitable death while we’re still alive, even though none of us really want to? Because we have a Creator, and we will meet Him face to face on the other side of death. Then we will give account for the way we lived:

It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment (Heb. 9:27).

That’s why, after twelve chapters, the author of Ecclesiastes sums up the teacher’s words this way:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Eccl. 12:13–14, emphasis added).

So if you want to continue living as if YOLO is your motto, go for it. But don’t say you weren’t warned:

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment (Eccl. 11:9, emphasis added).

The teacher tells us that we are to enjoy good while we live, recognizing that these thing are God’s gifts to us, remnants from life before humanity’s fall into sin.

I wonder, when you examine your life, have you been living as if YOLO were the motto of your life . . . or YODO? Are you living recklessly, mindless of your Creator and Judgment Day where you’ll give account for every thought and deed?

How would living with the reminder of death and judgment ever before you change the way you live each day?

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An Interview with a Praying Woman

An Interview with a Praying Woman

Every once in awhile, I meet someone whose life nearly takes my breath away with its beauty. My friend Debra Fehsenfeld is a passionate follower of Jesus, a wife and mother of four, a lover of all people, and a praying woman. (She’s cool, too!) I asked if she’d answer my questions about prayer, and here’s what she had to say.

If you had to describe prayer to a new Christian, what would you say?

It’s the gift we’ve been given to talk to God, to take action before God, and to participate with Him in all He’s doing in the world.

  • Talk to God: He’s listening. Ask Him questions, tell Him what you’re thinking about, what you care about, wonder before Him about what He cares about, marvel at what you are seeing around you, both good and bad—there are no limits to what you can talk to Him about.
  • Take action: We see things, hear things, wonder about things, believe things, understand things . . . but we don’t always know what we’re to do in response to all these things. Prayer is what we do.
  • Participate with Him: Through interacting with God and seeking His kingdom in all that we see, hear, wonder, believe, and understand, we actually enter into the incredible privilege of working with God to make all that is wrong right. (There’s no geographical, racial, religious boundary to hinder us in this work!)

What motivates you to pray?

Aside from the fact that I really do want to obey Jesus who has told us to pray (Luke 18:1, etc.), I think I’m motivated by two things: (1) an awareness of need, and (2) my experience of the perfectly divine ways in which God does things—experience with the God who alone is the perfect head of wisdom, the perfect heart of love, and the possessor of perfect almighty hands. I pray because I have great needs and so does the world around me. I pray because I believe God intends to do something about those needs, and I want to see Him do it and be part of what He does.

When and where do you pray?

The greatest amount of concentrated time praying I do is in the mornings and afternoons while I’m running on the treadmill, and especially while I’m biking (recumbent). Both pieces of equipment are in our basement, and there is usually very little distraction.

I do pray at other times and in any number of places, but these would certainly be less intentional times of prayer though no less real or meaningful; they are usually responsive prayers—immediate responding to immediate circumstances or thoughts.

But my when and where isn’t relevant in any useful sense for anyone but me because it’s different based on one’s context and season of life. The thing relevant for us all, I believe, is that there must be a regular time where we arrange our days (and lives) to be alone with the One we love and are seeking to learn from. We have the example of Jesus confirming the importance of such a time. If Jesus needed set times of solitude with the Father, I do as well.

When my husband, Del, and I go on a date, we have the opportunity to really catch up with each other and make a deeper heart-to-heart connection. We obviously connect and touch base throughout the day, but these set-aside times are about us connecting on a deeper level. Likewise, it’s vital for me to create a space of solitude in order to really engage at a deeper level with my Father.

I’m assuming you didn’t always pray like you do now. What increased your commitment to—and hunger for—prayer?

Hands down, I started really praying intentionally when I began to realize that my children were going to need to make their own choices in life one day. I cannot make faith come alive in them; I’m completely dependent on the heart-changing, love-infusing power of God’s Spirit.

Now I’m motivated by more than need. I eagerly anticipate those daily spaces of solitude with my Father. We are so together in these spaces of solitude. I lose track of time; I don’t want to leave. It’s so personal.

What do you think is the most important thing to understand about prayer?

The focus of prayer is not what you say or don’t, or how long you pray, or how you feel while you pray. Prayer is doing life with God; aware of Him always; interacting with and seeking Him in everything.

How much time do you spend talking to God; how much time do you spend listening?

Let me refer back to those dates with Del. Sometimes Del talks more. Sometimes I do. But that’s not the point. The purpose of the date is connection, leading us to restored and more complete oneness.

The point of prayer is exactly the same. The goal is connection to God, leading to oneness with God—where what He cares about is becoming what I care about, where the way He sees things begins infusing the way I see things, His altogether good impulses generating in me good impulses like His.

What is the greatest thing you’ve ever asked God for?

To be born again.

What is the greatest thing you’ve ever seen God do in response to your prayers?

The thing I’ve seen Him do now over and over and over again is the thing that still blows my mind. He engages with me, with all of us who are walking in life with Him! GOD, the Source and Sustainer of all life, wisdom, glory, authority, power, love, and good is content—no, more than content, He is full to the brim giddy to hang out with me all the time!

If He can bring dead things to life, if He can call into being things that never were heard of or in existence before, if He can be crazy with delight about hanging out with me every day and convince me that He wants to continue this forever—all of these things I’ve seen Him do in and for me and in and for others—I have no doubt whatsoever that there isn’t anything for Him that is too hard.

I’d love to hear from you. What motivates you to pray? And how is God changing the way you think about and interact with Him in prayer?

An Interview with a Praying Woman was originally posted on ReviveOurHearts.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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5 Ways to Read a Blog Post Without Getting Your Jimmies Rustled

5 Ways to Read a Blog Post Without Getting Your Jimmies Rustled

Have you seen the meme “rustle my jimmies”? It came into use in 2010 and expresses strong emotional angst toward someone else’s post on the Internet.

As a blog manager for the past seven years, I’ve observed my share of “jimmy rustling” in the comments section—on this blog and on other blogs. Yes, it appears even Christians get their jimmies rustled from time to time.

When I read a disgruntled commenter expressing sharp criticism toward the author of a post, it makes me think of this admonition from James:

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be

  • quick to hear
  • slow to speak
  • slow to anger;

for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (1:19–20).

I can’t help but wonder how this verse might read if James were addressing modern-day blog readers. Something like this, maybe?

Know this, my beloved Internet users: let every scanner be

  • quick to read carefully and slowly all the way to the end of a post
  • quick to seek to understand where the author is coming from
  • slow to comment
  • slow to get their jimmies rustled

for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19–20).

One of the best pieces of communication advice I have ever received is to seek to understand before seeking to be understood (again, just another way of summarizing James 1:19–20). It’s no different from how we are supposed to read the Bible—seeking to understand the author’s original intent rather than jumping to conclusions.

That said, would you mind if I passed on five pieces of advice that will aid you in not getting your jimmies rustled—and not sinning in your responses?

1. Don’t judge a post by its title.

In order to catch readers’ attention in a culture glutted with information, bloggers have to write intriguing titles in order for readers to even click on their posts. So give the author a break and read their post before blasting them for their title. Even then, don’t blast them for their title. Comment on their whole presentation, not on six words stripped of their context.

2. Don’t post a comment before reading to the end of the post.

Often the writer is making the same argument you are . . . you just didn’t stick around long enough to realize it.

3. Do ask clarifying questions.

Rather than reading between the lines and connecting dots that aren’t really there to connect, ask the author what they meant by such-and-such. Give them a chance to clarify rather than putting words in their mouth.

4. Do pray, re-read, and wait a bit before you instantly post a comment.

Growing up, my mom taught me not to send an important email immediately after writing it, but to leave some space before sending it. She probably got that idea from the Word of God: “Whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (Prov. 19:2).

Words can never be taken back. I trust bloggers are doing the same thing as they write a post: praying, re-reading, and waiting before instantly posting their thoughts on the worldwide web.

5. Do share truth in love.

If correction is indeed needed, share this correction in love. The apostle Paul says it better than me:

I . . . urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:1–6).

I’m not saying you have to agree with everything that’s posted on the Internet, or even on this blog. Hardly! But I am asking you to help me change the commenting culture to one that honors God, gently corrects where needed, and encourages where possible.

I’d love to hear what you think. Have you noticed this same trend? How have you either contributed to or bucked the my-jimmies-are-rustled-and-you’re-gonna-hear-about-it system?

5 Ways to Read a Blog Post Without Getting Your Jimmies Rustled was originally posted on TrueWoman.com. 

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God Believes in Aliens (A.K.A You!)

God Believes in Aliens (A.K.A You!)

When I was a teen, all I wanted was to be “normal,” to fit in. But my parents’ rules wouldn’t allow for it. I had to wear shorts that hit the top of my knees. My knees.

I was pulled out of square dancing in P.E. class in fourth grade, and I wasn’t allowed to spend the night at classmates’ houses or watch certain movies in school. I was weird, and I hated it.

I’m not the only one. Audrey wrote me,

Most of the people I know think I’m weird bcuz I don’t want to talk about guys and first kisses cuz I want to wait for my wedding day to have my first kiss!!!! And we’re only thirteen so why bother??? Now they all think I’m lesbian just cuz I choose not to gossip about guys (or girls) . . . Sometimes I really hate being a Christian.

I wonder if Audrey knows the real reason she’s weird.

1 Peter 2:9–12 is just one of many passages in the Bible that shows the real reason Christians are weird:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

God considers us “sojourners” and “exiles” on this earth. We might as well be aliens from a different planet! We’re separated from our true home, and we’re . . . different.

If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because you don’t belong to the cool crowd, but because you now belong to God.

If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because of the length of your shorts, but because you now wear the righteousness of Christ.

If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because of whether you can spend the night at classmates’ houses, but because you are now a home for the living God.

If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because of the words that don’t come out of your mouth, but because God has given you a brand-new, clean heart.

If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because you don’t go to homecoming, but because you’re going to heaven.

If you’re in Christ, you’re ultimately different not because you don’t belong to the cool crowd, but because you now belong to God.

The older I get, the weirder I want to become. Here’s a peek at a journal entry I wrote a few weeks ago after reading Acts 16:

Paul is crazy weird, in the best sense of the word. He is so focused, so “all in.”

  1. He’s sitting in prison . . . praying and singing praises to God. Strange!
  2. The doors to the prison open after a giant earthquake . . . and he sticks around rather than making his escape. Weird!
  3. When the police come and tell him he can leave, he says, “No way. You beat me publicly, you threw me in prison publicly . . . you can take me out publicly.” Crazy!

Oh to be as crazy all-in as Paul.

Lord, would You continue to make me bold and trusting and 100 percent sold-out to You? Please God, no more holding back. If I’m going to be weird, I want to be WEIRD.

How about you? Are you weird? If so, do you know the real reasons you’re weird? I sure hope so!

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Boost Your Trust in God Today

Boost Your Trust in God Today

One of you asked me a great question recently:

What are some things you do to boost your trust in God? I’m having issues with stepping back and simply saying “You’re in charge.” I just can’t get myself to do it. I’m too stubborn. What should I do to humble myself and step back? It’s really weird. I want to, but I feel like I can’t.

First off, you’re not alone. Human beings have struggled to trust their Creator ever since . . . Genesis 3!

But if you’re ready to get serious, here are five ways you can boost your trust in God today.

1. Get to know God.

Ever since you were a little girl, you’ve been trained not to trust strangers. It’s only been as you’ve gotten to know someone that you’ve learned that they could be trusted.

As you get to know Him through His Word, you will begin to see that He is absolutely trustworthy.

The same is true of God. He is a Person who has let you know what He’s like by writing a Book about Himself. As you get to know Him through His Word, you will begin to see that He is absolutely trustworthy, and your trust in Him will grow (Rom. 10:17).

2. Learn from those who have walked with God longer than you have.

Rather than having to learn everything the hard way, grab onto the wisdom of those who have gone before. It will save you a whole lotta pain!

In Numbers 20:2, we learn that the people of Israel had no water. The thing is, forty years earlier, the previous generation had experienced the same thing (Ex. 17:1). In that case, God had provided water from a rock. How do you think this knowledge could have helped the younger generation as they faced the same test?

3. Remember God’s trustworthiness in the past.

All through Scripture God commands us to “remember,” “remember,” “remember” His faithfulness. In Joshua 4:6, the people were commanded to set up twelve stones for this reason:

“These stones will remind the people of what the Lord has done.”

What can you do today to keep track of and remember the many times God has proved Himself trustworthy? Maybe it’s journaling about the experience or framing a picture of it or . . .

4. Surround yourself with people who trust God and encourage you to trust Him as well.

Proverbs 12:26 is just one of many verses that shows us the importance of who we do life with: “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

5. Choose to trust God, even when you feel like you can’t. Just do it.

It is exactly these tough moments that will teach and strengthen you to believe and trust God. This is the perfect opportunity to grow your trust in Him! But first you’ll have to just . . . trust.

When nothing in you wants to trust God, that’s precisely when faith steps in.

Trust, or faith, is a simple (okay, not necessarily easy, but definitely doable) act of the will. When nothing in you wants to trust God, that’s precisely when faith steps in. Faith chooses to trust God’s promises rather than trusting one’s own feelings. It’s your choice: trust yourself, or trust God. Who do you think is more trustworthy?

I’d love to hear from you. How else can we all boost our trust in God?

Boost Your Trust in God Today was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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“You’re so Innocent!”

“You’re so Innocent!”

Have you ever been made fun of for being so innocent?

I have.

Innocence isn’t something our culture values.

But God does.

The other day I read a verse I’d never noticed before,

“I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil” (Rom. 16:19).

Interesting, huh? We get that mixed up. We tend to be wise about evil but innocent about good.

If your friends find out that you’re innocent about something evil, they’ll likely laugh incredulously, “She doesn’t know about ______?!”

Innocence about evil is not a curse. It is a gift.

They’ll be more than happy to fill you in on all the dirty details. But even if they don’t, it’s easier than ever to learn about evil. All you have to do is pull up Google, and you’re a couple clicks away from moving from innocent to world-wise just like that.

So . . . will you?

A Word to Innocents:

I know you can feel like an outsider when your friends start talking and laughing about something you know nothing about. The fact is, you are an outsider. But that’s a wonderful thing! If you belong to Christ, you’re new now. Different. You belong to another kingdom. A far better one. Don’t try to fit in with the darkness; walk as a daughter of light. Never think your innocence about evil is a curse. It is a gift. Keep guarding your eyes and mind!

A Word to the World-Wise:

If you’re already “world-wise,” is it too late for you? Not at all! Ask God to make you as curious about “good” and right living as you’ve been about evil. Stop making fun of those who are more innocent than you. Don’t try to “help” them anymore by filling them in on evil. Be transformed by washing your mind with Scripture (Rom. 12:2).

A Word to Youth Leaders:

Several years ago, I asked a young woman if she thought I needed to know certain “worldly” things in order to effectively minister to teens. She said I didn’t and encouraged me to continue to seek to know the Word of God above all. How grateful I am for her wise advice. I am not aware of any ministry opportunities I have lost as a result, and there are so many dirty thoughts I don’t have to battle as a result.

I’d love to hear from you. Would you consider yourself innocent or world-wise? What is one thing you can practically do this week to pursue being “wise as to what is good”?

You’re so Innocent!” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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When Jesus Is a Joke at Your Christian School

When Jesus Is a Joke at Your Christian School

One of the saddest comments I ever read on this blog went like this:

I go to a Christian school, but we’re at the stage where Jesus is irrelevant and a joke.

After spending a week at a Christian school, I saw firsthand the kind of peer pressure (or is it persecution?) that takes place from other students at Christian schools.

I don’t share this with you to discourage you; I just don’t want you to be shocked or unprepared when you walk into your Christian school . . .  or even your local church.

Because this is a fact: Lots of people who claim to be Christians aren’t. Jesus is clear about this in Matthew 7:21–23,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

So what can you do about this?

1. Make sure that you know that you are a genuine follower of Jesus.

If you’re not positive, begin by reading “Are You Good Enough to Go to Hell?” Then pick up your Bible and read the book of 1 John (you can do it; it’s just five chapters!). As you read, ask God to help you know whether you really belong to Him.

2. Don’t expect everyone in your class to be a Christian just because they’re at a “Christian” school.

In fact, I think it’s wiser to assume that “Christians” don’t know Christ—until the “fruit” of their life proves otherwise. (For more on that, check out “Treasure Trove or Garbage Dump?”)

3. Point your friends to Christ. Often.

Not to rules or Bible facts, but to Christ, and how His death, burial, and resurrection changes everything about their lives. (For more on this, read “Three Truths That Forever Changed My Life.”)

4. Pray that if you or any of your friends are deceived and think they’re a Christian when they’re not, that God would reveal the truth to them.

Have you experienced anything like this at your Christian school or church? I’d love to hear about it. If so, what will you do to know Christ yourself and then make Him known at your Christian school?

Because like it or not, you are no longer just a student at a Christian school; you are now a missionary. Shine, Christian!

When Jesus Is a Joke at Your Christian School was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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Pay Me in Praise, Please!

Pay Me in Praise, Please!

I’d rather be paid in praise over a paycheck any day, I texted a friend.

Can you relate, or am I the only high-maintenance girl out there who loves to have all her work noticed and applauded?

I realized how much praise motivates me as I was examining each area of my life with the help of The Personal Vitality Plan. As I wrote down what was going well and what was being neglected in the area of my work, I kept stumbling across words like:

  • Motivated
  • Passionate
  • Wholehearted
  • Excited

Except those were words that did not describe the way I felt. I scribbled on the corners of my paper,

I wonder what it would take to get me to a place of looking forward to going into the office each day . . . Is it my problem or theirs that I’m not wholehearted, passionate, excited, and motivated about my job?

My thoughts soon meandered down the path of guilt as I reasoned with myself, Who has time to praise me for every little thing I do? How high-maintenance of me!

But then it hit me.

God’s a Father who delights in His adopted children’s worship and love of Him.

There’s nothing wrong with being motivated by praise—as long as I’m seeking HIS praise. I just tend to look for it in all the wrong places. My employer and coworkers—incredible as they are—are too busy to notice everything I do and to reward me for it.

God’s not, though.

Did you know that God is a lavish Rewarder? He loves it when His people go all out for His praise.

Don’t misunderstand me. He doesn’t love it when we work to earn His approval. But when we know that we already have His approval through Christ, He applauds our effort to please Him! Not because we deserve it; but because He’s a Father who delights in His adopted children’s worship and love of Him.

No, we won’t hear His praise right . . . this . . . second, but we will hear it! Audibly. How I want Him to say something like this to me when we first meet face to face,

“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).

And so, I’m heading into the office with a whole new goal: to be fully pleasing to the Lord in my work.

How about you? Are you feeling unmotivated in your own work, whether it’s at the office or at home or somewhere in-between? If so, I’m praying the apostle Paul’s prayer for you and for me:

“And so . . . we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:9–10).

We know His will. Among other things, God’s will is that,

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23–24).

So how about it? Are you feeling unmotivated? How about working today for God’s praise?

What an honor, to work heartily for the One who sweat great drops of blood for us, so that we might one day soon enter into His rest and hear Him exclaim, “Well done!”

Pay Me In Praise, Please! was originally posted on TrueWoman.com. 

 

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