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Christ or Crush? (Gives Great Gifts)

Christ or Crush? (Gives Great Gifts)

One Valentine’s Day when I was a teen, my boyfriend gave me a little teddy bear and a paperweight that said “Sweetheart” on it. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!

Maybe you wish your crush would give you a teddy bear, but you’re happy that he gave you a piece of gum once, or that he let you drink some of his pop. You’re thrilled that your crush gave you anything at all!

Well, have you ever stopped to think about what Christ has given you?

I’d love to hear from you. What has your crush given you? What has Christ given you? And what are you looking to your crush to give you that Jesus Christ can’t give to you?

Christ or Crush? (Gives Great Gifts) was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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Christ or Crush? (His Eyes)

Christ or Crush? (His Eyes)

I’m so grateful for all of you who left me a comment telling me what you like about your crush. You girls are suckers for eyes! Some of you think brown is gorgeous, some of you prefer blue, but almost all of you are drawn in by them.

Well, if you think your crush’s eyes are magnetic, you should see Christs’ . . . and you will! Learn more here:

(Oh, and if you want to learn more about what I shared, here are some great passages to look up:

  • Rom. 14:10-12
  • 1 Cor. 3:10–4:5
  • 2 Cor. 5:1–10
  • Rev. 1:14
  • Rev. 2:18
  • Rev. 19:12
  • Rev. 20:11–15)

Christ or Crush? (His Eyes) was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Christ or Crush? (Mysterious)

Christ or Crush? (Mysterious)

Everyone knows girls like mysterious guys. There’s something thrilling about not being able to quite figure them out.

But have you ever thought about how the same is true of Christ? If you wanna talk about mysterious . . .

After you’ve watched this video, I’d love to hear from you. What do you think about the mysteriousness of your crush and the mysteriousness of Christ? Do you think you could ever fully know and understand your crush? Will you ever fully know and understand Christ? Does this fact make you want to pursue getting to know Him more or less through His Word?

Christ or Crush? (Mysterious) was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist

I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist

Note: A girl just emailed me asking for advice. “I’m falling in love with an atheist” she explained. The man she’s falling for just happens to be her dance partner, causing her to interact with him several times a week. Knowing that she’s not the only girl who has fallen for someone who doesn’t share her faith, she graciously agreed to let me share my response with you.

Dear “I’m falling in love with an atheist,”

I am so glad you wrote. Please don’t read this letter with a harsh, condemning tone, but with an urgent, pleading one. I am deeply concerned for you. If this letter feels like I’m dumping a bucket of cold water on your head, it’s because I want you to wake up. Let’s start with who a Christian is.

An atheist and a Christian are not compatible.

A Christian is a person who is now one with Christ. A Christian has been rescued by Jesus out of the darkness of sin and has been brought into His marvelous light—transformed from the inside out. A Christian has the spirit of Christ living inside of them! A Christian is someone whose entire identity has been refashioned around Christ. Christ is their life. Christ is the reason they are now accepted and beloved by God the Father.

An atheist, on the other hand, denies that God even exists. An atheist is a God-hater, just as you and I were until God graciously opened our eyes to our need to be forgiven and cleansed of our sin, to be reconciled with our Creator, and to be given an “alien” righteousness so we could live with a holy God forever.

An atheist and a Christian are not compatible. How do I know this?

Well, years ago, the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, urging them not to enter into any kind of a close partnership with an unbeliever. After telling them not to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (picture an ox and a donkey trying to plow a straight row together . . . fail! It won’t happen—they’ll each want to do their own thing), Paul peppered them with the following questions:

“What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?
“What fellowship has light with darkness?
“What accord has Christ with Belial (Satan)?
“What portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols?
“For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty'” (2 Cor. 6:14–18).

One way we can apply this to our lives today is that we should not marry (and therefore we should not date or long to date) someone who is not wholeheartedly pursuing and delighting in God. King Solomon made this mistake, and we’re told in 1 Kings 11:4 that,

“His wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God.”

You will have to choose between God and this man. You can’t have both. James warns,

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Let me be clear about this, though. If you choose God over this man, God will not love you any more than He already does. It won’t earn you extra points with God. If you truly trust in Christ Jesus as both your Savior and your Lord, you are already His 100% dearly loved child.

Does that mean that you have the freedom to date this man? No way! Besides, why would you want to, when Christ has revealed Himself to you as the greatest treasure there is—both in this life and for the life to come?

I get it that you have strong feelings toward this man. I’ve been where you are. And if you’re anything like me, my guess is that what you’re feeling isn’t true love, but something closer to romantic desire . . . and even maybe lust. I encourage you to:

  1. Explore whether you truly have been born again, and whether Jesus Christ really is both your Savior and your Lord (He can’t be one without being the other!).
  2. Tell an older, godly woman about your struggle. Be completely honest with her, and ask her to help hold you accountable.
  3. Break off your relationship with this guy. Stop dancing with him. Don’t text him. Run!
  4. Pursue Jesus through His Word. Get to know Him. Learn to enjoy Him the way He delights in you.

Praying for you,

Paula

I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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My Ugly Expectations for My Boyfriend

My Ugly Expectations for My Boyfriend

Two weeks ago I shared how I was finally dating a godly man, and I was less than enthused. I knew he wasn’t meeting my expectations, but I couldn’t have even told you what exactly those expectations were. So one tear-filled afternoon, I finally forced myself to sit down and identify my expectations for a dating relationship.

I realized how much culture had informed my expectations rather than God’s Word.

You might not have a boyfriend yet, but I’m positive you know what it’s like to feel blue because your expectations didn’t pan out. Maybe that new haircut didn’t transform you into an instantaneous beauty queen like you expected it to. Or that 4.0 didn’t get you the praise you thought it would.

So what should you do when the tears start to fall, and you find yourself head to head with unmet expectations?

  1. First, grab a pen and some paper, and write down your expectations that aren’t being met.
  2. Then go back and examine each one. Are your expectations based more on truth or on a lie? Do they line up with God’s Word?
  3. If they’re not based on truth, confess to God that you’ve been believing lies, and begin to praise Him for revealing truth to you.

Jesus said in John 8:32,

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Here, look over my shoulder at what I wrote down about my (unmet) expectations for dating:

I expect . . .

  • His full attention, but he has other interests. For example, he comments on trees and fields we drive by rather than only having his eyes and mind glued on me.
  • Magnetic eye contact, but he doesn’t drink me in with his eyes. His eyes seem under control.
  • Never-ending interest in me—and all that interests me—shown by question asking. But he doesn’t ask nearly as many questions as me.
  • Him to always be pushing the envelop physically, not able to keep his hands and lips off me. Culture has always told me he’ll only want one thing, but he’s self-controlled and can keep his hands and lips off me.
  • Fun, romantic, creative dates planned by him. We’ve only been to one nice restaurant, and we haven’t done that many fun, creative things together. But we’re also long-distance . . .
  • Him to always want to talk to me. This just isn’t the case. We’re both very busy; him even more so than me.
  • Continual compliments, mostly about how beautiful I am. He does compliment me often, just not often enough for my insecurities.

It was eye-opening to see my expectations spelled out so baldly on paper. As I looked at them, I realized how much culture had informed my expectations rather than God’s Word.

I wiped my hand over my eyes, picked up my pencil, and continued with a second list, based on things that are truly good:

A few things I didn’t expect that I do have . . .

  • Friendship. He called me his “buddy” when he was here last week.
  • Excellent communication. I didn’t know it could be so good.
  • I’m totally myself with him. No pretenses, no holding back the truest parts of me.
  • Influence. He mentioned this past week (again) how I “inspire” him.
  • A self-controlled man. All the stereotypes and experiences I’ve had tell me men will pressure me. But he told me he doesn’t feel right “stealing the cookies out of the cookie jar” before he’s committed to me in marriage (referring to kisses).
  • A humble man who’s honest about his weaknesses. This morning he texted me, “I continue to be amazed at how sinful I really am. Yowza!”
  • An imperfect man whom I respect. I’ve seen his weaknesses and sin (though I’m sure not all of them), and I still respect him. I believe I see him growing in godliness. I will continue to watch for this.

Now that I’m on the other side of this tumultuous season, I share this with you to encourage you to do the hard work of identifying exactly what your expectations are. Then, if they’re not in line with God’s truth (like mine weren’t!), repent and turn from them. Renew your thinking with God’s truth instead.

Ultimately, Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6). He alone will never disappoint. So here’s to not only having right expectations; here’s to our greatest expectations be firmly rooted in Him!

My Ugly Expectations for My Boyfriend was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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5 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband

5 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband

You asked me to write a post about how to pray for your future husband. I’m happy to do that, but first, two disclaimers:

  1. Marriage isn’t a guarantee for any of us. God is not our personal genie. That’s why I like to pray these sorts of things for the men who are currently in my life (my dad, brothers, brothers-in-Christ, coworkers, etc.) and then I tack on, “And my future hubby, if such a man exists.”
  2. Just because you’re praying these grand characteristics for your future husband does not mean you’re free to date and marry just anyone, and that they’ll somehow magically materialize into this person after marriage simply because you’ve been praying “spiritual” things. Wrong! Choose a man who—while not perfect—is already obviously headed in this direction.

Okay, with that behind us, here are just five ways to pray for your future husband. (If you’re already married, these are great ways to pray for your husband. And if you’re divorced, by all means, pray these into your ex’s life!)

  1. Pray that he would re-believe the gospel every single time he hears it, rather than believing it once and then leaving it far behind (1 Cor. 15:1–3).
  2. Pray that he would be captivated by God’s beauty so that saying no to lust would be like turning down a McDonald’s hamburger in favor of a grilled, New York strip. Pray that he would be ruthless in fleeing sexual immorality and would fly to Christ instead (Ps. 27:4, 1 Cor. 6:18).
  3. Pray that when he gets angry he wouldn’t sin. Pray that he would be angry over the things God is angry over and not angry over petty irritations (Eph. 4:26).
  4. Pray that God would prepare and empower him to love you as much as he loves himself—to cherish you the way Christ cherishes you (Eph. 5:28–29).
  5. Pray that he would not be lazy or a workaholic, but that he would work wholeheartedly for God in order to provide for his family. Pray that God would keep him from greed. Pray that he would have wisdom to know how to balance work, service, rest, and play (Col. 3:23, 1 Tim. 6:10).

Obviously, there are so many more ways to pray for a future husband. Would you add your prayer(s) by clicking on the green link at the top of this post?

5 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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When You’re Just Not Beautiful Enough to Keep His Attention

When You’re Just Not Beautiful Enough to Keep His Attention

This post is adapted from a very personal prayer I wrote in my journal some time back. I think you’ll be able to relate! Just by way of a disclaimer: this post is not written for guys. It’s important that men speak into other men’s lives about being faithful to the women in their lives in their glances (and mostly their second glances!), their thoughts, and their actions.

How I need You, Abba.

I don’t normally think about things like this, but I don’t have toned thighs, and suddenly I’m aware that he would probably like that.

I think it all started when I asked him how he’s most often tempted and what he does about it. He told me he wasn’t too keen on sharing details, but he said the standard things you hear guys struggle with are true, beginning with idolizing outer beauty.

That was hard to hear. He’s not immune to the struggles of men. And with that admission entered a flood of insecurities. (Wait, they were already there, weren’t they?)

Here’s another guy who won’t find me beautiful enough.

I’m not enough.

But then . . .

No woman is enough to capture the gaze of one man for every second of her short stay on earth. Because no man, apart from Jesus Christ, is 100% faithful. And no man is immune to all beauty but mine.

I think the root issue is actually mine: wanting a created man to validate me and tell me I’m “enough,” when only Christ is enough . . . for me and for him.

Yes, I want to “cultivate my garden” for my future hubby to enjoy, but I don’t want to chain him to a leash and insist he never leave my garden without a blindfold and a seeing eye dog.

So I wonder . . . Will You be enough for me, God, when I am not enough for my man? Because if not, doesn’t that prove that I am not living as if Your love, approval, and delight is enough for me?

And didn’t You love me—freely, lavishly—when I was captivated by others’ beauty? Didn’t You love me without insisting that I keep my eyes on You or else Your love would be withdrawn?

So help me pray for my man and forgive my man’s occasional wandering gaze and not expect him to be more than a man. Because that’s Your job, re-forming him ’til he’s just like You.

Only You can do this, God, ’cause You know me. I’m the woman who naturally keeps track of every glance and suspects ill motive behind each one. But You don’t keep track of my sins. You’ve removed them as far as the east is from the west.

Thank You for exposing the idolatry in my heart. I think the root issue is actually mine: wanting a created man to validate me and tell me I’m “enough,” when only Christ is enough . . . for me and for him.

How about you? Do you expect your future boyfriend/husband to never ever so much as even look at another woman? How do you think you’ll react if and when he does notice another beautiful woman?

I pray we’ll be women secure enough in God’s love that instead of seeking to “imprison” our men and keep them from noticing any other beautiful woman, that instead we help do battle with our men through love, prayer, and confidence in Christ.

When You’re Just Not Beautiful Enough to Keep His Attention” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Before Getting Married, I Wish I’d . . .

Before Getting Married, I Wish I’d . . .

Last week I shared some mail I just couldn’t keep to myself. You were so encouraged that this week I want to share more advice with you from married women. So . . . I asked a group of married women of all ages the following question:

What do you wish you’d done before getting married (either to prepare for marriage or just to take advantage of your singleness)?

You may be wondering, Why should I care what a bunch of married women think? Well, did you know God’s plan is that we learn the ins and outs of marriage from women who are “older and wiser?” Titus 2:3–5 says,

“Older women are to . . . teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands . . . that the word of God may not be reviled.”

Part of that training takes place before you’re even in a relationship! With that in mind, here’s what several married women wish they’d done before getting married:

“I wish I had spent more time growing as a Christian instead of assuming that I would ‘follow’ my husband spiritually. I would have spent more time being myself instead of being simply available.” —Myranda

“I wish I hadn’t devoured literally every Christian romance novel and countless romance movies. The men portrayed in these stories seem to be near perfect and have caused disappointment in marriage stemming from dangerous, unrealistic expectations. It contributed to me looking to a man to satisfy my every longing when the only One who can do that is the sinless, perfect Jesus Christ.” —Kimberly

“I got married at age twenty, and I can think of a dozen or more things that have crossed my mind over the years (manage finances, finish school, travel, etc.) that if I had done before marriage would have made so many things easier. But when it gets right down to it, we have had a blast growing up together. The best marriages aren’t necessarily easy; they are committed. I am thankful for one thing I did do before marriage: moving away from home. I think that gave me a crash course in dependency upon the Lord for everything, which laid the perfect foundation for marriage.” —Julie

“I wish I would’ve taken time after high school to find out who I really was aside from being under my parents’ authority before I got married.” —Hannah

“I wish I would have enjoyed my single days more instead of concentrating on finding love. I also would have wanted to be more prepared for the reality of marriage; the work, the responsibility, the pain that is there among the joy. Forever is a much bigger commitment after all the celebrations have calmed down from the engagement and wedding and it is just the two of you left . . . you and sixty years. Single girls, MAKE SURE you marry someone you like, not just love. It has been said many times, but you really do need to marry your best friend! Let God lead you to each other.” —Heidi

“I wish I had really thought about how I’d find purpose and joy in the responsibilities of being a wife and mom apart from my other interests, which had of course monopolized my single life. ” —Laura

I wish I would have lived as a godly woman when I was single instead of thinking, I’ll be like that when I’m married. I went through a very challenging first year of marriage until God graciously showed me I can’t keep saying ‘tomorrow,’ I need to obey today! Also, I wish I would have learned how to be an organized person, how to cook meals and grocery shop, and how to live within a budget. It would have made the transition to marriage easier had I already been experienced at taking care of myself (versus trying to figure out how to take care of two people).” —Emily

“I wish I’d learned more about how the marriage covenant is a picture of Jesus’s relationship with His bride, the church. It also would have helped to be involved more in service in the church, especially where no one could see me and there was no immediate recognition. It would have helped diminish my ego as a single woman!” —Aileen

“I wish I would have traveled more, gotten involved with more ministries overseas, even spent time living overseas!” —Kara

“I wish I had learned much earlier about submission in marriage. I never really grasped that until the last several years. I marvel at the difference it has made, learning to let my husband truly be the head of the family, even when I don’t agree with every move he makes. By over-powering my husband in the early years, I caused so many issues I didn’t even realize.” —Sheila

“I wish I had lightened up and had more fun.” —Jeannie

“I wish I would have spent more time with a mature mentor couple for the purpose of laying out our expectations for marriage. We’ve grown, and after sixteen years, are still becoming one. Learning to communicate clearly about the outcomes we are expecting before we begin a project has been huge. It’s so hard to backtrack. Clarity upfront helps work out some differences before they become huge mountains to tackle.” —Jennifer

Which piece of advice resonates with you most, not-yet-married-girl? What one thing can you begin to work on today as you anticipate marriage someday?

Before Getting Married I Wish I’d …” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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How to Never Lose Again in a Dating Relationship

How to Never Lose Again in a Dating Relationship

Are you done “losing” in dating relationships? I know a girl who recently started dating, and she’s certain that this relationship is going to be a “win.”

How can she be so sure?

Not because she’s necessarily going to marry this guy. Of course, that’s the desired outcome. But marriage isn’t the goal.

If marriage is the goal of dating, then any dating relationship that doesn’t end in marriage is a failure. But if the goal of dating is learning to love another, then even if that relationship doesn’t end in marriage, it will have been worth it. I mean, come on, who doesn’t need to grow in love?!

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).

So she’s having a little competition with her boyfriend. They’re taking Romans 12:10 seriously. You might call it their north star:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

See, the goal in singleness and the goal in marriage isn’t as different as we make it out to be. The goal is learning to love another flawed human being with Christ’s unconditional love.

You know what’s really cool? As this girl practices loving her boyfriend well, she sees that same pattern seeping into other relationships. As she seeks to “outdo him in showing honor,” she finds herself doing the same in other relationships. Pretty sweet, huh?

How about you? If you’re dating (or have dated or hope to date someday) what do you think the goal is? How can you make sure you never lose again in a dating relationship—even when marriage isn’t a guarantee?
How to Never Lose Again in a Dating Relationship” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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