I’ve been around people like Josh Duggar my whole life

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The one thing that breaks my heart is watching people walk away from the faith or be turned off by it because of people like Josh Duggar. And what I mean by people like Josh Duggar are people that profess to be something when their actions tell a different story. In short, people who claim to be Christians yet their actions are anything but Christ-like. Do not define Christ by these “Christians.” Do not define Christianity by hypocrites. You can’t. Yet that’s exactly what the media is trying to do.

Stop blaming Christianity for “bad” “Christians.” Please note the quotes. Read the Bible for yourself. In its entirety. It’s the greatest love story ever told. I left the church for about a year when I was younger because of so-called Christians in the church. One of my best friends has been turned off by Christianity because two Christians he considered friends treated him worse than his secular friends. This is a problem. It’s a problem I am constantly trying to fight. Unfortunately, I believe I’ll be fighting it for the rest of my life but the flesh and the sinful nature are to blame for bad choices, not Christianity.

Just because someone says they are a Christian it doesn’t mean they are one. I don’t know if Josh Duggar is a Christian or not. I don’t know his heart. But I do know he claims to be one and I do know his actions have not been that of a Christian. I think I would be married by now if all the men that professed to be saved actually loved Christ the way they say they do. But that’s simply not the case. And I’m not surprised by this. The Bible talks about it. “Many are called, few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14) “Narrow is the path to life, broad is the path to destruction” (Matthew 7:13-14). Many people who claim to be Christian, simply are not. End of story.

Christ’s love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace are never an excuse to sin. Never. One of the best things about Christ is that He loves us so much, even knowing how much we’ve messed up. We’ve all been born with a selfish nature- to look out for ourselves first and foremost. But Christ, when we accept Him, He changes our hearts. The problem I have with the “Josh Duggars” of today, is it appears repentance never precludes this “forgiveness” they speak of. Repentance means you are not only sorry for what you’ve done, but you turn and follow down a different path. Christ forgives us and then tells us to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Sin doesn’t mix well with you anymore. It’s not who you are. It’s rare if you do sin. But no one wants to talk about that. It’s easier to say we will sin again. I’m not saying Christians are perfect and I’m not saying they will never mess up but Christians don’t sin over and over again like this either (1 John 3:9). There is growth. There is change. There is conviction. And the truth is, I see more professed Christians excusing sin rather than fighting it. That’s a problem.

Purity is not some unreachable unrealistic myth, no matter how much the media and society try to make us believe otherwise. I don’t know how Josh Duggar was really raised. We see a limited glimpse into his life. But I will say this, problems can arise when people do not have the proper understanding or respect for what God’s Word says. Everything in the Bible was written for our benefit. And when you start to read the book through that lens rather than a book of cans and cannots, you begin to see the heart of Christ. Instead of reading “If you teach nothing but abstinence, girls get pregnant and contract STD’s” in the headlines, what if we taught abstinence appropriately? What if we were allowed to discuss the emotional turmoil of the hook-up culture freely rather than stating “there is nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage between two enthusiastically consenting adults?” I’m sorry, but there is nothing healthy about that. Nothing. And it’s sad, weak, and a cop out to say that Josh Duggar’s problem could have been solved through more exploration when he was younger. You don’t attempt to solve a problem with another problem.

Your upbringing is not a valid excuse for anything. I read that the way Josh was raised is what led to his criminal behavior. I’m sorry, but do we not have free will? Do we not have the ability to make our own choices? It’s this type of mindset that leads to people not taking responsibility for their own actions. We were all dealt different hands but the cool thing I’ve noticed is that God’s wonderful grace fills in the gaps. It is tragic if Josh was taught the rules and laws of God without seeing Christ’s love for him. But at the end of the day, we all have our own choices to make. And if we take the time to really search for the right answers, I am certain we will find them (Jeremiah 29:13). I just pray we all take ownership over our own lives, stop looking to others, and discover God’s amazing plan for ourselves.

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Dating means letting go, marriage means holding on

I think we have it backwards. Too many people stay in relationships they should have left long ago while others exit when they should have stayed. Maybe it’s just me but I often see these people in dating relationships that just seem miserable. And the excuse is always the same, “Yea, but I love him/her.” Really? What is it you love so much? Okay okay, I don’t want to come across negative but what I really want to tell these people is that they aren’t married and it won’t get better. I think we often think it will. We hope it will at least. And it does in some ways. But I think we forgot the whole concept of dating.

Dating means letting go

Many people who are just dating say they are basically married. What?! If they don’t say it, it’s often implied. It’s fun to think about. We date because we want to be married, well really because we want to be loved. And marriage signifies that. But the whole point of dating is to get to know someone to see if you want to be married to them. You can’t possibly know if you want to marry them until you get to know them. So it’s okay if you end up breaking up- you aren’t married! That is what happens. Yes, we often feel we can’t. We don’t want to quit. We don’t want to fail. We want to work through it. We want to be loyal. All great qualities but it’s simply tragic when it’s wasted on the wrong one because you didn’t think you could break up for whatever reason. It is hard to do but it’s life and it happens. Contrary to what your heart wants to do, you need to balance being “happy go lucky” with objectiveness to see if this is actually the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. No one can be mad at you for breaking up when you are only dating. Well, unless you were a jerk about it;)

Marriage means holding on

So what leads me to believe these people are running into marriages instead of breaking things off? The numerous divorces I see happening in couples just a few years in. That’s what. What happened? What went wrong? We exit marriages quicker than we exit work when the clock hits 5 o’clock. I think a big problem is the fact that people want to get married but they aren’t ready for marriage. At least not with the person they picked. Numerous reasons I am sure. But just like dating is the opportunity to decide whether or not you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, marriage signifies that commitment to actually spend the rest of your life with said person. Commitment. Fighting. Loving. Choosing the other person first. Constantly. So if you’re not ready, don’t get married. If you don’t know the person well enough to know, don’t do it. Marriage is losing its value in our society, but don’t let it lose its meaning in your life.

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Dating, Marriage, and Sex: Part One- What to look for when you are looking for marriage

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I have always been a firm believer in never dating just to date. I really don’t see any benefits in that and someone always ends up getting hurt. That will be someone’s spouse one day- we shouldn’t play with people’s hearts or emotions if we aren’t willing or looking to commit. One of the pastor’s I listen to is Ben Stuart from Breakaway Ministries at Texas A&M. He has a wonderful ministry there and I always appreciate his perspective on things. He did a series awhile back and I wish I could find them but the messages were entitled Sex and Dating and had four parts, I believe. I decided to utilize my notes from his messages to write this series for you all because it has helped me so much in reminding me what’s important when it comes to dating. I would like to preface this with the fact that I don’t believe in checklists but this should serve as a helpful guide to help us all think a little more objectively when our emotions may get the best of us. Ultimately, you have to listen to God and make the best decision for your life.

Anyone can get a date. Let’s just get that out there. Sometimes we get discouraged or feel inadequate, that no one likes us or we’ll always be single but the truth is, we could all get married tomorrow if we really wanted to. And we can’t forget that. Lower your standards enough and you can. But we don’t want to and we shouldn’t have to. Sometimes we get caught up on this whole dating and marriage thing as if it’s the most important thing in the world. And while I think we could all agree that I do think it is one of the most important decisions we will ever make, there are far greater things out there we should be thinking about. We must not forget that one of the coolest and most exciting things about marriage is how it represents and shows how much Christ loves us, loves the church.

I think that we tend to be in such a rush to find someone that we miss the gift of singleness. Yes, you heard right- singleness is such an amazing gift. It allows you to be fully devoted to Christ and Him alone. You don’t have anyone else to worry about and aren’t looking for ways to please another. Don’t get me wrong, marriage is a beautiful thing and with the right one, you both will be so completely powerful together as you both pursue Christ. But with the wrong one, it could prove to be detrimental. Marriage is never about two incomplete people finding wholeness with the other; rather, it is about two complete people complementing each other to create power. THAT is what makes it so amazing and exciting.

Before you even begin to look at dating, you have to have your relationship with God right first. I cannot stress this enough. If you are not complete yourself, you have no business in the dating world because honestly, everyone will fall short. Only when your security and identity is found in Christ, will you be able to engage in healthy relationships. Otherwise, what we see are just mutually exclusive using relationships or partnerships. I hate to be so blunt but that’s what it is and it makes me so sad. Yes, some of them work but they could be so much better! Don’t you want and desire God’s best for your life? Let God fill your heart so you will be complete, lacking nothing and then allow Him to bring the perfect person FOR YOU into life to help complement it. You have to be full of God’s love first if you want to succeed in a loving and healthy marriage. Since God is love and you are full in Him, the rest will just come naturally and you won’t need all these self-help books on how to love or save your marriage, it’s just who you are.

The next six items are things to consider when looking for a spouse. Once again, these are helpful reminders and tips to help us stay focused and not get distracted from what we really want and are looking for. I would also argue that the first two are the most important. The rest don’t necessarily have to be there but I would imagine a lot of hiccups and arguments in the future if they aren’t. Love is the most important thing, but sometimes we need reminders as to what love really is.

1) A believer. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” You can’t really get more clear than this. One, God says it so I would follow it since God only has our best interest at heart. Two, think about it. If God is the most important thing in your life, two things could either happen- you start to resent the person you are with because you can’t share the most important thing in your life with them or two, your relationship with Christ begins to suffer as you start compromising. There have been some very rare instances where the unbeliever gets saved from what we call “evanga-dating” where you witness to your unbelieving partner. However, this is only because of God’s grace and should never be a model for what we pursue.

2) Someone who is morally submitted to God. This one is so important. If you aren’t really following Christ, I would question how much you really believe. I will sum this one up with a quote from Matt Chandler:

“Can I say something to young ladies here? I’m trying to pick my words carefully here. Your husband, whoever he is, single ladies, will have an unbelievable amount of influence over your sons and daughters in regards to spiritual things. If you want your children to love Jesus deeply, hold out for a man that is Godly. And let me tell you this: I am well aware that Godly men are rare. Lots of neat Christian boys, not a lot of Godly men. And we’re working our tails off for you to try to develop some into that. But don’t settle, because it’s better to be lonely now than you be married and lonely later. Are you tracking with me? It is better that you be lonely now than for you to get married to a man that will teach your kids everything but the way of Jesus.”

3) Someone who is moving at the same pace. This is so important. Okay, I find myself saying that a lot but it is so true because I’ve been there and it doesn’t work. You do not want to date or marry a guy you are having to drag to be the spiritual leader. It gets exhausting. I can’t tell how many times I’ve had to encourage the person I’m with to go to church or do devotions with me. It’s fine for a friendship but I am looking for a man to lead me and my family one day. I have such a strong personality outside my personal life, that all I desire is to be lead when I am home- safe and secure. And I don’t think that is wrong. God calls women to submit to their husbands and I have such a strong desire to do that but it has to be to someone I believe in, that hears God and I can look up to and admire. We are always to be chasing after God and how easy and comforting is it if we have someone there who is moving at the same pace as us? We are only here for a short time; you don’t need to settle for someone who will only slow you down.

4) Someone who is theologically compatible. While I don’t think this one is a deal breaker, I do think it is important. I had someone break up with me because we weren’t on the same page in regards to infant baptism, spiritual gifts, and predestination. I was willing to compromise on them because I didn’t think they were deal breakers; he was not. What it came down to was he didn’t want me teaching our kids what I believed as he thought he was correct and 100% right in what he believed. As you can see, this would have created numerous arguments down the road. My personal opinion is that there is not necessarily one denomination that is better than the other but that the person truly has a relationship with The Lord. I believe that there are things in the Bible that are clearly stated, while others are a little more grey. It is up to the two of you to share and discuss your individual relationships with Christ (always look for someone who has a personal relationship with Christ and not just someone who can quote off scripture or popular theologians- personal experience;-) and the Bible to ensure you are on the same page in your beliefs.

5) Someone who is socially compatible. I think this one can change over time but this is where it’s imperative you already have your identity in Christ. Once you know who you are, you can begin figuring out what your purpose is. Oftentimes, we confuse the two or get them backwards, or worse- find our purpose and/or identity in another person. What’s scary is if you don’t know your purpose yet and you end up marrying someone else who does have a clear direction and purpose, only to find out it’s not the direction God had planned for you. I do think sometimes another person can help aid us in finding our purpose so I don’t want to discredit that. But at the same time, God created a deep desire within us to accomplish something for His kingdom utilizing our personal gifts. What a tragedy it would be if we miss out on that by marrying the wrong person. Only you can know this one. If your heart is for missions overseas, you may not be most compatible with a person who feels called to stay in the states and do something else. I don’t know though. I still feel with real love, both people can accomplish big goals for God that may eventually change. Just something to think about.

6) Someone you are physically attracted to. Alright, I am going to be honest- when I first heard this series, I thought this last one was totally superficial. I’ve been around long enough to think that looks won’t matter if I can really find someone who loves God. However, I recently dated a guy that I was not attracted to at all but I thought he really loved God so I was willing to look past that. I did start to think he was cuter when I got to know him more. However, I was never really attracted to him. Our relationship never went anywhere for other reasons but I did spend some time thinking about the attraction thing. I finally concluded that God does not desire for us to be with someone we aren’t attracted to. There is nothing wrong with wanting someone you are attracted to. Thankfully, we are all attracted to different types of people so I don’t believe we will have to settle in this area. It’s not asking too much to have a godly, cute person:)

Wow, okay that was a lot longer than I anticipated. Check back later this week because I’ll continue this with my next post on how you should date because we all know that’s just as confusing;-)

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There is no such thing as right person, wrong time

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Seriously. I’ve heard this numerous times and I just read an article entitled something along the lines of “The joys and pains of meeting the right person at the wrong time.” Umm what?! I’m sorry, but do you realize how rare it is to find the/a right person? And let’s be honest for a second, maybe it’s just me, but if I found what I thought was the right person, I don’t see how or why the “wrong time” would have to stop us from being together. So what do these “wrong times” really mean?

  • The “I just got out of a relationship and need to be single for awhile” excuse. I’ll let you in on a little secret- 99% of the time this line is used as a nice way to reject someone. The other 1% actually recognizes what is going on inside them and hopefully expresses it well enough to let the other person know they can still enjoy a friendship with one another. Besides, starting out as friends is always a plus. The right one will be patient. So tell me how this was really the right person at the wrong time again?
  • The “I just think we are headed in different directions” excuse. Basically, something else is more important to me right now and this relationship is not worth it. You are a great person but more than likely not the one I’m supposed to be with so I’m okay with letting you go. Love always finds a way and if I really thought you were the right person, I’d find a way to be together, while still pursuing my dreams. It’s not rocket science, but it does require two people who both feel the other is the right person for them.
  • The “I’m just too young and don’t know who I am yet” excuse. Legit excuse. However, who says you can’t figure out life with the right person? If anything, I think the right person would be a complement to you and would only help to strengthen and encourage you. But then again, we often get this confused with the wrong person who we like but something deep down in our gut tells us something is wrong. Therefore, this wonderful excuse was born.
  • The “We live in two different places” excuse. While I understand this is a hard one, I firmly believe it’s doable. After realizing how rare it is to find someone you actually like and could see yourself being with for the rest of your life, I honestly believe that with the right person, you can make anything work. This might include giving up on something that is not that important to, compromising, or managing a long distance relationship for a certain period of time. I think we forget that one of the greatest things about being in a healthy relationship is having someone that loves you no matter what and encourages you to achieve all the dreams God placed in your heart. The wrong one will not understand this and have a cookie-cutter life planned out and run the minute things don’t go according to plan.
  • The “This could never work long term” excuse. This one is open-ended. Our families don’t get along. We have different beliefs. You annoy me. Really, this could be anything. We like the person for whatever reason but we don’t want to be with them for the rest of our lives and that’s okay. There will be many people we like for different reasons but that does not mean they are the right person for us. It’ll work with the right person no matter what obstacles may come your way.

What all of these have in common is the fact that they weren’t the wrong time; they were the wrong person for you if you were willing to let them go. Let’s call it what it is. Besides, would the right person really leave you? That doesn’t sound like the kind of right person I would want to be with anyway. And if I’m not willing to work through it or make it work, I deep down don’t think they are the right person either.

Maybe we just need to redefine the term “right person.” Sometimes a right person will come into our life only for a season. We grow, we learn but it doesn’t necessarily mean we are to spend the rest of our lives with this person. This term “wrong time” has such a negative connotation. Embrace the time you have with those at given times in your life. Some come for a lifetime, others for a season and that’s okay. These people can be the right person at the right time. They are a great person, cool person but not the right person (marriage), for us at least. So can we please stop lying to ourselves? Can we please stop using this as a cop out to avoid rejection or rejecting someone else. It’s not the wrong time- it’s just that we are don’t see this going anywhere further and that is nothing to feel bad about.

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Why you do [NOT] have to be financially stable to get married and/or have kids

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I hear a lot, both in and out of the church, about how important it is to be financially stable before getting married or starting a family. While the definitions for ‘financially stable’ may vary, you can quickly pick up on how people feel about the subject through both verbal and non-verbal cues. When a new couple announces their engagement, my first thoughts are how well the couple knows one another, while many others immediately look to the financial side. Although being financially stable- whatever that really means- may be used as a clue into someone’s deeper character- I honestly do not think it should be a determining factor when deciding to get married or have kids. Any family can work with some effort and creativity, and most importantly, love. Call me crazy, but contrary to the popular saying of how you can’t run a family on love, I truly believe you can- and here are some reasons why:

1) You will never be (financially) ready. What does that even mean- financially ready? Is there a set amount? I always love getting my friends’ feedback on my upcoming posts. It makes me view things from a variety of perspectives. A lot of my friends said that if you wait until you feel financially ready for marriage, it will never happen. And I tend to agree. It honestly breaks my heart when I hear people say they are waiting due to financial reasons. Life is so precious and while it is important to plan and not be careless, I don’t believe in allowing money to be a determining factor. And honestly, if it is, I would question the foundation of the relationship. A guy I was dating once made a comment about a couple with three kids who were looking to have another and they weren’t doing too great financially. His tone was enough to show his disapproval. It bothered me. How do you put a price tag on a child? What it really comes down to is what are you (not) willing to give up for another child? It just makes me sad. When I think back to my childhood, the best gifts my parents ever gave me were my siblings. I wouldn’t trade them for any laptop, dance classes, vacations, or anything else we tend to spend money on while saying we can’t afford a family.

2) Love has to be enough. Why? Simply put, if not, then the relationship is dependent on whatever it is you say needs to be there. Why is it that money problems are a leading cause of divorce? Because these relationships were not founded on true love (1 Corinthians 13). They were either founded on a good business deal or partnership or infatuation/lust, but don’t call it love. That is why the “money problems” break up marriages- it was never about love to begin with. Money can serve as a complement to your marriage so you don’t have to worry or stress about certain things but it should never serve as a substitute for love. Never equate someone’s ability to provide for you to how much they love you. With real love you can make anything work. Life is full of uncertainties. What happens if one becomes disabled? One loses their job? House burns down? When you base a relationship on the financial stability level, your relationship lacks the stability it needs to survive and that is why there are so many divorces related to money problems.

3) I’d rather live in a trailer park with 5 kids with love than a fancy house with one kid feeling unloved. Life is short and real love is rare. When you find it, you better hold onto it with all you have. A guy I was dating who owned his own home once asked if I still would had agreed to go out with him if he still lived at home with his parents. This question surprised me and I was somewhat shocked. A lot of thoughts immediately ran through my head. Did he really think that mattered to me? Did he think that made him more of a man because he didn’t live at home? Were his priorities the same as mine? Did he not understand why I liked him or what attracted me to him in the first place? In some ways I was offended. But as time went on, I learned why he had thought that. For many men that is part of what they are taught equates to success and being able to take care of a woman and family. While it was nice he had thought about those things, I came to later find out he lacked the one thing I desire above all else. True love. Genuine love. While you can make choices to put others first, you can’t make yourself love if you don’t have any love to give. A person knows when they are truly loved. At least I know.

4) True love is the best motivator. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is how much we loved. While it’s certainly nice to have the latest gadgets and be debt free, these things won’t matter in the end. “He who dies with the most toys still dies.” I believe we were all called to live for something so much greater than this life. Sometimes we get so caught up planning for our future in this life that we forget to take the steps to plan for our future in the next. We don’t know how long we are here for and our time to leave could come at any moment. I see so many people my age that are miserable because they are so set on planning for the future. Don’t get so caught up on the future that you miss out on the present. One of the biggest regrets of so many old people is how much time they spent working. Enjoy today. Love. Real love comes from God and understanding of how much God loves us. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” -1 John 4:8 When we truly love our spouse and our kids, anything is possible and we can make anything work. And I don’t even like to call it work because, to me, loving and being loved is such a precious gift and makes everything worth it and so much better. I can’t wait to experience that kind of love with my future husband.

-the virgin heartbreaker

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