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Darling, stop and ask yourself these three things (Wait for Me 3 of 7)

31 Jul

Do you remember my post, “The wrong question, the right question…and soup?” If you don’t, I hope you’ll check it out — and if you do, well, I hope you’re as excited as I am that Rebecca addresses exactly what’s wrong with the question, “How far is too far?” in Chapter Three of Wait for Me.

So welcome to Part 3 of my Wait for Me series (click here for Part 1, and here for Part 2). I’m so excited for those of you who are sticking around to explore this tough topic with me. I really believe God has placed a passion for this subject in my heart, and I’m trusting that this series will really touch the hearts of others.

There is so much good stuff in Chapter Three that I won’t even be able to mention half of it. I hope you’ll purchase Rebecca’s book and read it for yourself, but I want to highlight the first half of the chapter, where she mentions some important questions to ask ourselves regarding purity.

“The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret.”

1. What would God think?

We’ve all heard the question, “How far is too far?” And you may not even realize it, but the issue isn’t the answer to the question. Rebecca says the issue is the question itself!

“How many times have you and I heard the age-old question, how far is too far?” Rebecca asks. “I don’t even have to tell you that I’m talking about sexual intimacy; you’ve heard the question enough to know. You may have even asked it yourself. I believe the answer is extremely simple and its core idea comes directly from the Bible: ‘Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.’ (1 Cor. 10:31 NIV); ‘Whatever you do…do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus’ (Col. 3:17 NIV).”

Rebecca is basically saying that because we are followers of Christ, the first question we need to ask ourselves when we relate to the opposite sex is simply this: What would God think? Some similar questions Rebecca adds are as follows: Am I doing this in His name or my own? Would God even want to associate himself with what I’m doing? Ultimately, is God glorified through this?

Basically, Rebecca is saying that a Christian should be more occupied with how close he or she can get to God, NOT how close they can get to the opposite sex, outside of marriage, without technically crossing the line. She also shares the full verses mentioned above, so please check them out if you have time: 1 Corinthians 10:31 & Colossians 3:17.

2. What would my future spouse think?

Check out this story Rebecca shares regarding this second question:

“I spoke to a young girl in her early twenties who said she cringed every time she thought about having to tell her future spouse about what she’d done with another guy,” she writes. “She said she hadn’t wanted to fall sexually, but she did. She also said that the reason she was no longer a virgin was because she went past her boundaries and broke her standards. She thought that the little things weren’t that big of a deal.”

Rebecca goes on to explain that Satan will tell us things like, “There’s nothing wrong with a little compromise here, and there…” and before we know it, if we listen to him, we’ll be doing things we never wanted to do in the first place, things we never imagined ourselves doing, things that are sinful.

She also adds: “At the last supper, Jesus told his disciple Peter, ‘Satan has asked to sift you as wheat’ (Luke 22:31). He wants to sift you as well, causing you to allow first one compromise, then another to become permissible to you. If you have not clearly defined your boundaries, or if you choose not to say within your boundaries, then one thing can lead to another.”

3. What would my future children think?

The last question Rebecca encourages us to ask ourselves when it comes to purity is, “What would my future children think?” Here, she asks us to consider whether we would rather sit down our children and say something like, “Okay, little one, don’t do what I did,” or, “Here’s how I sought God’s help to remain pure before marriage.”

“Dr. James Dobson has said, ‘The best thing a father can do for his kids is to love his mother.’ In the same way, one of the gifts I can already be preparing for my future kids is my purity–showing them that I loved and respected their father by being faithful to him before I’d even met him,” Rebecca shares.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did, and that you are encouraged. The next time you’re tempted to think, “How far is too far? This isn’t that bad. It’s not sex!” Please remember these three simple but life-saving questions! Although often quoted in the context of fitness, I once heard someone say, “The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret.” Keep it in mind as you live life.

As always, thanks for reading!

Jen

Darling, there ain’t nothin’ magic about Mike (Wait for Me 2 of 7)

24 Jul

Let me start by asking you a question: What do you think is the most important attribute of a future spouse? I’ve been thinking on this a lot lately…and, unfortunately, it likely has something to do with the ever-so-popular book Fifty Shades of Grey and the hit movie Magic Mike…and all their hype.

Honestly, I didn’t know what either of those titles were until I’d heard them mentioned enough times to pique my curiosity. So what did I do? I Googled them both.

And I. Was. HORRIFIED.

Pause. Listen up for a second before you run away. I’m not standing on a pedestal and thinking I’m so holy and the people who watch/read these things are the devil. No…I just want to stand up for what I believe in, and I have two thoughts regarding these types of entertainment: 1) Viewing/reading them is the antithesis of guarding our hearts, minds and eyes, and 2) Just like pornography, these types of entertainment give people an unrealistic view of both love and what to look for in a mate.

I want to share with you a few quotes from Chapter Two of Rebecca St. James’ book Wait for Me that address these issues. (After all, this is part two of my seven week series. Missed part one?)

Let’s start with this section on what Rebecca calls “Perception Protection”:

“My nanna (grandma) has passed on some great advice that has helped in my pursuit of purity of mind, heart and body,” Rebecca writes. “Here is some of her practical wisdom: ‘in the area of purity, television doesn’t help. At one stage double beds weren’t even allowed to be shown on TV, and now you see people making love! As soon as I see an R-rated movie coming on, I turn it off. Don’t watch movies that display immoral activity because we learn through seeing. You might say you can “handle it,” but Satan is sneaky, and he creeps in, conditioning our minds to accept wrong things. Before we know it, these things become actions in our minds.'”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not perfect. Sometimes I like to think I’m strong, but the truth is that I am weak and helpless without the strength and wisdom God gives to me when I seek his face. Without him in my life, I probably would be watching movies like Magic Mike and reading books like Fifty Shades. And I would be terribly lost, because Scripture calls us to purity (Ephesians 5:3).

As Christians, guarding our hearts–which can start with our ears and eyes–is so incredibly important. It can be the difference between being in the world and being of the world. I truly believe Rebecca’s nanna! Satan IS sneaky, and he starts with the little things. After all, the little things make the big things more acceptable to us and cause us to fall more easily.

If you know me at all, you know I’m totally in love with these movies and the valiant hearts of their heroes.

And, okay, I am NOT saying you should shut out all romantic movies or books! I would be nuts if I did that. In fact, I’m a huge proponent of a good love story, either on screen or in print. Two of my favorite love stories of all time are Pride & Prejudice (book and movie), and yes, Pirates of the Caribbean. Both are clean, witty, funny and very romantic. Rebecca even shares some of her favorite chick flicks in this chapter: The Wedding Planner, While You Were Sleeping and Emma. Check out all of these and you’ll see that romantic does NOT have to equal dirty.

Lastly, I want to share this other quote from Chapter Two regarding the effects movies and books like Magic Mike and Fifty Shades have on us.

“When we choose to look at things that are damaging to us (pictures, videos, movies and CD covers), it distorts our perception of reality,” Rebecca writes.

When it comes to Magic Mike, let me tell ya, ladies, Channing Tatum IS gorgeous, I’m no idiot. But guess what? A man’s HEART matters way more than his appearance. His heart for God, his desire to serve you, his selflessness and his faithfulness are what will make him a good husband and father. The speaker in the song “Lead Me” by Sanctus Real is the type of man we should be watching for! Appearances fade away with age! And guys, I’m talking to you, too. A Godly wife is worthy of praise! In fact, check out Proverbs 31 if you have a moment.

If you’re reading this right now and you have high hopes of getting married one day, I want to challenge you to pray for your future spouse. I encourage you to ask God for someone with a biblical heart and not just a pretty face. It might seem like common sense that a person’s heart is more important than his or her appearance, but it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves.

And, one more thing, if you’ve found yourself viewing and reading things that wouldn’t honor God, Rebecca shares that Ministry and Media, Cinemain Focus and Nappaland are some of her favorite sites that give reliable entertainment reviews from a Christian perspective. Why not give them a shot before you agree to hit the movies with your friends next time around? I know I’m going to try a lot harder in this area, because it can be so easy to agree to seeing a movie and then wind up thinking halfway through the show, “I should’ve researched this before I wasted 10 bucks.” Not a fun situation to be in!

Jen

P.S. To all the ladies out there, married or single, please purchase Rebecca’s book. Chapter Two has some great insight into why modesty is important. It certainly challenge me!

Darling, dare to dream (Wait for Me 1 of 7)

17 Jul

Rebecca St. James and her husband, Jacob Fink, were married in April of last year. [Credit: magnoliapair.com]

Picture it now: You’re a young woman in distress, caught in the middle of danger and chaos, and out of nowhere your ideal, picture-perfect prince charming rides in on a white horse to save you. If you’re a guy, your version of this story looks a little bit different: Imagine yourself as a strong, courageous knight in shining armor who has been searching for his soul mate his entire life, and you finally behold the girl of your dreams for the very first time. She’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and you’re exactly what she’s been waiting for.

This fairytale-like image of true love may seem extremely childish and silly to you. After all, it sounds a lot like a fictitious Disney movie, doesn’t it? Or perhaps I’ve just put into words the hopes you have for your future, and you might be wondering if such a “happily ever after” really exists. Well let me ask you both to stick around, and let’s just see…

Before I go any further, I just want to make it clear that the bible never promises us an easy life. We know that life on earth is never perfect (including our love lives), but I truly believe with all my heart that when it comes to romance, we can definitely live out our lives in a way that honors God. No, it won’t be perfect. But it will be absolutely beautiful and exactly how God intended relationships with the opposite sex to be. Holding out to receive God’s blessing of intimacy the way it was intended is what I believe Eric & Leslie Ludy, two of my favorite authors, would call a “sweeter song.”

In Chapter One of Rebecca St. James’ book Wait for Me (see previous post if you don’t know why I’m blogging about this), she addresses what she calls “The Dream.” You know, exactly the type of scene I began this post with. And she shares that this desire to love and be loved in return is actually God-given.

“I believe that God has placed ‘The Dream’ inside each one of us, unless He has specifically called you to singleness,” Rebecca writes. “We each have a desire for intimacy, for someone to know us fully and love us completely. We long to be able to share our hearts and still find acceptance. A guy longs to protect; a girl longs to be protected. And that’s exactly the way God created us. When we follow His plans, there are great blessings in store.”

Rebecca continues in this chapter by explaining that it’s our culture that has distorted God’s perfect picture of purity, and that we are called to something greater.

“So many people have chosen to accept something less than God intended for them,” she writes.

The way I see it, when we give ourselves away to someone who isn’t committed to us for life through marriage, we are trading in a gift God intended for good for pleasure right now–pleasure that won’t even last! (Remember my post where I mentioned Esau, who traded his inheritance in for a bowl of lousy soup?) That’s what we do when we don’t remain pure before marriage, and I think that’s exactly what Rebecca is getting at.

Okay, okay. Let’s stop for a second. I know what you might be thinking now: “But that whole knight in shining armor crap is so unrealistic and ridiculous. It’s just not real. And neither is purity these days.” But I encourage you to keep reading. Check out this amazing picture Rebecca paints of a more relevant happily ever after. It just might change your mind.

“Can you picture with me the joy of the couple that has waited? They have a wonderful storybook wedding with family and friends wishing them well. The bride wears white, truly signifying the purity of her heart and body.

“As a special part of the wedding ceremony, the groom gives his bride a ring that he has worn on a chain around his neck, a symbol of his own commitment to sexual purity. It has helped him remain strong in his promise to God and to her for the years leading up to this beautiful day. She receives the ring with tears in her eyes.

“Hours later the groom carries his bride over the threshold of the cabin that is to be the honeymoon suite. He soon has a cheery fire burning in the fireplace, and after unpacking a few things, his joyful bride approaches him with an expectant, trusting, and contented smile on her face. As he reaches out to enfold her in her arms, both know that they are united with God’s blessing and protection on their mutual commitment of love within marriage.”

Isn’t that simply beautiful? Sure, remaining pure is hard work, but don’t you think it will be worth it when you’re finally united with the person God has chosen for you to marry? Check out this verse from 2 Timothy:

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

Don’t you see?! Purity is our calling. And I believe that because we are called to flee from sexual immorality in 1 Corinthians 6:18, we can absolutely do just that! Why? Because the bible was written for our instruction. (Check out Romans 15:4 if you have a minute.)

And you there on the other side of this screen with scars and a regretful past, I want you to know that this post and Rebecca’s book are not intended to hurt you or make you feel like dirt. You are beautifully and wonderfully made, and you can be pure. You can start all over again because of the blood that was shed on the cross.

To the ones who have waited and to the ones who are starting over, God bless you. It’s going to be a tough road, so I’m praying for you—praying that you’ll give up your dreams and desires to God and fight for purity. As Rebecca writes in Chapter One, “put all [your] dreams in his hands” and “forever surrender [your] plans.”

I encourage you to say a prayer today. Ask God to forgive you of your past and to help you start over right here, right now. Ask him to lead you and help you to walk in purity. Your heavenly father loves you deeply! And while you’re at it, surrender your dreams to God and his plans for your life. (He does have a plan for your life! Check out Jeremiah 29:11) And hey, if you desire to be married one day, it’s totally okay to pray for your future spouse. In Wait for Me, Rebecca even encourages us to write love letters to them. Why not give it a try?

Jen

New blog series: Wait for Me

14 Jul

It’s been almost three years now since I truly felt compassion for young people. In November 2009, I attended a retreat for students as a youth leader and witnessed hundreds of students with backgrounds of abuse, depression and addiction flee to the altar to receive the grace and mercy of God. My heart broke for them. I began to hope that someday, somehow, I’d find my way into ministry.

Right now I’m working a regular “day job.” I absolutely love it, but it’s not the end for me. And I’ve also realized that I don’t have to be a pastor’s wife to be “in ministry.” No, my ministry is here and now, not in 10 years. It’s every Sunday and Wednesday that I devote to my youth group. It’s the ministry-related freelancing I do on the side. And, it’s this blog.

And my biggest passion for teens and young adults is a topic that is laughed and scoffed at by our sex-obsessed culture. It’s purity.

I’ve blogged about purity before, encouraging others to view it not as “unrealistic,” but as possible. (See the category “Pure Encouragement” for my posts on that topic.) But now I want to do something even more.

A few weeks ago I discovered the band for KING & COUNTRY and also found out that the men in the band are actually Rebecca St. James’ younger brothers. I got SO excited! I grew up on Rebecca’s music, and as I began to reflect on the impact her music had on me, I immediately remembered her most popular song, “Wait for Me.” So I decided to look her up on Twitter, and through a series of tweets, I discovered she actually has a book called Wait for Me that she published in 2002.

As I began to pray about my future just this morning, I once again felt that compassion I experienced in 2009. But it was a more specific compassion–a compassion for those who are both either 1) waiting for the one or 2) giving their hearts and bodies to anyone who’ll have them. I want both sides to see that purity is a beautiful thing, and that “waiting until marriage” is the best option and absolutely possible. I know many people who have waited. It’s how God intended it to be!

So, starting this Tuesday, I’m going to be blogging about Rebecca’s book Wait for Me. I’m so excited to dig into it today and begin writing about it. Every Tuesday I’ll publish a new post about it. There are seven chapters, so this will take seven weeks.

So, if you’re unmarried–male or female–this is goes out to you. (Even if you are married, these lessons can be for you, too, to someday share with your children.)

And let me also note that I refuse to be “preachy” or condemning. I’m learning, too–and I admit that I am not perfect. These will be lessons I learn and share with you. And I also want to note that Rebecca addresses second chances in her book. So don’t turn and run away if you have a past. Please stay.

I would be honored if you would stay tuned and walk out this journey with me. I’d encourage you even to read the book along with me. It’s only $9.99 on iBooks!

Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll come back on Tuesday!

Jen

The wrong question, the right question…and soup.

12 Jul

“Foremost in your mind must be the commitment to glorify Jesus in all circumstances. You and I must remember that God is watching and we will one day have to account for everything we have done.”

This quote from Rebecca St. James’ book Wait For Me reminds me of a message the young adult pastor’s wife at my church shared with our youth group about a month or so ago. Regarding relationships and purity, she said something along the lines of, “If you’re asking, ‘How far is too far?’ then you’re asking the wrong question. You should be asking, ‘How can I honor God more in this relationship?'”

I just love that. Instead of seeing how far we can push boundaries, it’s time to stand up and go against our culture to follow Christ in every area of our lives, including relationships with the opposite sex.

It’s difficult.

It’s possible.

But why? Because God called us to it in scripture (1 Corinthians 6:18). And the scriptures were written for our instruction (Romans 15:4).

And to the one who has made mistakes and walked away with scars…

It’s never too late to turn around. You can be redeemed by the blood of the cross.

After all, who wants to trade something that’s supposed to be beautiful in for a bowl of nasty soup? ‘Cause that’s what compromise in relationships does…

(If you see this, Jenelle, thanks for the awesome message on Esau’s soup bowl spirituality!)

Jen

“I hate being single” = “I don’t trust God”

4 Jul

It’s honesty hour.

Sometimes our culture just grieves me.

It’s relationship-focused and sex-driven. It’s disgusting. (I obviously don’t feel like sugarcoating today.)

What really bothers me is that I have seen and heard about so many people in my generation who absolutely abhor singleness (and even abstinence), as if it’s some sort of disease, disorder or curse.

But let’s just stop for a moment. Have you ever realized that singleness can be a blessing from God? If you’re single and reading this right now, are you willing to let God work in you, refine you and make you into the person you’re called to be (which, ya know, could be someone’s future spouse)? ‘Cause singleness is a great time for letting God move in your life and grow you spiritually. But you have to stop holding onto the mindset that our world thrusts upon us, which sounds a little bit like this: “I only have value if I am loved by someone else.” It’s a lie. The truth is, you are loved by God. That alone gives you value.

So honestly? I think singleness can be a gift. An absolute blessing, if we can simply trust God enough to let go. Long story short, to me, “I hate being single” is equal to the statement, “I don’t trust that God has very personally written my love story before I was ever born.” After all, God wrote each one of our days before one of them ever came to be (Psalm 139), so if your story includes marriage…well, God’s gonna handle that. Stop worrying.

And truthfully, if you’re running after every attractive person that crosses your path in an effort to cure yourself of loneliness, it may be true that you’re only looking to satisfy your own desires, which isn’t a great recipe for success when it comes to relationships. Nope. The Word tells us that love is selfless:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

So I encourage you to start learning selfless love now. Start with loving your neighbor as yourself.

And one more thing.

Single does not equal unhappy. In fact, there can be a whole lot of joy in it when our focus is on Christ. And hey, it’s okay to get on your knees and pray for a future spouse. And wait patiently for them, if indeed that’s what the Lord has in store for you. In fact, I encourage it!

Be blessed today, especially all you single ladies (and gents).

Jen

Someone may need this today

6 Jun

Alone and confused, your heart is bruised from sin;
Your joy is gone from love gone wrong
And you’re longing to start again.
I know that you’ve been hurt,
And you don’t know whom to trust;
I won’t pretend I understand your pain.
But I can see repentance in your eyes,
And I know it’s not too late.

White as snow, He has made you white as snow;
The moment you confessed, His heart forgave.
You might think you’ve ruined all the plans He had for you,
But it’s for that very reason Jesus saves.
White as snow, He has made you white as snow;
Pure an innocent like a dove,
Though you have done nothing to deserve His pardoning,
You’ve been purified by Jesus’ blood–
White as snow.

The guilt and shame, keeping you chained,
Not wanting to let you go;
It’s not how you dreamed, not how you planned,
And you can’t see that still there is hope.

Receive His healing for your bruises,
Receive His riches for your rags.
You cannot imagine all the plans He has for you,
So take His hand, and don’t look back.

(White as Snow – Eric & Leslie Ludy)

Jen

Unstained from the world (a James 1-from-memory victory)

17 May

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. {James 1:26-27}

Jen

Aside

Purity: it also involves your heart

17 Apr

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been blogging a lot about purity. You might be wondering why I’m focusing on this topic.

You see, I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf for quite a few years. It’s called When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric & Leslie Ludy. When I was a young girl, probably about 13 years old, I read Leslie’s book Authentic Beauty. It was a gift from my mom, and I loved it. But she also gave me When God Writes Your Love Story, and for some reason, I never got around to reading it. So instead of continuing to let it collect dust, I picked it up about two weeks ago and have been absolutely loving it ever since.

If you’re over 18, I know what you’re thinking. “I’m too old for this stuff. I already know about purity. Why would I read some childish book about it?”

Well….you’re wrong! If anything, this book is having more of an impact on me at 21 than it ever would have at 13! It’s never too late to learn what scriptures say on the topic. It’s never too late to let God have the pen of your love story.

So anyway, while reading, I pretty much just gave up trying to highlight and sticky-note the book because every inch of all the pages would be covered. (What’s the point of bookmarking or highlighting a whole book? In the end, if everything is neon colors and covered in sticky notes, nothing will stand out anymore. Lol.)

I’ll probably end up blogging about this topic, including the book, many many times. So don’t be surprised. And today I want to write to encourage you, even if you think you know everything there is to know  about purity, to bear with me and learn with me. Here’s today’s topic…

It’s not just about the physical

Often times, I think we place an invisible “physical” before the word “purity” when we’re talking about this stuff. But it’s so much more than that. (Although I am NOT downplaying the seriousness of physical impurity. Check out 1 Corinthians 6:18 if you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

In fact, another form of purity we should strive for is purity of the heart. Check out this quote from Eric & Leslie’s book. This is from a chapter written by Leslie:

In my dating relationships, I damaged my precious pearl of purity. I felt dirty and used because of it. But the damage didn’t just happen when I “went a little too far” physically. Giving away this treasure started the moment I gave away my heart and emotions to men who were never meant to receive that gift. I had been careless with my treasure. I had allowed my heart to become battered and broken.

I used to think that the unbearable devastation of “breaking up” with a boyfriend was just a natural part of the dating process. But there was nothing natural about it! It was a pain God never meant for me to experience. The valuable and delicate pearl of my purity had been ripped too soon from its protective shell, then tossed back, damaged and bruised.

What a way to look at purity! Maybe you’re reading this today and yes, you are physically pure, but you’ve been emotionally damaged in past relationships. Long story short, your heart has been ripped out of your chest. Maybe even multiple times.

Or maybe you’ve lost your purity both physically and emotionally. Or maybe you’re a guy, and you’re thinking, “this blog is for girls only.” Well, no, it’s not. It’s for you too, gentlemen, even though you’re not as emotional as we girls are. Think about it this way: do you think your future wife would want to know how many times you’ve given a girl your heart, aka, told her that you loved her? (The correct answer here is “no.” :))

No matter who you are, how old you are, what gender you are or how much of your “precious pearl” you have left, there is still hope for you. In Jesus. By the grace of God and through repentance, you can restore your pearl back to its original, natural beauty. Then I’d encourage you, if you desire to be married one day, to start praying for your future spouse and asking God to show you ways that you can honor that person (i.e. not prematurely giving yourself away, physically or emotionally) right here, right now, even if you haven’t met them yet. (Who else just starting singing Michael Buble in their head? Okay, nevermind…)

The story doesn’t end here. I want to share with you much more about what I’m learning concerning purity. But this entry is getting long, so I guess we’ll have to just wait…

Thanks for reading.

Jen

Someone’s gotta say it: purity is hard work

29 Mar

Image

Ever since last night I have felt a tug on my heart to talk about purity and walking with Christ in every aspect of our lives, including dating relationships.

I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night because of it. I went to bed later than usual and woke up way earlier than I needed to. I ended up praying about ways to pen the words I want to scream on the rooftops to all young people and all unmarried people. I want to do it with wisdom. And I don’t claim to know everything.

I also don’t claim to be perfect or sinless, but I do know that the bible calls us to purity in the scriptures, and that it is absolutely what we should strive for. I recognize that it is SO hard in our culture to stand firm when it comes to this topic. Movies, music, magazines, peer pressure and the Internet make it almost impossible to walk on a straight path when it comes to keeping ourselves and honoring our bodies as the scriptures beckon us to (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 is a good reference if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

I’ve talked with other Christians about this topic, and I’ve also done some observation. It is not my place to judge, so please don’t think that I am.

I just want to make clear something I truly believe in: although every Christian (and unbelievers as well) has their own boundaries and their own concept of what is “too far,” that doesn’t change what the scriptures say. The bible should be our primary source for knowledge and wisdom when it comes to this topic. Otherwise, we’ll find our selves excusing away our human desires, thinking that it’s okay to follow our inclinations because it’s “normal” or “natural.” And we’ll make mistakes. We’ll end up with regrets and scars. Paul didn’t write about sexual immorality, marriage and honoring God with our bodies just for the early church. He wrote it for us, too.

I’ve also recognized something HUGE when it comes to teaching young people about purity: we can’t just tell them they have to abstain and think it’s enough. We also have to make it clear that IT WILL BE HARD. But it is NOT “unrealistic.” Don’t mistake the word “difficult” for “unrealistic.” I don’t think anyone ever told me how hard it would be. Or if they did, I was too naive to accept it.

Young and/or unmarried people, I want you to know that it will be hard. I don’t just want to give you a sugar-coated speech about purity and stop there. I want you to know that it’s a battle and a fight. If you want to be like Christ, that includes every area of your life. It will be tough. But you CAN do it. Don’t just give up because you think it’s impossible or because the “Christians” around you are doing things that aren’t okay. It’s not impossible, I promise.

There is so much more I want to say about this topic, but I want to pray about it and seek the Lord before going any further. I hope that this is an encouragement to someone struggling today. Allow the Holy Spirit to convict you and don’t make excuses for yourself; you are feeling conviction for a reason. He loves you and wants the best for you. And there is always, always forgiveness because of the Cross. You are not alone and you don’t need to live in shame and darkness. There is hope and strength in Jesus…

Jen