Hungry?

The importance of our walk with God isn’t always recognizable until we have drifted away from it. Imagine that you are taking a walk, and you ate dinner right before you left.  You may not feel the need for food at the time because you are still full from the last meal, but the further you walk without food, the more you feel the need for it.  If you ignore the need, the pangs will go away for a while.  Eventually, if you ignore them completely, you will starve to death.

People generally don’t starve themselves to death because the discomfort of starvation keeps them in search of food.  The survival mechanism takes over, and no matter what it takes, most people will make sure they are fed and clothed at the very least.  We feel a need to be fed because our  bodies cannot operate properly without sustenance.

The sustenance of God’s word keeps us living in His light.  When we starve ourselves from the commands of God we are operating in a weakened state.  We can’t walk as far or as long.  Yet often our temporal priorities overwhelm our eternal ones.  How many times do we consider our physical hunger over our spiritual need?  Probably more than we should!

This doesn’t make eating wrong or unspiritual.  This puts priorities in perspective.  The food we eat is a symbol of the food of God’s Word that keeps us energized throughout the day.  Some people choose to fast food to place their minds on things of eternal consequence.  Not everyone needs to do this.  However, it reminds us of our purpose here: not to satisfy the impulsive desires of nature but to fulfill our duties to an eternal God.

As young women, we all need to attain and maintain a hunger after God.  Following Him should be as necessary as breakfast!  Unless His word is taken to heart it will not be taken through life.  Make Him your strength throughout the day, just like the food you eat.  This is what draws and keeps us close to Him!

To Think About

  • Where is God on your priority list?  How about His word?
  • Do you have a need/hunger for God?  Why or why not?
  •   What are ways you can “feed” on the word of God?

Oh, God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water… My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”  (Ps.63:1-7)

Lord, Only You Can Change Me

“Why? Why did I do it again?  Why do I fail You every time?” It seems that those words have filled my prayers more often than not.  I thought I was strong in one area, only to give in to temptation as soon as it tipped its cap my direction.  Frustration and tears were my constant companions during my time with God in the morning.  The condemning words of John 14:15 rang in my ears:  “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”  Did I really love God at all?

The doubt that crept into my soul was not conviction, though at the time that is what I considered it to be.  My guilt over sin brought me to repentance, but the fact that I failed in those areas again caused me to wonder if I had really been sorry in the first place.  Yet I knew in my heart that I hated the sin — and that I had truly repented to God.  I would be fine… until the temptation came again and I gave in. 

Guilt leads to repentance, but my failure and consequential remorse never seemed to go away.  I was in a circle of fail-repent-doubt-fail that never seemed to end.  It wasn’t until I read the words of Hannah Whitall Smith, in her book The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life, that I understood where I was going wrong in my relationship with God. 

Hannah Smith wrote an entire chapter on ‘Failure’, and as I read it, I was astounded at what I read.  Failure will come, she said, and when it does, repent in earnest and then get up.  “But isn’t that impertinent?” I wondered to myself.  Hannah confronted that thought right away with an illustration:

If you were a mother, and you had a daughter who disobeyed you but came to you repentant of her deed, would you not forgive her?  Then when you had forgiven her earnest repentance, what would you think if sat on the sofa, still crying, because she didn’t believe you had really forgiven her?  Her lack of faith would be the cause of her own pain. 

The only way to conquer, Hannah wrote, is to “get up off your face” and walk in victory.  Christ has promised if you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9).  In my quest to not be “impertinent” I was slapping the face of the God who forgave me when I asked.  In my hopes to avoid “ungratefulness” I doubted the sacrifice He made on the cross.

The root of my problem, then, was striving to change myself into the image of God. I was doing things on my own, even though it seemed that I was doing them for God.  I missed the entire point of repentance to God:  He will change me, if I believe Him.  That is true surrender.  That is a repentant heart.

Any Man of Mine

“Do not put your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation…” (Ps. 146:3)

 It seems that everywhere I look I see books on waiting, courtship, dating, and singleness; blogs and posts about it; podcasts and magazines, articles and videos — the list goes on.  It’s a hot topic today.  Our world of fleeting romance is definitely not the ideal.  Yet it seems that as a result of choosing the path of purity we are turning out members of society with the ‘ideal’ as their ultimate focus.  Most of it belongs to the feminine side of the equation.  Some belongs to the masculine side.  With the commitment to purity, it seems that many young people form an idealistic concept of who, when, where and how, and when theses dreams don’t take place quickly, the participating faithfuls begin to lose faith.

High school is far too young for young people to be dabbling in relationships.  This is a fundamental idea that with any rational thought can be perceived as perfectly valid.  But what about afterward?  Why is the homeschool/purity movement producing persons (especially women) whose only real desire is to ‘get married’? 

The problem is not with marriage.  I truly believe that marriage is wonderful and I will be delighted when it happens to me.  Yet I have observed, over and over, young women leaving the nest of homeschool with one purpose alone: to catch a man.  My dear persevering relatives have seen this same tendency in me — although not so much to ‘catch’ one, as simply to throw my dime-a-handful fish pellets in the water and see if any come around. 

Girls will dream of their wedding day, that is a given.  But what about making your life around a wedding day?  Until you reach that time, you will not have a purpose.  No goal except to find a mate.  With any other object this may be attainable — a job, an education, even a home — since these things can be found and earned.  A mate is an entirely different animal… a human.  As time goes on, this human can become a god:  all youth is spent in pursuit of him, much time is spent in dreaming of him, and marriage, a wedding and a mate can become all you ever want out of life.

So what happens… when the wedding is over?  What then?  Wedding days are over by sundown, honeymoons are over in a week, and then there’s the rest of a lifetime to deal with.  Tests and trials much like singleness come — often much more difficult as the family must provide for itself.  What then?

The Ideal Mate suddenly is revealed as a sinning human, as well as are you — despite all the preparation for marriage.  If marriage was your idol before the ring, your eyes are opened wide as you see that it’s not all romance and candles.  All the time spent to attain it may make you wonder if it was well spent at all.  Did you redeem the time of your youth?  Did you make the most of the years you had?

Preparing for marriage is an admirable goal, and I would never say to stop learning to be a homemaker or provider (whichever you may happen to be).  At the same time, if that is your only goal in life it is a low-sighted vision.  While God works mightily through married couples, He can work mightily through anyone who is called by His name.  Those with the freedom of singleness are often more readily available than those that are wed, as with the Apostle Paul:

“Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.  I wish that all were as I myself am.  But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.  To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am…”  (1 Cor. 7:6-7)

Would I like to stay single for a long time?  No.  I want hugs and kisses too.  My mom and dad seem to have a rather fun time with it, and I wouldn’t mind trying it myself with my husband someday.  However, if that becomes my only goal then I am making an idol out of something that is a blessing of God, not God himself.  It is the same with a career or an education — or anything that takes the place of God in our lives.  Yet it often seems that marriage is somehow given a license to take this position in the lives of young people while careers and educations are not, especially to girls.

You may be alarmed by the feministic ring to that last statement, but don’t be; I will tell you what I am for.  I am for young men and women making these years when they are unmarried, without commitments and people to provide for, the years that they fill with learning and moving forward.  These are the years to do things you dream of — not in a selfish way, which the world recommends, but the dreams that God lays on your heart.  Dreams beyond marriage.  Once a woman has children she should be in the home educating them as her God-given position in the family.  But until then, she has work to do either for her husband or for her God.

Marriage can seem like the safe haven that escorts a girl out of her parents’ home into the home of her husband.  She never has to face ‘the world’.  The truth is that we live in the world.  We may not be of it, but we sure better be able to face it.  We had better know what to say and do, how to speak and how to teach — and in these things we can still be all the wife or husband that we need to be.  In fact, we will most likely be better. 

Any man of mine will be worthy of my respect and love because he went out into the world and accomplished the dream God laid on his heart.  He will be my hero because I will see in him a man who took his time and redeemed it, preparing for me by not wasting his time dreaming of me, but working to support me.  And I will do the same:  use these years to their maximum.  So when my man and I meet, our years together will be twice as powerful as our years apart.  That’s my dream, and marriage is a part of it — but marriage isn’t the dream itself. 

Society may be set against marriage, instead being a proponent of the ‘swinging single’ image, but that does not give us the license to take the pendulum the other direction with the idea that marriage is the ‘only way’.  We must strike a balance, with morality as our guide and God as our hope, knowing that our work for Him will be effective whether we have a spouse at our side or not.  When He is in His rightful place, then He can give us those blessings that we desire.

Understanding Forgiveness

Many people refer to Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”  It is a wonderful promise!  Yet — what about when we feel condemned?  If there is no condemnation with Christ, how come we can feel that way?

I have put a lot of thought into this, and prayed about it, and searched my Bible about it.  Why were there times when I would feel as if I were separated from God?  Why did I feel like I was drowning in my own sinfulness, and that no matter how much I repented, I wasn’t getting out?  It took some time, but I came to understand the reason for those feelings.  I also came to understand how to conquer them.  They are conquered by knowing the character of your God.

I was never taught that God was judgmental or cruel.  I was taught that He was a loving God, but that He was also just and good.  But while I knew God, I didn’t really know God.  I knew what I was told about Him, but I didn’t read what He said about Himself.  Because of this, my idea of forgiveness was not what He Himself projected. 

There are certain sins I have a propensity toward, just like everyone else.  Everyone has a specific weakness that Satan works to our downfall.  Every time I would commit one of these sins, I would feel terribly guilty.  I would feel condemned.  Perhaps you have felt this before.  This, my friends, is to be expected if you are walking with Christ.  God’s perfect law convicts us of our sin, and through that conviction, we feel guilty.  For the Christian, this guilt leads to repentance.  And with each time I sinned, I would repent — sometimes in tears.  Guilt in and of itself is not wrong, because it leads us to repent to God so He may reinstate us to Him.

But sometimes the guilt wouldn’t go away.

This is where the trouble lies.  Or perhaps I should say, this is where the Trouble lies — because the root of this is Satan’s lie.  See, when we repent, Christ makes us the promise of forgiveness, if it is genuine repentance:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  ~1 John 1:9

That should be reassurance enough.  However,  in my case, I would get up from my knees still wondering if God had forgiven me.  “How could he forgive me for that sin again?”  Or I still felt in my heart the same condemnation that I felt before, even though I had repented. I decided that because I didn’t FEEL forgiven, I wasn’t.  What I didn’t understand is that God doesn’t deal in feelings — He deals in faith. 

Satan wants us to operate in a state of guilt after we are forgiven because it often leads to a repeat of the same sin.  While a measure of condemnation, genuine repentance, is necessary when we sin, to continue allowing it to reside in our hearts after we have asked God to take us back is to allow Satan to have a hold.  Often, I would wallow around in a self-deprecating pity party over the sin, thinking God couldn’t have forgiven me, and then I would commit the sin all over again because I had given up. 

God PROMISES that when we repent to Him, He will take us back. He will restore us, forgive us, and help us to move forward in His light.  My problem was with a verse I had read: “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (Jn. 14:15).  I thought that since I had stumbled and fallen so many times in the same area, I didn’t love the Lord.  How could I?  I had sinned against Him over and over!  The truth is, we will fail, fall and stumble — but every time we are to get up, in faith, and trust that if we ask God will forgive.  This doesn’t mean we intentionally sin more, as Paul said in Romans 7; it just means that we make Him our complete source of righteousness.  Walking in this humility will naturally bring about the character we lacked before.

“Blessed is she whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered…” (Ps. 32:1)

“…God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear…” (1 Cor. 10:13)

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (Jn. 15:8)

“Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” (Job 5:17)

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  (Heb. 12:11)

Guilt leads us to repentance.  Repentance reunites us with the Living, loving Lord:

“…This is what the Lord says:  “When men fall down, do they not get up?  When a man turns away, does he not repent?” (Jer. 8:4)

Don’t wallow!  Get up in faith and genuine repentance and trust Christ to be your righteousness.  Yield to the power of Christ in you!  He is the God of the world, and the one who loves you.  He does not want you apart from Him — and if you ask in faith, believing what He says about Himself, He will reinstate you to Him.  Don’t go by feelings.  Feelings fluctuate and change.  Act in faith, and the emotions will follow — and you will know that only in Christ are you forgiven.

“He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge.”  (Ps. 144:2)

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

An Introduction to Atheism

In the past few months I have been studying the subject of atheism and the beliefs it involves. Surprisingly, it has been a fascinating study and has yielded a lot of interesting information. Atheism had never been of interest to me prior to a visit I took to the library, when I found the book The God Delusion by renowned atheist Richard Dawkins. I decided to take the book home and see what the fellow believed and if it was anything to be concerned about as a Christian. He gave me plenty of reason for concern.

Atheism in the past has been somewhat laughable, and certainly has never been what could be called “mainstream”. For the most part, people believe there is a “God”, but the definition of this individual varies from person to person. Recently, however, there has been a renewed interest in atheistic concepts. This is primarily due to the publication of several books by outspoken non-believers; i.e., Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. While atheism before was more of a “closet” worldview, consisting simply of an unbelief in the existence of God, this “new atheism” is much more volatile. There is more to it than simply holding that God isn’t there. The new atheism has adopted a vicious approach to all things religious, primarily directing its vehemence toward Christianity.

What is atheism? By formal definition, atheism is:

“The disbelief in the existence of a God, or Supreme intelligent Being.” (Webster’s Dictionary)

The prefix ‘a’ is always taken to mean “against” or “the opposite of”, as in the case of words like asymmetrical. The word atheism, then, literally means “against-theism”, or “the opposite of theism”. What is theism? The belief in the existence of a God. The majority of theists are represented by the Christian faith, who believe in a God who is personal and involved in human affairs. We have seen that atheism is defined as the denial of the existence of God — however, the new atheism goes further. The new atheism is better phrased as anti-theism — not simply denying God, but ferociously fighting everything in relation to Him.

Atheists have several fundamental concepts, or core values, that are central to their worldview. Without these principles, atheists would be unable to defend their position. The four most important concepts/claims of atheism are:

1. Freedom from bias and faith

2. The inherent goodness of man

3. The infallibility of science

4. The theory of evolution.

Whether conscious of it or not, atheists depend upon the validity of these concepts for the bulk of their arguments. There is a funny quote that says, “An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support”. Though meant as a joke, this is a true statement. While Christians appeal to God and the Bible in interpreting the world, atheists are left basing their views on opinion and theory. A common atheistic claim is that they found their beliefs on the “evidence”. However, a direct appeal to the evidence can never suffice as an argument. The evidence is available to interpretation by all people, not only the atheists, and depending on your worldview, you will translate the evidence in that light. Thus, atheists are not free of bias, but bring certain values of their own into the equation. These values include the latter three concepts stated above: the inherent goodness of man, the omniscience of science, and the theory of evolution. Each of these concepts are far from being universal truths, and are entirely founded upon first, a surprising lack of proof, and secondly, an alarming abundance of faith.

The battle-flag of atheism bears the motto “freedom from faith” — or so the atheists would like us to think. Never have I heard such scorn for faith than from the mouths of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, who label it as superstition and equate it to the mindset of a helpless infant. This disdain for what is, in essence, dependency and trust in our Creator, derives from how atheists define it. Dawkins describes faith as “belief without evidence”. This definition of faith is faulty, and is used as a crutch to those who wish to ridicule the faithful while remaining loyal to what they themselves believe. The key word here is believe. Atheists believe there is no God — they can never prove He isn’t there! It takes more faith to believe there isn’t a God than to believe there is — the world itself is a picture of order and symmetry that random chance processes and destructive natural selection could never provide. Freedom from faith? I don’t think so!

But why even address atheism? How does it affect us, Christians, today? While the majority of people you meet on the street may not be atheists, they have undoubtedly heard and/or accepted the ideas propagated by these “intellectuals”. The leading atheists are not only intelligent (in the merest sense that they have a high IQ) but have taken pains to thrust themselves into the limelight. Their books top the New York Times best-sellers list and their debates have drawn a great amount of attention over the past decade. Their influence on society should not be underestimated. People in our culture are seeking truth, and the ideas presented by these well-spoken scientists and modern philosophers will be readily accepted if we do not present the real Truth to them.