Monday, August 30, 2010

At the Top of Your Checklist

School is officially in session at Heartland Baptist Bible College.  I am already overwhelmed by the many projects and lesson plans to fulfill by the end of the semester!  The numerous physical and mental demands of college life remind me that time with God is the most important appointment of my day.  Balancing school, work, music lessons, and a social life has the tendency to force unnecessary errands out of sight and out of mind.  We must be extremely cautious to never put God on the "back burner," if I can say that without sounding irreverent.

A wise man once said that if you are too busy for God, then my friend, you are too busy.  Another wise man said that he esteemed the words of God's mouth more than his necessary food.  If there is anything you need to cut out of your schedule, make it anything but God.  Perhaps waking up a few minutes early to pray or skipping breakfast for Bible reading would be more spiritually profitable than saying you'll spend time with God when you "get around to it."  If your schedule is insane, drop ten minutes of sleep or skip the Frosted Flakes, but do not neglect your personal devotions.

During my sophomore year I was challenged like never before to improve my fellowship with the Lord.  He is not an impersonal force -- He is a real Person, and He wants to spend time with you.  How does it feel when one of your friends says they will meet up with you, but never show up?  The Bible mentions that we are capable of grieving the Holy Spirit.  How do you think God feels when you make a decision to have daily devotions, but do not follow through on that decision?  I am not bringing God down to our level, but it is perfectly biblical to say that we grieve the Lord by neglecting daily prayer and Bible reading.

As this semester begins, allow me to challenge you ladies (and myself!) to keep personal devotions at the top of our checklist.  Since the Lord has been so good to us, we should desire to have this fellowship with Him.  The wonder of it all is, He wants it even more than we do!  Allow Him to guide you throughout your busy day, and your day will go so much smoother.  Keep Him first every day of the semester, and it will be the greatest semester ever.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dare to be a Daniel

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
Daniel 6:10

Ever noticed how America is becoming tolerant of everything except Christianity?  Our nation advertises immorality with slogans like, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!"  We celebrate homosexuality with "Gay Day" and Sodomite-glorifying sitcoms.  We promote the slaughter of millions of unborn children in the name of freedom and choice.  America, the greatest nation in the world, has become tolerant of everything... except Christianity.

The Christian Faith is so unpopular because we believe there is only ONE way to Heaven; sincerity does not equal salvation; and scientists do not know everything.  This sounds harsh and narrow-minded to the typical modern mind.  We are attacked at every angle by "evidence" for Evolution, debaters seeking to out-wit uneducated Christians, and the devil trying to subtly pull us into the world's philosophies.  What is a believer to do?

Be intolerant of intolerance!  When Daniel saw that his world had officially gone crazy, he kept on doing what was right.  For him, that meant praying toward Jerusalem three times a day.  What can you do to counteract the wickedness of society?  Praying is obvious... if Daniel did it, it's probably not a bad idea.  If you go to public school, a secular college, or work in the real world, you know how commonplace the philosphies of Darwinian Evolution and Humanism are to your aquaintances.  What if you armed yourself with biblical teaching, so the next time Bob brings up politics or religion, you'll know exactly what to say?

Let me challenge you ladies to be like Daniel -- intolerant of intolerance -- and refuse to conform to this world.  Instead, keep on doing what's right, and be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you.  There are many books and DVDs available to educate yourself about biblical Christianity.  If you know of any additional resources, please leave a comment.  Here are a few that I know of:

Answers in Genesis  Extensive information on Creation, young earth, dinosaurs, etc.
Summit Ministries  Look specifically for "Understanding the Times"!
WallBuilders  Discover America's forgotten history and heros.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to Stop Complaining

Opening Days at Heartland Baptist Bible College are in session, and the first few days of the semester are devoted to preaching.  One of the most incredible messages this week was about the sin of complaining.  The children of Israel would whine and complain about everything, which kindled God's anger.  I had always known that complaining wasn't "good," but I never thought of it as "bad" until I looked a little closer and saw that God considered it a serious sin.  Complaining is so evil in God's sight that He sent fire from Heaven to burn up the whiners!

Seeing how wicked complaining is made me want more than ever to watch what comes out of my mouth.  However, it's difficult to put a finger on how exactly to stop complaining.  The preacher mentioned how people who don't complain generally have a healthy prayer life.  Although this puzzled at me at first, I thought about it for a minute and realized that he was right.

David often spoke in the Psalms of pouring out his comlpaint before the Lord.  In my own life, I think back to times I would cry out to God about how fet up I was about a situation.  After a few minutes of going on and on about it, I would start to feel kind of silly.  My whining soon turned into praying for that very situation.  Instead of huffing and puffing to your friends about the unfairness of life, tell God how you feel.  Cast all your care upon Him, and if you allow Him to speak back to you, He will begin changing your heart about the thing that used to look like such a big deal.  Complain to God and you'll get it out of your system and have a new attitude, so you won't have a need to complain to anyone else.

If you decide to adopt this principle into your prayer life, don't stop at just whining to God and saying "amen."  Read His Word and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you and change the way you think.  Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Your attitude will improve, your relationship with God will flourish, and the petty things that used to bother you won't seem that important anymore.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Answers Book

You can't go through life without someone challenging your faith.  Public schools and secular colleges endoctrinate their students with reasons to believe in Evolution; do you have any reasons you believe in Creation?  (Note: "Because mommy said so" is not going to convince many atheists.)

This book contains well-researched information about the creation account, Noah's Flood, and dinosaurs.  Finally, you can be ready for questions like, "Doesn't the Grand Canyon prove Evolution?"  "What happened to the dinosaurs?"  "Where did Cain get his wife?" and "Where did the races come from?"  The Answers Book is easy to understand, so you'll know exactly what you're talking about when a curious friend tries to confuse you with a scientific question.

You'll find that this affordable book is a wonderful investment.  The amount of information you get in such a small book is incredible.  I love it and highly recommend it to any Christian desiring to learn more about defending the faith.  If you choose to purchase it, buying it through this link on my blog will earn me a small commission.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Info on Hymns

I just found Net Hymnal today while browsing... Thought I might share with you all.  It has lyrics to hundreds of hymns and short biographies on hymn writers.  I thought it was pretty neat, so enjoy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Quote: Overcoming

"The world is full of suffering. It is also full of the overcoming of it. We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world."  -Helen Keller

For more inspiring tidbits, visit Quotes and Quips

Friday, August 20, 2010

A True Friend

A True Friend...

1. Prays for you.
Plenty of people throw around the phrase, "I'm praying for you," but isn't it thrilling to know someone who actually will pray for you when she says she will?  Keep a list of prayer requests in your Bible or somewhere else you won't lose it.  Every time you commit to praying for a friend, write it down on that list so you won't forget.  Next time you see that person, ask her how the situation is doing, so she'll know you really have prayed for her.

2.  Is concerned with your spiritual condition.  Proverbs 13:20 says, "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."  A girl who's constantly trying to get you into trouble is not someone you should be close to!  In addition to praying for your buddies, encourage them to make right choices and cultivate a deep relationship with the Lord.  If you see one of your girlfriends falling spiritually, be caring enough to help her back up.  

3.  Sympathizes with you.  Sometimes all we need is someone to put their arm around us and share a few tears.  Maybe you can't relate to every situation your friends tell you about, because you don't really know how they feel -- but you can at least try.  Imagine yourself in her shoes, and rejoice, mourn, laugh, and cry with her.   I heard a story about a little girl who sat alone crying, when her friend came and sat with her for a while.  When the second girl's mother asked her what she did to help her friend, she replied, "Nothing, I just helped her cry."

We all have our ideas of what we look for in a friend, but these three qualities stick out to me as the most important.  In fact, Jesus prays for us, is extremely concerned for our spiritual welfare, and sympathized with his disciples and believers on numerous occasions as recorded in the gospels.  Proverbs 18:24 reads, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."  If you want a friend, be a friend!  You can be an encouragement to many people just by implementing simple habits like praying for them, strengthening them spiritually, and showing sympathy.

Pilgrim's Progress

Pilgrim's Progress (Parts One and Two)Pilgrim's Progress is such a classic, how can I not have it under Favorite Books?!  I've read this abridged and unabridged, listened to it on tape and even read a children's illustrated edition.  If you ask me, if you're going to read it, read it in ye olde, unabridged, un-fooled-around with version!  Seriously though, the language is beautiful, the story timeless, and the author a Baptist!  =)

If the thought of reading it makes you gag, at least buy the mp3 and listen to it.  It's simply the best.  It was required reading for me growing up, but I look back at it with fond memories.  Sermons on discouragement still make me think of the slough of despond... A good buddy reminds me of Christian's friend named Faithful... Messages on the emptiness of carnality brings back memories of Worldly Wiseman and Vanity Fair.

Trust me, it's good.  Pilgrim's Progress  (If you happen to purchase it through the link on my blog I get a small percentage... and that's really good!)    =)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Psalm 50:10-15, 23

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. 

I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. 

If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. 

Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? 

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: 

And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. 
Psalm 50:10-15

Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God. 
Psalm 50:23

Just a few thoughts from my Bible reading today...  In verses 10 and 11, God makes it clear that He owns it all.  Every beast of the forest, the cattle upon a thousand hills, the fowls of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field, belong to God.  Verses 12 and 13 ask a question that answers itself.  If God were hungry, would He need to tell us?  He doesn't need us!  What He really wants is found in verses 14-15 and 23.  The Lord isn't interested in burnt offerings as much as He wants your thanksgiving, your cry in time of trouble, and your life.

God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, but gives you the freedom to choose to serve Him or yourself.  Right here in Psalm 50, we see what God wants the most: not all the sacrifices carefully spelled out in Leviticus, but your heart.  What good does it do to serve God and not know Him personally?  The Creator is a personal God who created you to do the things mentioned in verses 14-15, and 23.  

This is a simple check-up to make sure our lives are clean and acceptable before God before we try to impress Him with sacrifices and offerings.  He doesn't need our help -- we are the ones who need Him.  Offer Him thanksgiving and praise, depend on Him to deliver you out of trouble, and set your conversation (general way of life) aright, and He will be glorified.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Change the Teabag!

My college and career director, who now pastors Southwest Baptist Church, taught me a simple lesson I've never been able to forget.  "If you don't like the flavor of the tea, change the tea bag!"

Our lives are like a teabag, and it is easy to hide what "flavor" we are while nothing is bothering us.  However, when things around us get hot, whatever is in the tea bag comes out.  This can be good or bad!  What are you like in a cup of hot water?  Do you react to circumstances in a way that pleases God?

If not, it's time to change the teabag!  God wants you to have victory over whatever sin comes seeping out when things start getting tough.  He will help you if you are willing to be changed.  Sometimes it's hard to let go of "pet" sins like lashing out or having a bad attitude, because we think it feels good to express ourselves this way.  I've been there, and trust me, it feels so much better to know you are pleasing the Lord!

A few weeks before Tim came home from traveling with GloryBound, he told me he wanted to spend a weekend with his family and take them to a game out of town.  Although my gut reaction was to be disappointed that he couldn't be with me 24 hours, I held back and said that was fine.  After a few minutes, I thought to myself, "What are you thinking, you selfish brat?  He's got to have some time with his family, too!"  I fixed my attitude and decided to be happy for him, and that was so much more fun than wallowing in self-pity.  Even better, the next time he called he invited me to come be with his family for a whole day of that weekend!

You have the ability to choose how you react to life's lemons.  Rolling your eyes and sighing doesn't have to be "just the way you are."  Pray about it and be willing let God change what's in your heart.  With time, you will build a new habit of letting out a very nice flavor.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Between Me and the Storm

I "rediscovered" this song yesterday and I absolutely love it!  Between Me and the Storm talks about how the Lord leads us safely through every difficulty we face.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Keep Your Chin Up

A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. 
Proverbs 15:13

All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.
Proverbs 15:15

"Merry" is defined as cheerful, jolly, delightful, happy, jovial, gleeful, festively joyous, or pleasant.  What?  I'm supposed to be all of the above in the middle of sorrow?  Just because life isn't going according to your picture-perfect-plan, doesn't mean you have to be miserable!  After all, the Bible tells us there is a purpose for suffering (Romans 8:28). 

Keeping your chin up, one day at a time: Look at each day, find something to be happy about, and feast on it!  Did you manage to paint your nails without messing them up?  Was the cashier at the store especially sweet today?  Have any of your friends texted you recently?  Did your flowers get the rain they've so desperately needed?  Even in the midst of life's storms, good things happen; look for them.  After you find a gem of happiness in your day, ponder it instead of whatever is breaking your spirit.  There's plenty to be happy about -- have a continual feast!

It's going to be worth it. It's hard to cancel your own pity-party, but having a merry heart is so much more fun.  Even if your spirit and heart are broken, a positive attitude can bring a glow to your face that others in your position only dream of having.  Just think, when this fiery trial is over, you'll come out stronger, you'll be closer to God, and you'll be deeper in His will.  Now that's worth getting happy about, and it's certainly worth going through a trial.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In Search of the Mountain of God

In Search of the Mountain of God: The Discovery of the Real Mt. SinaiThis is one of the most exciting, eye-opening books I have ever read.  I am not a bookworm by any means, but I could not put this one down!  Filled with adventure and danger, this true story will keep you wondering what on earth is going to happen next.

Deep in the Arabian desert stands a mountain with a scorched peak, a huge rock split from top to bottom, and an altar engraved with images of cattle.  Surrounding it is an grove of acacia trees and boundary markers. Not far, an underwater land bridge stretches from the tip of the Sinai peninsula to the shore of Saudi Arabia.  This, many believe, is the real Mount Sinai.

The perils Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams endured to smuggle themselves, pictures and videos in and out of Saudi Arabia are recorded in this book.  Many people, not just them, have put themselves at great risk to expose the real Mount Sinai to the world.  Even though there are several teams and families who have made the same adventure, I invite you to read this particular account because it is the one I've grown to love.

Even if you're not an avid reader, you will love this book.  If you're stubborn and refuse to read it, at least watch the movie. The Search for the Real Mt. Sinai  Remember, if you do want to buy it, I will make a small commission if you make the purchase through clicking on one of the links on my site.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Contributing to Church

Why do people get bored with church?  If you've been going to church for any reasonable amount of time, it starts becoming routine after a while.  You get there, sit in "your" pew, fellowship with the folks behind you; then the service begins, the congregation sings, the choir sings, they take up the offering, the congregation sings again, someone sings a special, the preacher gives the message; the service ends, you fellowship with another family, and everyone goes home.  Yawn.

Life is supposed to be exciting!  How do you put the skip back in your step if you have "church burn-out"?  To answer, let me ask few more questions: Do you contribute anything to the service, besides your body sitting in the pew?  During the congregational singing, do you think about the words of the song and sing unto the Lord with your whole heart?  When the offering plates are passed around, do you quietly listen and soak in the beautiful music?  During the message, do you listen carefully for quotes you can jot down and apply to your life?  An hour after the service, do you even remember what was preached?

Many times we find ourselves "taking" from the service but never "giving."  If you tried to "give" of yourself by being a friend to someone, but she never reciprocated, the friendship would never work.  The pastor and church staff work hard every week to contribute to the service, but if the church members always take and never give back, the church will be dead.  If you're just going through the motions, it's no wonder you're bored with church!  Join the choir, invite your neighbors to ride to church with you, or offer to help with an activity.  Invest some of yourself in the work of the Lord.  You will only get out of the service what you put into it.  

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Questions Welcome

As this website continues to "grow," let me encourage my readers to suggest any new topics you may be interested in.  If you are a rising college student, perhaps you'd like to see more posts under the "College" category?  If you're bored with the slow songs and would like to hear more fast ones, let me know.  Maybe I haven't touched on a specific subject for which you were hoping?  I can't make big promises, because I'm no expert in any of this... all I can share is what God has shown me in my own life.  However, I want to touch on as many topics as I can, and I need your help!

So... if you have any suggestions, leave a comment! =)  I'm all ears!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hell's Best Kept Secret

Sharing the Gospel can seem like a daunting task.  What if the person you witness to is a cultist or atheist?  What if they claim they "said the prayer" but their lives are spiritually fruitless?  How do you start witnessing to a total stranger?  What about close family that think you're just a religious fanatic?  Is there a method you can use to witness to anyone, regardless of their religion, race, or age?

Jesus witnessed to everyone from religious to heathen, and He didn't have to change the way He presented the Gospel to cater to their ethnicity or gender.  Sadly, very few Christians know what this "secret" is and how to use it.  In this book, Ray Comfort explains how to use the Law to speak to the conscience, instead of getting into an intellectual argument over whether God exists or whether Jesus is God.

The book is titled Hell's Best Kept Secret because the enormous lack of knowledge of this method is ultimately keeping millions of souls from coming to Christ.  You cannot expect to win a battle for someone's soul if you don't have the appropriate weapons.  This short but concise, easy-to-read book clearly explains how to plant a seed of Truth in the heart of any unbeliever -- by using the Law of God to go straight to their conscience.

Hells Best Kept Secret
(Just a reminder, if you purchase the book through this link, I will earn a percentage of the cost.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

In Christ Alone

Never lose sight of the fact that it is In Christ Alone we find strength and hope.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Give It to God

 ...lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 
For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. 
-Hebrews 12:15b-17

If you've ever heard a sermon on this passage, you're probably familiar with the phrase, "Give it to God."  It's hard to grasp this when you've been hurt.  It's easy to let mean thoughts enter your mind, which eventually turn into bitterness.  Anyone who has dealt with bitterness will tell you that it will destroy you.  Habitually thinking evil of someone who did you harm is natural, but destructive.  The right thing to do is to give it to God, but how do you do that when you've been so hurt?

When I had to deal with bitterness in my own life, I got sick of people telling me, "Just let it go!"  I wanted to grab their necks and scream, "I can't let it go!  It's not that simple!"  If you have experienced the same frustration, it's absolutely true that it's not that simple.  Deep-rooted bitterness won't go away by sheer will-power; there must be an outside agent working to remove it.  This knowledge is the first step to uprooting hard feelings against someone.  You must be willing to allow God to do a work in your heart.  You must first want to change, or it's not going to happen.

In my own battle against bitterness, I had to come to the realization that in trying to take revenge on the offender, I was hurting only myself.  Thinking bad thoughts about the one to blame wasn't accomplishing anything!  What was I going to do, use the force to play mind tricks on them that would make them feel terrible?  When this hit me, I was more than happy to let God handle the situation.  You must face the reality that God can handle the situation a lot better than you.  All of those vengeful thoughts about wishing the wrongdoer would (you fill in the blank) -- God can do that, you can't!

After I truly gave my bitter situation over to God, I found a place of repentance for harboring wrong thoughts and trying to take control of a circumstance only God could fix.  In the passage at the top of the post, Esau shed many tears over losing his birthright, but bitterness was still alive and well in his heart.  How sad it would be if the story of your painful condition ended like Esau's: She found no place of repentance, though she sought it carefully with tears.  You CAN have victory over bitterness, but first you must take the responsibility of revenge off of yourself and give it to God.  He is always fair and will handle it way better than you ever could.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Where Should I Go to College?

It has been well said that the most important decision you will ever make is to receive Christ as Savior.  Second to salvation, your most important decision is definitely who you will marry.  Arguably, the third most important decision you will ever make is where you attend college.  Your location of higher education is your first step "out on your own," the place you will be spiritually fed (or starved!), and perhaps where you will find a special someone. =)

Figuring out where to go for college can be stressful.  Maybe one family in your church is convinced if you don't attend such-and-such a place, you're out of God's will; your best friend keeps stuffing papers about this-other-place down your throat; and every time you try to list the pros and cons of each campus, your brain hurts from trying to balance out every tiny detail.

Finding God's will for college doesn't have to be a never-ending mystery saga!  He never hides His will from anyone.  Quite contrary, He lays out exactly how to find His will in any life-altering decision, not just college.  Obviously, prayer is the first step.  How can you expect to hear from God if you're not calling upon Him?  While doing that, be open to any possibilities He might have for you (think of how hard it must be for students from another continent to come here for education!).  Include parents and your pastor in your list of counselors.  Where do they picture you in the near future?  They have an objective point of view that is very valuable at this point in your life.

It is a proven fact that God cannot contradict Himself.  Therefore, if you spend much time in prayer and maybe even a little fasting, along with taking counsel from your most trustworthy advisers, all the sources will point to the same conclusion.  During my senior year in high school, I didn't feel led to any out-of-state college at all, so I stayed in Virginia!  It wasn't until the next year the Lord led me and Tim to Heartland.  If God has something seemingly random in store for you like this, that's okay!  I'd rather be a year behind everyone else my age than be at the wrong college, dating the wrong guy.  Just give complete control to Him and allow Him to speak to you through communion with Him and advice from those who love you the most.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Counteracting Loneliness

If loneliness is a problem you're facing at this point in life, let's take a look at some antonyms of the word.  The opposite of "loneliness" would be described as companionship, friendship, togetherness.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like part of your problem could be a lack of companionship!

Last summer I suffered through loneliness as Tim traveled the East Coast with GloryBound, the men's quartet from Heartland.  I had known Tim for years, and I hadn't gone more than three days without seeing him at church.  My buddy got taken away from me for three months!  I went through major withdraws!  Talk about loneliness!

A simple way to counteract this empty feeling is to pour your life into someone else.  While having a girlfriend to ramble with wasn't the same as having Tim around, it did help me tremendously.  I could talk to her about anything, I could cry with her, and I could take her out on "dates" while Tim was busy!  What a blessing it is to have a genuine friend.

The key to friendship is that it is selfless.  Target someone you think could use a friend, and buy her ice cream, play a game together, or have her sleep over.  Invest yourself in her, not to get something out of her, but to add something to her life.  Text her every now and then, email each other funny jokes that have already been forwarded thirty two times, and go shopping together.

You'll find that making yourself busy with the well-fare of someone else will take your mind off how miserable you thought you were.  Loneliness might still rear its ugly head every so often, but it won't be nearly as bad as if you didn't have a friend to counteract it.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. 
Pro 18:24  

Created to be His Help Meet

Created to Be His Help Meet: Discover How God Can Make Your Marriage Glorious
This is an amazing book, even if you're like me and not technically a help meet yet!  I highly recommend it to anyone who desires to have a heavenly marriage.  One of the things I discovered through reading this book is that in many cases, it is the wife who can turn a not-so-perfect marriage around and make it glorious.  You will learn how to do this without being a nag or usurping authority.

Reading this book is like drinking from a fire hydrant!  Drawing truth from the Bible, Debi Pearl explains how to recover from a poorly-started marriage, recognize your divine calling as a woman, refuse to harbor the poor-me attitude, and reveal what needs your particular man has and how to meet them.

I've had this book since before Tim and I started dating, because I wanted to be ready when the time came for me to start thinking about someday becoming a help meet.  There's nothing wrong with being thoroughly prepared, and that's why I recommend it to any young lady.  There's even a section on modesty, and all of us could use a reminder about that!

The link below takes you directly to information about the book on  Just FYI, if you purchase Created to be His Help Meet through my link, I earn a percentage of the cost.  I wanted to make sure I let everyone know so you won't think I'm trying to be sneaky and earn money off of you without you being aware. =)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


During my first semester at Heartland, chapel speakers repeatedly mentioned that the easiest place to backslide is at Bible college.  Although it was hard to believe, I soon realized it was true.  Bible college students are immersed in the Word from morning personal devotions to class memory verses, from chapel messages to evening dorm devotions.  There is not a single day we go without hearing something from the Bible!  If one is not careful, she may let the Word of God become "just another textbook."

Part of staying away from backsliding is keeping your priorities straight, and what better way than to keep God first on the list!  That means starting each day with God.  Even if you take just a few minutes to ask for His strength throughout the day, you are "putting your armor on" before the devil has time to attack you.  Skipping this important first step is worse than a soldier running into the front lines with jeans and a t-shirt!  If you knew giving God the first part of your day could help protect you from becoming lukewarm, why wouldn't you?

It's so easy to assume that just because you're constantly hearing God's Word being taught, you're close to God.  This isn't necessarily true.  Is your first priority of the day to get up at the crack of dawn to finish printing that paper, or is it to spend time with the Lord?  I'm definitely not a morning person, but I've learned the hard way that if I don't put God first every morning, my whole day will go terrible.  The paper will get jammed in the printer, I'll have to go to the campus library to print it out, I won't have enough nickels to pay for printing it, I'll end up being late for class, and the paper will be turned in late, resulting in a letter grade lower than I could have gotten.

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
-Mark 10:41, 42

Mary had her priorities straight; Martha did not.  While Martha had hundreds of things pulling her in every possible direction, Mary's constant focus was on Christ.  College life is insane!  There's classes, work, friends, ministries, visitation, activities, and for some, boyfriends!  It's so easy to get wrapped up in everything and forget why you're there in the first place: to train to serve the Lord.  Surrendering your day to the Lord as soon as you wake up works so well because that's when you're being the least pulled around from every angle.  As the school year approaches (even if you're not a college student), make God your first priority every day by starting it with Him.  Your day will go abundantly smoother when you get through it in His strength!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Key to Contentment

It has been quite an eventful summer.  Before the school year ended I asked the Lord to give me a ministry I could be a part of, and boy did He ever!  This summer I have found myself working in Teen Church on Sunday mornings, helping out with door-to-door visitation on Wednesdays, and being a counselor at teen camp.  Even though Tim has traveled with GloryBound two summers in a row now, this summer has gone by so much smoother!  I can't honestly say it's been easier, because I'll admit there were times I wanted to pull my hair out.  However, I will say I have found joy this summer that I thought I would never find.

I went into the summer with the mindset that the next three months were an opportunity for joy.  A year ago, my mindset was that nothing was going to make me happy except that Tim quit GloryBound and I get my boyfriend all to myself again.  Remembering the misery that loomed over me all summer long, I determined that I would never go back to that again.  The odds were against me: there would be a three hour time difference between me and Tim; if anything terrible happened to Tim, it would be practically impossible for me to go to him; I was already in the habit of thinking negatively about GloryBound; and most of the people I sought encouragement from expressed a slight variation of, "You did it once, so you can do it again!"

Through this summer I have learned that there is a key to the inexpressible peace called contentment.  It isn't something that happens overnight -- it is a habit, a lifestyle, a minute-by-minute decision.  Before I set my foot on the plane to go home, I decided that this summer was going to be different.  When you know a hard time is coming, get it in your head that the devil is not going to have his way with you this time.  I already regretted every time I said something negative about Tim being on a traveling group, and I did not want any more regrets.  You waste your time being discontent, so purpose in your heart that it's not going to happen.

I also knew that, unfortunately, I had already made the habit of reacting negatively to anything that had to do with GloryBound.  I did it without thinking!  In order to make the coming summer an opportunity for joy, I had to change my thought process.  To be content with your circumstances, you must change the way you think about your circumstances.  To change the way you think, you must turn your eyes upon Jesus.  I found that once I started equating GloryBound with God's plan for Tim instead of Heartland's way of torturing me, I had peace and joy in the midst of my circumstances.  I had to stop thinking selfish, jealous thoughts and ask God to help me think about how good this experience was for us, in the long run.  I had to make a habit of dismissing the thoughts of Tim being taken away from me, and replacing them with thoughts of how God was preparing him for future ministry.

And the hardest part of all is, get your eyes of off yourself and keep them off of yourself. I knew as soon as the plane took off, the devil would be back to discouraging me with selfish thoughts. The simple truth is, keeping a close walk with God helps tremendously. Having a constant attitude of prayer and thanksgiving keeps you rejoicing over how good God has been to you. Over time, you will build the habit of giving thanks for the simple joys in life, and that joy will overflow into the circumstances of which you once thought resentfully. Another way to deny yourself is to focus on others. If you have a job, work with all your might, as unto the Lord. Encourage your fellow employees. If you don't have a job, you have eight more hours in your day you could be using to help others. Volunteer to clean at your church, become involved in an outreach ministry, or offer to assist a Sunday School teacher.

This summer has taught me what contentment truly is, and how to obtain it. It isn't walking around with a huge grin all the time, but having a quiet peace that only God can give. Self must die and Christ must reign in its place, day by day, moment by moment. Building the habit of self-denial will make it progressively easier to find joy in life. Relying on Christ alone for strength is the ultimate key to contentment. After this summer, I read Philippians 4:11-13 in a whole new light:
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. 

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