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,