My Christian books and devotionals kept me from growing closer to Jesus

 

 

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Sometimes I wonder what I would do without my planner and to-do lists. They keep me on track and remind me of the many responsibilities I am tasked with. For those that know me, know how important my relationship with Christ is. I’m always looking for new ways I can grow closer to Him and strengthen my relationship with Him. But I think I hit the point where I let my good intentions weaken rather than strengthen our relationship. I looked at my to-do list and felt so overwhelmed. Overwhelmed to the point where in fear of not being able to complete something fully, perfectly, I just chose not to do anything. Here is what my list looked like:

  • Finish reading the book of Isaiah
  • Finish reading The Lipstick Gospel
  • Do my Soul Script sessions
  • Finish my Lent Study from She Reads Truth
  • Finish Risen Christ Study from She Reads Truth
  • Journal
  • Listen to sermons

On top of that this was my list to start:

  • IF Gathering- Knowing Jesus
  • Write the Word
  • Wholeheartedly
  • Girl Defined
  • Redeeming Love and Hosea study

Studies on the way:

  •  IF Gathering- Redeemed

And my list to buy:

  • The Devo Company devotional
  • Rose and Thorns
  • Cultivate What Matters
  • She Reads Truth Bible
  • Seamless
  • An Unexplainable Life

Whoa. Are you exhausted yet? Because I am! When did my relationship with Christ become just a thing to check off of my to do list? I know it’s important to be intentional and make sure Christ stays number one in my life but do I really need to be reminded?

Finish, finish, finish. Do, do, do. When did those words replace my vocabulary of love, enjoy, renew? How would you feel if your significant other, an important relationship in your life, had to pencil you in? I’d feel like a burden and the last thing I would want God to feel like is some burden in my life. God is my life. It’s important to not let our quiet times with the Lord slip through the cracks with the worries and stresses of the day. But let’s not be so hard on ourselves that we forget to enjoy our one true love.

This past weekend I just wanted to enjoy Jesus. Spend time with Him. Love Him. Not something to check off my list because I’m some good Christian. But something to renew my faith, ignite my hope, and remind me of who I really am- daughter of the King, loved beyond comprehension, and blessed beyond measure.

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photo credit: mortsan Essay Writing… via photopin (license)

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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