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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