Tag Archives: religion

A biblical hope

2 Aug

To hope in Christ is not to wishfully think he might fulfill his promises; to hope in Christ is to stand firm on the truth that he lived, he died and he will return again. It is a knowledge and confidence. It is not a wish.

From the 1828 edition of Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language via this website:

HOPE, n. [L. cupio.]

1. A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.

The hypocrite’s hope shall perish. Job 8.

He wish’ed, but not with hope–
Sweet hope! kind cheat!
He that lives upon hope, will die fasting.

2. Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God’s gracious promises; a scriptural sense.

A well founded scriptural hope is, in our religion, the source of ineffable happiness.

3. That which gives hope; he or that which furnishes ground of expectation, or promises desired good. The hope of Israel is the Messiah.

The Lord will be the hope of his people. Joel 3.

4. An opinion or belief not amounting to certainty, but grounded on substantial evidence. The christian indulges a hope, that his sins are pardoned.

…and that, in a nutshell, is my hope.

Jen

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, 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

The hands that hold the world

11 Jul

I’m in awe.

Last night I was reading Hebrews 12 and the last two verses just grabbed my attention, so I had to share them:

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29

A kingdom that cannot be shaken. Let us offer to God acceptable worship. Our God is a consuming fire.

These verses give us a tiny little window-sized view into just how big our God is, even though we can’t fathom just how great he really is. But it simply amazes me that the same God that created the entire universe also created me and you, and he cares for us deeply. It reminds me of Phil Wickham’s song “Safe,” which I absolutely love:

“You will be safe in his arms, you will be safe in his arms

Cause the hands that hold the world are holding your heart

This is the promise he made, he will be with you always

When everything is falling apart, you will be safe in his arms.”

Isn’t that incredible?

Jen

Starting the week off right…

8 Jul

…by finishing James 2!!!

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or “sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has God not chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you are called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warm and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by his works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works and faith was completed by his works, and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness,” and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Jen

Sweet reminder for the really hard days

2 Jul

Sometimes it feels like I’m watching from the outside
Sometimes it feels like I’m breathing but am I alive?
I won’t keep searching for answers that aren’t here to find

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

So when the walls come falling down on me
And when I’m lost in the current of a raging sea
I have this blessed assurance holding me.

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

When the earth shakes I wanna be found in You
When the lights fade I wanna be found in You

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

(Where I belong – Building 429)

Be blessed today… God is with you always.

Jen

You opened my blind eyes, gave me a new life

30 Jun

You open our blind eyes, open our blind eyes
Heal all our sickness, you alone 
You opened my blind eyes, gave me a new life 
Oh yeah, our savior’s here

My favorite lines. From my favorite Kari worship song.

Has anyone had this experience? HE opened your blind eyes and gave you a new life? Rescued you from a path that was quickly headed for a downward spiral? Saved you?

“God rescued me; He is faithful.” That’s my story.

What’s YOUR story? I want to hear from my readers…

Ready, set, GO! 🙂

Jen

Don’t sink into a bad day. Just rise.

28 Jun

Lead us to You
Show us Your mercy
Your majesty lifted up on high
It tells of Your goodness

Your name is true
Your name is holy
Your splendor is written in the skies
It tells of Your greatness

We will rise
To praise You
Offer our lives before You
Let every nation, all of creation
We will rise
You are worthy
Lift up our eyes to Your glory
Let every nation, all of creation
We will rise

We stand in awe
You won the victory
Your enemies tremble at Your name
It speaks of Your triumph

You clothe the poor
You mend the broken
You heal our hearts
You take our shame
It speaks of Your kindness

We will cry out Your renown
You are the God who has saved us
We will rise to praise You
We lift a glorious sound
You are the one who redeemed us
We will rise to praise You

(Rise – Kari Jobe)

Some of my favorite words from David

22 Jun

I waited patiently for the Lord;

he inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the pit of destruction,

out of the miry bog,

and set my feet upon a rock,

making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,

and put their trust in the Lord.

(Psalm 40:1-3)

Loving ______ as yourself

20 Jun

Monday night’s post from James 2 presented us with a reminder about loving our neighbors as ourselves. And I’ve come to realize how often young people, in our naiveté and self-centeredness, neglect this responsibility and think we know better than our parents. To put it bluntly, that sometimes results in treating them like crap.

But if you really love your neighbors, that means you love your closest neighbors. And who might that be? Well, whoever you live with–most likely your parents, siblings, children or spouse.

For me, “loving my neighbor as myself” means applying this command to the way I treat my parents. At 21 and a college grad with a full-time job, it can be so easy for me to roll my eyes during a disagreement with them and say, “Whatever mom and dad, I’m an adult.”

But…

That’s not what Jesus would do. That’s not what the Word tells me to do.

I live with my parents. They are my closest neighbors. (And they give me a rent-free roof over my head as I dig myself out of student loan debt for the next year or so!)

And, I am to love them. And love them like I love myself. No questions asked. And no blowing them off when I’m mad. Cause that’s not love.

The truth is, my family should come first in my life, after God. No guy, no job, no hobby will take the place of them. I mean yes, one day I hope to be married. But until then, my parents are the most important.

And, learning to love my parents in this authentic way is the perfect preparation for marriage. If I want to be married someday, I’ve gotta learn how to love someone I live with, which includes accepting their faults, flaws, failures, annoying habits, etc. Honestly, if I allow myself to be under the impression that my future spouse is going to be perfect and a joy to live with my whole life…ha! I’m in for a reality check. (Can I get a married person to back me up here?!) Long story short, if I think I can disregard the way I treat my parents now, I will be ill-prepared for marriage later on.

So…I’m gonna do it. I’m going to love
my parents as I love myself.

What neighbor of yours are you neglecting to love today? I encourage you to set it right. It’s worth it.

Jen