Monday, October 31, 2011

Taggin' Up the Ag Barns!

The other day in one of my classes we began discussing high school traditions for small town kids.  Every small town has it.  That one adventurous, and probably illegal action that all teenagers look forward too.  For some it's a traditional Senior Prank, for others it's an annual road trip, but the teens in Frederick High School have something different altogether.

Just inside the Frederick city-limits, there's a long windy gravel road.  If you're new in town you'd never find this road.  It's nestled tightly in between an old barn and an open field leading out of town.  Follow the road all the way down and you'll run into a huge set of tin barns, better known as the ag-barns.   Some of the local FFA kids store their animals inside these barns, but other than that not much goes on inside these barns anymore.  The outside of the barns is where all the action happens.

As you approach the barns from the south you'll see the masterpiece.  Well, an obnoxious masterpiece I'd call it.  The gangster-licious straight-thuggin' wannabe class of 2008 painted over all the senior names from years past and made their own mural that reads "Seniors 2008."  How unique and innovative! (That was sarcasm by the way.)  Underneath the mural you will find all the names from the 2008 Seniors, as well as a few other choice words from my classmates. :)

The real masterpiece, I dare say, is on down the road a bit.  The west side of the barn goes on for a good half-mile showcasing senior names from my Dad's class of '77 to last year's seniors of 2011.  I love spending time walking down that old dirty road, kicking dust with my boots and reminiscing on all the old names and people.  My friends and I used to talk for hours discussing all the rich tradition and historical depth these barns hold.  From our parents to our piers, there is a little story for every 18 year old who has passed through Frederick High.

My own story of "tagging" the Senior Barns is quite thrilling actually.  It was a few days before graduation, and my good friend who was also a foreign exchange student at the time was with me.  We had been cruisin' around downtown, checking out all the action for the night, trying to decide what to do.  As we pulled up to the local hang out, a gas station ran by the local farmer's coop, we asked everyone what was goin' on that night.  No one really had any plans, so Ingrid and I sat on the back of a friend's tailgate for a while, just shootin' the breeze.

During the conversation, tagging the Senior Barns came up--bing--a light bulb went off in my head.  "Ingrid," I said, "We're SENIORS and we haven't tagged our name on the barn yet!"  Her eyes got big as she responded "You're right, what is wrong with us," she half jokingly asked in amazement.

"Anybody got some spray paint?" I hollered at the group of cowboys around us, of course they had spray paint.  
"I got some white paint in my toolbox, why?" one of my good friends and fellow FFA members replied.

"Ingrid and I have to go tag the senior barn!"

"You mean you haven't done that yet?" he asked surprisingly.  "Here take it," he said as he tossed me the can of spray paint.

Ingrid and I jumped in my '98 Grand Prix and headed down the road to the ag barns.  Adrenaline, excitement, and mischief filled our bodies as we reached our destination.  This is what I had been waiting for my entire life.  This what I went to school for.  And this is what seals my identity as a Frederick Bomber forever.

Ingrid, on the other hand, was just stoked to be there, her friends back home never did anything like this.  First we walked the half-mile of tin, looking for just the right place.  We saw Jimmy, Chaz, Justin, and all the other rowdy guys from our class.  A little further we saw Kimberly, Mariechen, and Laney, some of the girls in our grade, and then in between some 2007 names and a group from our class, we found it.  The perfect little clearing for two 09ers.  The names underneath were very faded and the names above and below had worn off with years of wear and tear.  "This is it." We turned to each other and grinned mischievously.

"You go first," she said.

"Okay!  I'm ready," I exclaimed as she handed me the spray paint.  Hmm..what should I write?  I thought intensively for a few moments before I decided.  Psshh...I pressed the nozzle on the can and stopped as we both jumped with excitement.  After a few giggles I began again, this time carefully holding down the trigger till each letter and number was perfected.  "Haley 2009" it read.  I stepped back as Ingrid and I gave it a nod of approval and a high-five of excitement.

"Okay, I guess it's my turn," she said.  Ingrid carefully stepped down into the grassy ditch, her legs getting scraped and torn from the lack of covering flip-flops and shorts provided.  "This is crazy," she yelled at me with a laugh, and then she went to work.  Ingrid knew exactly where she would right and what it would say. Just below my name she signed her dedication to Frederick High School in white spray paint.  "Ingrid '09," it read.
And it was at that moment we knew we were part of a long, long tradition of high school seniors.

...And KEEP Guarding That Heart!

I'm starting to think I could write a book on this subject.  I hope all of this babbling is making sense.  PLEASE post questions and comments if you don't understand.

Today I want to look at Luke 12:22-34
In this passage Jesus is instructing the disciples not to worry about anything.  Worrying about what to eat, what to wear, who to marry, how to's all meaningless!  Jesus tells us to examine the birds.  They are so carefree and at rest with their surroundings.  Sure they don't have a house, a promised meal, or even certainty that they will survive the day, but they don't care.  They joyful live life at rest with God leading them every step of the way.  That's how we ought to be.

"And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; 
do not worry about it.   
For the pagan world runs after all such things, 
and your Father knows that you need them.  
But seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well."

This verse reminds us that worrying our hearts out about things we can't control is like telling God we don't trust him.  The passage also explains to us that these things we worry about do not effect our eternity anyways, so why do we care?  If food is what you worry about, that shows that you treasure food.  If finding a boyfriend is what consumes your mind, then that is your treasure.  If pursuing the things of God is all you think about, that is your treasure.  

Verse 31 pointed out that if we pursue God first, all of our other worries will be taken care of.  Why? Because God is truly the only thing that matters.  Focus on the eternal things.  Food, relationships, popularity, your figure...all of that will surely fade.  But God and God's word will never fade away.

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Luke 12:34

Where is your treasure?  Where do you spend your time?  Does this reflect your pursuit of God first or does it reflect the worries of the world?

The desires of our heart control how we act and respond in situations.  Every circumstance is either helping us obtain that desire, or standing in our way of what we want.  What you worship controls you.

What's in your treasure chest?

Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands talks a lot about this issue.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ginger Problems

A few days ago I had a friend of mine come to me with what he thought was a very pressing issue. Worried and distraught, he explained to me a growing problem across the globe, a problem so rare and so wild that most people have skipped right over it. In fact, I myself was unaware until he further explained. At first look some might say it’s not really a problem at all. Others would say it was a good thing, but nevertheless this young lad was terribly concerned.

This devastating problem is that our world is suffering from a severe lack of redheads. Now before you laugh, please understand that research has proven this fact, and it is indeed a problem. Why? For one thing, studies show that people in general are more attracted to redheads. For another thing, they were already rare to begin with!

The gene for red hair is said to have begun with the Celts, a people group similar to the Scottish. The Scottish currently have the highest population of reds, but still only hold thirteen percent of their entire population. On top of that, the American population only holds two percent redheads, and overall, it is estimated that less than one percent of the entire world has naturally red hair. Some scientists predict the red population will become extinct by 2060. This is because only four percent of the population holds the red hair gene, MC1R.

Speaking of MC1R, it’s interesting if you think about it. Most people with red hair do not have redheaded parents. This is because the redheaded gene is recessive, which means red hair is a genetic mutation.

This rare gene is not only a stereotype, but a proven scientific fact. Perhaps this is why many people think redheads are strange, weird, or different. Personally, I feel like redheads are gorgeous. There’s something about those fierce fiery locks that’s exciting, tantalizing, and oh-so breathtaking. Finding a redhead is like finding a white diamond in the middle of the scorching desert. It’s rare, it’s gorgeous, and it’s different. Reds stand out amongst the crowd. They can boldly make a statement with just one turn of the neck.

Unfortunately, like most uncommon and unnaturally beautiful things, redheads are often under respected. This unsettling act became a depressing phenomenon in 2005 when the hit TV show, South Park introduced Season 9, Episode 11: “Ginger Kids.” Thus began the ever-popular ginger jokes, including the fact that they “don’t have souls.” Fast forward a few years and 37,466 people are following @GingerProblems on Twitter. Like I said, a gross phenomenon.

Although I myself am not a full ginger, I do have a red tint in my hair, blonde eyelashes, and I used to have freckles. So it’s close. I guess it would help if I clearly defined ginger. defines it this way:

 A human, characterized by pale skin, freckles and bright red hair.
 "Gingers" are generally considered to be inferior to their more melanin-rich brethren, 
and thus deservingly discriminated against. Gingers are thought to have no souls. 
 The condition, "gingervitis" is genetic and incurable.

As for the no souls part, that just happens to be a common misconception. I have two wonderful people in my life that are ginger, and as far as I know they have plenty of soul. One helps out with the children’s department at my home church, and the other faithfully films the local football team for volunteer hours. In fact, most redheads seem to be pretty nice if you ask me.

The TV show, South Park created the “gingers have no soul” joke for the entertainment purposes of teenage boys. Lucky for the producers, the episode went viral and has caused a world-wide trend of “Ginger jokes.” Sadly, most young kids have taken the joke too far.

  For example, Gwendolyn Russell, a Canadianteenager, was kicked dozens of times repeatedly on “Kick a Ginger Day,” a holiday her classmates made up. Although her mother fought the issue with the local school board, no kids were suspended. This is just one of many stories redheads have endured because of the South Park jokes.

Also, a few weeks ago reported a new bromance between Ed Sheeran and Rupert Grint, who are both ginger. “Gingers everywhere will be feeling all warm and fuzzy inside at this show of brotherhood between Ed and Rupe,” the site said. Basically the only news is that two gingers are dating and that is very rare.

On a more positive note, a few of the gingers have rallied back to create their own support. Conan O’Brien and Elmo teamed up to create a public service announcement to inform kids that, “Having red hair is cool,” as Elmo says.

Some of the greatest people to even live were redheads. Lucille Ball, Strawberry Shortcake, and Reba McEntire were all fabulous in flames. As for the men, I’m pretty sure Prince Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and Vincent Van Gough have done pretty well for themselves despite their ginger qualities.

Perhaps these ginger jokes can be compared to the story of the ugly duckling that was always made fun of until one day he turned into a beautiful swan. Perhaps redheads are made fun of because of their exceptional good looks. Perhaps one day they will become “swans,” the most coveted of people.

If you are a red-head you should celebrate your natural hair color! Don’t cover it up with the normal colors we see every day. I bet one day our country will have a national Ginger day. That seems to be the trend with all other minorities here. White people used to hate Indians until Thanksgiving, and African Americans were treated horribly, but now we have Martin Luther King Day and Black History month. There are many examples of groups who go from being hated to being admired.

So take heart gingers. One day your flawless pale skin will be celebrated! Imagine all the blondes in the world dressing up with red wings and white paint. Thousands of people painting light orange freckles all over their face, arms, and shoulders. What a shining day that will be, literally.

Friday, October 28, 2011

More on Guarding Your Heart

The effort of guarding your heart is a conscience decision.  It is not natural, neither is it fun.  It's a mature thing to do in your Christian walk.  Consciously protecting your heart will effect every other area of your life.

Chapter 4 of Proverbs alone tells us about learning to control our body.
  • Verse 24 warns us to guard our mouth and lips
  • Verse 25 tells us to fix our eyes on what is in front of us (guarding our eyes)
  • and Verses 26-27 warns us about guarding our feet and our paths
  • But again, above all else we are to guard our hearts
Matthew 12:34 says, "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."  In other words, what comes out of your mouth is a direct reflection of what is in your heart.  Therefore guarding your heart will help guard your mouth and lips.  This is why we are to guard our heart above everything else.  It is the root of everything that flows from us.

Verse 35 goes on to further explain, "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him."  Again, out of of heart everything else flows, our speech, our thoughts, and our actions.

In Matthew 15 Jesus explained that breaking a religious rule does not make us sinful, but the motives in our heart behind it does.  Verses 19-20 say, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander.  These are what make a man 'unclean'..."

     This thought is reitterated in Mark chapter 7, which explains that what comes out of a man is what makes him "unclean," or sinful, not what goes into him.  Therefore meditating on lust and pornography isn't the sin, it is the motives of your heart behind that action that makes you unclean, and because your heart is warped when looking upon such things, your actions will therefore reflect that.  And so, these actions, attitudes, and behaviors are what "come out of a man" and so they "make him unclean." 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Guarding Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23
"Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life."

By now you've probably heard me mention this verse and guarding your heart many times, although it was recently brought to my attention that many people do not understand exactly what this means and looks like.  That's what this post is for.

First of all, let's look at the word heart.  The Hebrew word originally used was leb, which is defined as the heart, the feelings, and the intellect, or in other words, the center of everything. (Strong's Bible Dictionary) The Wesley commentary describes the heart as one's thoughts, will, and affections.

Taking all this into consideration, I would describe the heart as a person's passions, desires, and emotions. So these are the things Solomon is telling us to guard when he says "guard your heart."  But why is this so important?
  • In Job 31:1, Job talks about the importance of "keeping," or training your eyes not to look at things that cause you to sin, such as lustful looks towards a woman.  (Matthew 5:28-29 go further into detail about this.)  Point being: we guard our eyes.
  • Ecclesiastes 5:1 tells us to "guard our steps" when we go to the house of God, in other words, be careful.
  • Psalm 34:13 "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies."  We are told to guard our lips and tongue from evil.
  • And above all of this, God tells us to guard our hearts.
The NIV Study Bible says, "Our heart--our feelings of love and desire--dictates in a great extent how we live because we always find time to do what we enjoy."  The caution in this verse is to keep healthy boundaries on those passions and desires.  Make sure these feelings are pulling you in the right direction, and not away from God.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Anthem for the Insecure

"Mirror I am seeing a new reflection
                                          I'm looking into the eyes of he who made me
And to him I am beauty beyond compare
I know, he defines me. Yeah yeah"

              Songs of Songs 4:7
"All beautiful you are, my darling;
there is no flaw in you."
                      --God Almighty

Ephesians 2:10
"For we [YOU] are God's workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My plea to the guys...

As I sit here praying for the male friends and family in my life my hearts absolutely breaks.  Not just for them, but for the women in their life.  They don't realize that what they do causes years of pain and hurt like nothing else.
Guys: When you date a young woman, you are responsible for her heart.

Because I have many male friends, I know they don't understand this, but I pray oh so hard that they would at least try to understand.  There is no "dating for fun" when it comes to dating women.  What may just be a time filler for you, is oh so much more to her, even if she doesn't say it or show it.

You see, men battle with lust at the same intensity women battle giving their heart away.  Guys say lust is the hardest battle because it's all around them, always tempting them--immodest clothes, sex on tv, porn, and anything else the devil can use.

Women on the other hand, are engaging in just as big of a battle, it's just not as well known yet.  The Genesis 3:16 curse says that women's desire will be for her husband, and Satan of course has turned it into an all out war.  Women are just as surrounded with this desire as men are with lust.  Romance movies, love songs, Facebook statuses, and even other couples.

When you date a girl, she is undoubtedly already thinking about marriage in the back of her head.

I know this is really hard for guys to understand, but I try to explain it in a real way.  Girls can back me up on this.  Okay, let's say you see a cute girl across the room.  She catches your attention, so you smile at her and lock eye contact for a few seconds.  That may have been all you wanted to do.  You may or may not have had any intent of even talking to her, but that's not what went on in her mind.

She's standing there gabbing with her friends about Stacy's new boyfriend and how perfect they are for each other, when suddenly she catches your stare.  As you lock eyes for 3 heart-pounding seconds, her breath increases, her pupils dialate, and a picture flashes in her mind, a picture of you and her holding hands in public together.  Innocent enough right?

Wrong.  As she explains to her friends what just happened, they make the situation worse.  Do you think he likes you?  What if he asks you out?  Do you know what kind of job he has?  All these questions spin through her head as she begins to put you together.  When she goes home that night she tries to reassure herself that it was just a glance, nothing happened...yet.  But then her mind begins to reel as she pictures all the fun times you'll have together, she pictures the hang out spot you two will share, the song you play at your wedding, what color the dress will be, how many months you'll be engaged...and on and on and on.  The madness never stops.  It's a crazy cycle that girls have to train themselves for years to get out of.  

This is where conterfeit bonding, or emotional attachment comes in.  In this scenario, you can see that this young girl has already given you a piece of her heart, and she knows absolutely nothing about you.  I can't even explain how much worse this gets as you begin dating her.

So please, don't date a girl unless you have a strong interest in marrying her someday.

Paul tells us in Romans 14:21 that it is better to not do something if it causes your brother to stumble.  In other words, if dating, texting, or "talking" causes a young woman's thoughts to be consumed with you, or causes her heart to be put out on the line, the godly thing to do is to lay it down at the foot of the throne.  

Guys: Are you playing with a woman's heart?  Is God showing you the depth of the wounds a woman's heart endures?  Is there something you need to change? What and how?

Girls:  Did you even realize you were wired like this?  If so, how have you been guarding your heart lately?  What do you need to do differently?  Have you been letting Satan control your desire for a husband instead of trusting God?

Expect more on guarding your heart soon... 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Holy, Holy, Holy

Ho-ly [hoh-lee] adjective.
    1. specially recognized as or declared sacred by religious use or authority; consecrated: holy ground.
    2. dedicated or devoted to the service of God
    3. having a spiritually pure quality: a holy love

Greek: hagios
    Sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated)
    [properly clean, innocent, modest, perfect, chaste, clean and pure.]

I did not make up the Greek definition.  Read through the second line and tell me what holy looks like to you.

1 Peter 1:14-16
"As obedient children, 
do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  
But just as he who called you is holy, 
so be holy in all you do
for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'"

2 Corinthians 7:1 says, "...let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."  What contaminates your body and spirit?  The evil desires of your flesh no longer control you because God has set you free in his love.  We are now free to be holy.  As Christians we want to be holy because it is a form of loving and worshiping God. It is a form of imitating God, which is the whole goal of our life.

So once again I ask you, "What contaminates your body and spirit?"  What is that secret sin have you been holding on to, the one that is slowly eating away at your holiness, separating you from the joy of Christ.  It might be a sin you just recently picked up, or it might be a long-term sin you never really got rid of in the first place.
Either way, do you see the effects it is having on your walk with the Lord?  Do you see how this desire contaminates your body?  Get rid of it!  Leave it now and turn to your God who has promised to receive you as soon as you let go of the unclean things. (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Addiction Example 2

Attention from the opposite sex.

Another example of this addiction is found more commonly in twenty-somethings.  Your young but your adult, your finished with school, out on your own, and it's just time to get married.  After years of singlehood, there's no way you'd ever fall for a bum!  ...or is there?

I've seen this happen to far too many young women.  They spend a period of time waiting for Mr. Right, promising themselves nothing and no one will get in there way when it comes to marrying tall, dark, godly, and handsome.  

But suddenly Mr. Average Joe comes along!  Joe is nothing special.  He has an old car, no job, and a crustache.  Ew.  On first look almost any woman would turn him down without a second glance, but then you have Desperate Darla over there still waiting for Mr. Right.  At 27 years old, Darla isn't giving anyone the buzzer instantly.  So she decides to give Joe a small, long-shot chance.  They go on one mediocre ice-cream date and exchange numbers for future reference.

Little does Darla know how starved for male attention she is.  After a few weeks of chit-chat texting, Darla is starting to think Joe looks pretty good.  What was once a jobless, creepy, weird man is now the sender of text messages that make Darla's heart flutter.  Although Darla knows deep down that this man is going nowhere with his life, she admits to herself that she likes the idea of having someone check up on her every now and again, okay so maybe every night...but who's it hurting?  All her best friends have husbands to talk to daily, why can't she have someone to text throughout the boring parts of the day?

And so before you know it Darla and Joe are married and hating every minute of it.  She is fed up with his laziness and he can't deal with her high demands.  Why in the world did she get herself into this mess anyways?

Think back a little bit and you will see that the relationship started purely because Darla liked the attention of a male caller, (or should I say texter.)  Once again I tell you that the desire for male attention is not a bad thing in and of itself.  It becomes a sin when we let it control us, and when we go to it for comfort, protection, and fulfillment rather than going to God.  

The correct thing for Darla to do would have been to pray about the first meeting of Joe, asking God for a clear  yes or no.  If the feelings remained she should have taken each heart fluttering to God for a holy check-up to ensure if the feelings were purely rational or emotional.

Do you think you've been trapped by the feeling of attention rather than the choice of love?  Is there someone you're with right now solely for the sake of being with someone?  Are you afraid of being on your own?  Perhaps you should let God take a look at your heart and decide what you need for once. :) 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Addiction

(Continued from What is the #1 Addiction?)

Attention from the opposite sex.

That's the number one tactic Satan uses against young single women.  Actually he starts using it when we are young and single, but depending on our reaction it could last a lifetime.  If you think this sounds like a natural, normal desire, you're right.  It is 100% normal to want attention from the opposite sex, in fact I would be worried if you didn't want some sort of attention from them.  However, as with most things, the desire becomes sin when it is placed above your desire for God, and from my study and experience as a teenage girl, I know that this can become quite an idol for most of us.

Let's start small.  Think of that innocent 6th grade girl you know.  She's very cute, kind of shy, but oh so boy crazy!  She may not talk much at school, but around her friends and family all she can mention is the cute boys at school.  The family giggles and thinks it's adorable, and her friends encourage her to pursue these young men.  In fact, from the girl's point of view you would learn to think that liking several different guys at once was a wonderful thing!  Everyone thinks it's adorable, so why try and control it?

Then one day two of these men she has been secretly infatuated with, begin to flirt with her.  Her heart flutters, her mind spins, and she does all she knows to do, she flirts back.  She begins to text these two boys "innocently," playing silly flirting games that teenagers do at that age.  Her family and friends are now very impressed at the sudden interest of TWO young males.  Again, no one does anything to discourage her from this behavior, so she carries on, doing what feels "right" to her 6th grade emotions.

A few months go by and her family starts to get concerned.  "Sweetie, you can't date both of them.  You should either pick one or the other," says her Dad.  Her friends seem to be getting a little jealous lately, and she's noticed they don't come around near as often.  Confused, emotional, and a little stressed, she continues doing what she has always been told was right.  She follows her feelings.

Uh-oh.  What happens when she still has feelings for both guys?  On top of that, there are still a few other nice guys in the background she wonders about too.  Perhaps if she could keep these two she could try out a few others as well?  After all, everyone thought her 6th grade crushes were adorable!  So by the 8th grade she is juggling 3 or 4 different guys, without seriously dating any of them.  Because her friends have left her and parents don't approve, she keeps things secret.

Months and months of texting, Facebooking, and writing notes to these "little flings" of hers, and her heart has had more damage than a carton of eggs at the bottom of a grocery basket.  You see, what started out as innocent fun and games has led to an addiction of attention, affection, and admiration.  With each flirtatious text she sends out a little piece of her special feminine beauty, letting another man in on her secrets.  Not only is she giving away parts of her heart to men who will never be called her husband, but she is feeding her desire for male attention.

By the time she is in high school she has no idea how to behave as a single woman.  Why?  Because for the past 3 years of her life she has ALWAYS had several guys texting her phone, calling her house, and telling her how beautiful she is.  Even if it wasn't always positive attention, it was attention.  

One day as she sat alone in her room, she picks up her phone to realize it's broken.  She goes to the computer only to realize the internet is down.  Frustrated, she sits in the floor and for the first time in years, looks up to her first love, the one who gave her life.  An exhale of chaos leaves her lungs as she closes her eyes and says, "Lord, how have I strayed so far from you?  What do I need to do to come back into your presence?"  It was at that point she realized the addiction she had been feeding.  At that point she realized these men would never really satisfy her soul, and it was at that point she submitted her desperate need for a God much bigger than all of this worldly stuff.  

Perhaps you know a young woman like this.  Will you stand with the rest of the world and let this happen?  How can you lovingly show her a better way?
Or maybe this young girl is you currently and you're beginning to become aware of an addiction in the making.  What do you need to do keep your heart and mind focused on Christ?
And finally, perhaps you are an older woman, and you are now seeing a lifelong pattern that needs to be changed.  You too were fooled by the world, but you too can come clean and refreshed through the love of Jesus.

Matthew 11:28
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

God first. Others second. Matthew 22:37-39

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What is the #1 Addiction?

In the context of many of my posts I have hit on different issues, and different addictions that are commonly found in relationships.  However, it has come to my attention that I have skipped over perhaps the most common addiction problem among young women.  This isn't one of "the big three" (drugs, sex, and alcohol,)  and it's not anything that automatically sends you to jail or leaves your parents in tears at the mention of it, but that is exactly why it is one of Satan's most cunning plans.

Psychologists blame this addiction on your parents.  Inventors proudly claim the addiction as something technology has created.  Steve Jobs would have been honored to take credit for it, and Brad Paisley should write a song about it.  On the other hand, most secular music points to it, movies encourage it, and your family laughs about it.

Your Sunday school teacher wouldn't mention it, your teachers at school despise it, and the principal could care less.  This addiction can be as obvious as a sign on your four-head, or as secret as Grandma's cookie recipe.  Ask theologians if they've heard of it and they will be puzzled.  Tell your best friend she's got it and she will be devastated.  Your male friends won't ever understand it, and the doctor can't assess it.  No medication will cure it, and no amount of substance will satisfy it.  It is a life-long disease if you never learn to deal with it, (which most don't.)

To my knowledge there are no books written specifically for this, and no gossip magazine can describe this.  Although it is all around us, we can't pick it out until we recognize it.  Boyfriends will be the first to pick up on it, only after 6 weeks though, and ex-girlfriends know it when they hear it.  I would bet that you have based relationships around this and they worked for a little while.  You have probably even dated guys solely because of this.  After leaving a relationship based on this some people are mortified, and with good reason.

This addiction can cause you to leave your lifelong marriage partner in pursuit of someone younger.  It can take away your joy for other hobbies such as spending time with your kids.  This addiction is not readily associated with death, but it does cause an inward death of some sort.

Jesus is the only cure to this addiction.  He is the only one who can replace it, and he is the only one who can fix it.  We try to satisfy it with cell phones, Facebook, and dinner-dates.  Hair and make up feed it, and sweatpants temper it slightly.  It is an addiction that starts off so slight, so small, so young, so naturally, that the world tends to overlook this flaw and call it a 'quality' of you.  Sadly this is as far from the truth as it gets.

Do you know what it is yet?  Have you figured out the #1 addiction?  Do you think you are a victim of it?  Perhaps you should think on this just a little while and it will come to you. 
 Place your guess in the comment box below and if you guess correctly you might win a prize. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Today I Choose to Listen

How often as humans do we forget to truly listen to individuals.  We say "Hi, how are you doing," ignore the other person's answer happily, and keep walking past them.  Do you ever stop and really think about how that person is feeling, or what they have been through this very morning?  The more I sit down and talk with people the more my heart breaks and head spins for what others so commonly go through in their very own homes.

To many young adults abuse, addiction, and loneliness has been the theme of their lives.  It is "normal" for them.   Their whole life has been filled with rejection from their parents, abuse from step parents, and horrifying scenes on some of us dare to imagine.  These people amaze me with their strength to get out of bed each morning, much less attempt to live a normal life.  I honestly can't say I would respond so positiviely if I was placed in the same situation.

The craziest part about this is that these people look like you and me, they go to school with us, they worship with us in church, and they eat dinner at our kitchen tables.  We interact with them on a regular basis and claim to know them quite well, but when it comes down to it we have never actually asked to hear their story.  The background of lies and hurt is still being hidden by the father of darkness.  When will we decide to break this facade and truly ask each other how things are going?

One woman in particular comes to mind as I write this.  Before we became frineds she had long since known all of the acquaintances we share through extra-curricular activities.  She has more acquaintances than I do now that I think of it, but when I first met her I could see that she was a girl who easily got skipped over by most people.  Kind of plain, kind of boring, kind of was easy to see that most people said their routine hello and walked on by.

However as I really sat down with her and did nothing more than listen.  I began to hear story after story that needed to be told.  She told me of her abusive background, how she coped with it, and how she was very much still dealing with it.  As open as she was you would have thought the whole world knew, but the opposite was the truth.  Hardly anyone had heard this girl's heart-wrenching story of survival.  Why?  Because they wouldn't take the time to listen.  That's it.  She was obviously dieing to talk to someone about all of this, but if no one really asks she has no reason to really tell.

Because she chose to break the silence I have been able to truly pray for her with specific heart-felt prayers that God listens and responds too.  Speaking of, God listens to us thousands of times more than we listen to him or anyone else.  Perhaps it is time to change that.

Who do you know (or not know I should say) that has been placed in your life with a story to tell?  Who have you not really asked about lately?  Do you think this is a reflection of not caring?  Jesus tells us to put others above ourselves, what does this look like in your conversations with other people?
Perhaps there is someone who needs your prayers and support, someone you talk to but never listen to.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Everything You Need

I love you Lord,
Even if you're all I ever have.

The sweetest moment of my life was the first time I looked at this phrase and meant it with all my heart.  I had reached a total dependence on the God of my salvation.  How beautiful it is when we realize that this is all our hearts need.  Nothing else will do, nothing else will satisfy or last because Jesus and Jesus only satisfies our every hunger.  

In John 6:35 Jesus explains it this way:
"I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never go hungry,
and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

How wonderful it is to know that God created Jesus to fulfill our every hunger and desire.  He is the ultimate satisfaction despite what Satan tells you.  Many a young college student is tricked into believing that marriage is the ultimate fulfillment in life.  High School students fall for the lie that sex is what satisfies, and married couples sometimes hear Satan tell them they are missing out on a different life. 

Whatever your walk in life is, you can be sure of one thing.  Jesus Christ is all you will ever need to find joy, peace, and contentment for a lifetime and then some.  So turn to him for every weakness, every desire, every pain, hurt, and fear.  He promises he will be right there (John 6:37) and he will never turn you away.  

The more we depend on God the more fulfilled we will be.  This is the opposite of human nature, because human nature is to control.  But the Bible tells us the more we lay down at the feet of Jesus, the more he picks up and carries for us.  (1 Peter 5:7, Luke 9:23, Matthew 10:39, John 12:25)

The great apostle Paul put it this way:
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing
greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have
lost all things."
                                                        Philippians 3:7-8

So what can you give to God today?  What have you been holding on to so tightly that the satisfaction of Jesus can't get past?  Why are you afraid of laying it down, has Jesus' promises not been made clear to you?  What are you going to do today as a first step to laying down that burden in order to pick up Christ?

Friday, October 14, 2011

A little note on Suffering...

In Philippians Chapter 1 Paul is greeting the church when he tells them he is in prison. Although this is a huge dramatic thing for most people, he tells them he rejoices because of what has happened to him. Look at verses 18-20

"It is important that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. (talking about people who started preaching the gospel when he got thrown in jail.) 

And because of this I rejoice. 

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in now ay be ashamed, but will have suffience courage so that now as always CHRIST will be exalted in my body..."

As humans, we automatically think bad situations are about us. We are quick to get down on ourselves and others, and we rationalize the situation according to something we have said or done. But the truth is, NOTHING is about us!! The gospel is about GOD coming down to glorify himself and bring us back to him! The same thing is true in our suffering. These temporary situations are going to glorify God somehow! He is putting you through this because he thinks you are strong enough to handle it. If you were weak you would have already quit by now. 

It's not a strength that you normally think of either, it's complete dependence on God, a giving up of your earthly strength, a weakness
--that's what gives you the peace and hope to look up and keep going. It's not about you or what you've done--it's about an awesome God-story in the making.

Love you and praying for you...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Attack at the Altar pt. 2

Matthew 19:4-6 
"Haven't you read," he replied, 
"that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, '
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 
and the two will become one flesh'?  
So they are no longer two, but one.  
Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

Of course Satan is going to attack your marriage, it is a good and perfect gift from God.  God wants to use you and your spouse to bring glory to himself through your ministry to the church, your ministry to your friends, and your ministry to your children or future children someday.  Study the Bible and you will soon find that God likes to bless people through generations.  Those generations start with one marriage, wholly and fully dedicated to the Lord.

Read the book of Ruth and you will see her God-fearing love for Boaz is what gave them a marriage that glorified God vibrantly.  Not only did God use their marriage for his glory while they were alive, but he blessed their children and their children's children, all the way down to through the lineage of Jesus Christ himself.  Kind of reminds me of an old country song, "All because two people fell in love..."

Don't let the romance get to you though, ask any married couple and I'm sure they will tell you how hard marriage is every single day...mostly because Satan doesn't want their marriage to glorify God.  It would be so emmaculate that he shutters at the thought of it.  Learn to fight off Satan so God can be glorified!


If Satan is attacking your marriage you better get up and fight before you lose this God-honoring opportunity!  Ask God to show you how to fight, how to love, and how to humbly walk with Him.  Pray that the devil would be chained so that he no longer has a presence in your household.  Seek Godly advice from strong Christians around you.

And if your relationship is not being attacked, perhaps you should ask yourself: are you glorifying God with your marriage?  Doing nothing at all is the same thing as not honoring God.  What can you and your spouse do today that will bring God honor and praise in your home?  Who can you help?  How can you show your spouse the love of Christ through your actions?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Attack at the Altar!

Has it been made obvious to you yet that Satan loves to attack our relationships, and specifically our marriages?  This would explain the sky-high divorce rate and increasing marital problems heard about from day to day.  This would also explain why more than half of all children come from broken families.

So why does Satan so often chose this venue?  Probably because it is the most threatening to his status!  I've heard many wise men say that the family is the center of society, and when you think about it, it is true.

For example, our law officials say, "Our education system sucks, so lets hire more teachers."  The teachers teach and explain and show all day long, and then they give their children 4 pages to read at home.  But what happens next?  If half of those children go home and have no one to read to, no one to help them, encourage them, or support them, then what happens to that education?

I have also researched lately that people who experience physical or sexual abuse as a child are very much more likely to experience mental health issues as an adult than someone who was not abused.  What's even sadder is that half of those sexually and physically abused children were abused inside their very own home.  This is why a strong marriage and God-centered family is so important.

Satan knows the word of God, and because of that he realizes how huge of a threat a strong marriage is to him.  For example:
  • Proverbs 5:18 "May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
  • Proverbs 12:4 "A wife of noble character is her husband's crown..."
  • Proverbs 18:22 "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord."
  • Proverbs 19:4 "...a prudent wife is from the Lord."

Singles:  Are you studying God's word now, learning about spiritual warfare, loving others outside yourself, and glorifying God?  There are billions of things the Bible will teach that will help prepare you for a God-glorifying marriage now.  Why struggle through heartache and torture if you don't have to?  Start chasing after God now.

Couples: Do you realize how much power your marriage holds for the kingdom of God??
God wants to do huge amazing things through your relationship, things like salvation to the lost, hope for the weary, and godly examples for young people like me.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stand Your Ground

Wow.  It still amazes me how much power Satan thinks he has.
As children of God we are no longer slaves to sin or Satan.  The creator of the universe has bought us with the price of his son!  So we can't just lay around all day letting Satan drag us away from our divine calling.  He wants us to mess up.  He's trying to trap us.  All day everyday is a battle against the prince of darkness.  It's a struggle, a fight, a war.  

Galatians 6:12-13 says,
 "For our struggle is not against the flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your groundand after you have done everything, to stand."

Do you see what this is saying Christian!?  That fight you had with your best friend was not about who should wear what.  The fight between the music minister and the pastor is not purely about Sunday school lessons, and the fight you had with your wife isn't because you don't love each other.

It's spiritual warfare.  It's forces going against us in the spiritual realm.  Sometimes these forces are even used against ourselves like Paul talks about in Romans 7.  "I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."  The battle isn't to be fought horizontally, but vertically. 

What's your relationship with God been like lately?  How have your personal daily quiet times with him been going?  Do you seek his will in every decision you make?  Are you applying the Word to your life?

Perhaps your friendships and relationships are struggling because you haven't fully grasped what God means when he says, "Love others as you love yourself."  Sure you know from memory and you've heard it your whole life, but do you truly understand what that looks like?  Have you seen that in your own service towards others?  Get in the Word and you'll find out.  Pray! Ask God to show you obviously what loving others looks like.

Struggling with personal desires and temptations?  Not sure how to stop doing what you don't need to be doing?  Look to God and the Bible and you'll see that you're not alone, you're not fighting yourself, and that God is with you and he wants to help you if you will ask.

Pray about it.  Get in the Word.  Seek God's face.

Monday, October 10, 2011

2 Ways Satan Attacks

Sometimes it seems as though Satan will use anyone and anything to get to you.  What has he been using against you lately?

When you step back and look at Satan's tactics, they're really not that hard to figure out.  In fact, most of the time it is something God has previously warned us about.  We hear the warning and abide by it for a couple days, then forget for a split second when Bam! Satan hits us with that very thing.  Here are two examples to clarify what I'm trying to say.

  1. Friends.
    Lately I've seen this happen to some girls I know, but I have also seen this in my life a few times.  It's the little things Satan likes to pick at when it comes to older Christians, for example: personalities.  As Christians we are called to humbly love and serve others, treating them with the utmost respect that says "they are better than me." (Philippians 2:3-4, Matthew 22:39, Mark 10:45, Matthew 25:45)

    This alone is not of our human nature, it is a process we must learn through faith in God.  As the love we have for our God grows, the more that love spills out to other people around us.  Be mindful that God's word doesn't say "Love others who are like you", or "Only serve who you feel led to serve."  No, God's word shows us that we are to love and serve all people for his glory.  (John 4:9-10, Galatians 6:2, Galatians 5:14)

    Therefore, don't let Satan break up a Christ-founded friendship because your church preferences are different, your styles don't match up, or because one of you is an introvert and the other an extrovert.  God brings all things together for his good and his glory, and if he brought you together in the first place, he must definitely have a plan for this friendship.

     Besides that, we will always have a hard time loving certain people, but learning to love is a lifelong strengthening process.  The more we do it, the easier it will become.  This advice can also be applied to a marriage.  And for those who are single, start practicing for marriage now by loving your friends despite their human flaws and differences.  God didn't turn you away.
  2. Music
    If you've been reading this blog for any time at all, you probably know how big this one is for me.  I do realize Satan may use this tactic more on me than he does some people, but I still have a point to make so keep reading.

    Every single move we make today can either glorify our maker or slap him in the face.  What you put on when you get dressed, what you say when your mom calls, and what comes out of your headphones.  The bible says to focus on things that are "praiseworthy", that is--things that are worth praising.  (Philippians 4:8)  If you are a Christian who has made God the Lord of your life, the only thing that should be praise worthy in your opinion should be the things of God. (Philippians 3:8)  Everything else is a loss compared to Him.

    That being said, does the music you listen to glorify God or slap him in the face?  Does it hold truth would stood against the Word of God?  Is this something you would be ashamed to listen to around weaker Christians, the lost, or your parents?  Music is so heavily immersed in our culture that we often tell ourselves what we listen to on our own personal iPod doesn't really matter, when in fact this is a lie from Satan.  Trash in, trash out.

    Listening to filthy rap songs will give you filthy thoughts, likewise listening to "good" music that isn't bad, but doesn't necessarily glorify God, will turn your thought life in to just that, thoughts that aren't necessarily bad, but thoughts that don't exactly glorify God either.  Christian, be careful what you listen to.  Satan uses the smallest things to slowly drag us away from what we were created to do, which is glorify our maker.  
1 Peter 5:8-9
"Be self-controlled and alert.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith,
because you know that your brothers throughout the world
are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

I ask again, what has Satan been using in your life?  Look at the small things that have led you astray, then cut them off.  Ask God to restore you to him and replace that hole with something heavenly.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here's a Peek Into My Passion!

Ahh..this is undoubtedly the God-given passion of my life.  It started when I was 16 and surrendered my dating life to God.  This had been one of the biggest idols in my life up to that point.  When God took over I suddenly realized how many lies I had been eating right out of the palm of Satan's hand.

From that point on I knew I wanted better; both for me and for the millions of girls just like me who had also believed so many lies.  As I began to study books and ideas about dating, more questions and ideas would fill my own mind.  When I finished one book I would immediately pick up another, thus creating a snowball effect to my desire to learn more.

After reading enough of these books, I began to realize how many people came to me for dating advice.  First it was just a person here and there, but it slowly increased throughout the years.  I taught a bible study about dating at my junior college, and later designed an intensive four-week study for girls at my home church.

As I look around me now, I sometimes wonder if this is just a phase I'm going through, but then I realize that this is much, much more than that.  This is a life calling purpose from God!  He has been pushing me towards this throughout my life.  He has used so many people to show me that he does want to use me in this way.

He has given me deep, eye-opening revelations in his word about dating, marriage, friendships, and how our culture has strayed from the Bible.  He has had people breathe into my life, sharing the hope they have for my relationship advice ministry, and he has loved and healed me in a way that only strengthens my heart more for this issue.

Recently he has opened all sorts of doors from book writing to bible studies in other churches, and to showing others the love of Christ through this passion of mine.

There is not a doubt in my mind that God has given me this desire for knowledge on this topic.  I also know that he has given me this desire for a reason, and that reason is to use it to glorify him.  When I type out a blog post a feeling of hope and service rushes over me.  I have a constant prayer that what I love to do for fun, will in some way change the heart-perception of someone else.  I pray that the lessons I have learned the hard way will be taken in by girls who don't need anymore hard lessons.

My name is Haley Hoover, and my passion is relationships.  Although I am still very young, I have no doubt that God will use this passion for his glory in the future.


A Peek Into Your Passion at ylcf.orgThis post has been created for a contest sponsored by YLCF, click on the button to the left for more information about their blog and this contest.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

THE KISS: Designed for His Glory

Last year I took a class that was heavily drenched in feminism.  This class was blessing in that in motivated me to deeply dig into the scriptures and challenge the biblical views of gender roles.  I was nowhere near a feminist, but I did often question why women were only to be helpers and not leaders, and is it wrong for women to lead in career positions? These were just two of thousands of questions I studied and examined in the bible last year.

After studying the Word of God intensely, and praying for understanding about the gender roles, there is no doubt in my mind that God made men to lead and women to follow.  Men protect, women nurture.  Men want respect, women want love.  Men have a deep longing inside them for adventure and leadership, while women have the desire to be pursued and loved.

I would be more than happy to explain in full why I believe this and what God's word has to say about it, but right now I ask that you just take my word for it as I explain something else.  My professor last semester would deny every reason for men to lead and women to follow, she claimed that the way we do things is just learned social behavior, not nature.  HOWEVER, I would like to make just one of many points just for the sake of it.  

To say our gender roles are not of nature is wrong.  To say the stereotypes of men and women are not the will of God is untrue.  If it is learned behavior we would have to practice it right?  Well let me show you one major point I have noticed lately...The kiss

Okay, so don't think this is weird until you hear me out.  But think about every Hollywood movie you've ever seen that has that classic scene when the two main characters realize they DO love each other and they ARE in fact, deeply deeply in love (or so they say.)  Remember what happens?  They stand five inches from each other, lock their gaze into each other's eyes, and boldly exchange dramatic, sometimes cheesy, but always memorable dialogue...and then...THE KISS!

 He grabs her face with his hands, cupping her cheeks, and she throws her arms around his neck and then...she melts.  You know, "The melt."  The part when the woman finally becomes beautiful and vulnerable in the arms of a man.  All of her powerful, independent, and strong facade if laid down, and she becomes an icon of beauty because she is finally at peace with this man leading her.

On the other side, the man is bold, strong, and sturdy.  He does not whimper, step back, or melt--no he is there because he knows exactly what he wants and he is willing to fight for it--better yet, he is fighting for it, for her.  

Think back to your elementary days on the playground.  Most of us definitely remember playing princess, house, tea party, or anything amazing to young girls.  The guys played "wrestle?", football, ninjas, and who knows what else, but does anyone..anyone at all remember being taught how to melt?? 

This is purely and divinely one of the beauties God has created to remind us of his sovereign love and design.  He has absolutely everything  under control.  He knows that a man's finest moment is when he steps up to the plate and actively pursues the woman and children he loves.  He knows that a woman is most beautiful when she is completely at rest--not controlling or planning or analyzing anything.  He knows that she gets this way when a man steps up, and he knows that a man steps up when the woman invites him too.

He knows this because he designed us this way.  His plans are forever, faithful, and unchanging.  He intricately and perfectly designed every aspect of our lives to give him glory one way or another--even when we can't see it!  
Something as small as a dandelion, or as dramatic as a kiss, everything was made to give God glory.  Keep in mind, the reason everything doesn't always glorify Him is because sin entered the world and messed things up a bit.  But when relationships, gender roles, college plans, deaths, major changes, and whatever else happens, and your focus is God, and God alone--He will indeed be glorified as He intended to be.

Next time you see a beautiful Hollywood kiss, let it be a reminder to you that God has a plan and He will work it out.  No matter what you are going through, it will result in his glory in the end. :)

Romans 1:20
"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

Let God be God.  He's got this. ;)
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