Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guarding Your Mind

"Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think of these things."
- Philippians 4:8 (KJV)  

     Today, we have fallen into the habit of thinking that we can allow anything into our minds and it is "okay." When watching a movie with a "bad" scene, we often hear, "I am an adult, so I can watch it," or "my parents don't care, so I can watch it." But some things just shouldn't be in anyone's mind. Period! 

     We need to guard our minds from those things that are corrupt, and focus on pure and virtuous things. But today, in every store that we walk into we are bombarded with trash. Magazines, movie titles, CD covers: they all are filled with profane, pornographic, unwholesome content. And we don't bat an eye! Why? Maybe, it is because we are taught that it is alright, and that there are no moral absolutes. But just because everyone else thinks it is acceptable, it doesn't mean that it is right.

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."
- G. K. Chesterton

     I am not trying to be judgmental or condemning of others, but I think that we should not be afraid to speak the truth. How is it alright to allow these things in our mind, when they cause women to sell themselves, men to struggle with pornography, and young children to hear and see things that no one should? Instead of accepting these things, it should break our hearts. 

 "God is trying to raise up a generation dedicated to purity.  It's time we stop trying to get as close to the line as we can. We need to challenge ourselves and not just get by doing what everyone else is doing. God's standards should be our standards. Not stupid Hollywood standards. You were created for so much more than to just fit in."
- Lauren Barlow

     We aren't called to follow the crowd! We aren't called to mimic the world! We are called to stand firmly upon God's word, even if the rest of the world thinks we're nuts. We are called to "be transformed" by God's standards. No one has ever changed the world, by looking and acting like everyone else.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

 - Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Friday, March 25, 2011

You'll Never Walk Alone

“We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone."
- Martin Luther 

     Often in our walk with God, we can feel like He has abandoned us. We pray and pray and pray, but we seem to have no answer. We begin to wonder if God really cares, or if He is just going to leave us to fend for ourselves. But God is everywhere, all the time.

"The Lord doesna forsake any o' His creation. Remember that, child, when ye're older and ye think God's left ye alone. He's alway there." 
- Digory (Michael Phillips and Judith Pella, The Heather Hills of Stonewyke)

     Just because it doesn't seem like God is answering us, it doesn't mean that He is not there. He is always there, helping us along with each step. But many of us think of God as a genie, waiting to grant our every wish. And unless we see God coming out of a bottle in a puff of smoke, we think that we're all alone. But God is not a genie; He is a kind, just and loving Father. And like a good Father, God gives us what we need, which is not always what we want.

     At times it can be hard to remember that God is with us, especially when we are having a hard time. But He hears our prayers; He is helping us in all that we do, even when we don't seem to notice it. When we enter into a relationship with God, He doesn't just stop by at convenient hours; He stays with us through everything. We are not abandoned, but have a Helping Hand in every step. And with God by our side, we'll never walk alone.

"I will never leave you nor forsake you."
- Hebrews 13:5

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Waiting for Prince Charming

"Give God the pen and let Him write your love story."
- Dannah Gresh

     Dating is very "relevant" today; many teens and young adults feel the necessity to go from one relationship to another, thinking that it will prepare them for marriage and somehow feel any voids they have. But going from one romantic relationship to the other creates instability in our lives. How will this prepare you for marriage - a vow that lasts "till death do you part?" All it does is promote divorce! That is not what we are called to do with our single years.

“The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried…woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.” 
- 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 (ESV)  

     Our single years are a time for us to grow and mature in our relationship with God, as He prepares us for our future spouse. However, many of us have the idea that our single years should be spent "trying out" different boyfriends/girlfriends to see how we like them. But with each person you enter into that sort of relationship with, part of your heart follows. I love the illustration that Sarah Mally uses in her book, "Before You Meet Prince Charming." She says to imagine that you baked a cake (let's say in the shape of a heart) for someone really special. As you are waiting to give it to him/her someone comes up and asks for a piece. You think to yourself, "It's just one piece, what can it hurt?" So you decide to share some of the cake. Well, a little later another person comes by, asking if he/she could also have a slice of cake. You are a little more reluctant this time, but after some prodding you consent. Again someone else walks up and asks for a piece, and as you can imagine he/she ends up getting it. As piece after piece is taken, you haven't really looked at the cake - until that special person you made it for comes along. When you do look at it, you're horrified: all that is left is a small crumbled and mutated piece. Our hearts will end up like that cake if we aren't careful.

     God has already planned who you are going to be married to (if it is His plan for you to marry). Whether you date or not, in the end you're going to end up with the same person. But will he/she be the first one to have you?

"We believe that God has one perfect man already chosen for us; therefore we have no need to worry ourselves in searching for him. When the time is right, we know God will bring us together. In the meantime, we are not hiding in a closet avoiding all males; we are still living our lives, just without the pressure of having to have a boyfriend."
- BarlowGirl

     So if you do wait for God to lead you to the right one, how will you know? And how will you know when to go beyond friendship- to date/court? Here is what Joshua Harris says in "I Kissed Dating Goodbye:"

"The Bible doesn’t provide a one-size-fits-all program for moving from friendship to marriage. Our lives are too different, our circumstances too unique, and our God too creative to have only one formula for romance. The various ways in which God brings men and women together, like the unique designs of snowflakes, are never quite the same. But just as a one-of-a-kind snowflake can only form at a specific temperature and precipitation, a God-honoring romance can only form when we follow godly patterns and principles."

     God will lead us where we need to be; He will help us grow into a relationship with the person he has chosen for us. But we need to make sure that we are honoring and seeking after Him. Whether you get married or not, God always needs to be the key factor in your life.

"A girl should get so lost in God that a guy has to seek Him to find her!"
- Dannah Gresh

     Marriage is a sacred vow before God, and we are called to treat that vow with love and honor: before and after marriage. So whether you are waiting for Prince Charming or searching for Sleeping Beauty, remember that God has called us to do it in a manner that is honoring to Him.

"No more dating, I'm just waiting.
Like sleeping beauty, my prince will come for me.
No more dating, I'm just waiting.
'Cause God is writing my love story."
- Barlowgirl, Average Girl

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick

"So, success attend St. Patrick's fist,
For he's a saint so clever;
Oh! he gave the snakes and toads a twist,
And bothered them forever!"
- Henry Bennett

     When we hear that it is St. Patrick's Day many things come to mind: the color green, pots of gold, leprechauns, corn beef and cabbage, etc. But who was this St. Patrick? Sadly many do not know his story, but St. Patrick was a vessel of God: he was the first Christian missionary to go to Ireland.

     St. Patrick was born in Britain, and at the age of sixteen he was captured by Irish raiders. He was a slave in Ireland for the next six years. But God used Patrick's captivity as a part of a bigger plan; for while he was bound in Ireland, Patrick came to know Christ. When he was twenty-two, Patrick escaped from Ireland and returned to his home land. But Patrick felt God pulling him back to Ireland; he was called to show the love of Christ to the Irish tribes. 

     When preaching to the people of Ireland, it is said that Patrick used a three-leaf clover to represent the unity of the Trinity. It's no wonder that the clover is now seen everywhere on St. Patrick's Day! But now it symbolizes "good luck," instead of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (not that you need an image to do that).

     St. Patrick spent the rest of his life ministering to the Irish, but it wasn't easy for many of the tribes wanted him dead. However, he persevered and God used him to spread the Gospel among the land. So this St. Patrick's Day, instead of thinking of good luck, pots of gold and leprechauns, remember the young slave who was captured and brought to Ireland. Remember how God can use the most unlikely circumstances for His glory.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for his good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
- Romans 8:28 (ESV)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ambassadors for Christ

The Commission
"I asked the Lord to help my neighbor,
And carry the gospel to distant lands,
And to comfort the sick but He said to me,
If you love Me, be My hands.

"I asked the Lord to go to the dying,
And the orphan on the street,
And visit the prisoner, but He said to me,
If you love Me, be My feet.

"I asked the Lord to look to the poor,
And watch over the babe that cries,
And see each man's need, but He said to me,
If you love Me, be My eyes.

"I said to the Lord, I want to serve You,
But I don't know where to start.
To love is the answer, He said to me.
If you love Me, be My heart."
- G. Shirie Westfall

     We typically think of a missionary as someone who lives five thousand miles away from home, in a grass hut. But being a missionary starts HERE: right where God has placed us.

     In John Piper's book, "Desiring God," he makes the point that we should be so full of love and joy for God, that everyone we come in contact with will see it. Are we showing God's love to those around us? Or are we mirroring this world?

     As Christians, we are called to represent Christ on this earth.

"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on the behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."
- 2 Corinthians 5:20

     That doesn't mean that only Christians who are living five thousand miles away from home are called to be an "ambassador" for our Lord. It means that whether you are married or live with your parents; whether you are a pastor or work at McDonald's; whether you are a missionary in a foreign country or a kid at school: you are called to show the love of Christ to everyone, right where you are.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Mouth for the Speechless (Part 2)

"The greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion, which is war against the child. The mother doesn't learn to love, but kills to solve her own problems. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want."
- Mother Teresa

     Abortion: a branch of what started as something called eugenics. Its primary purpose: to make a super human race - a Utopia. But until Roe v. Wade abortion was illegal. 
      "Besides being immersed in eugenics, Roe v. Wade was founded on lies. 'Jane Roe' was really Norma McCorvey. This single, pregnant woman was used by two lawyers to legalize abortion. She never knew anything about the case or its proceedings except that she could get an abortion when the case was over. She never went through with the abortion. The first thing she heard about the case was on the news when Roe v. Wade was decided and abortion was made legal.
     "Roe v. Wade’s companion case, Doe v. Bolton, which made abortion legal in all three trimesters of pregnancy for virtually any reason, had a similar situation. 'Mary Doe’s' real name was Sandra Cano. Her husband was in jail, her kids had been placed to foster care, and she was pregnant at the time the lawyers approached her. When she agreed to be Doe, she thought it was to get a divorce and to get her children back.
     "They tried to convince her to have an abortion, but she wouldn’t agree to one because she believed abortion was wrong. She had no idea that her case would become the infamous Doe v. Bolton. Now both women are followers of Christ and are trying to reverse their cases (Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, The Roots Chapter Thirteen)." But until the abolition of abortion, many innocent children are dying.

     Abortion was legalized in the U.S. in 1973, so for the last thirty-eight years women have had the choice to get rid of their "little problems." But exactly how many have made that choice? Below are the statistics (taken from which based their statistics upon "the most-cited sources regarding abortion").

Abortions worldwide: 46 million babies are aborted ever year (approximately one baby is aborted every two seconds).

Abortions in the United States: since the legalization of abortion in 1973, approximately 50 million children have been aborted (one third of all pregnancies end in abortion).

Causes for abortion: 
98% personal choice (AKA: it was inconvenient).
1.7% the health of the mother or child was at stake.
0.3% (3 out of every one thousand) rape/incest.

     Only 2% of abortions are actually due to a difficult situation. But just because there was a difficult situation, does it make abortion any better? 

"Repay no evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable." - Romans 12:17 (ESV)

     480 physicians signed a public statement that abortion is never necessary to save a woman's life. They stated: "I agree that there is never a situation in the law or in the ethical practice of medicine where a preborn child's life need be intentionally destroyed by procured abortion for the purpose of saving the life of the mother" ( 

     Furthermore, "a child conceived through rape or incest does not deserve the death penalty for his or her father's crime...research shows that the victim of either crime is likely to suffer more if she resorts to abortion." (Pro-Life Action League, Sharing the Pro-Life Message, p. 34).

     The founders of our nation said that we are all created equal, and that we should all have equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Abortion takes away these rights. Abortion is the depravity of life from a baby, but no innocent human should be killed. It does not matter what title you give it; murder is murder. And it is our duty to stand for the innocent, to help those in need and to be a "mouth for the speechless."

"When my bones were being formed, 
carefully put together in my mother's womb, 
when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there- 
You saw me before I was born."
- Psalm 139:15-16 (GNT)

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you."
- Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV)