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Dear New and Overwhelmed Christian

Dear New and Overwhelmed Christian

It was so good to get your email and hear that you’ve been a Christian for almost a year now.

I’ve loved it, but it is also pretty overwhelming as I am just developing as a Christian and so many things are being thrown my way. Things such as Anglican tradition, special holidays, different perspectives of the Word and Christ, ways to act as a Christian woman, you name it.

I am not sure how long you’ve been a Christian, but I am pretty sure it’s been longer than I have been. Do you have any tips or advice you could pass on, which will help me in my journey with God as a new Christian? Advice regarding getting through the Word of God, praying always, listening to God, applying God to every aspect of my life, etc.?

First, praise God for giving you the gift of faith in Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice for your sins. I’m so excited I have a new “sister” in the family of God.

I’m sorry that the excitement of your new life in Christ has been crowded out a bit by lots of other stuff being thrown your way.

Don’t ever get over Christ and what He has done for you.

My main advice to you is this: Don’t ever get over Christ and what He has done for you. Remember that you contributed nothing to your salvation. You were dead spiritually.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses (Col. 2:13).

Dead people can do nothing! God had to give you the gift of faith in His Son in order for you to even see how beautiful His offer of salvation is:

By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8).

Guard yourself from believing that God will be more pleased with you if you read Scripture, pray, go to church, etc. Some Christians refer to these activities as “means of grace.” That’s because rather than them being acts we do for God, they are ways in which God graciously makes us more like Jesus.

So pursue these means of grace as gifts, not as duties. Here are a couple means of grace I’d start with:

1. Get involved in a solid church.

You need community; Christianity was never meant to be a solo sport. Here are three websites that can help you find solid churches in your area (but realize that they might not list every option in your area, so it’s also a good idea to talk to other Christians you know for recommendations):

2. Study the Word of God daily.

All of Scripture points to Christ, so this is where you go to look for and at Him. Ask an older, godly woman who has walked with God awhile to teach you how to read and study God’s Word. Here are a few posts I’ve written on the subject that will help:

Then take a deep breath. It’s okay that there’s so much you don’t know right now. I’ve been raised on the Bible since I was a little girl, and there is still so much I don’t know! Above all, set out to know Christ.

As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving (Col. 2:6–7).

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Robert Murray M’Cheyne: “For every look at self take ten looks at Christ.”

It’s fine to explore some of these other things that are being thrown at you, but above all, keep the main thing the main thing. Or rather, the main Person the main Person: Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord. As you do, I can say with Paul:

I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

Dear New and Overwhelmed Christian was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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How to Help Your Hopeless, Hurting Friends

How to Help Your Hopeless, Hurting Friends

Her situation couldn’t have been much more hopeless.

She had tried it all—filled out endless forms, visited regular doctors, alternative doctors, traveling doctors, wannabe doctors, retired doctors. She’d read, researched, cried, and prayed. She had taken every medical exam known to man.

And still, over a decade later, there were no answers. Just steady decline. She was growing worse.

There were simply no options left. No more reserves to draw from. She’d spent everything she had—as well as borrowing money from every compassionate soul she could think of.

Not that she cared about the money. She just craved normal, human interaction. How long had it been now? Twelve whole years? Her disease—this never-stopping flow of blood—made her “unclean.” According to the Law, if anyone touched her, they would be defiled.

I know women and girls like her. You probably do, too. They may not be dealing with a twelve-year health struggle, but they are all too familiar with diseased desires and relationships. Stuck. Hopeless. At or nearing the end of their rope. Women and girls we are unable to heal.

Hopeless No More

Just when hope appeared to have run out, someone told this woman about a man like no other: Jesus. Maybe it was a friend of a friend who relayed what Jesus had taught down by the lake one afternoon. Maybe someone in her family knew a neighbor miraculously healed by Him. No matter . . . someone told her about Him.

And that was all it took. She heard with ears of faith. At least enough faith to do a crazy, daring, courageous thing—she elbowed her way to the front of that noisy, jostling crowd to get to Him. To touch Him. She knew she was out of line, but sometimes desperate women have to take desperate measures.

The instant she touched Him, she knew. She was whole. Healed.

She . . . came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease (Mark 5:27–29).

Jesus’ words to her confirmed it:

“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mark 5:34).

She didn’t know it yet, but this Jesus was going to bleed for her. In anticipation of what He was going to do for her on the cross, Jesus declared her whole.

And still He heals and makes whole.

How to Help Your Hopeless Friends

The question for you and me today is have we come to Jesus in faith to be healed of our sin disease? And are we pointing our classmates, friends, family members, coworkers, and neighbors to Him so they, too, can experience true healing?

Responding to our friends’ problems with positive thinking or self-help advice is not enough. They need to experience the healing that only Jesus can bring. What broken girl or woman can you point toward Him today?

PS: You can read the entire account of this story in two different places in the Bible: Mark 5:21–43 and Luke 8:40–56.

PPS: I love this hymn about this story in Scripture. Praying it encourages you to seek the Healer today!

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What Can I Do About My Boy-Craziness?

What Can I Do About My Boy-Craziness?

Hey, girls.

Now that we’ve tackled these two questions:

It’s time for the third and most important question:

  • What can I do about my boy-craziness?

Watch the video below for the answer. Once you’ve watched it, I’d love to hear if you’re ready to take action!

What Can I Do About My Boy-Craziness? was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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Is Boy-Craziness Really All That Bad?

Is Boy-Craziness Really All That Bad?

After taking the Boy-Crazy Quiz, girls often ask me, “Is boy-craziness really all that bad?”

Attraction Isn’t Wrong

What a great question! Let me start by stating that being attracted to a single guy isn’t wrong. After all, God made guys and girls. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

There’s a world of difference between thinking a guy is cute and being obsessed.

And marriage, the most intimate relationship possible between a man and a woman, was His idea. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

So “liking” someone of the opposite sex who isn’t yet married isn’t sinful in and of itself.

But there’s a world of difference between thinking a guy is cute and being obsessed.

Obsession Is a Problem

My obsession looked something like this. Time after time I would:

  • Spot a cute guy,
  • Daydream about him all day long, and
  • Do whatever it took to get him to notice me (even swallowing a live goldfish!).
  • When he didn’t fall for me, I’d get over him by hating him.
  • Then I’d transfer all my affections for him to the next cute guy and begin the cycle all over again.

When I was younger, I often joked about my boy-craziness with my friends. It didn’t seem harmful, just funny. But as the years passed, my crushes became more and more frequent . . . and more and more costly.

Your boy-craziness might look different than mine did, but the root sin is still the same. Faith wrote:

I have prided myself in not being boy-crazy . . . but most of my answers to the quiz were “yes”! I guess I am just one of those “on the inside” girls. But I have never acted on my feelings ever since seventh grade. I am pretty good at pretending I am not always thinking about guys.

Faith’s comment raises an important question. Is boy-craziness okay as long as you don’t act on it?

I would say “no.” Boy-craziness—obsession with a fellow creature rather than the Creator—is treason against the living God.

Where do I get a crazy idea like that?

Let’s Call Boy-Craziness What It Really Is . . .

Well, in the first of the ten commandments, for starters:

“I am the LORD your God. . . . You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:1–3, emphasis added).

Only God is worthy of being first in our hearts.

A “little g” god, or an idol, is a cheap substitute for the “big G” God we were made by and for. An idol can be any good thing—food, sports, anime, horses, or fashion. But when we set it up as the ultimate thing in our lives, it becomes sin. Only God is worthy of being first in our hearts.

Once, when God’s people had turned away from Him to serve idols, He told Jeremiah the prophet to proclaim:

“My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).

God is painting a vivid word picture here to communicate that His people have left Him, the Fountain of Living Waters. He is the best and only source of life available to them, but they have settled for “little g” gods that compare to stale-tasting water polluted with dirt and debris. Not only that, but their water source leaks. It’s broken and useless!

How about you? Do you know what your idols are? If not, ask yourself, When I’m feeling empty and needy, where do I run for satisfaction?

As for me, I’m convinced boy-craziness is a serious problem. Treason, actually. What about you? Do you see boy-craziness as idolatry, or do you see it as an innocent but bothersome issue almost every girl struggles with? Oh . . . and why?

(Read the next post in this series to learn what to do about your boy-craziness.)

Is Boy-Craziness Really All That Bad? was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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One Giant Promise Kept

One Giant Promise Kept

When I graduated from high school, someone slipped me a slim, purple book full of promises from God’s Word for the new graduate. What I didn’t understand when I placed that book in my college dorm room was that God’s Word isn’t just a big flip-and-locate-different-promises-to-claim-for-your-life sort of book. All of Scripture is one giant promise kept!

Here, let me show you what I mean.

All of Scripture is one giant promise kept!

Open your Bible to the first page, and it won’t take you long at all to find mankind’s rebellion against God. On the first and second pages, we see God creating all things. Mankind is the pinnacle of His creation, made in God’s image to reflect Him and reign over all He had made. But on only page three of my Bible, Adam and Eve rebel against God (Gen. 3:1–7), passing their sin nature on to all who would come after.

Catch That First, Cryptic Promise

The same day of their rebellion, God doles out their punishment, as He is holy and must judge all sin. But even as He hands out judgment, He also extends grace. We catch the first glimmer of God’s promise to send Jesus to undo the damage we’d done in Genesis 3:15. God says to the serpent:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

It sounds rather cryptic to our ears, so let me call in fellow writer Starr Meade to help explain:

Genesis 3:15 gives us the first promise of Christ in the Bible. Jesus Christ is the one who would be born of a woman and who would undo what the Serpent had done. It would cost Christ a great deal. He would have to take the judgment God’s people deserved for their sin by dying in their place. In this way, Satan would “bruise” Jesus’ “heel,” but Jesus would bruise the Serpent’s head by restoring God’s relationship with his people.

Turn a few more pages, and you’ll see God reaffirming and expanding on this promise to a man named Abram.

Hear God Reaffirm His Promise to an Old, Childless Man

In Genesis 17, among other things, God promises to:

  • Give Abram’s offspring land (think the Promised Land).
  • Make of Abram a great nation (think the nation of Israel).
  • Bless all the families of the earth through Abram (think through his descendant, Jesus).

All Scripture shows God keeping these promises in spite of great obstacles.

All Scripture shows God keeping these promises in spite of great obstacles. Take the second promise, for example. God promised to make Abram and his old, childless wife Sarah a great nation. At the time it sounded laughable, but when Abram was 100 years old, God miraculously gave this couple a son, Isaac. Slowly we see this family grow. Isaac gives birth to Jacob. Jacob has twelve sons. One of these boys is Joseph.

If you’re like me, you tend to read Joseph’s story as if it’s all about . . . Joseph. But this story is not ultimately about Joseph. Watch how God uses Joseph to fulfill His promise to Abram to make him into a great nation.

Watch and See

You can read Joseph’s fascinating story in Genesis 37–50. To recap, as his father’s favorite son, he is hated and abused by his brothers. They sell him into slavery and then breathe a deep sigh of relief. They’ll never have to see Joseph again, or so they think.

But years later, due to a harsh famine, these brothers travel all the way to Egypt for food and find themselves bowing before . . . Joseph. They don’t know it’s him at first (he’s grown up, he speaks Egyptian, he dresses Egyptian, he walks like an Egyptian, and he’s the second most powerful man in all the land of Egypt).

But after a couple dramatic interactions, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers:

“I am Joseph! Is my father still alive? . . . Come near to me, please. . . . I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. . . . God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors (45:3–7, emphasis added).

Did you catch that? If God had not providentially allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery and then rise to power, this little, incubating family would have been wiped out. God’s promise to Abram would have failed. But instead they are saved, and they continue to grow.

Observe This Little Family Grow into a Great Nation

Joseph’s family (Abram’s descendants) move to Egypt, survive the famine, and at the end of the book—while they are not yet a great nation—they’ve grown to nearly 100 people.

Turn the page (Exodus is just a continuation of the first book of the Bible), and what do you see?

The people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them (1:7).

In fact, by the time we turn to Numbers 1:46, we’re told there were over half a million males at this point. God did it! In spite of obstacle after obstacle, He made a great nation from one, lone man—a nation through which the whole world would be blessed . . . through Jesus. The New Testament begins this way:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1, emphasis added).

God always keeps His promises. If you tracked with me this far, you saw how God was faithful to make of one man a little family, and then to make from this little family a great nation. He did this in spite of many obstacles, because nothing is too hard for God.

The next time you open your Bible, remember that the whole story is one giant promise kept. It was written so you might know and trust this God who makes promises and always keeps them.

One Giant Promise Kept was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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Will I Go to Hell If I’m Not a Virgin?

Will I Go to Hell If I’m Not a Virgin?

“Will I go to hell if I’m not a virgin?” a single girl asked me.

I wish I could scoff, “Of course not!” But the truth is, it all depends . . .

Hell: Our Default Destination

Let’s start with this basic understanding: Every person’s default destination is Hell. That’s because without exception:

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

While our culture ridicules the notion that sex is off-limits to everyone other than a man and a woman united in marriage, God says otherwise.

We all sin in countless ways, but let’s specifically address this girl’s question about choosing to have premarital sex.

While our culture ridicules the notion that sex is off-limits to everyone other than a man and a woman united in marriage, God says otherwise.

First Corinthians 6:13–20 explains:

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her?

For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Choosing to have sex outside of marriage is sin, and all sin results in death—physical death and eternal death in hell (Rom. 6:23).

That’s because our God is stunningly more holy than we can imagine:

You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong (Hab. 1:13).

Believe me, I get how hard it is to swallow the fact that all of us deserve hell. To us, hell seems like “a divine overreaction.” But as author Randy Alcorn writes:

If we understood God’s nature and ours, we would be shocked not that some people could go to hell, but that any would be permitted into heaven. Unholy as we are, we are disqualified from saying that infinite holiness doesn’t demand everlasting punishment.

So the million dollar question is this. How can this girl who is no longer a virgin—and how can you and I—exchange our one-way ticket to hell . . . for heaven?

How to Exchange Our One-Way Ticket to Hell . . . for Heaven

We can’t on our own. But Someone has done it for us. Jesus chose to endure hell for you and me so we might have the option of entering the joys of heaven.

He [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

Jesus chose to endure hell for you and me so we might have the option of entering the joys of heaven.

Because of our sin, you and I deserve hell. But Jesus has made a way for us, instead, to enjoy Him forever in heaven. In response to this girl who asked, “Will I go to heaven if I’m not a virgin?” I have to ask:

Have you accepted Jesus’ unbelievably heroic, extravagant gift?
Have you confessed and turned from your sins?

First John 1:9 promises that:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hell will be full of those who have sinned sexually (and in other ways). Heaven will also be filled with people who formerly sinned sexually (and in other ways). What’s the difference? It has nothing to do with the sins you’ve committed, but with whether you have embraced the Sin-Slayer, Jesus Christ, your righteous Substitute . . . and turned from your sin as a result.

Have you?

PS: I am indebted to Randy Alcorn for his insights on hell in chapters 3 and 4 of his book Heaven.

Will I Go to Hell If I’m Not a Virgin? was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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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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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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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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We Went to Church on Our Honeymoon

We Went to Church on Our Honeymoon

Trevor Marsteller and I joined hands in the stately building of Missio Church on October 3 and covenanted before God and man to love each other ’til death do us part. We returned the following morning and held hands in a pew near the front as we listened to the Word of God preached to the people of God.

Many of these people were incredulous: “You’re on your honeymoon, and you’re at church?!” We might as well have sprouted horns on our heads.

“You’re on your honeymoon, and you’re at church?!”

If it had been up to me, I probably would’ve opted to pull the covers over my head and dozed as long as possible after the stress of pulling off an event of that size. Missing a Sunday here or there hasn’t seemed like a big deal to me, especially after such a life-altering event.

But Trevor is the leader in this relationship—not me—and when he explained why he didn’t want to skip church the day after our wedding, I was so grateful.

“If marriage is an earthly picture of a heavenly reality,” he asked, “why would we miss out on being pointed to that heavenly reality?”

And so we participated in our local church service the morning after our wedding—as we do every Sunday, even when we’re on the road. We showed up not because we believe church attendance merits God’s favor (hardly!) or sets us apart as more righteous than others (as if!), but because we love God, His Word, and His people.

Caring for the Bride of Christ

In a congregational meeting a few weeks later, one of our elders reminded us of how passionately Jesus identifies with His bride, the Church.

It was amazing to see this truth so clearly in Acts 9. In this passage, Jesus asks Saul, “Why are you persecuting me?”

When Saul asks who Jesus is, He again reiterates, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (emphasis added).

How could Jesus say Saul was persecuting Him when He was safe at His Father’s side in heaven by this time (see Acts 1:9)? Because as we treat Christ’s people, so we treat Christ.

As we treat Christ’s people, so we treat Christ.

Christ’s very Spirit dwells in His bride, and His bride is in Christ. We’re one now. He loved His bride enough to give His life for her.

So how can we claim to love Jesus without caring for His bride, the Church?

After hearing God’s Word preached on October 4, Trevor and I leaned over to each other and agreed, “We’re so glad we didn’t miss this.”

It might not always be convenient, but this new bride is grateful for a husband who so highly values Christ’s bride.

How about you? Do you have a careless or a careful disposition toward faithfully and eagerly attending your local church? If you don’t regularly attend, what’s your excuse for not prioritizing Christ’s bride?

We Went to Church on Our Honeymoon was originally published on TrueWoman.com. 

 

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