Tag Archives: forgiveness

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

A good message about forgiveness from Tenth Avenue North

11 Jun

I can’t believe what she said
I can’t believe what he did
Oh, don’t they know it’s wrong
Don’t they know it’s wrong
Well maybe there’s something I missed
But how could they treat me like this
It’s wearing out my heart
The way they disregard

This is love or this is hate…
We all have a choice to make

Oh, Father wont You forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’

Well it’s only the dead that can live
But still I wrestle with this
To lose the pain that’s mine
Seventy times seven times
Cause Lord it doesn’t feel right
For me to turn a blind eye
Though I guess it’s not that much
When I think of what You’ve done.

This is love or this is hate…
We gotta a choice to make

Oh Father won’t You forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’

Why do we think that our hate’s gonna break a hard heart
We’re rippin arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
Cause pride wont let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but it’s just to burn them down
We think our pain is own apologies and get them to stop
Well truth be told it doesn’t matter if their sorry or not
Cause freedom comes when we surrender to the sound
Of Your mercy and Your grace, Father, send Your angels down

Oh Father wont you forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’
I feel like I’ve been losing

Oh Father wont you forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’
I feel like I’ve been losing

Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’

(Losing – Tenth Avenue North)

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

How to Cope With the Past.

7 Apr

Stumbled upon this blog this morning. It was beautiful, please take a moment to read, especially if you are dealing with scars from your past or hurt that others caused you.

Jen

Rivers of Hope

Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say: Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me. Psalm 129:1-2

When it comes to our past, God knows everything.

God wants to bring us to the place where we can be ourselves.

We do not have to pretend, because God knows us.

We also know that He has forgiven us.

What is certain is that we must not let past failure or our lack of spiritual progress immobilize us.

This psalm is a reminder that some have a past full of hurts.

Perhaps that describes you.

If that is the case, remember two things: in the Christian family there will be fellow believers who have suffered in a way similar to you, who can sympathize with you; best of all, Jesus will sympathize with you.

There…

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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

When I just don’t feel like loving others.

7 Feb

Today I rediscovered something that I learned the hard way when I was 17 years old and about to graduate high school: first of all, people can be mean. But most important, love and forgive your neighbor, your brother and even your enemies always.

A few weeks before the end of my senior year, I went to a CVS to pick up some makeup. After paying for my items, I went to walk out of the store, but I set off the security alarm. Confused and not sure what to do, as always, I took a few steps back and made sure it was okay for me to proceed. After all, the woman who had just rung me up was still at the cash register and I didn’t think I had any items with security tags on them. To me, it was no big deal.

But this older woman didn’t seem to think the best of the situation like I did. She accused me of stealing and told me that if I didn’t empty my oversized purse, she’d call the manager to come to the front of the store. I told her over and over that I didn’t have anything in my bag, but she continually said to me, “if you don’t just confess now, this will get worse.” Needless to say, it was the most horrible experience of my teenage life. Although I hadn’t stolen anything, I was scared to death that something was going to happen to me! Most of all, I was really upset at this woman for jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst of me, whom she probably saw as some teenage brat trying to steal hair color or something. Anyway, she went through my purse and found nothing, so she let me go. Later that night at home, I discovered that I had a magnetic chip clip in my purse that had set the stupid alarm off.

So why am I sharing this seemingly insignificant anecdote? That night I came home crying and thinking to myself, “why are people SO rude and just plain mean?” I was a naive little high schooler who hadn’t yet discovered how mean the world can be. I, little goody-two-shoes Jen who had never told a lie, would NEVER have stolen anything from anyone, yet this woman thought the absolute worst of me. I just couldn’t fathom it. But then I realized that I myself was judging the woman who had judged me.

You see, she thought I was stealing, so I automatically wrote her off as a cranky, bitter old woman who probably hates kids and teens. She had jumped to conclusions about me, and at the very same time, I jumped to conclusions about her.

I haven’t seen that woman since that day, but today I had an encounter that reminded me of that day. Today at Speedway, I was slowly driving around trying to find an open pump. Once I discovered the only open pump, I had to step on the brakes to allow two pedestrians to walk in front of my car before pulling into the spot. As I waited, a black mustang whipped around from behind me and took the open pump. I didn’t even have a chance to hit the gas once the pedestrians had walked by. He beat me to it. Then, after he pulled into the spot, he didn’t even get out of his car. He sat there, talking on his cell phone. I was pretty ticked, but another spot opened up. However, as I rounded the corner to ease into it, a young woman in her SUV whipped into the Speedway lot from the busy street and stole it right before my eyes. Running on fumes, I decided to give up and risk running out of gas to just get home.

It’s taken me a few hours to really see the whole picture and be able to sit here and write about it. For some reason, this really irritated me more than it should have today. While I didn’t outwardly show my frustration, deep inside I was thinking unkind things about those people, and I certainly wasn’t thinking like a Christian.

You see, we don’t know everyone’s story and we never will. Maybe the man in his Mustang got an emergency phone call after he pulled in to the open pump. Perhaps that woman was rushing to get gas so she could go buy formula for her hungry, crying baby. I don’t know their stories, and I probably never will. But here’s the point: it doesn’t matter. Even if there were no excuses for their behavior, I still have to see them the way Christ does and love them, even though it’s hard.

There are tons of scriptures in the Bible that tell us how much we should love others and put them before ourselves. Philippians 2:4 tells us:

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Another great one is Luke 6:35:

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

I guess what I’m trying to prove is the importance of not judging others, jumping to conclusions or thinking we’re always in the right. And, even after we are wronged, we must not want to wrong others in return. Instead, it should make us want to show them the love of Christ even more (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

I have to remind myself of this all the time. Even though we all know we’re supposed to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” it really isn’t just some little memory verse from kids church. It really is what we’re supposed to do! Remember that Christ died for your sins and loves you without condition. Don’t you think we have to learn to love and forgive others just as Christ loves and forgives us? (Colossians 3:13)

Our sacrifice is little in comparison to his.

Live it today.

Jen