Last Night I Took Off My Purity Ring

Such a beautiful reminder that marriage isn’t the end goal for us as Christians, our life-long relationship and love affair with Christ is.

Be Malleable

Last night-after 6 years- I took off my purity ring.
Not because I no longer desire to be pure but because of the little words engraved on the ring: “True Love Waits”. I don’t want this to sound cheesy or even condescending, but no. TRUE love doesn’t wait.

The reality is I have experienced the ultimate love of Jesus. Not JUST because he died on the cross for me-the ultimate act of love- but because he constantly romances me every single day with a love that never fails. No, he is not my “boyfriend” but he is true love. He is the love I’ve been waiting for. I’m not “waiting” around for something better, because there is no better love. If the Lord gives me the gift of marriage, then that’s soooo exciting. But life doesn’t start when you get married people. Its now. Its right in front of…

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Tried and Refined

Psalm 66: 10-12 says, “For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.”

Every storm in life is not an attack of the enemy. Sometimes it’s God washing away the things that you can’t carry with you into your destiny. Sometimes He lets you go through the fire to burn away those bad habits and character flaws you never took the time to notice when things were going well. Sometimes your difficulties are just God’s way of purifying you before you reach the next level of life. Embrace the hard times and learn everything you can from them. If you’re going through it right now, it’s only because God is trying to prepare you for greater, but first He has to purge you of the things that are keeping you from receiving His full blessings.

A Case for Sadness

We live in a society obsessed with ridding itself of sadness. Countless books are published year in and year out describing how to think your way and believe your way to happiness. Dozens of sermons are preached Sunday after Sunday telling us that God desires nothing more than for us to be at our happiest, because it is the indicator that we are living our lives in the way that makes Him more pleased and garners His favor. However, we live in a culture plagued with depression. We see this deep sadness that so many of us bear, manifest itself through substance abuse, acting out in violence and anger, and even suicide. We’re a people running as hard as we can from sadness yet unable to outrun it. We suppress our sadness, ignore our sadness, trying to pretend our sadness doesn’t exist, attempt to positive think and pray and meditate our sadness away but it always finds itself circling back into our lives (or never really leaving in the first place). Why can’t we break free of the curse of sadness and depression into a utopian state of bliss and happiness that God intended for us? But wait. Did God really intend for us to constantly be happy?

When we look throughout the Bible we see examples of sadness throughout the Bible. Job’s testing caused him deep anguish and the book of Psalms is full of David’s cries to God during times of profound sadness. While these aren’t the only examples, the common thread that we see throughout the Bible is that sadness and pain was not an unusual occurrence, and it was actually something that was allowed in moderation. Sadness was openly expressed and acknowledged in the public. It was not something that was relegated to be dealt with behind closed doors. Expressing grief and anguish was an act that was acknowledged and respected by the entire community. And maybe that’s where we have it all wrong.

Sadness and pain are not a plague that should be avoided at all costs, as our culture has pushed us to believe. It is a natural and healthy part of the human experience. There are times in our lives that truly warrant sadness. When life deals us a blow, it is perfectly fine to feel the emotional, mental and spiritual pain that comes with hurtful experiences. It is okay to take a step back, not pretend that you are happy and deal with that sadness in healthy ways. When we have the space to openly express sadness AND have a community that embraces us and respects us as we are dealing with that sadness, it leads to full recovery and healing. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a culture that allows us to do that anymore. We don’t live in a society where we can literally and figuratively tear our clothes in anguish and adorn our head with ashes to express our grief. We’re often told to deal with our pain in private, move on quickly and show the outside world that we’re happy, even if we’re not.

Although I think that those who preach the message of always being happy mean well, I think the message has very negative consequences and does far more hurt than it does help. Constantly being told that we should always be happy, makes us feel guilty and ashamed when we’re not. We often are made to feel that something is terribly wrong with us for not having enough gratitude, or not having enough faith in God, or whatever. When in all actuality, sadness may be an indication that we’re on the right path.

Sadness is something that has to be worked through. There are no shortcuts. There are no easy ways out. Sadness brings us to the depths of our souls and allows us to find things there that we could never see at the heights of our happiness. Sadness teaches us lessons and transforms us in powerful ways that happiness simply cannot. That is not to glorify pain and suffering or to say that you should always be sad. Too much of anything is bad for you. However, sadness is a part of the natural ebb and flow of life. And in a world that seems to be in the constant pursuit of happiness, that can be a particularly tough pill to swallow. Happiness feels great, but in excess it breeds complacency and inertia. There’s no need to change and self-examine if we’re in a perpetual state of bliss. When we find ourselves in a state of happiness we often do our best to maintain that state. We often try our hardest to keep things exactly how they are so that we can continue feeling happy. However, our purpose in life is not to remain happy at all times, it is to become the person God created us to be and remain obedient to His will for our lives. Doing that means constantly growing and changing, and sometimes sadness is the only that will catapult that necessary growth.

So here’s my case for sadness. Maybe we should look back at and model King David and Job, and others who openly expressed their deep sadness and pain to God and to the community around them. Maybe we should make the effort to be more like the Israelite community that allowed people to express their grief and hurt without telling them to “just get over it,” or consider them to be weak. Maybe we should come to terms with the fact that God created us to have a life that is sometimes filled with unspeakable happiness but is also etched with unbearable pain. And maybe, just maybe when we do that, we will be able to truly heal from the pain that so many of us deal with, rather than just hiding it.

Words Like Honey

“How sweet are you words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”- Pslam 119:103

I’ve been reading the This Is The Bible devotional, which has been taking me through Psalm 119, as well as, related Bible verses (I LOVE the She Reads Truth app, btw. I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already). Psalm 119:103 was the verse to memorize. If you’re familiar with She Reads Truth, then you know there’s a comment section at the end of each devotional for readers to speak out on. One of the readers mentioned that she’s taken a culinary arts course and had to write a paper about honey. She was shocked to learn that honey is far more than a sweetener. It has many healing, rejuvenating and beautifying properties. It is used in hair products to restore moisture and luster to locks. It can be used as a facial masks to brighten and soften dry and tired skin. It can be put in tea to soothe a sore throat. Honey also never spoils. When archeologist found honey in Egyptian tombs, not only was the honey unspoiled but it was just as good as the day it was placed in the tomb. Even after being relegated to harsh temperatures for thousands of years, it still retained its potency.

What this young lady pointed out was so true. Just like honey is far more than a sweet treat, the Word is much more than a good read. As we take doses of the Word daily, we also benefit from all its healing properties. The Word restores our mind, it rejuvenates our weary and tired souls, it brings relief to our broken hearts and it is an antiseptic to infections from the outside world. And just like honey never spoils, neither does the Word. Its sweetness never wears away, its potency never fades and its ability to heal and restore never die even throughout the ages. It’s truth is just like honey. It endures even the harshest elements and lasts century after century. It never fails, never fades and never loses its flavor. The Word endures forever. It is just as sweet, powerful, and purifying as when God inspired it to be written over the years.

Because I Love Him

Over the past few months I’ve been led to stop using profanity and cut way back on secular music. I’ve been growing a lot in my relationship with Christ lately, and have been making a lot of changes in my life. However, these changes in particular, although small, have been very difficult doing. There have been several times where I have caved in and listened to music that wasn’t appropriate or cursed while stuck in rush hour traffic. I’ve often told myself that it wasn’t a big deal that I was backsliding because I don’t have to do these things to win God’s love and approval. He loves me and takes me just as I am, which is more than true. However, every time I’ve slipped up, I’ve ended up finding myself going back to dropping the profanity and secular music again.

But tonight it hit me and I came to a better understanding about why doing these things were on my heart. A song from one of my favorite secular artists, Kevin Gates, came to mind. I told myself that I could look up his song online and listen to it, but before I could reach for my phone or laptop, I changed my mind. Then I thought, “God you know I love you because you know how much I love me some Kevin Gates.” Then it dawned on me. I haven’t been drawn to give up these things in order to win God’s favor or to avoid His wrath. I’ve been drawn to give up these things simply because I love Him and want to please Him. It’s like when I get married one day. I know the man that God sends to marry me will love me. He’ll love me if I never wear makeup or put on perfume. He’ll love me if I wear sweatpants and a t-shirt everyday. He’ll love me simply because I’m me and I won’t have to do anything to win that love or prove my beauty to him. However, because I love him, I’ll take the time to put on makeup and wear a nice fragrance. And as much as I love my sweatpants, I’ll put them away most days and wear something a little nicer. Not because I think doing those things will make him love me more than he already does or that he’ll up and leave me if I don’t, but because I know doing the little things like that will please him. Those small things will bring him delight and put a smile on his face, and because of that I don’t mind doing that.

True love completely changes and transforms you. It causes you to think and act differently. It causes you to do things you don’t have to do, but just want to do. Like I said, I’ve been making a lot of changes in my life because of my relationship with Christ. His love for me is changing me and transforming me daily. I’m starting to think more of Him and less of me. I don’t mind doing things (or not doing things) for Him, not because I want anything from Him, but simply because I love Him. The love He has for me, is making me want to love Him (and show Him how much I love Him) more and more.

Do It Anyway

feel-the-fear

“For we are not given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.”- 2Timothy 1:7

Just Saying: Grace Over Hustle

Sometimes we’re so in love with our hustle that we forget to fall in love with our purpose and the grace that our purpose allows us to have. There’s nothing wrong with grinding and hustling because without hard work success is hard to come by. But hustling is NEVER a substitute for the grace God gives you when you fall in line with the divine purpose He has for your life. No matter how hard you hustle, no matter how much how much you’re married to the money, no matter how many times you’re on #teamnosleep, if you aren’t grinding for your God-given purpose it’s all in vain. When you align your hustle with your purpose you will be unstoppable. So if you’ve been grinding but seem to be getting nowhere despite how hard you’ve been trying, take some time and seek His face. Your hustle alone may yield results but they will never overflow until you follow His will.

Giving 2nd Chances

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Y’all better quit playing Russian roulette in these “relationships.” There’s nothing wrong with loving hard and being forgiving but don’t be foolish. Forgiveness does not automatically mean allowing people a 2nd chance. Everyone doesn’t deserve 2nd chances and if they didn’t see your value the 1st time around, they probably won’t see it the 2nd, 3rd or 15th time around.

Your Thoughts Run Your LIfe

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Proverbs 4:23. If you want to change your life, you first have to change your thoughts.

Like a Lion

Watch a documentary on the Discovery Channel and you’ll see this time and time again. A lion is prowling the savannah looking at a heard of unsuspecting wildebeest. The lion doesn’t just run out and chase every single wildebeest. No, he sits back and observes the heard for a bit. He looks for a wildebeest that is injured, that is sick, that is very old or very young. He looks for the weakest link in the heard and then he pounces. He wants a meal that isn’t going to fight back. He knows that when he goes after the weakest one in the heard, he has a better chance of catching and killing his prey. He wants something that he can easily devour.

We’re not out on the savannah, but we definitely face the same threat. The Bible says the devil is like a ravenous lion, seeking whom he can devour and just like a lion he always attacks the weak. He looks for those injured by the pains and troubles of life. He searches to find those sick with bitterness, hatred, and resentment. He loves seeking out those new in their faith or those who have grown complacent and stagnent in their faith. Now, of course, the devil isn’t walking around in a red suit with a pitch fork making himself apparent in his attacks on us. Just like a lion hides among the tall grass and tries to blend in to the terrain of the Serengeti, the enemy often blends in to the everyday situations in our lives. He often comes through people and situations in life. I notice that when I’m at my weakest spiritually, emotionally and mentally that I get bombarded with attacks. When I’m already having a bad day, I’ll overhear someone talking about me. When I’m stressed out, I’ll end up having a fight with a loved one. When I’m worried about money, I’ll face an unexpected financial hardship. Trust me, it’s not happening by mistake. The enemy sits back and observes. When he sees you at your weakest, he knows it’s time to pounce on you by sending people and situations to further discourage you, depress you and break you down.

Now there’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is, there is absolutely nothing you can do about your weakness. The good news is it doesn’t even matter because you don’t have to be strong if you serve a God who can be strong for you. The Bible says in our weakness, He’s made strong. Not only that, but He will fight for you every time you’re attacked if you allow Him into you life. You’re not like the poor wildebeest, left without a protector to defend it when it’s attacked. You have the ultimate protector in Him and He will not allow any attack to destroy you.

Let me give a disclaimer: this doesn’t mean that you won’t face attacks and that they won’t hurt when they happen. They will happen over and over again throughout your life and often they will hurt you in ways the feel to hard to bear. However, God will allow those attacks to strengthen you and increase your faith in Him. (Remember, all things work for the good of those called according to His purpose). Those attacks may shake your confidence, scare you, and they may even scar you but they will never take you out, as long as you have God on your side.