Monday, November 21, 2011


All throughout elementary school, I had to deal with bullies. They made fun of me for different reasons. I am socially awkward , so, I would get picked on for that. I would get picked on for my weight. For someone so young, it made a huge impact on me.

The bullying slowed down when I entered middle school and high school. I think it was because I became more reserved and decided to close my mouth in a lot of social situations. Though, every once in a while someone would say something careless and rude. It wasn’t as bad as what happened when I was younger.

In high school, my senior year, I met this girl. She was in special Ed like me, yet her problems were more severe than mine. I befriended her, and helped lead her to Christ. She was bullied relentlessly by others in the school for many things that were beyond her control. I did what I could to help and shield her from other people when I could. It really upset me because I didn’t have every class with her, and I didn’t always know what would happen to her.

She had it tough. She was pushed around by the other students (as well as a teacher or two). Yet, one day, I said, “It must be hard for you to deal with everyone. It must really hurt.” You know what she said? She said something like this: “It does. But, I forgive all of them. They don’t know me, and I’ve got better things to worry about.”

I was impressed by her take on the situation, to say the least. She was doing exactly as she was supposed to do: she forgave her enemies, and moved on.

If you’re being bullied, it’ll be okay. Keep fighting for help, and continue to be kind to others. You’ll get through it. To the bullies: God calls us to be kind to others. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing or have done to us. It doesn’t matter what their involved in-sin or not-we have no right to try to gossip or speak horrible things about them. As Christians, we need to help and lend our voices to those being stepped upon, and hurt by others.

The Christian’s love is ultimately what will lead others to Christ. That’s one of the most important things that Christ taught while He was on this earth: love others as yourself! (Matt. 22:39-40)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Makes a True Hero

I remember ten years ago, I was sitting in school doing schoolwork. I had just started fifth grade a few weeks prior, and was so excited just to see what this year would bring.

I sat in my desk, quietly doing my grammar work. My friends were sitting next to me, across from me, basically doing the same. Everyone seemed completely at ease without much of a care in the world. My teacher was quietly sitting at her computer.

My homeroom fifth grade teacher was wonderful. She was always in a great mood, smiling, telling us funny stories to help us with our lessons. She had short, curly red hair, which just added to her whimsical nature. So, it was definitely strange to hear her be upset over anything.

The silence in the room suddenly broke when she said, “Oh no! A plane crashed into one of the twin towers!”

Gasps suddenly went up, along with the sound of pencils dropping. Murmurs and worried talk went up all over the room. I continued to stay quiet. I had no clue what the twin towers even were until then. However, I figured it must be pretty serious since most of the other kids were getting upset over it.

A few minutes later, a woman came over the intercom and told us that we needed to turn on our televisions. When we had turned it on, the second plane had hit only very shortly before. Later, we watched as word got out that a plane crashed into the Pentagon and as the two towers collapsed.

I remember sitting at the after school program discussing it with my friends, and all of us were quite scared at everything occuring.

I was so young, I couldn’t completely understand what was going on. This was the very first time that I had ever heard the words “terrorists”, “hi-jacking” as well as a few other things. It was a very eye-opening day for me because I never knew until then just how heartless and horrible people could really be.

However, this day also showed how strong people could be. This day showed us how selfless and caring the human race could be. This day showed us what heroes actually were. So many of the emergency workers as well as regular civilians risked their lives or ultimately gave them up.

It reminds of the words in Romans 5:6-8: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Those people who saved many lives that day and ultimately gave up their own, didn’t have to. However, they did it anyway because they knew that they needed to put others needs ahead of their own. When Jesus Christ died for us, he didn’t have to give up his life for us; but he did. He did it because He loved us, and He knew that to save our lives, he needed to give up His own.
To me, that is what defines a true hero: someone who will sacrifice their own well-being to help others. That’s exactly what Jesus did and those people on 9-11-01. If the situation arises, will we be able to put others ahead of ourselves? Let’s hope that we can.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's Rude to Point!

People seem to get unnerved when they see Christians doing what they’re supposed to do, don’t they? They get may get angry and accuse them of acting “holier than thou”.

It seems, however, that people who are supposed to be Christians have a tendency to do this as well. I keep hearing numerous stories about people who bad mouth other members of the church because of how much someone does. Many of these people say, “Oh, that woman is only doing such and such because she wants to look holy.”

It’s rather funny because, a lot of the time, when you look at the lives of the people saying such things, you see that they’re not really living a Christian life to begin with.

I think it’s safe to say that, whether or not they’ll admit it, they’re passing judgment off on the active people because they don’t want to look at themselves and see the dead bones lying inside of their hearts (Matthew 23:27). So, to make themselves feel better about the things that they do, they make accusations of others that most likely aren’t even true.

There are people in this world that want the sinful world and God. But, when one studies God’s word, we see that this is impossible (Matthew 6:27). God gives us grace and mercy because He loves us (John 3:16). So, in return to show that we really do love God, we will do everything we can for Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). It also says that when we are doing God’s will, we must do it with our whole heart (Colossians 3:17).
If we, those who are supposed to be mature Christians, half-heartedly serve Him and not because we love Him, our so-called faith is pointless. The bible also says, “You shall love the Lord Your God with all your soul, heart, and mind.” (Deut. 6:5, Matt. 22:37, Luke 10:27, Mark 12:30) This means that we are going to do everything we possibly can for God BECAUSE we love Him.

If you find yourself pointing fingers at those who do a lot of work for God, maybe it’s time for a healthy dose of self-evaluation towards your own actions.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Something to Think About...Cheer and Dance Teams.

When I was about 11 years old, I wanted to try my hand at cheerleading through the local recreation department. I went to all the practices, did all the cheers, and I can definitely say that it was a real blast! However, I ended up spraining my ankle, and wasn’t able to finish out the season.

After that, I wanted to continue to do it. One particular night though, the chance of me doing it again completely diminished. A girl from the congregation we were currently at had gone to cheer camp over the summer. The final night of the camp, we had gone to see the performance that they put together.

When we got in the car to leave, my parents didn’t have much good to say about the performance. My Mom told me that when I got into middle school, I was not going to try out for the cheerleading team. I was, of course, upset, and didn’t understand.

Being in public school, I saw plenty more dance and cheer routines after that. As I got older, my eyes began to open more and more.

Below, please read what I have to say, and at least think about it. I say these things only out of love and care for the people reading this; not to ridicule or be overly judgemental. There are two main issues with cheer and dance teams that I want to point out.

1. The routines are usually trashy. Swinging hips. Shaking chests. Rolling one’s body. Dipping down low….these are just a few examples of movements that are found in most cheer/dance routines…as well as strip clubs. Believe it or not, the bible condemns things like this. In Ephesians 4:19 (and a few other places in the bible) it mentions a word called “lasciviousness”. Being lascivious means inappropriate bodily movements or actions which can incite lust. It’s also a sin to do things which will cause others to sin (Romans 14:13). Girls, when you move your body in such a fashion, you will most likely cause a guy to think things he shouldn’t. (Matt. 5:28)

2. The outfits worn are usually very immodest. The skirts or shorts worn normally come way up above the knee. Some of the the outfits show off entire stomachs and a large part of the chest. Some outfits are extremely tight. In your normal everyday life, would you dress like that? If you wouldn’t dress like that in one situation, why dress like it in another? When you are following God, and doing as he says, you are doing those things the way you should no matter what the situation.

The bible doesn't necessarily condemn dancing in and of itself; but what it does condemn is acting in "lascivious" ways. And, I think it's safe to say that a lot of the time, cheer and dance teams are prime examples of what IS lascivious. As far as some other forms of dancing go, we need to be very careful in discerning when and where forms of dancing are taking place; and if those are even situations that we as Christians need to be in. As it says in 1st Thess. 5:22: "Abstain from every appearance of evil."

I’ve mentioned this before in another article, but a guy’s thoughts and physical reactions aren’t going to change just because of the situation or location. Don’t just assume they’re all hopeless perverts. God just wired them differently, and there are some guys who genuinely want to treat us with respect and not think about us in such a way. Let's not be selfish and help them out! The bible says that we are supposed to love one another (1st John 4:7) and build each other up (1st Thess. 5:11) so that we can all become stronger Christians.

Like I said, please carefully consider what I've said. I don't write this to be rude or mean. I write this only because I feel I need to be honest and help open other people's eyes to things they may not have noticed before. God asks for us to give Him our all-and nothing is more important than Him, don't you think?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Life Changing Event!

(The photo taken below was taken by me in Cade's Cove, TN)

I just had one of the most amazing weeks of my life. I spent the week in Sevierville, TN in the Smoky Mountains. I attended Polishing the Pulpit, and, I have to say that it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done in my life.

When I first came in to the building where it was being held, I think I was rather surprised by the number of people. It was rather thrilling to be in the same building with so many Christians with the exact same focus as me. Apparently, 2500+ people registered for the event.

The lessons were wonderful. The speakers chosen for this event were chosen so well! I was very pleasantly surprised that the women’s lessons were actually some tougher and deeper subjects. The women that spoke had some really good topics assigned to them.

The great thing about the topics selected was that nothing was held back. They taught lessons that needed to be taught, that people seemed to steer clear from. What you got was a week of lessons that really forced you to look inward and really made you think about your spiritual life, and encourage you to make definite changes that needed to be made.

I must also mention that the singing was incredible. On Sunday morning, 1273 people gathered at the convention center for worship. It sent chills down my spine because the singing was just so beautiful. Everyone singing in a cappella, in rich harmonies worshipping our God, it really made you think of what it would be like in heaven. The singing was like that the rest of the week.

On Wednesday night, the last night of the event, my two favorite songs were led: “Our God, He is Alive”, and “The Greatest Commands”. I’ve never heard the latter sung more beautiful before. Anyone who says that they don’t get a cappella worship, or dislike it, I believe that their minds would DEFINITELY change if they heard the singing that occurred this week.

The overall experience was amazing, and wouldn’t trade it for anything! I made some new friends, learned some profound lessons, and I would definitely recommend this event for next year. If you do decide to go, you definitely won’t regret it! You can’t make any better investment than one to help you get to heaven!

After the last women’s session yesterday, all of us in the room held hands and sung “Blessed Be the Tie that Binds”. There were many wonderful women in that room, and, it was so encouraging to stand there with all of them. One of the most wonderful things about being a Christian is that, when you have good Christian friends, those friendships never end. You’ll see all the people you love one day in heaven where we’ll all worship our God forever and ever without ceasing. Isn’t that wonderful?

Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times…”

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Letter to Younger Teenagers

My dear, sweet little sister in Christ,

I’ve wanted to say something to you for a while, and, I didn’t know how to say everything to you. Now, I do, and I ask that you please read this all the way through, and think very carefully about everything I’m saying with an open heart and mind.

I know how difficult this time of your life is. I was there too, over six years ago. It can feel like a living nightmare-you feel like everything is against you. Sometimes, you want to be independent, and do your own thing. Sometimes, you still want that child-like time where you have fewer responsibilities. And, often, you just want to scream, and cry, because everything is just so overwhelming and confusing.

And, in life, we’re all going to have our own struggles. It is through these struggles and experiences in which we find ourselves, and what we’re supposed to do with our life. Hopefully, however, you’ll choose our amazing, awesome, and all-powerful God as the one to help you on your journey.

Being a Christian at this time in your life is so incredibly hard. I know. At this time, you aren’t completely sure of what it is that you want. You want so badly to be loved and accepted by your friends and peers. Yet, there is another part of you that longs for something deeper. You long for a love that runs deep into your veins that is perfect, and unfailing. You find yourself dating lots of people…but, it’s all ending in the same result: those people aren’t what you need them, or want them to be, and therefore, it doesn’t work out.

What I hope to help you understand is that you have so many people that love you and want the best for you; but, even more so, we want you to know God and love Him deeply and intimately. You’re not going to find any greater love than what God can give you. He is perfect; and as long as you hunger and thirst for Him, and strive to fall deeper in love with Him, He will always be there, and fill whatever void you have inside.

You need to understand, however, that in order to have an actual relationship with God you must love Him with all your heart and do your best to do all that He commands of you. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” To get close to God, you must throw your old self away, and any actions that God says are sinful. When someone is “double-minded”, it means that you want both the world and God. It doesn’t work that way. Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

It is impossible to have the sinful things in this world, and God at the same time. Whatever God says is sin, he hates. He doesn’t hate His creation, however. We know this because of the sacrifice His son made. (John 3:16) Think about it…Jesus gave up EVERYTHING for us. He gave up His home in heaven. He gave up His comfort. He ultimately gave up His LIFE. Can you even fathom it? He was tortured in the most brutal way possible. He was scourged with a whip that tore His flesh. He was then forced to carry this cross a long way, and up a hill! Then, he was nailed to that cross, where there He died. He gave up His comfort. He gave up His life…he literally gave up everything; just so that we could have freedom from Satan and be in heaven with Him one day.

And then, we as people don’t want to give up our sins because, well, we love to do them. Ultimately, God wants ALL of you, or NONE of you. God gave everything, and, so, He expects us to do the same! When you are a Christian, you must be willing to give up everything…even if it means your peers thinking you weird or stupid. It’s supposed to be that way (1st Peter 4:4, 1st Peter 4:12). It even means that you may have to give up friends. This is something I've had to do, and it really hurts! Jesus said that His word would divide people who are close (10:34-39). It’s not easy. It will never be easy…but over time, He will help us grow if we choose to let Him heal us and help us. But that will only happen when we actively surrender our whole self to Him. Jesus says “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) God wants us to be happy, yes, but He wants us to be happy doing what He wants us to do. He wants us to be joyful in the thought of being able to serve Him. This life is not about's about God.

Being a Christian means you do everything for the glory of God (1st Corinthians 10:31). Being a Christian means to undergo a TOTAL mind, and spiritual makeover. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” When you fully allow Christ into your life, and to change you, you will see things differently.

It is a commandment of God that we study His word (2nd Timothy 2:15). If we don’t study, how can we really say we know God? His word is how we get to know Him. That is how you “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Lastly, you need to understand that temptation is NOT sin. You will not be condemned by God for having temptation because everyone is tempted by something. Condemnation from God occurs when you act on that temptation, and don’t seek forgiveness and repentance. If you really want to please Him, God will help you not to act on that sin when you are tempted (1st Corinthians 10:13). I understand how hard it is to struggle with sin. I-and everyone else who loves you dearly-struggle with sin that plagues us that we have to fight through so that we can please our Heavenly Father. We are not standing here saying that we are perfect people. I struggle with some things that I absolutely have to fight everyday not to do. I don’t want to do those things, and I do my best not to do them because I love God, and I want to be the best for Him that I can!

At the end of your life, or when Jesus comes back, it’s not going to matter who your friends were, what you wore, who you dated, or what you accomplished here other than striving to live the best you can for God! The only thing that will matter, truly matter, is that you fell hopelessly in love with God, and did everything you could to please Him, and want to worship Him forever and ever in heaven.

These are my last words to you about all of this. I'm not trying to shove these things down your throat because God ultimately gives free will, and I shall do the same. I will not mention these things ever again unless you want me to. We are praying so hard for you, and love you so much! Please, please, PLEASE understand that! Don’t think that we are just trying to be annoying, or trying to hurt you. We just want the best for you, and want you to fully know what it feels like to completely allow God to take over your life. You are a beautiful, and wonderful girl who has so much promise. I pray that you will see yourself as we see you-and even more the way that God sees you. We just want you to look at your life in terms of eternity-not just the here and now.

Everything I have said comes from God’s holy word. They are not my opinions, or the opinions of anyone else except our heavenly Father. If we weren’t trying to reach out to you, and help you, we wouldn’t care. We do love and care for you deeply. Let there be no question about that. I’m always here for you-we all are-if you ever need us.

Lots of Love,

Friday, July 22, 2011

I Stand In Awe of You!

This week, I spent a couple of days at a Christian camp here in PA that I went to for quite a few years when I was in high school. The camp is in a beautiful state park up on a mountain. From our side of the mountain, there is this incredible view where you can see into at least four or five states (There’s a picture of it to the left. But I have to say that it doesn’t do the real scenery any justice!). In the afternoon before dinner, all of the campers and some of the counselors sit on the side of the hill to sing praises to God, and to look out onto His amazing creation.

The first night I went up this week, we all laid on the side of the hill to look up at the stars, and a guy that I’ve known from up here for a few years did a sort of crash course on the night sky for us. Alongside this, He helped us try to see the power of God in the immense expanse of beautiful twinkling stars, planets and galaxies. He referenced this verse:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”-Psalm 19:1

Nature is truly amazing. When I see the stars, watch storms, look out over the ocean, or even stand on the side of that mountain, I am truly filled with awe and amazement. Sometimes, I find myself getting teary eyed at how beautiful it all is. When I see these things I honestly can’t even begin to understand as to why some people deny God’s existence.

All of the things that we see on our planet and in the rest of the universe are there to prove God’s existence, as was said in the verse above and a few others as well.

Romans 1:20 says: “For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

I encourage you that when you find yourself again in the midst of His creation, to just stand there for a while, and take in everything around you. Look out at everything and allow yourself to just be filled with awe of our God and everything He’s created. We all need to be reminded of God’s might and power, and all that he can do. He is truly an Awesome God.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stress??? WHAT STRESS????

Being on vacation has its perks. For one thing, it gives you some good time to think…and lots of thinking have I definitely done. For a while, I’ve had something on my mind that has been weighing on me heavily, and until I get it taken care of, it’ll keep bothering me (so, therefore, of course, some of my friends keep badgering me to do something about it. Ha ha). And, as I write this, the time is quickly approaching for me to take care of it.

I am definitely quite nervous about what will happen when I open the box in a bit. I think what is bothering me the most about this is the unknown of everything. From one second, to one minute, to one hour to the next, it can definitely be uncertain. Sure you can say you’re going to do this, or that; but as for the consequences of that decision, you never really know what’s going to happen. Who’s to say that you’ll even get to do what you say you’re going to do…and never even know what those consequences could be? (James 4:14)

Then, you wonder, “Why am I flipping out over this? I don’t even know what’s going to happen!” But that’s just it. We worry and worry about things when we don’t even know what will happen. Even when we think we know, the outcome most of the time surprises us (I’ve found this out quite often).

As young people, we have quite a bit to worry about! We worry about school; pleasing our parents; we worry about making the right choices; we worry about the choices our friends make; we worry about family issues; we worry about our futures; we worry about issues we have; we worry about our feelings for a special someone…the list goes on and on; and sometimes the issues are worse than others.

Sometimes, I will admit, it gets hard to remember sometimes that I have a God and father who is MUCH bigger than my problems. We worry, worry, and worry our heads off, and not remember that He is there to help us in our decisions and guide us. Sure, there’s a very good chance that we’ll encounter hurt, and pain (that’s a part of life) but He is going to help us grow from it. (Philippians 4:13)

We must all, as Christians, come to the realization that God is looking out for us, and is making a way for us to get through our lives (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11). It’s hard sometimes, but we have to trust Him, and allow Him to get us through the tough stuff. We may worry some, but we don’t need to worry so much that it consumes our entire being and allows us to forget that God is looking out for us.

Jesus warned about worrying in Matt. 6:25-34. To sum up what He said, He said that we shouldn’t worry because if we are living for God, then He will take care of us. Sure, He never said it would be easy, but, He said he’d give us what we need and help us.

I’ve been trying to relax about the things I need to do. I’m doing what I know I need to do, and He’ll see to it that the rest gets taken care of. It’s not easy because so many of us try to take on the weight of the world, but it’s such a comfort to know that we don’t really have to.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Stars in Entertainment

Review of Matched, by Ally Condie

(This is a new segment in my blog that I will be doing every so often. When I come across any part of the entertainment business worth mentioning as family friendly, and clean, I will mention it, and do a review of it. This will include music, books, TV shows, movies, and possibly games [I do not own a video gaming system at the moment, so there won’t be many of the gaming ones, if any.])

As people who are close to me know, I love young adult/teen fiction (especially the fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal stories!). Although, nowadays, finding appropriate reads in the genre is rather difficult. It can get frustrating for someone who’s a Christian, because reading young adult fiction is trial and error, unfortunately. There have been times that I will open a book, get really into it, then, I’ll have to stop reading it for one reason or another. This book, however, really needed no such action.

The cover definitely caught my eye, and, upon opening the cover to read the jacket description, it said: “In the society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.” The novel is the story of Cassia Reyes, who lives hundreds of years into the future. She is part of a society that, just as the summary says, basically decides everything for you. The whole society is based on crazily accurate probability. It is described as an almost perfect society, save for the occasional glitch in the system.

The book starts off with Cassia’s birthday, attending a futuristic event called a matching ceremony. In this event, a group of seventeen year olds are paired with another young person to be their “match”, or, potential spouse. To Cassia’s relief, she is matched with her best friend, Xander. It is a very strange occurrence to be matched with someone who lives in your same province (or even your own city for that matter!). All of the other young people in the room were matched with someone far away.

Well, Cassia is very excited to be matched with her best friend, and is very certain that they should be together. However, at the ceremony, people receive little microcards (as they’re called) that contain pictures and what not of their match. It has the pictures of Xander (most of which she’s already seen) but, while she is viewing it, another face shows up on the microcard-a boy she knows named Ky. Ky is what is known as an aberration. He can’t ever be matched or get a higher ranking job as a result of things his father had done. As a result, Cassia finds herself confused, as well as an attraction to both boys that she is having a hard time figuring out.

Cassia’s narration throughout the story is very soft. While she is a very strong young woman, there is a very distinct poetic, and flowery way about her voice. The way Condie writes with Cassia as the narrator flows beautifully. Being a dystopian story, it also gets you thinking about many important issues that arise in the story: Can one truly be free without the right to choose? Is perfection possible in any society? Should there be human control over life and death?

Throughout the story, Cassia seems to find herself wondering about these issues-and slowly starting to doubt this entire society that she-and everyone else- always had put such trust into (She also appears to be doubting whether or not the society was right on religious faith being just a myth). The society carries many secrets-most of which are kept under strict lock and key. However, when some of these secrets surface, the society has some interesting ways of handling them. Some of the ways are pretty mild in some respects, but others are quite scary, especially when outright rebellion is involved.

This story is impressive to me on many levels: For one thing, I would like to note that there was absolutely no profanity of any kind (not even words considered ‘mild’ or euphemisms), as well as no pre-marital sex-which seems to be very common in many young adult novels these days. There were two kisses in the book: one between Cassia and Xander, and then a second time between Cassia and Ky. The kisses, however, are not described in great detail.

Matched does start off rather slowly, I will admit. But there is something about Cassia’s narration that pulls you in and holds you there in the story. Not only is it beautifully written, but, it is a novel that is definitely proof that you can write a wonderful, thought provoking story that is clean. Matched is definitely a treat you don’t want to miss. I would also like to point out that its sequel, Crossed, is coming out in August. I am very interested to see where Condie takes her story with Cassia, Xander, and Ky.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Let's Face It. We're All a Little Clumsy.

I am a clumsy person. I am constantly bumping into things, stubbing my toes, stumbling over things, dropping things, breaking things…not to mention I fall more than the average person, and have been in the emergency room numerous times.

So of course, a few days ago, I got myself into quite a pickle. I am currently on vacation, and I went to visit a friend from the congregation up here. She was having a small pool party for some girls in the congregation who wanted to come. Later, some of the girls decided that they wanted to play volleyball for a while. I wanted to stay in the pool, but, if I didn’t go, I would be left by myself. The steps (already being quite narrow, and steep) to get to the pool were pretty wet. I stepped down, and when I did, my feet came out from under me. My left leg and part of my arm slammed into the wooden steps.

I fell to the ground, and my entire left leg just exploded with pain. I just remember being scared that I had broken something. My aunt and the lady running the pool party came over to check on me, and helped me to my feet. Thankfully, I was able to walk. I didn’t have a break or sprain, but, later that day, a very large spot started to turn purple on my leg. My arm too, had a bruise. I was so sore the first few days, and it hurt to move.
I still am sore, actually. It’s not nearly as painful as it was, however. The bruise on my leg looks awful, and the absolute worst one I’ve ever had. (And, thankfully, I did not need a trip to the emergency room!)

You know, being a Christian is a lot like that. Each one of us is very clumsy in our spiritual life, are we not? When we mess up, we get injuries which turn into scars that we carry with us for a very long time. The pain can be long-lasting and can take a long time to heal.

I would like to point something out that I didn’t realize until much, MUCH later that I hope can help you. You see, I used to think for some reason that if I believed hard enough, and trusted God enough, that he would take the issues I was dealing with away. What a silly notion that was! The truth is, God’s not going to take our problems away. We’re always going to be clumsy people stumbling around getting ourselves into trouble in one way or another. I realized that these issues that I dealt with were there to help me become stronger. (Romans 5:3)

Thankfully, as Christians, we have God on our side to help us become stronger and overcome trials that come upon us (Philippians 4:13, Colossians 1:12). With Him on our side, our spiritual injuries become less as we grow and persevere. We will never be perfect, but we try anyway (Matthew 5:48). When you do stumble, ask for forgiveness, and pray for strength. Don’t doubt as to whether or not God can hear you! That doubt is Satan trying to get to you and bring you down. Just remember that the times that you feel most weak and vulnerable is when he will attack (1 Peter 5:8). When you’ve messed up, don’t make your “wounds” worse by focusing on those regrets. Do your best to shake it off and go back to what you know you need to be doing.

It is true that pain gives birth to beauty. It’s really the tough stuff in life and how we handle them that shapes us as people most of the time. Allow your mistakes to transform you rather than bring you down and remember that we’ll all be clumsy for the rest of our lives…and that’s okay! Don’t forget, that is exactly what the blood of Christ is for; as long we keep Him in our hearts and hold Him near (Romans 5:9). Allow God to work in your life and make you stronger. It’ll get better, I promise!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lessons on Love

Part 6: Love for the Lost

I remember how tough it was to be a Christian in high school. There were very few that I remember who were actually Christians in my school. Some (note that I said SOME) of my friends really weren’t good friends for me-although in some ways they were. Some of them weren’t good for me in the fact that it really broke me down sometimes just having to deal with them. It really hurt sometimes knowing that they openly rejected Christ, and that they would probably never know His love. I remember a debate with a particular friend that left me in tears for about two and a half periods of the school day. Luckily, three of my other friends were there to cheer me up and comfort me.

In the way that they were good for me was that, in a way, my relationships with them actually strengthened my faith, and helped me to hang on to the Lord and persevere. But I also have learned better how to deal with people who don’t share my faith.

First, I’d like to say that allowing yourself to get super upset will break you more than help you. The day that I got upset over the issue with that particular friend, it broke me some. Looking back, what I should have done is to do my best not to let it get to me. I should have remembered what Jesus said: “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” (John 15:18) Also remember that you will be persecuted for your faith. If you are living the way you should and proclaim the Lord’s name, you will have issues with those in the world (2nd Timothy 3:12).

Knowing this, how do we deal with those who are lost, and possibly persecute you? Again, as we’ve said in previous lessons, we still love them. Continue to treat them with respect and kindness (Luke 6:35), and don’t forget to pray for them (Matthew 5:44).

It’s definitely not an easy task to deal with non-Christians sometimes, but if we choose to love the way the bible describes, being gentle and kind, just think of how many souls could be won for Christ. I believe that the love of God will win people more than anything else. We need to stop and realize that our actions have a definite effect on how people view the Church and Christianity. Let us all remember to do good to everyone, and to love others.
I pray that all of you have been uplifted by this series of lessons!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lessons on Love

Part 5: Just a Crush, or Real Love?

I’ll be honest…young people being in love seems to be one of the most glorified things, as well as one of the most rejected things. You see, young people have gotten this reputation for being terrible at relationships; and no wonder. Many of them jump in and say ‘I love you’ when they don’t even know each other all that well. Then, they break up less than a week later (Maybe a little less, maybe a little more). On the other hand, being young and in love is possible…depending on the maturity of the couple.

For the young Christian couple, a lot of the time, they might have a better understanding of how to love a significant other better than those who aren’t Christians (Not all the time, however. Like I said, it depends on the maturity of the people in the relationship…even some Christian young people might not be at the level they need to be)

In this article, I want to explain what comes with a truly loving relationship. But, let me just be honest...I haven’t been in a real relationship yet (I’d like to though!) but I’ve been studying and preparing myself for when that time does come. I’d like to share a few things with you that I’ve learned that show what love actually is in a relationship, and for some things for you to remember.

1. You must be willing to communicate openly, freely, and in a loving way to him. It is a huge pet peeve of mine when I see couples break up over one silly fight…or they let the fight break down their relationship. Try this instead: attempt to avoid fighting and arguing in the first place. Train yourself to keep your emotions in check. When you allow anger to overtake you, and your words to flow out freely, you’re not exercising self-control, which is a commandment that we develop. (2 Pet. 1:6, Gal. 5:23, 2 Tim. 3:3, Proverbs 25:28) When you love someone, you will strive to exercise self-control, and to not let our anger produce words that hurt them.

2. You must put his needs above your own. Selfishness has to be one of the main problems that arise in relationships today. You must think about what is best for the other person, not only yourself (1 Corinthians 13:5). You must treat them the way you’d like to be treated (Luke 6:31). Also note that he must do the same. If he doesn’t respect you, then he’s not a good person for you to be with.

3. Don’t gossip about him to other people. Gossip is wrong, as I’ve said before (Prov. 20:19, 1 Tim. 5:13, Jas. 4:11). Don’t talk negatively about him behind his back. Do you really want to hurt him like that? I’m sure you don’t.

4. Be patient with him (Gal. 5:22). Guys are different than us. They do things differently, and their minds are wired differently. They’re not stupid, and God made them to be different than us because they have different jobs to accomplish than we do.

5. Last but not least, PUT GOD FIRST! Doing all of the above things is only part of having a fulfilling relationship. One thing that I’ve learned from watching others in truly successful relationships is that all of them have their eyes on the same prize! Look for a guy who is going to help you get heaven-a man who is genuinely serious about His faith and will love you “as Christ loves the Church” (Ephesians 5:25). Be willing to pray together before, and after dates (or even before the meal at the restaurant!). You should even try to study the bible with him.

When two young people love each other in the way the bible says to do, I’ve seen how wonderful and how strong it can make their relationship (I can’t wait to experience this myself!). Keep praying for the young man who will eventually come into your life. I’m in this too, waiting and praying for my future husband. While you’re praying, prepare yourself and study so you’ll know how to be the best girlfriend (as well as wife later) that you can be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lessons on Love

Part 4: Love for God’s Kingdom

A young woman sits in her chair during her break at work. She’s thinking about some of the people at her church. The congregation she attends is having some problems. The preacher taught a lesson that some of the members didn’t like…but everything he said made sense. It wasn’t an unscriptural lesson, but the people were raising a big stink over it…especially some of the women. He obviously felt it was a lesson that needed to be taught, and she felt that it was, too.

She remembers after that particular service, she was talking with a few of the ladies, and they talked to her about how horrible the lesson was, and how they were going to try and get him fired. She sat quietly and didn’t say anything, even though she knew that they were wrong. But…what could she do? She had developed some strong friendships with these older women, but she also knew that if she said anything about how she disagreed, that could cause some serious issues with their relationship.

She knew she needed to do something, though. But what?

I’m sure there are many scenarios like this that happen. It makes me so sad when I hear of problems like this occurring in a congregation. I’ve seen a few things like this first hand, as well. It’s amazing how easily Satan can slip through the cracks of a group of God’s people, and then find a way to tear them all apart.

How does this occur? It happens when people take their eyes off of God and think only of themselves. That’s the bottom line. They throw away love, and forgiveness, and become consumed with hatred.

The truth is, love has to start with us! If we want for there to be love within our congregations and for the rest of the Church, we have to make the decision that God’s will is more important. We must swallow our pride, and remember 1st Corinthians chapter 13:4-8. Make the decision to strive to do all the things described in these verses.

The girl above should do something. She, for one thing, should decide to not to get involved with the gossip, because it’s a sin (Proverbs 20:19, Romans 1:29). She should use her words to encourage others to do the right things (Ephesians 4:29). She should pray for the women in her congregation, and encourage her other friends to pray with her (James 5:16). It might also be helpful for her to go to the elders and deacons to let them know what’s going on to let them handle the situation in a responsible manner.

The world might say in these situations to be completely confrontational, and get revenge. But, really, where does that get anyone? All you’re left with is a bunch of hurt, bruised people, and anger that goes on for years and years, or even the rest of your life. Is anything really worth destroying His Church over? (Or is it even worth making your life more miserable?) We as young women are the future of the Lord’s Church. We must realize that we have a duty to be loving people (1 John 4:7). We must remember to "do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10). When we all decide to love, the Church will become even stronger, showing the world the love that comes from our almighty God.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lessons on Love

Part 3: Love Thyself!

We can’t seem to run from the media, can we? You turn on the TV, there’s a tall, fit, tan, and immodestly dressed girl shaking her rear on a commercial. You see the same kind of girl on a billboard only this time she’s wearing a bikini, and sitting on a car. You turn on the radio, and there’s a man singing, “Look at your physique girl, you are a beauty. Well I am a beast. They must have been trippin’ to let me off a leash.” (Yes, these are lyrics from a real song. It’s very popular right now, too. The lyrics get much worse than this)

With so much of this information being shoved into our minds on a daily basis, it doesn’t surprise me that girls are feeling so bad about themselves. The media seems to describe (although, it’s slowly getting better) certain ways that they think a girl should look like, or that they should be immodest to be worth something. In the new “kids” movie, Rio, the main female character who is kind of nerdy doesn’t get “proper” attention from a guy until she wears a sexy outfit. We see this in real life quite a bit, too. A lot of girls feel that to get attention from guys to feel like she’s “loved”, she must dress immodestly or do things with him she knows are wrong.

I think we all know that these kinds of things aren’t going to give her the kind of love she needs and craves. We all know from the first lessons that as Christian girls God should be the first love of our life, and that we need to love our family. We also need to realize that God does want us to love ourselves. Some girls seem to have a mindset that if you love yourself, you’ll become arrogant. But, this really isn’t always the case. Sure, you can’t think so highly of yourself that you become a snob, but the key is to realize that you are imperfect (in actions and thought), but you love yourself anyway.

In the bible, the body is described as the temple of the Lord (1st Corinthians 16:9). Our bodies’ are not ours (which is contrary to popular belief), and God expects us to take care of them, and not abuse them. When you look at yourself in the mirror and call yourself ugly, you’re abusing your mind. When you commit sinful sexual relations with someone outside of marriage you’re abusing the temple (1st Corinthians 6:19). When you use drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, you’re abusing the temple of God. If you cut, or purposefully injure yourself, you are abusing the temple that God gave you.

Girls, why do we do these things to ourselves? All that these things do is avoid the real issues. Part of being a Christian is being honest with ourselves. We must examine ourselves to find out why we do these things so that we can overcome them. It is a commandment to do so (1st Corinthians 13:5). When we fail to examine ourselves and try to find where we fall short, a wall comes up between us and God as we try to find our own ways to cope.

Think for a moment. If you’re calling yourself ugly, why are you doing that? Is it because you have built up an unrealistic vision in your mind of what beautiful is? If you’re being promiscuous, are you trying to use that as a way to cope with long-term depression, or are you trying to find more “love”? The first can also go for drug use, and self-injury. When we sit down and face our problems (which is what God wants) we can ask Him for help with those issues. He’s not going to take them away, but He’s going to help give you a new perspective on yourself, as well as give you the tools you need to overcome whatever you’re dealing with.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lessons on Love

Lesson 2: Loving your Parents

A lot of young people would probably say this about their parents: “I can’t live with them, but I can’t live without them.” They get so frustrated with them, and they sometimes feel like their parents just don’t get them. Maybe in some ways, your parents might not understand, but they probably understand better than you think they do.

Some of your parents may be pretty lenient with you; some of your parents may be very strict; and some may be pretty well-balanced with you. But, either way, no matter your situation, there is a way that you are supposed to treat your parents, even if it’s not so easy to do. God is very clear on how you’re to deal with your parents.

The bible talks a lot of about obeying your parents and respecting them (as well as respecting those that are older than you). In the Old Testament, one of the Ten Commandments was to obey your parents (Ex. 20:12), the punishments for not doing so were pretty severe. But, now that we’re under the New Testament, those punishments no longer apply (Refer to the book of Hebrews about the separation of the old and new testaments). I believe we can definitely say, however, that God is very serious about young people honoring their parents.

In the NT, Jesus references the OT in reference to honoring your parents (Mark 7:10, Matt. 15:4). We also read this in a few epistles (Eph. 6:2-3, Col. 3:20). Now, the question is, how do we honor our parents? We love them. 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 says, “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 with wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”

Let’s look at some of these things and apply them to how we treat our parents. Don’t get impatient with them if they do not understand where you’re coming from (“love is patient”). They’re not you, and they’re older so they have a different perspective on things. Listen to what they have to say, and don’t lose your temper and start yelling or being disrespectful to them (“it is not arrogant or rude”). Don’t take your frustrations out on them (“it is not irritable or resentful”). Do as your parents tell you to do without attitude (“it does not insist on its own way”).

I’m not saying it’s easy; trust me, it’s not. I’ve had some issues with treating my parents respectfully and with love, too. But, I’m much better than I used to be and continually getting better. If you really want to get better with it, you will. You just have to make the decision first and foremost that you want to please God rather than yourself. That’s an important part of the Christian life is putting God’s desires way ahead of your own, and humbling yourself (James 4:10).

Now, let me bring this up: maybe it is your parents who are in the wrong. I know that they are out there; parents who are super overbearing; possibly abusive, are struggling with drug, alcohol, or other addictions. Maybe they don’t care much and don’t want you to bother them. Maybe you’re a Christian, and they’re not. In these cases, you continue to uphold God’s will. Pray for them, and treat them with respect. Remember the Golden rule? It applies here as well (Matthew 7:12). Even if they tell you to do something that seems completely ridiculous and silly, just do it without complaint (unless it goes against God’s word). Remember that “love never fails”. It may not give instant change, but, over time, it can change a lot.

I pray that this article has given you a new perspective on loving and honoring your parents!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lessons On Love

Part One: The First Love, The HIGHEST Love!

Many young women date, and many can tell you who their first love was (Or, maybe it wasn’t someone they dated necessarily, but someone they cared about very much). They can either remember it with fondness, with pain, or with no feelings at all. But, I would like to look at the term “first love” in a different way in this article.

I’ve heard many girls say that God is the first love of their life-and I have said this too…only to have a friend misunderstand and say, “But, I don’t really see God as the Lover type.” What this really means is that God is THE priority of your life, and You love Him first and foremost, above everything else.

But, the question is, what does it mean to love God, and how does God define that love? To find the answers to these questions, we must consult God’s holy word. First off, when we read the bible, we see that we are commanded to love Him (Luke 10:27, Mark 12:30, Matthew 22:27 and it is mentioned many times in the book of Deuteronomy). The fact that God has commanded us to love Him tells us that He believes if we really want to we will; which can only mean that the love of God is not an emotion. It’s rather hard to control how you “feel” about things, is it not? Sometimes, the only thing we can control is what we do with those emotions. So, therefore, we can conclude that it’s a choice. How do we make that choice?

Jesus says in John 14:15, very simply, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” So, when we love God, we will strive to keep all that He has told us to do, and to trust Him. That is how we love God. We see an extension of this in many places. In James 2:17 we read: “Faith without works is Dead.” What does this mean? It means your faith is meaningless if you don’t actually do what God tells you to do.

The truth is, Christians must be logical people. We can’t go by our emotions alone; for if we go by our emotions, we will be no better than the animals who act solely on instinct. We must study God’s word so we can know what He expects from us, and what He wants so that we can learn self-control; which is a commandment of God that we develop. 2nd Peter 1:5-6 shows how we grow in faith for God : “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with Godliness…”

This shows that when we study, and gain knowledge, it encourages us to act, and develop self-control. Developing self-control means that we pause to think about our actions and their potential consequences, and then we make the right decision based on the facts given as to what we should do. When we use logic to aid in developing self-control, we can better do as God has asked us to do. We do things based on whether or not it will be pleasing to Him as defined by His word. That’s what God defines as love toward Him…it is action, not necessarily feeling. (But, I’m not going to lie…it does feel great to do what He wants me to do!)

I hope that this has taught you something. In this series of lessons, I pray that you gain a better perspective on love!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Situational Modesty?

I’ve wanted to do a blog on modesty for a while…it’s one topic that I know has been done many times, but I want to give you some thoughts on modesty that some of you may have never thought about before.

During blogs like this, I’m sure people have referred you to places like 1st Timothy 2:9, which is a great reference for saying that modesty is important. But, I think the real question is, how do we be modest? What constitutes as modest?

I’m sure we all know of the verse, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of Christ Jesus.” (Colossians 3:17). Okay, this is saying that in whatever you do or say, do it with Christ in mind. As Christian girls, I see often that we tend not to keep Christ in mind in a lot of the things we do, especially when it pertains to modesty.

I would like to bring up an issue that some Christian girls don’t even think about. I want to ask you something…would you wear your underwear out in public? I know it seems like a ludicrous question, and you’re probably thinking, “Of COURSE not! Why would you even ask that?”. But, many girls wear things very similar during the summer. Yes, I’m talking about swimsuits. Think about it for a second: a good 98% of all the swimwear that is sold in the stores (not all of them are though.) looks EXACTLY like undergarments and lingerie women usually wear. This includes the one piece swimwear, too (for some reason, women have a mindset that one pieces automatically count as modest).

I know you are probably thinking, “But, it’s different!” Okay, how are they different? Sure, you might say, “They’re made for swimming!”. That’s actually the only difference between most swimwear and undergarments/lingerie. Many girls get into this mindset that at the beach, guys (as well as other situations) aren’t going to look at them simply because they don’t want them to. Let me give you this analogy…when girls are at the mall, I would venture to say that almost 100% of the time, they can’t help but glance over at a jewelry store when they are walking by even if they don’t stop. It’s like we can’t help it-we love shiny stuff. Guys are kind of the same way in regard to girls. They are wired to notice girls. Physical reactions to immodestly dressed girls aren’t going to change just because of the situation; whether you’re at church, the beach, a formal event, performing, or out with friends. We must strive not to be a reason for encouraging guys to sin (Romans 14:13).

Refer to Colossians 3:17 again. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, we continue to uphold the same standards for ourselves. Modesty is no exception. We choose Him and His will no matter what the situation. If you wouldn’t wear things that are skin tight, low cut, shows off a lot of your back, your chest, and your thighs, in your daily life, why wouldn’t you do the same in ALL other situations? What does God want me to wear for this situation? That’s the question you need to ask. I’ve heard some girls say, “Well, my parents said that this was okay to wear, so it’s alright.” First off, your parents are human. They’re not God, and they make mistakes. That’s part of growing up as a Christian is realizing that those around you, no matter how much you respect them, will make mistakes. Compare what people say to God’s word, and if you’d feel comfortable wearing it around your Heavenly Father. -Chelsea

Friday, April 1, 2011

Yes. Everyone has a talent. Use it!

Today, I have a few thoughts I’d like to share with you. Today, I was reading Matthew 25:14-30. This is the parable of the talents. In this story, a rich ruler entrusts money to some of his servants (which, the money is what the “talents” are). The master leaves for some time, and then comes back to see what his servants have done with what he entrusted to them. The first and second servants used their talents wisely, and he rewarded them. The third, however, got too scared to use his, and just buried it. The ruler was very unhappy with the third. He had generously given this gift for the servant to use, and had expected him to do so.

In verse 30, it says, “…And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The third servant was described as worthless and cast aside because he did not use what was given to him.

We as Christians have a responsibility to use the talents God has bestowed us with. Based on this parable above, I think we can very well say that it’s a sin not to use our talent (s) for the benefit of God’s cause. For, as we see in verse 30, this man didn’t use his talent and was cast into everlasting torment (“In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”, describing the intense pain and suffering). God has given us skills and abilities for us to use while we are here. I’ve met many who say they are talentless. This isn’t true.

Each one of us has some kind of ability. Are you a good writer? Study your bible more to help you possibly write articles like this one. Can you cook? Look at the prayer list from your congregation. Maybe there are some sick, shut ins, or widows that you could bake cookies for (Or maybe you could easily go to the store and get pre-made dough and bake that). Are you good with small children? Offer to teach bible classes for the little ones. You could even invite them to sit with you in worship, or offer to baby sit them (any influence you could have on the future of the church is ALWAYS needed!). Are you good with people in general? Take flyers from your congregation on upcoming events and invite people! I guarantee you that there is something you can do!

God calls us to be active in His work every day. There is no taking a break from being a Christian. Once you commit your life to God, you are saying that you are going to strive to do everything you can to be pleasing to Him, and to spread His word. To truly love God, you must live for Him with everything you have (1 Thessalonians 1:11, Ecclesiastes 9:1, Colossians 3:17). If you love Him with all your might (Luke 10:27) you will use what you have to serve Him and do as He says (John 14:15).

Let us not be like the man who buried His talents! Let’s use them to bring glory to our God!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stars are just...Stars!!!!

When I was in middle school, as well as early on in high school, I had a continuous subscription to Girls’ Life magazine. I remember the first time I was ever given an issue of it…it was amazing, really. I was so glad to finally read a magazine just for my age group, and not as trashed up as many other tween-teen magazines that were out in our present day (although now in the past few years, they’ve started printing stories supporting some immoral practices and questionable articles).

One thing that I remembered in my young mind that I enjoyed were the horoscopes. I was a Gemini (until they added that new sign recently, now I’m a Cancer), and I found a sense of pride in that. Oh, yes. I thought they were just so fascinating; especially the ones in the issues that came in at the end of the year. These let us know what might be coming in the next year.

Now, I knew that they weren’t true. I just read them because they were fun, and it was the ‘in’ thing to do. Horoscopes were a big thing it seems when I was in middle school. I remember all the merchandise that came out with all the star signs, and what not, everyone proudly displaying their astrological sign. I never had a t-shirt, though, because I was told that it was wrong.

Now that I’m a little bit older, I’ve long since grown out of the whole horoscope thing. I grew out of it also due to the fact that I know now that as a Christian, that astrology is not something we need to be involved in. I actually know quite a few Christians that seem to be completely fascinated with it. You’ll see them with it on Facebook, or hear them talking about it.

Astrology is the belief and practice that the positions and motions of heavenly bodies (such as the sun, planets, moon, and stars) have an impact on human characteristics, activities, and futures. Many people in ancient pagan cultures used to worship objects in the sky. So, it would make sense that they would turn to them to tell them their futures, and how to live their lives.

Knowing this about astrology, does it really sound like something that we as Christians need to involve ourselves in? The stars and other heavenly bodies obviously do not control our lives, or say what our future will be. As Christians, God is the one who should have the say as to how we should live our lives and the One who should shape our future (Jer. 29:11, Isa. 41:23). One of the kings of Israel, Manasseh, found himself in disfavor with God because he began to worship the stars and practiced astrology (2 Kings 21:3-6).

I hear a lot of people say, “Oh, it’s just harmless fun. It’s not like I actually believe it or anything.” Okay, maybe so. But the truth is, a lot of people, even if they say they don’t believe it, will actually go and try to find things (even if it’s subconscious) that the horoscope said would happen. When we do this it takes the focus off of God and his plans for us. This can even be said of things like Ouija boards and tarot cards. While they may be fun, it can gradually make us lose trust in God. These sort of things are especially appealing to girls, for whatever reason, so it is really best that we avoid them altogether (plus, there are just some doors that aren’t meant to be opened, and I believe these are some of those things).

We need to do our best to make sure that there is absolutely nothing that can possibly get in the way of our trust in God. We need to remember that when we put focus on other things, we can easily get distracted and slip away from Him. Let us all make sure not to let anything come between us and God. Let us not forget that stars are just stars, and they are only there to study, give beauty in our universe, and to bring glory to God and to prove His existence (Romans 1:20). Let’s keep them in their place, shall we?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Born this Way...or...Not?

I know I said that I was doing a series on being a better bible student, and I will continue those blogs. But, I cannot ignore an issue that’s spreading like wildfire, and I need to speak up about it. A week or two ago, Lady GaGa released the song, “Born this Way”, and performed it for the first time on the Grammy’s. It is currently the number one song in the nation, and it’s definitely no surprise.

Controversy fuels people’s ears as well as their hearts. It’s drawing people in with a catchy tune, and “uplifting” lyrics (“I’m beautiful in my way/ ‘Cause God makes no mistakes/I’m on the right track baby/ I was born this way”). The homosexual theme is very prevalent in this song (“No matter gay, straight, or bi/lesbian or transgendered life/I’m on the right track baby/ I was born to survive”). It really distresses me that I’m seeing so many people, even Christians get swept up into this song. I keep hearing people talk about how great it is on Facebook, and everywhere else.

I’m getting highly irritated with other Christians. I cannot stand the fact that so many are just getting swept in by this craze, and forgetting all about being the “called out” and the example they’re supposed to set, and throwing all their morals away just to be “in” with the culture. I do admit that Lady GaGa is a very talented young woman. She definitely has a great voice, and very much musically inclined. But, that being said, she is being so intent on being immodest and throwing all good morals out the window. And, the homosexual agenda is high on her list.
Young ladies, you have to understand that while she is the hot and popular thing right now, she is not someone that Christians need to be emulating or supporting. She is pushing homosexuality (and an incredibly distorted view of sexuality in general) like crazy. In the song she says that God makes no mistakes. This is true, but not in the way she thinks it is.

We all know that God is the epitome of good. He is all things that are good, and pure. Since God is all things good and pure, He knows better than we what is right and what is wrong. In the bible God makes the point in many places that homosexuality is wrong. 1st Corinthians 6:9, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals…”. And we also read in Romans 1:16-17 another verse that refers to homosexuality: “That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.” (NLT)

We see from these verses as well as other places in the bible that God DOES see homosexuality as WRONG. But, some might argue, what about the so called “gay-gene”? Is there such a thing? If such a thing does exist then that means that one cannot help it. I remember in my psychology class that I took at a previous school, my textbook said that many scientific studies have been done on whether it’s genetic or not. And, from what studies have been done, my textbook said that it all leads to one conclusion: environmental and social factors; meaning that something other than genetics makes them that way. For instance, I’ve seen a lot of cases where a male becomes gay for a lack of a real father figure in their lives. There’s no older man there to be an example for them. That can be one example. Another example is that a girl was hurt by other men so much in her life that she is totally turned off by them.

Also, there are many articles on the internet that can explain how homosexuality is more of a choice as a result of environmental issues and other things. Of all the reading I’ve done, all the articles say the same thing: there is no gay gene. Do a little research of your own and see what people say.

If this isn’t enough to prove that homosexuality shouldn’t be practiced, I want to bring up some other points. First off, Hollywood is not telling the truth about homosexuality. They glamorize it, and make it out to look appealing and completely normal. First off, did you know that domestic violence is HIGHER among homosexual couples? A certain website that I found showed statistics from the Dept. of Justice showed the rates of the amount of domestic violence, and the evidence was pretty sad. For women involved in lesbian relationships, the percentage of the violence was about 39%. Women in heterosexual relationships were very low by comparison at about 23% (1). For homosexual men the rate of domestic violence is 23% and the rate for heterosexual men is 7% (1).

Also, those in homosexual relationships are even more likely to get STDs (1). Even in what’s considered a “steady” relationship (1). Marriages/relationships also don’t last as long and the people in the relationships are more likely to cheat on their spouses than those in a heterosexual marriage (1). It is said that the reason for this is because many homosexuals for some reason are taught that marriage is mostly about sex. So, therefore, it can become an obsession and it can be hard for them to stay faithful. Married heterosexual women are about 85% percent more likely to be faithful, and heterosexual men are 75.5% more likely to stay faithful than homosexual men (1). With Homosexual men, the rate of staying faithful is 4.5 %.

Also, a person CAN come out of the homosexual lifestyle. I’ve heard numerous stories of those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ, and have overcome this sin. If this is not proof that one is not “born this way” I’d honestly like to know what is. If someone was born a certain way, than how can someone, no matter how much they would want to, change?

God knows more than we do what is right. We just need to trust Him that He knows what He’s doing (Prov. 3:5). I know that I’ve said this before, but, I honestly think that the main reason that God does not want us to sin is because He loves us and doesn’t want us to get hurt. We see above the bad things that can result from these kinds of relationships. It is so important that we just try to understand that God knows better than us. If we can’t accept what God wants, and understand that He knows better than us, then we are rejecting Him and His word. Plain and simple.

Ladies, what are we thinking? Homosexuality is all the rage nowadays, I know. But even if we just get enjoyment out of something about it, we’re contributing to the spread of it. Stop watching movies, reading, books, watching shows and listening to songs that are pushing this!!!! How do you think God feels when you get enjoyment out of a lifestyle God condemns? The more we allow ourselves to get immersed in unrighteousness, the more numb (or supportive) we’ll become of it. It may not seem like it, but by getting pleasure out of these things (even if you’re not doing it) you’re encouraging the spread of sin, and making others think you support this lifestyle. Romans 1:32 says that when one shows pleasure and encouragement of a sin (homosexuality is listed as one of the sins in some previous verses), they are “worthy of death”. We need to stop thinking about ourselves, and look at the bigger picture of God’s plan. God’s cause is more important than our own selfish interests and desires. God will not go easy on you in the end if you choose to reject what He says (Romans 2:8).

Girls, again I ask, what are we thinking? How on earth are we supposed to be good Christian examples to the rest of the world when we’re showing the world we support this lifestyle? Our voices aren’t getting drowned out. No, I think it’s just the opposite. Too many of us I think, are standing back and condoning everything that’s going on. So, therefore, one by one, we become quieter and quieter by our own choice. The more we stay quiet and get enjoyment of everything going on, the more we’ll find ourselves drifting away from truth. How do you think God is feeling right now when He looks down on our nation? I’m sure it hurts Him to know that so many who are supposed to be His are encouraging this. We need to wake up and stand up for what is right!

I know in this article I may have seemed harsh at some points, but, you have to understand that I care. That’s why I wrote this. I really find it so sad that so many Christians are just standing back and watching this all go down. It’s not right. We need to find our voices again. We need to show the love of Jesus Christ to those that need it. Homosexuals are no exception. Remember not to treat them like they’re worse than anyone else. We also need to be careful not to turn them away because we’re being cruel or hateful to them. I’m a huge believer that the love of God is what will win people over more than anything else. Never forget that being a Christian takes sacrifice. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for you. I’m very certain that you can sacrifice getting swept up into culture’s lies created by matter how "cool" it is.

I know this article is long, but I appreciate you sticking with me, and hearing what I have to say.
I hope you will strive to do God’s will. God bless!


1- (Family Research Council)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Becoming a Better Bible Student Part 1

Currently in college, I am taking a class on how to be a better bible student. This class has been incredibly insightful so far, and it was definitely not was I was expecting. I definitely do see today that Christian teens and those in my age group don’t study enough, or don’t study at all. Therefore, this results in ignorance of God’s word, and young people not living for God the way that they’re supposed to.

To open up, one must remember that the bible is God’s Holy word. He inspired the writers of the bible to relay to us what he wants (2nd Timothy 3:16). Knowing this, we should hold it in the highest regard and WANT to study it. The bible is from God, and it’s His message to us about Him, and what He wants from us. Why shouldn’t we want to study it? The truth is, you will never know absolutely everything there is to know about the bible. I’ve heard even older bible students say that after so many years, they still have so much to learn. I find this too, even though I haven’t been studying for as long as they have. I’ve been studying my whole life, basically, and I keep finding out new things over and over again.

I just want to share some tips I’ve learned on being a better bible student. First off, the biggest thing is your attitude. To really get the most out of what God’s trying to tell you, your attitude must be correct. I see this so much. I see young people constantly having improper attitudes toward study and understanding of the bible.
First off, we cannot simply just go in to reading it to vindicate ourselves. When we go in to try to find anything to justify anything we’re involved in, you may not get the entire picture of what God wants, or miss the mark completely. For instance, (I know some might bash me for this, but it’s the truth) some might say that only belief in God is necessary to be saved. They go into the bible, and they find John 3:16. One then might assume it’s all you had to do. But, they fail to look at anything else. For instance, in James, it talks about faith and works (James 2:14-26). It talks about how faith and works go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other. Simply saying you believe isn’t enough, because as it says in verse 19, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble!” (emp. added). Wow, even the demons believe. That doesn’t mean that they do what God wants, though. For a Christian, that belief should encourage them to actually act on that faith and do as God commands.

You have to look at all the evidence side by side. No, these verses do not contradict one another. You have to put them together. The word of God all fits together perfectly. So what you get is that faith as well as doing as doing what God commands is absolutely necessary.

When studying the bible, one must throw away all preconceived notions. When you do this, it makes it easier for you to be open to whatever God says. The word of God can be understood by anyone. I hate to say it, but if anyone has told you that you can’t understand it, only a handful of people can, that’s a huge mistake. God wrote the bible for everyone’s salvation. If He didn’t want everyone to understand it, why did He state so many times that Jesus came to die for EVERYONE? And that He wants EVERYONE to be saved (2nd Peter 3:9)?

Now, that’s not to say that we’re not going to get confused sometimes. Every once in a while, we’re going to hit something we really don’t understand. But what we need to do is do what we can to FIND that answer. It really bugs me when I show a verse to someone to show them what the bible says, then they say don’t understand it, but yet they don’t care enough to find out more…and yet they claim to care about what God wants.

Honestly, I don’t believe we have any excuse not to understand the bible nowadays. I mean, think about it. During the middle ages, common people weren’t even allowed to look at a bible or even learn how to read. They just went by what a lot of the Lords and priests told them. They didn’t have any good access to information. Today, we have access to a WEALTH of information. We have computers, android phones, inventions like the iPad and Kindle, libraries with tons of books, PDAs, podcasts, even electronic bibles…the list goes on and on. If you think about it, God has blessed us with all of these things to help us understand the bible better. If you really want the answer to something, you can easily find it. There’s even a website that has all the verses of the bible. There’s one verse per page, and it gives quite a few different translations of that verse. Odds are, you’re going to easily understand one of the translations of the verse. I use this all the time when I’m trying to study or even write a blog article like this one.

In this series of lessons, I want to mainly discuss how to become a better student of the bible by changing our perspectives and attitudes. Only then can we really work towards being the best students of the bible that we can.

(Note: The book that we are studying from in my class is called How to Study the Bible by Kevin Rhodes if anyone wants to know where some of my information comes from)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Speak NOW, or Forever Hold your Peace!!!

For Christmas, I got Taylor Swift's new album which is entitled, “Speak Now”. Listening to it is rather mesmerizing. It is definitely her best album by far, and it really shows off her ability as a song writer. This album is a lot more honest and open than the first two; and it would make sense. The theme is about not letting the important things go unsaid. This theme is definitely defined in the song “Speak Now”, which I'm assuming is the song the album is named after.

In the song, it describes a situation where this guy that this girl is in love with is marrying another young woman who is described as a mean, snobby person. The narrator basically goes through the song apparently worried about how this will pan out for this young man she cares so much about. She says, “I am not the kind of girl who should be rudely barging in on a white veil occasion. But you are not the type of boy who should be marrying the wrong girl.”

By the end of the song, the preacher says 'speak now, or forever hold your peace!'. The girl then shakily stands up...and we all know the end of the story. They live happily ever after. But, if you simply look at the surface, all you're going to get from this song is a cute story about a girl who wants the best for the guy she loves. But dig a little deeper than that, and you get something that should be a very strong message that many should hear.

I think that what she's really trying to say is that if there's someone you love or care about deeply (not necessarily a significant other) that seems to be in potentially harmful situation, you need to say something; because you just never know what good you could do by speaking up. Even if it's not the most popular thing, you need to do something about it if you're worried about them. If something doesn't sit right with you and you don't do something, you put yourself at risk for regretting that decision at some point.

This seems to be the situation with a lot of Christian young people. Too often, they stand back and don't do anything to try and reach out to others. They get too scared to speak up about the word of God. They are swimming in a sea of lost souls, and don't realize the good that they could do. They're afraid of being rejected by everyone else for being different. For a lot of teens, even young adults, the most important thing is to have friends and making sure your reputation as someone 'cool' isn't ruined; or at least as someone 'normal'. A lot of young people are absolutely terrified, I think, of being considered weird or offending someone.

But you know what? Christians are supposed to be considered weird by the world. The bible even says so. 1st Peter 4:4-5 says: “With respect, they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery and malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (ESV)

So why are you so worried about what others thinking about you? God should be THE priority of your life. I think that being weird or strange in this life will be worth it; especially with the good things that come in the next. Those people who call you weird will have to answer to God about their actions. Next excuse?

If someone gets angry at your for standing up for Christ, or makes fun of you, you're blessed. It may not seem like it, but if you're being persecuted for your faith, you're doing something right. That should show you that you're doing the right thing and should take comfort in that because God's pleased with you.

1st Peter 4:12 says: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (ESV)

Matthew 5:10-12 says: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (ESV)

Based on these verses, we see that persecution is going to happen. Just because we're living for God doesn't mean things will be perfect. We're going to be made fun of and get strange looks from time to time. So, yeah; it's going to happen.

Now that we've got those issues out of the way, here's the point: Don't be afraid to speak up and tell others about the gospel! As Christians, we need to feel that urge to want to talk about our faith with everyone (Well, there are some limits. You don't want to force it so much they run away from you), and what a difference God has made in our lives! We need to say these things out of love for other souls.

Visualize this: It's judgment day. Everyone on earth that has ever lived is standing before God waiting for their actions to be weighed and judged. It's your friend's turn. She makes her way up there, and after a minute or two, she starts crying at the top of her lungs; adding to the other group of people's cries to one side of God's throne. Then she looks over at you, screaming, and tears running down her face. “WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME? WHY? DID YOU NOT CARE ENOUGH TO TELL ME?”. This scene is really heartbreaking, isn't it?

I'm sure that every Christian at some point has let opportunities pass to tell their friends about the bible. I know I have...and that's a regret I'll always have to live with. But I'm doing the best I can to learn from my mistakes and not let opportunities slide like I did before. That's kind of why I'm writing these articles. I want to use my experiences, as well as things I've seen happen to others to help other young women be the best faithful members of the church they can.

To wrap this up, you need to speak up, and let others know about God. You never know when the end will come, and there will be no second chances. I hope that the phrase, “Speak now, or forever hold your peace.”, can hold a greater significance to you now. Tomorrow might be too late to tell a loved one about God's love. Please pray that God will help you strive to take opportunities as they are given to you.

God bless,