2013 Jul/Aug setapartgirl online issue 2.0

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setapartgirl

LESLIE LUDY’S

MAGAZINE

living for eternity

Honoring Christ on the Internet, p. 8

LIVING A LIFE OF LOVE Understanding Legalism, p. 34

GIVEN PHOTOGRAPHY Giving God My Camera, p. 62

THE COWARDICE

Of Throwing In the Towel, p. 26

BUILDING A GOD-WRITTEN LOVE STORY Keeping Christ at the Center, p. 44

Sister of the Common Life MEET REBEKAH, p. 74

JUL/AUG 2013


FOUNDER’S letter

Blessed is the man who walks not

in the counsel of the ungodly….but his delight is in the law of the Lord. (Psalm 1)

Oh how easy for us to walk in the counsel of the ungodly without even realizing it – whether following pop-culture trends, imitating celebrities, or catering our convictions to what is politically correct. But God has called us to the narrow way of the Cross; a way that seems foolish and extreme to the rest of the world. To keep our eyes fixed upon Him when the rest of the culture is chasing after shallow pleasure… such victory requires supernatural grace. The temptations that pull us toward the worthless things of the world seem to be increasing more and more in this generation – there are pitfalls waiting for us on the Internet, in the grocery store,

and in everyday conversations with friends and family. My hope and prayer is that this magazine issue will encourage you down His narrow way! It is not the hip, trendy, or socially correct way to live. And yet, it is a way rich with His presence, peace, protection, and joy! As the old hymn says, “Nearer my God to thee; even though it be a Cross that raises me!” May this be the cry of our hearts each and every day! No matter what the world may boast, we have a treasure with which nothing can compare!

Leslie


setapartgirl

AMELIA: GLORIOUS DAY by Casting Crowns MANDY: KNEES TO THE EARTH by Watermark LAUREN: LIVE IN YOUR WORD by Dámaris Carbaugh ANNIE: WHY SO HEAVY? by Red Mountain Music

LESLIE’S PICK: ‘TIS SO SWEET TO TRUST IN JESUS by Casting Crowns is a beautiful rendition of the old hymn that has blessed and encouraged me so many times over. It reminds me of the simple, child-like faith God has called me to have as I approach Him with any care upon my heart! + All of these songs can be found on iTunes!

GRACE: SWEET ILLUMINATION by Shane and Shane

TEAM PICKS:

PLAYLIST


IN THIS

issue

8

92

84

54 SET APART FEMININITY

Explore God’s Sacred Intent for Your Life 8 l Living for Eternity Honoring Christ on the Internet

SET APART RELATIONSHIPS Honoring God in Love and Romance

44 l Building a God-Written Love Story Keeping Christ at the Center

26 l The Cowardice of Throwing In the Towel By an Annonymous Warrior Poet

SET APART WALK

Cultivate Your Daily Romance with Christ 34 l Living a Life of Love Understanding the Confusion of Legalism

SET APART LIFESTYLE

Applying the Gospel to Everyday Life 54 l How to Love Her In the Battle for Life

62 l Given Photography Giving God My Camera


26

74 4 3

44

SET APART FAMILY

Discovering God’s Heart for Home and Family 84 l Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

62

Choosing a Christ-like Attitude in the Inconvenient Moments

92 l The Latest with the Lil’ Ludy Bunch

ineveryissue 3

setapartgirl playlist

42

Q&A

74

Sister of the Common Life

83

Leslie’s Blog

96

Recommendations

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 2013 The Church at Ellerslie. All rights reserved.

No material from this issue may be copied, reproduced, or distributed without express written permission from The Church at Ellerslie.



about leslie FOUNDER, setapartgirl

Leslie Ludy is a bestselling author and speaker with a passion for reaching her generation with the hope of Christ. She and her husband Eric have been writing and speaking together for the past eighteen years. Widely known for their bestselling classic, When God Writes Your Love Story, Eric and Leslie have become foremost voices on some of the most poignant issues facing the Church today, such as relationships, purity, holiness, and living a fully consecrated life for Christ. Together, they are the authors of eighteen books that have been translated into over a dozen languages around the world. For more about Leslie’s books, click here. Leslie and Eric are the founders and directors of Ellerslie Leadership Training based in Windsor, Colorado – an intensive discipleship training program that prepares future leaders for world-impacting Christian service, and draws men and women of all ages from around the world.

TO MEET THE TEAM BEHIND THE MAGAZINE, click here.

“DON’T DIG UP IN DOUBT, WHAT YOU’VE PLANTED IN FAITH.” - Elisabeth Elliot


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living for

ETERNITY HONORING CHRIST ON THE INTERNET by LESLIE LUDY

Turn my eyes away from worthless things, and revive me in Your way. Psalm 119:37

A special thanks to

MANDY SAELER FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE WITH THIS ARTICLE!


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or many years, Amy Carmichael has been one of my spiritual heroes. As a young Scottish girl in the early 1900’s, her life was forever changed at the age of seventeen. She encountered the Living God in a very real way, and that day she shut herself in her bedroom to sort out life’s priorities. She knew He was calling her to complete set-apartness; asking her to become “dead to the world and its applause, to all the customs, fashions, and laws of those who hate the humbling Cross.” She responded to His call, and decided that, from that point on in her life, nothing would ever matter to her again except the things that were eternal. Amy went on to become one of the greatest missionaries who ever lived, personally rescuing over 1,000 children from temple prostitution in India, and raising them as soldiers for God’s kingdom. Her success was not a result of her talent, funding, or brilliance, but rather, of her inner priorities. She disregarded the shallow, trivial things of the world, and instead fixed her gaze upon Jesus Christ and the things of eternity. She wrote,

“What is the secret to great living? Entire separation to Christ and devotion to Him. Thus speaks every man and woman whose life has made more than a passing flicker in the spiritual realm. It is the life that has no time for trifling that counts.” These words have continued to challenge me again and again. How easy it is to trifle with the things of this world, and wane in our separation to Christ and devotion to Him! The temptation to trifle with worldly preoccupation often sneaks in very subtly, under the banner of “good” things; like Facebook, Pinterest, and blogs. I’ve noticed a temptation to quickly turn to the Internet the moment that I need a bit of inspiration for my role as “keeper of the home.” There are so many helpful blogs, beautiful Pinterest posts, and interesting Facebook pages that specialize in just about any area of my daily life. At the click of a button I can be swimming in an endless sea of amazing visual images or motivating practical advice for raising

THE TEMPTATION TO TRIFLE WITH WORDLY PREOCCUPATION OFTEN SNEAKS IN VERY SUBTLY, UNDER THE BANNER OF “GOOD” THINGS...


SET APART children, organizing my house, cooking delicious meals, exercising, healthy eating, party planning, photography, decorating, gardening, cleaning, etc. Such great inspiration seems completely healthy and harmless at first glance. But I’ve learned over the past few years that such things can quickly become a morass of distraction and compromise my complete devotion to Jesus Christ.

IT IS THE LIFE THAT HAS NO TIME FOR TRIFFLING THAT COUNTS Both in my own life and in conversing with many young women, I’ve discovered that the Internet is one of the primary ways that we can lose our spiritual sharpness. Instead of becoming dead to the world, we become distracted and preoccupied with the world through the things we encounter on our computer screen. I’ve realized that the Internet can be a huge time-eater. If there is no guardedness to our time online, we will quickly find that the best hours of our day have been wasted in a cyber-world instead of given to real life. So many young moms find it hard to spend meaningful time with their children because of their addiction to Facebook or Pinterest.

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HOW OFTEN DO WE MISS HIS HEAVENLY AGENDA FOR OUR DAY BECAUSE OF WASTING COUNTLESS HOURS ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER, AND PINTEREST? Many of us struggle to spend even twenty minutes in prayer, but meanwhile sit in front of our computer screen for several hours each day, completely consumed by the social media world. God’s Word says that He has prepared “good works” in advance for us to walk in. How often do we miss His Heavenly agenda for our day because of wasting countless hours on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest? Even more dangerous, when we have an unhealthy addiction to the Internet, our mind is influenced by worldly reasoning and worldly priorities, instead of continually meditating upon God’s Truth and His agenda. Eric recently gave a powerful message at Ellerslie called The Christian Thought Life. In it, he exhorted us to be on guard against any and every thought that is not in alignment with God’s Truth…whether it be an obviously evil thought, or even a “sweet little old lady” thought that is subtly dangerous. This describes Pinterest and Facebook quite well. Many of these sites are not obviously evil but are subtly worldly, sneakily pulling us farther away

from the things of eternity and turning our eyes upon the temporal and trivial. So, let’s explore some of the most common pitfalls waiting for us in the Internet world, and how we can apply God’s Truth to each one of these areas of the cyber-world.

1. idle chatter

Facebook walls and comments, Twitter, and even personal blogs are often breeding grounds for idle chatter, fruitless words, frivolous notes, showing off of wit and personality, and exalting our own thoughts and opinions instead of God’s thoughts and opinions. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” Second Timothy 2:16 says, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (KJV). The term “vain babbling” here means, “empty discussion, discussion of vain and useless matters.” What a perfect


SET APART description of the vast majority of modern blogs and Facebook walls! Pointless ramblings, emotional philosophizing, chatter that really doesn’t have much of a purpose other than to sound artistic and wax eloquent about nothing in particular – this is what is currently hip in the social media community. But vain babbling is the opposite of godly communication. Romans 14:19 says, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” The word edify here means, “to build someone up in their faith, to promote another person’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, holiness, etc.” If we choose to blog, our primary goal should be to edify our readers; to build up their faith in Jesus Christ and encourage them spiritually through what we are sharing.

MAY WE WEIGH EACH WORD WE SAY (AND WRITE) IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY. In other words, if you don’t have something truly important, edifying, and God-honoring to say, then don’t say it (or post it) at all! Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, “...every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (KJV).

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May we weigh each word we say (and write) in light of eternity.

2. idolatry

One of the most crafty and dangerous things about Facebook, Pinterest, and blogs is the temptation to worship and idolize the “following” that we have. Instead of looking to Christ alone for our confidence, security, and fulfillment, we become consumed with how many likes we have on our Facebook page, or how many subscribers we have on our blogs. Popularity is much easier to achieve now than it was when I was younger, thanks to the blogging and social media community. It used to be that in order to become one of the “cool kids” you had to wear the right clothes, use the right slang, and strategically position yourself around the in-crowd. Now, if you simply know how to sit at your laptop and blog in a hip, trendy, artistic, or unique way, you can become popular, gain your own little fan club, and get your ego stroked by the many affirming comments that people leave on your blog site or Facebook page. All too many of us spend a huge amount of time and energy “competing” to gain more subscribers and see more comments



SET APART posted on our blogs or Facebook walls. We are addicted to the applause and approval of the outside world, and this is our leading motivation for blogging or using social media, despite often proclaiming that our screen time is “all about Jesus.” If you find yourself constantly checking to see how many new subscribers you have, always taking a peek at the comments people post, and feeling jealous toward other bloggers or Facebook users who have a bigger following than you do, it’s sign that this area of your life has an unhealthy hold upon your heart. If social media or blogging has taken an idolatrous place in your life, be willing to completely walk away from it for a season and focus on making Christ your First Love, your All in all. In light of eternity, which is more important?

3. worldly preoccupation

Looking to celebrities for inspiration on workouts, diets, hairstyles, and fashion may seem harmless, but what does God say about being influenced by the mentalities of pop-culture? “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of

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the ungodly….but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law, He meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1) Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook often encourage us to take our cues from the world as to what we should eat, drink, wear, and do. When we get pulled in to celebrity inspiration and cultural trends, we quickly begin to walk in the counsel of the ungodly. We start meditating upon the world’s value system instead of upon the things of God.

WHEN WE GET PULLED IN TO CELEBRITY INSPIRATION AND CULTURAL TRENDS, WE QUICKLY BEGIN TO WALK IN THE COUNSEL OF THE UNGOLDY. WE START MEDITATING UPON THE WORLD’S VALUE SYSTEM INSTEAD OF UPON THE THINGS OF GOD. Christ makes it clear that we cannot love both Him and the things that charm and ravish this world. We cannot be dazzled by the images of pop-culture and captivated by the King of all kings:


Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. (1 John 2:15-16) Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4) If our Lord does not take delight in the things that charm and ravish the world, neither should we. (And if you believe that God actually applauds the distorted messages of pop-culture, you need to become better acquainted with the God of the Bible.)

IF OUR LORD DOES NOT TAKE DELIGHT IN THE THINGS THAT CHARM AND RAVISH THE WORLD, NEITHER SHOULD WE. To be truly set-apart for our King, we must choose the same path that Amy Carmichael did – to become dead to the world and its applause, to all the customs, fashions, and laws of those who hate the


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humbling Cross. Why should we look to shallow, ungodly celebrities for advice, when we can look to the King of all kings for everything we could ever need? May we not use the Internet to study and imitate pop-culture and celebrity trends. We are to imitate Christ alone.

4. disregarding the sacred

Modern blogging, Pinterest, and Facebook pages provide an opportunity to get all of our feelings “out in the open” while impressing people with your unique and artistic philosophy skills at the same time. It’s like having a public diary. Instead of keeping our personal ponderings and feelings private, social media encourages us to publish them; to creatively market our unique thoughts and ideas in order to gain a following. Many young women use their blogs to post intimate dreams and desires about what they want in a marriage partner, or use their Pinterest page to display photos of their future dreams – their ideal wedding dress or house with a picket fence. On the Internet, it is all too easy to broadcast thoughts and feelings that should be kept private.


One of my favorite Scriptures is Luke 2:19, when Mary the mother of Jesus “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”

As women, God tells us not to exude merely a physical beauty, but to allow our beauty to flow from the “hidden person” of the heart:

If anyone had a reason to publicize her thoughts, observations, and experiences, it was Mary. And yet, she chose instead to keep them and ponder them in her own heart.

Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart... (1 Peter 3:3-4)

ON THE INTERNET, IT’S ALL TOO EASY TO BROADCAST THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS THAT SHOULD BE KEPT PRIVATE.

The phrase “hidden person of the heart” refers to the secret, intimate part of who we are; our emotions, musings, dreams, struggles, and ideas. When we fall into the habit of publicizing our intimate thoughts, we have no “hidden person of the heart” left to protect; nearly everything we think,


...GOING PUBLIC WITH OUR THOUGHTS CAN ALL TOO QUICKLY LEAD TO UNBIBLICAL PATTERNS IN OUR LIVES, DESTROYING THE FEMININE MYSTERY GOD INTENDED US TO PRESERVE.

hope, dream, fear, and feel is out there on display for the world to see. Granted, it can be more exciting to deposit our personal thoughts in a public forum rather than a private journal, especially when people leave us nice comments and our following grows with every post. But going public with our thoughts can all too quickly lead to unbiblical patterns in our lives, destroying the feminine mystery God intended us to preserve. Save the personal sacred things of your heart for your journal, prayer closet, and your husband. Do not “cast your pearls before swine� by allowing all eyes to see what is meant to be kept private.

:: Remember, the Internet in itself is not an evil thing. I truly believe that Facebook, blogs, Pinterest (and yes, even Twitter) can be used for the glory of God, and that by His grace, we can navigate these areas without falling into the traps that have been set for us. But we must not blindly venture into this dangerous territory. Before sitting down in front of a screen, we must put on the armor of God and have the mind of Christ with every click of the mouse, every moment in front of a screen, every tap upon the keyboard. I encourage you to take some to time to prayerfully evaluate your time on the


Internet, in light of eternity. Are you truly “dead to the world” and spending your screen time on the things of Heaven, and not the things of this earth? If not, ask God’s Spirit to show you how to reorient these areas of your lives around His priorities. Study His Word and apply Truth to your every decision. Be willing to completely walk away from anything that is pulling you away from Jesus Christ. Be willingly to strictly limit your time on the Internet in order to spend the best hours of your day in His presence. And be willing to completely change what you post, what you view, and what you participate in so that He and He alone would be glorified through your Internet time. Is not the Lamb that was slain worthy?

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Leslie asks the setapartgirl team: HOW DO YOU SET A GUARD OVER THIS AREA OF YOUR LIFE AND LIVE IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY?

ANNIE SAYS: I love getting my life all organized, decorating my home, and also giving time to designing, photography, and healthy cooking - all things that come with an endless supply of inspiration on Pinterest. But, soon after discovering this resource, I found that if I wasn’t guarded, I was going to lose valuable time on trivial and fruitless things, time that is not mine to squander. To keep my heart and time accountable before the Lord, I choose not to open

Pinterest unless I have something specific I’m searching for, like finding a recipe to make for my dinner guests or looking for a fresh color palette for next month’s magazine issue. Pinterest can be a fruitful resource or a cunning thief swallowing up what rightfully belongs to the Lord. And it’s up to me to govern my time with purity and purpose. With Facebook, I keep two rules before me. 1) Give Jesus. The world certainly doesn’t need more of me. It doesn’t serve anyone to know what cool thing I just did or who I saw in the Starbucks line. But what they do need is Jesus,


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and I can take the platform the world says is “mine” and spend it wholly for declaring God’s testimonies of faithfulness in my life and sharing His words of Truth. 2) Care about the right things. Birthdays, a friend’s baby announcement, missionary updates, and edifying posts can be some of the benefits of utilizing Facebook, but I must give no access in my time to the things that glorify the world, take the spotlight off Christ, or tempt me with comparison. The best way I’ve found to guard this is to spend very little time on Facebook, and be purposeful when I do open it up. And more importantly, keep my daily life saturated in the presence of God and His Word. If holy Truth is the reigning voice in my life, I am quick to turn my eyes from worthless things.

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ELSJE SAYS: Electricity is a great tool. It allows us to blow dry our hair, see in the middle of the night, it helps us keep our food fresh, and removes the hassle that candles created back in the olden day. However, electricity can very quickly

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become an extremely dangerous weapon if wielded in the wrong way. It could be said, the greater and more helpful the tool, the greater and more dangerous of a weapon it becomes if it is misused and misapplied. The exact same can be said for the Internet. It can either be a valuable tool in your life, or an oppressive tyrant dictating how you spend your time and sculpting and shaping your thoughts. Pinterest was an especially helpful resource when I needed some DIY decorating ideas as we moved into a new house and when I needed to get the nursery ready for the little one on the way. However, I quickly realized how easy it was to be lured onto all kinds of bunny trails with the seemingly thousands of lovely things to look at and interesting tips to read about. In order to keep Pinterest from becoming a tyrannical time-sink in my life, I do not allow myself to spend time aimlessly browsing every “pin” and “picture” that captures my eyes and and tempts my desire for creating a beautiful home. My aim is to keep my time on Pinterest purposeful and planned; not as what Jane Austen would call a “diversion.” It didn’t take me very long, after creating my own Facebook account, to understand


and see the dangers it carried with it. The initial excitement of having my own profile and connecting with all my friends, soon faded with the discovery of the many dangers Facebook posed to my soul. I felt Facebook to be a temptation to compromise in my standards of purity; with it being the platform for so much frivolous flirting and inappropriate guy/girl interaction. The desire to set my affections on things above, and use my time to draw closer to Christ, led to the decision to deactivate my account four years ago. There certainly is a healthy way of utilizing Facebook. However, by removing this unnecessary distraction, I have found I am able to direct my time towards heavenly things, rather than the constant urge to know the latest news and updates of all those around me. Finally, one thing we must remember about this tool known as the Internet, is that, since it has such a loaded capacity for usefulness as well as frivolousness, we must stand guard over our use of it, refusing to fritter our time away on those things which do not last. Our blogs, Facebook, and other Internet browsing should only be used to glorify God, serve those around us, and be a testimony of the consecrated life we are called to live.

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MANDY SAYS: Whether completing ministry “computer errands” or diving into a personal search, my well-loved MacBook connects me to an enormous universe of information via the Internet. I use the Internet every day - and I’ve experienced it both as a “time-swallower” and as a redeemed means of usefulness for God’s Kingdom. As I have sought to honor Christ in my use of the Internet, there are a few principles that God has worked to engrain in my heart... Principle #1 - A Fixed Gaze Whether looking for fresh food inspiration, a pair of bridesmaid shoes, or a bargain book - the internet offers more accessibility at my fingertips than ever before. And while this is holds an exciting opportunity, God has challenged me on this point. I’ve found that it is far too easy to mindlessly search the Internet for a solution to any given need or situation - when my heavenly Father already has all that I need and has promised to supply. While the Internet is a helpful resource that God is willing and able to direct me in, I must purpose to turn to Christ first and allow Him to meet every need as He chooses.


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Principle #2 - A Prayerful Heart As I walk with a prayerful heart and am continually conscious of God’s nearness, my time on the Internet is marked with intentionality rather than triviality. It is very simple, but I’ve found that when my Internet time is cushioned with prayer, God’s purposes and heavenly priorities prevail. When I live in acknowledgement of the One who owns my time and laid down His life to purchase mine, I

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am far less likely to waste my time or compromise the purity of my heart - via the Internet or any other means. Next time, as you enter the web world, I challenge you to choose to clip the wings of trivial browsing, mindless surfing, and vain networking - and instead ask Him to fill your vision with His heavenly purpose regarding your use of the Internet. As you set your heart to seek His smile, He will faithfully guide you!

*


devotionals

GETTING TO THE HEART OF SET APART

DEVOTIONALS FROM LESLIE LUDY + OUR SETAPARTGIRL TEAM

GET WEEKLY DEVOTIONALS TO ENCOURAGE YOU DOWN THE NARROW ROAD OF CHRIST-FILLED FEMININITY.


the latest online:

A SURPRISING CURE FOR DEPRESSION by LESLIE LUDY Jackie Pullinger, a missionary in China, tells the story of leading a fifty-year-old prostitute to Christ. This woman had been used, abused, mistreated, and defiled in just about every way imaginable for her entire life. “How is she ever going to experience inner healing?” Jackie wondered. “If we have to talk and pray through every horrible thing she’s been through, it’s going to take forever.” But then the woman began to discover amazing joy by turning outward and helping others in need. She went to the hospitals and washed the wounds of the injured. She went to homes for the elderly and brushed the matted hair of the patients. “It was serving others that healed her,” Jackie said. This woman who had been so battered, bruised, and wounded chose to deny herself and pour out her life for the cause of Christ. And soon, she was made new again. She gained incredible peace, joy, and freedom. She began to sparkle with a beautiful inner glow... READ MORE


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Cowardice The

of Throwing In the Towel

a

An anonymous Warrior-Poet speaks up

sweet, thirteen year old girl waits quietly in her parents’ living room, eyes closed, nervously toying with the lace on her new dress, imagining what in the world her parents are up to. After a brief absence, she hears her parents reenter the room, and her daddy’s gentle voice say, “dear one, you can open your eyes.” Her breath catches as she opens them; somehow candles and roses now grace the room, and her loving parents sitting across from her on the leather love seat. In all her life, she has never had anything like this happen to her. The new dress was the night’s first surprise, then the trip to the fanciest restaurant she’d ever been to, and now, to top it all off, this fairy-tale moment. She could see her daddy fidgeting with what looked like–oh, could it be?–a jewelry

box. Her mom was so beautiful, her daddy so handsome, and she had never felt so special. Her daddy continued speaking and – though a little stiff and not incredibly sappy – lovingly told her how special she was to them, and how they desired her to walk through the coming years of her life with purity and honor towards God as well as her future husband, that shiny armored knight she always dreamed of. She had never seen her daddy get teary eyed, but as he opened the jewelry box and showed her a beautiful ring, she couldn’t help bursting into a flood of overwhelming tears. As her mom and daddy explained to her how proud they were of her, and how they hoped she would live to honor God and them and her future husband, she adamantly nodded in agreement.


That night, while drifting off to sleep, she wondered how long it might be before her prince charming would come. She was convinced that until he gave her an engagement ring, nothing would ever be more special than this night was. She resolved to live a life of purity, honor, and holiness; and as sleep finally took hold of her, and a joyful tear ran down her face, she whispered out a prayer of gratitude to God for such an incredible night! I have a hunch that a large majority of young women that grew up in the church had a similar experience to this one. Whether it was parents, a church, or a mentor who championed a decision to “remain pure” for a future spouse, many of us made a commitment of sorts to “wait.” Especially in the conservative wing of Christendom, this was heralded as such a virtuous decision, and we were ever so proud of the decisions our young folks were making. Many of us young men were encouraged to “guard the hearts” of young women, and young women were advised to not be overly open and free with young men lest they should “lead him on.” We talked often about just being brothers and sisters in Christ. Courtship became a hallowed word. Purity rings were all the rage. We “saved ourselves” for our future spouse. Young men learned to be providers and savvy entrepreneurs, and young women

learned to (I presume) knit, bake, sweep, play an instrument, or learn Slovak. We gobbled up all the books on how a godly relationship ought to unfold. And now . . .

Many of my peers who were once zealous advocates for purity, restraint, holiness, and waiting on God...are now throwing in the towel on the whole idea. And now – I have observed – many of my peers who were once zealous advocates for purity, restraint, holiness, and waiting on God for their future spouse are now throwing in the towel on the whole idea. Numerous blogs have been written by young men and women who “believed the lie” of the whole “purity thing.” They rant to high heaven that all the purity rings and courtship lectures ruined their ability to interact with the opposite sex. They cross their arms in a teenage huff when they hear certain relationship books or authors


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mentioned. They write blogs expounding their angst and how they have “removed their ring” because it was just a fuddyduddy way of dealing with sexuality, and, with rolling eyes say, “it doesn’t work anyhow.” They make viral youtube videos that accentuate all the ridiculousness our parents told us about these matters. I’ve seen multiple blogs, videos, and books come out in recent years that all take aim at the whole “sexual purity” thing. It isn’t that they are advocating impurity, they have just had it up to here with all the propaganda that their churches and parents gave them (i.e. purity rings, godly relationship conferences, and books). They say it isn’t practical, realistic, or healthy. They say that it ruined their ability to have healthy guy/girl interaction. I can empathize with many of my peers and understand the frustration of waiting for a godly spouse to somehow appear. I can agree that many parents and churches don’t do the greatest job of explaining the reason why these things are important. I absolutely agree that putting a purity ring on your finger doesn’t make or keep you

“Purity thing”


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femininity pure; or make it any easier to wait, year upon year, for that fairy tale romance to come true. However, does that license us as a generation to snub our nose at our parents and criticize them for how restrictive and unrealistic their idealist expectations were? Just because the advertising was somewhat inaccurate, does that make the product any less valuable? Let me give an example. A preacher gives a rather pitiful Gospel message. Yet, a hardened sinner in the back row is broken by the Spirit of God, sees the glory of what Christ has done for him on the cross, and he receives Jesus as his Lord. Now, ten years later, life gets rough, and the man returns to a sinful lifestyle because the preacher wasn’t the best communicator of the Truth. Does the messenger’s feebleness discount the efficacy of the Truth he is endeavoring to proclaim? I have a hunch that what is behind all this angst, and all this disgruntled blogging, and all this huffiness is an attitude of selfjustification. I will be the first to declare the life of purity, restraint, self-denial, and holiness (not just for a future spouse, but in every arena of life) is hard. Ok, really

Impossible


hard. Well, actually, impossible. Could it be that like the foolish Galatians, we have become a generation that began in the Spirit, but are now trying to perfect ourselves through the flesh (Gal. 3:3)?

Do not build your life on the shaky ground of other’s testimonies. Build it upon the solid promise of God’s Word. My concern, as a Warrior-Poet in the making, is that a whole generation of young women will be led into a compromised and self-justifying lifestyle that is based wholly upon the sarcastic cynicism and bad experiences of those around them. Why do you think our parents and churches desired us to live pure lives in the first place? Is it not because there is a Higher Authority behind even them, which they are called to represent, which demands, “be ye holy, as I am holy?” And is not His law considered lovely by the Psalmist David (Ps. 119:113)? Since when was

our behavior and lifestyle supposed to be guided by the experiences and testimony of those around us? Say that everyone in your generation fails to live a life of purity and holiness unto God and to honor their future spouse, and say furthermore that they have a vendetta to spew the bad taste in their mouth out on everyone who will listen. Does that give you a license to not live a sacred life of set apartness for the glory of God? Paul thunders in Romans 3:4, “let God be true, but every man a liar.” Do not build your life on the shaky ground of other’s testimonies. Build it upon the solid promise of God’s Word. My guess is that most people enter into a marriage and proclaim, “I wish I had done more to honor my spouse. They deserve so much more than what I gave them. I should have served them more faithfully in my single years.” Further, do any of us really think that five minutes into eternity we will cherish the fact that we threw off the restrictiveness of purity and holiness which our parents “shoved down our throats?” Why do you think every tear will be wiped away? Is it not because many of us will realize how little we gave to the Savior who gave all? Oh, I live my life all out for Jesus, not because He forces me to, but because


He is altogether lovely! Your future husband will be richly blessed by your purity ring, your journaling to him, your restraint in relationships with other men, your discretion of what to post on your facebook account, your modesty of speech and body, your thoughtfulness of him even before you meet him. Do not let the Enemy encroach upon your soul through the deceptive power of others’ behavior and bad experiences. Rather, stand steadfast in the battle to see Jesus glorified not just in your sexual and emotional purity, but in the overarching testimony of your life.

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Stand Steadfast.


HAVE YOU EXPLORED OUR NEW WEBSITE? WE THINK YOU’LL LOVE THE NEW SEARCH BY TOPIC SECTION! Search through all the past issues, blogs, and devotionals. Grab an iced tea and start reading! www.setapartgirl.com


Living a l


life ofLove Understanding The Confusion of Legalism by LYDIA COVEY


Legalism. It is a simple word that strikes fear in many Christians. Allow me to set the stage with a little analogy: The newlywed wife is busy preparing dinner and waiting for her husband to return home after his long day of work. She looks up excitedly as he walks through the door, holding a bouquet of beautiful flowers. With a smile, she hurries to greet him and sees his lovely gift. But her smile and excitement turn to confusion and hurt as he hands her the flowers, and with a sigh, says, “These flowers are for you. I’ve heard this is something a husband is supposed to do for his wife.” Tears fall from her eyes as she takes the flowers from the man to whom she has given her life and love. It’s not hard to imagine this bride’s immense hurt and pain. But think for a second – if the husband is actively showing kindness and serving his wife, why would such a gift produce such hurt and sadness in the young bride? Because his action is meaningless without the foundation of love. She needs to be served and blessed out of her husband’s love, not simply out of duty. We read of people in the New Testament whose lives reveal this same lack of love.

The lives of the Pharisees were filled with hypocritical obedience to the law, serving God primarily out of duty. Jesus boldly called out their false lives of devotion and their focus on the externals: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me…Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 15:8; 23:28 NKJV). These men understood their religious duties; they obeyed in full detail everything they were supposed to. So why did it upset, sadden, and even anger Jesus so much? It was the same reason why the flowers brought such hurt to the hopeful bride: the lack of love and falseness of the heart. The Pharisees acted out of duty, just as the husband gave the flowers out of duty. Both of them in their own way took action on what they were supposed to do – they took action on the rules. But in such a relationship, be it husband and wife or man and God, the action must come out of love.

Legalism Defined Legalism is simply defined as an adherence to law and rules. It is clearly seen in the lives of the Pharisees as we read of their extreme actions and outward obedience to laws and rules. But it is far too easy to focus solely on outward actions when thinking about legalism. Recently, the Lord


SET APART

has opened my eyes and understanding to see that the state of the heart is actually where legalism is born. Two people can do the exact same action, but for very different reasons – one out of duty, and one out of love. While the husband in my analogy gave flowers solely out of duty, another man could offer this gift out of a deep love for his wife and the desire to manifest that love in an action. As I came to understand this more clearly, I turned my focus to the depths of my heart and was able to see where there was legalism in my own life. As the Pharisees were legalistic when they adhered to the law rather than adhering to Jesus, I discovered I was a legalist when

walk

I focused my energy on good standards rather than adhering myself to Jesus. I was holding on to my choice to live a setapart Christian lifestyle rather than abiding in Him and loving Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength (see Deut. 6:5). The branch cannot produce fruit if it is not abiding, if it is not connected to and living through the vine. You and I are the branches, and no matter how hard we try, we can only produce fruit when we adhere ourselves to Jesus and rest in Him.

Rooted In Love The young woman who abides in and loves Christ obeys out of that deep affection, passion, and obsession for her


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Savior, while a legalist obeys simply out of obligation. A legalist knows the command, not the Commander. Deuteronomy 6:5 does not tell us to love the commands and sacrifices, but to “love the LORD thy God…” As the Lord has grown me in understanding of the life I am to live as a Christian, I see how incredibly pivotal my love for Him is. I’m challenged to honestly answer these questions: What in my life, in my Christian walk, do I do only because I know I’m supposed to? Are my actions and choices coming only from the knowledge of how I should act? Or do they flow out of love for my Lord and the sole desire to bring Him glory? Have I chosen a set-apart life

because I have been commanded to, or because He is my great treasure? Do I choose standards because they make me look and feel like a better Christian? Or do my life and choices prove that I have “found the one whom my heart loves” (Song of Songs 3:4) and my life is His?

The Dread of Legalism Sadly, a common misconception about legalism is that any standard a person has is considered legalistic. Anyone who chooses a conservative lifestyle or follows a “rule” is labeled as a legalist. Christians are often far more worried about being legalistic than they are about obeying and serving the Lord out of love. We must not


throw out all standards and obedience to the commands of God because we’re afraid of legalism. I’ve watched many fellow Christians allow the fear of legalism to hold them back from living a set-apart and holy life. But we need to know that it is not legalism when our love for Him is displayed in our life, in our choices, in our standards, in our acts of service, and in a lifestyle that is not of this world. Jesus says in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (KJV). Fear of legalism must never interfere with our love for Him and thus keeping His commands. The point at which my obedience ceases to be legalism is when I see the holiness of the Lord, and can serve Him completely out of love. Then my love for Jesus grows deeper and my obedience purer. I love how Dwight L. Moody simply states the switch from living out of duty to love: “Before my conversion, I worked towards the Cross, but since then I have worked from the Cross; then I worked to be saved, now I work because I am saved.” Working toward the cross in our own strength leads to self-righteousness and legalism. But when we are saved and set free by the

precious blood of the Lamb, we now have the honor and calling to live for the glory due our King and Savior. When our eyes are set on Him and the incredible new life we have been given, no longer are we distracted by the rules. A key to knowing whether you’re living out of duty or out of love is whether there is joy in your life. Duty without love will not produce joy in our actions. From what we read about the Pharisees in Scripture, joy was not abundantly present in their lives. When we’re in the position of serving, a lack of joy indicates a lack of respect for the one being served. Therefore when we treasure the Lord, obedience is not done out of obligation but with joy, delight, and love. The more Jesus is the object of our heart’s affections and becomes our supreme treasure, the more we will know joy in serving Him. Our focus for every action and act of obedience must be set on the foundation, our love relationship with the Lord. Remember, without love, action is meaningless. It is important to continually test our hearts and press on hard to know our Lord. Don’t become strictly focused

Have I chosen a set-apart life because I have been commanded to, or because He is my

great treasure?


on the outward actions and “rules” of Christianity. Rather, set your focus upon loving your Lord with an upright heart. Don’t be afraid that others might think your actions are legalistic. When Mary of Bethany poured out her spikenard on Jesus’ feet, she gave her greatest and most treasured possession – essentially her life and future to Jesus. It was an action that reflected her heart. When we hear of Mary’s outpouring of love and adoration for her Lord we would never think of calling her legalistic. Yet if such an action of sacrifice and total abandonment to the Lord occurred in our Christian culture today, it would likely be labeled as legalism. But Mary of Bethany was not focused on what the world around her thought; she did not allow the criticism of even the disciples to stop her. She was overcome with love for Jesus and acted upon that love by radically pouring out her treasure - proving Him to be her one and only Treasure. I greatly desire to become a woman like Mary of Bethany. But I am unable to live with such beautiful abandonment to the

Lord if my focus is always on the action and trying to figure out which step of service I should take. I must continually press hard to know my Lord and set my energy first on simply loving Him. For He is only truly served and glorified out of a heart that loves and treasures Him. This simple yet deep truth of loving the Lord has completely changed my life and is continually convicting me. As the Lord revealed the ways I lived out of duty and legalism, I realized it was not my actions that had to change. It was not that I had to stop obeying His commands or stop choosing to live with standards. But it was my heart that had to change. I had to set my eyes on Jesus and fall more in love with Him. And this never changes – I must continually seek to know Him more and fall in love with Him over and over again. If you are struggling with legalism in your life, don’t stop following God’s commands. Don’t turn to the modern idea that “freedom in Christ” gives Christians the authority to live however they choose. Rather, turn to the Lord; press on hard to know Him more,

The more Jesus is the object of our heart’s affections and becomes our supreme treasure, the more we will know joy in serving Him.

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dwell on His perfection, and find Him as your one True Love. Continually remember His powerful work on the Cross and His saving grace. Remember that He died for you, to give life, and life everlasting. Never stop placing Him above everything, for He is your supreme treasure. And as you see Him in all His glorious, holy beauty, Jesus

Christ will become more and more the One whom your heart loves. And thus your service, duty, actions, and obedience will be a natural outflow of that love. Just as a loving husband finds delight in treasuring and serving his wife, so you will find the deepest delight and joy in serving the Lord. He is worthy of your life and love!

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He is worthy of our life and love!


Q&A

with a set-apart girl

This question came into our ministry and was beautifully answered by Mandy Saeler.


Q:

I HAVE BEEN STRUGGLING RECENTLY WITH FEELING HYPOCRITICAL AND UNWORTHY, SO MUCH SO THAT I FEEL LIKE I CAN’T TALK TO GOD ABOUT MY STRUGGLES. WHAT SHOULD I DO TO STOP FEELING SO UNWORTHY OF GOD’S HELP AND LOVE?

A:

For a long time, I lived a Christian existence with the nagging voice of insecurity wearing away at my heart. Through those times of ache and confusion, God faithfully brought the light of His Truth. He revealed that

the root of my insecurity was sin and compromise, which denied Christ His rightful reign in my heart. Now, when insecurity encroaches upon my heart, I’ve learned to flee to God’s presence for fresh examination and yield once more to my Worthy King. My encouragement to you would be to come before God in surrender, asking Him to examine your heart, revealing areas of sin and compromise in your life. Our God is a gentle and loving Father and as you humbly yield to His hand, He will faithfully root out all that hinders your pursuit of Him. As it says in Psalm 24:3-4, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart...” Prayerfully examine your spiritual walk in light of James 4:4-10. Go through this passage verse by verse, praying through each point, and allowing God to test and try your heart. Fully yield yourself to His refining, purifying work with a repentant, rejoicing heart. As you do, walk forward with the strength and enablement of God’s Spirit to live in simplicity and purity before God. As we embrace Christ and the work of the Cross, the enemy no longer has the grounds to incriminate our hearts and harass our minds with feelings of doubt and unworthiness. As you fix the gaze of your soul steadfastly upon the Truth of God and faithfully keep your heart pure, the nagging voice of insecurity will soon fade and you will begin to taste heaven on earth as you live in the Presence of your King!

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PART 3

RELATIONSHIP SERIES

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with Leslie Ludy

BUILDING

a god-written

Love story KEEPING CHRIST AT THE CENTER OF A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP

IF

you’ve read any of my books, you know that my message is all about making Christ the focus of your entire existence. This principle isn’t just to be lived out in theory – but in practical, day-to-day life. I can honestly say that making Christ my first love was the reason that my love story with Eric worked. Over the years I’ve seen many young Christians attempt to build a

God-honoring relationship without a vibrant walk with Christ backing it up. Every time, it falls apart. Without an active, daily, living, breathing, passionate relationship with Christ, it’s nothing more than human wisdom and human effort attempting to reach the heights of Heavenly romance. Without the power of Christ’s Spirit, it simply can’t be done. When I think about


CLICK HERE FOR PART ONE, There’s This Guy: Responding to the Distraction of Attraction CLICK HERE FOR PART TWO, Getting to Know a Guy: In a God-Honoring Way


Falling in

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the early days of my love story with Eric, I don’t just remember the wonder of falling in love and the beauty of discovering Eric’s heart. Rather, I vividly remember falling in love with Jesus Christ and basking in the beauty of a romance with Him – a romance that was enhanced, not diminished, by my love story with Eric.

WE KNEW THAT GOD WANTED SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR US.

When my relationship with Eric began, everyone expected us to start living out the typical “boyfriend/girlfriend” pattern – becoming completely preoccupied with each other, spending every waking moment of our spare time together, expressing our physical affection for each other, and letting the focus of our thoughts and conversation be about our passionate feelings for each other. But we knew that God wanted something different for us. He wanted to remain at the center of our relationship – not just in theory, but in reality. We realized that if we started focusing on our feelings for each other


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Love rather than our mutual passion for Christ, we would push Him to the outside of our romance. So we entrusted our emotions to God. We asked Him to guard our hearts and not unlock passion for each other until the proper time. In the meantime, we agreed to keep our conversation, focus, and energy centered upon Jesus Christ and not each other. To most people, it seemed strange. Here we were, a young couple in a serious relationship with the intention of getting married someday – and we didn’t even act like we were dating. We didn’t hold

hands. We didn’t kiss. We didn’t sit close together on the couch and whisper into each other’s ear. We didn’t have long, ardent phone conversations. We didn’t talk about our feelings for each other. We didn’t say “I love you.” People who hadn’t been directly told that there was something between us often didn’t even realize we were a couple. We didn’t spend time cuddling or gazing into each other’s eyes. Instead, we encouraged each other to pursue more of Christ. We read Christian biographies and talked about how they


impacted our lives. We shared stories of how God was working in our lives and what He was teaching us. We prayed for each other. We prayed together for people in our lives. We shared Scripture with each other. We supported each other in the individual ministry steps God challenged us to take. We joined our church community and family in doing outreaches. Eric spent several months away at missionary school - we talked on the phone about once a week and wrote each other letters of spiritual encouragement (this was before the days of email and cell phones, if you can believe it!)

CAREFULLY PROTECT THE SACRED THINGS, NO MATTER HOW STRANGE OR OLDFASHIONED THEY MIGHT SEEM. I am well aware that the way Eric and I built our relationship seems out-dated, restrictive and unromantic to many. But I want to tell you unequivocally that it was


SET APART like a dream-come-true. Just think about what makes a Jane Austen romance so appealing. It’s the slow, delicate process of one heart opening to another. In oldfashioned love stories you don’t carelessly fling your mind, emotions, and body upon someone the moment that they say they like you. In fairy tales, you don’t go from zero to sixty in seconds. Rather, you savor each conversation, carefully weigh each word, and patiently wait months or years before you finally win the priceless treasure of the other person’s heart. Modern romances are sadly lacking in the dignity, nobility, and honor that was prevalent in the days of “knights and fair maidens.” The only way to gain the dignity and nobility that our feminine hearts crave is to carefully protect the sacred things, no matter how strange or old-fashioned they might seem. Instead of spending mindless hours on the phone with Eric every night, I waited with eager anticipation for his once-a-week call from the payphone outside his missionary school. Every word was savored. We didn’t waste time talking about meaningless things. We cherished every moment and counted every conversation as significant. It was a thousand times more special and romantic because we only talked once a week. Instead of exchanging quick, shallow emails every day, we took the time to write long, thoughtful letters to

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each other. I still love to look through the box of letters that we wrote to each other during those years. It reminds me of a Jane Austen novel. I look at the carefully scripted, thoughtful words and remember the delicate way our hearts opened to each other. It was a thousand times more romantic and dignified than mindless emails or text messages.

WHEN YOU BUILD YOUR COMMUNICATION AND INTERACTION AROUND THE THINGS OF GOD, YOUR HEARTS ARE KNIT TOGETHER IN HIM. This is not to say that you can’t have the “Jane Austen magic” if you choose to use email or cell phones in your love story! The principle that makes the fairytale spirit come alive is keeping sacred things sacred. Rather than allowing your communication with the other person to be careless and haphazard, allow God’s Spirit to make every conversation, letter, email, and phone-call purposeful, thoughtful, and Christ-centered.


Because we were committed to keeping Jesus Christ at the center of our conversations, phone calls, and letters, we were able to build a strong spiritual foundation for our relationship. All too many love stories that start out with a spiritual focus speedily shift to an emotion-led whirlwind. Once you allow your emotions to lead the way, spiritual things quickly get squeezed into the background. But when you build your communication and interaction around the things of God, your hearts are knit together in Him. As you draw closer to Christ, you naturally draw closer to each other – but in a healthy, beautiful, Christ-led process rather than a lightening-speed human-led emotional roller coaster ride. As you make decisions about how to build your romance, don’t take your cues from the rest of the world. Just because other “Christian” relationships look a certain way doesn’t mean yours should. As I said, when Eric and I built our relationship, it appeared strange, extreme, unnecessary, and even legalistic to others. But as we followed the lead of God’s Spirit rather than the trends of culture, we found a taste of Heaven on earth. Don’t be afraid of putting physical distance between yourself and your future husband. People often feel a pressure to be together on a continual basis during a blossoming

romance – thinking that it might “fall apart” if they are not around each other twenty-four seven. But if God wants your relationship to stay together, it will remain strong no matter how many miles, months, or years separate you from each other. I believe that being geographically separated from Eric during the majority of our love story was a huge factor in keeping our focus on Christ rather than each other, and in keeping the “magic and mystery” alive throughout the entire process. Take some time to prayerfully consider putting distance between you and your significant other in order to cultivate a Spirit-led, Christ-focused love story. It’s a great way to freshly surrender the relationship back to Christ and make sure that He is always honored above your human emotions and desires.

WHEN WE FOLLOWED THE LEAD OF GOD’S SPIRIT RATHER THAN THE TRENDS OF CULTURE, WE FOUND A TASTE OF HEAVEN ON EARTH.


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relationships

Your romance with Christ is meant to be theLifelong passion of your heart and soul.

Often love stories that begin as Godscripted fairy tales can morph into human-led emotional flings. This happens whenever Jesus Christ is removed from His rightful position as the first and foremost love of your life. Be on guard against losing your own individual relationship with Christ as your love story is unfolding. While it’s certainly important to think and pray about your love story, don’t allow all of your thoughts, journal entries, and prayers to center around the guy you are falling in love with. Rather, cultivate your individual intimacy with Christ – apart from the relationship that is forming. Meditate upon His character, listen to His voice, study His Word, and make plenty of time for heartfelt worship. As young women, it’s

easy to transfer our affection for Christ onto our future husband; to lose our spiritual vitality as we become caught up in the drama and emotion of a human romance. But unless Jesus Christ remains our First Love, we will always be looking to a mere human to meet the deepest needs in our heart – and we’ll always be disappointed, because they are needs that only Christ can meet. Your romance with Christ is not supposed to be a “stand in” until you finally meet the man you’ll marry. Rather, your romance with Christ is meant to be the lifelong passion of your heart and soul. Your earthly love story should pale in comparison to your love story with Christ – not just


SET APART

relationships

during your single years, but every day for the rest of your life. And if it ever comes down to a choice between Christ and your future husband – Jesus Christ must always come first. In my book Set Apart Femininity I wrote about one of my heroes, Sabina Wurmbrand, who was willing to be separated from her husband and son for ten years, suffering unspeakable tortures and heartache, in order to protect the name of Christ. Sabina loved her husband – but she loved Jesus Christ more. This is what it means, in practical terms, to make our King the first and foremost love of our heart. He tells us: If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

A God-scripted earthy love story is a beautiful thing. But if it ever usurps Christ’s position in your heart and life, it becomes an “idol” that must be removed. Nothing is worth sacrificing our relationship with the true Lover of our soul. Even now, after many years of marriage to Eric, I must constantly remember that my husband is not to be the focal point of my existence – Jesus Christ is. Eric is not to be the one who brings the deepest fulfillment, comfort, security, and joy to my soul – Jesus Christ is. To keep our marriage alive and beautiful – both of us must vigilantly guard our individual romance with Christ. When He is at the center, everything else falls perfectly into place.

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(Luke 14:26)

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PART 3

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with Leslie Ludy

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NOTHING IS WORTH SACRIFICING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE TRUE LOVER OF OUR SOUL.



SET APART

How to

E V LO HER

by HEATHER COFER

THERE IS A BATTLE RAGING around us in this day and age that is literally affecting millions of people – the battle for the unborn. Not only is it taking the precious lives of countless babies, but it is damaging the lives of many young women, as well as all those closest to them. Abortion is such a difficult and intense topic, and it can be tempting to want to stay on “neutral ground.” Yet, as Christians, we must stand firmly for those things the Lord has made clear in His Word, and in this case, His design for life. There are many of us who have the desire to enter into this great battle, but are not sure how. And if we came in contact with a young woman in a crisis pregnancy situation, we do not even know what we would say, or how we would even begin to help or comfort her. This is the journey the Lord has begun walking me through.

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God had been gently tugging on my heart for a couple of years with the subject of abortion, and after several instances of being confronted with the issue, I knew I must take action. I knew the Lord wanted me to enter into the fight for life, and more specifically, the fight for the women whose souls who were being deceived into thinking that abortion would solve their “problem.”

I KNEW THE LORD WANTED ME TO ENTER INTO THE FIGHT FOR LIFE... FOR THE WOMEN WHOSE SOULS WERE BEING DECEIVED... I have had the privilege of volunteering at a pregnancy resource center for the past year. When I started, my heart’s desire was to have face-to-face interaction with young women in crisis pregnancy situations, but that didn’t happen for a while. Before I went through the training to become a “client advocate” or counselor, I had a period of waiting and serving behind the scenes – putting together bags of baby clothes, helping with events, and praying for all who came seeking help. It was a

wonderful time of preparation and trusting the Lord, realizing that if this was how I spent the rest of my time as a volunteer and never stepped foot in a counseling room, it was more than worth it. Once the first training came around, I was incredibly excited. I wanted to soak up every bit of knowledge I could handle. Throughout the training, the Lord began opening my eyes to how He views these women, and His pattern for how we are to minister to them. I realized there were so many misconceptions I had had about how to help them, and I was beginning to understand that the issue was much deeper than “If only she knew it was a baby…”


SET APART

What the Lord was awakening me to was that when He brings a young woman into our life, He wants us to show love specifically to her. If our goal is only to save the baby, and we don’t show the love of Christ to the one carrying that baby, what good have we done? So often in the fight for the child, the woman carrying this little life gets trampled and hurt by the comments that are meant to try and help her see the Truth. We turn to our own means of trying to reason rather than looking to Jesus to see how He desires us to minister to her. How did Jesus approach the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-30), or the woman caught in adultery about to be stoned (John 8:1-11)? Though He confronted them about their sin, He

lifestyle

was gentle, loving, and compassionate. People who saw their need were drawn to Him, not pushed away by Him. He didn’t try to reason with them or make them feel guilty – He simply spoke the Truth in love. And this is what we are called to as those bearing His name. Jesus said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” First Corinthians 13:1 says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” We can speak Truth to someone all day, but if we do not display the love of Christ to them, it will do no good.

HE WAS GENTLE, LOVING, AND COMPASSIONATE.

PEOPLE WHO SAW THEIR NEED WERE DRAWN TO HIM, NOT PUSHED AWAY BY HIM. When we come in contact with a woman considering abortion, we must be able to understand how they are viewing their situation. One of the things I learned was that the mind-set of most women considering abortion is not, “I don’t really


SET APART

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believe this is a baby.” Actually, many will tell you that they know it is a baby. Rather, they are viewing the pregnancy as death to themselves in a number of different ways, including their education, career, dreams, etc. So, their mind-set is more along the lines of, “Either my life is over, or this baby’s life is over.”

WHEN THEY STARTED SHOWING LOVE TO THE WOMAN, SHE

CHOSE LIFE

FOR HER BABY. When a study was done among a group of pro-choice women, all of them agreed that abortion was killing, knew it was ultimately wrong, and (if they believed in God) believed that God would punish those who did make that decision. However, they also believed that He would simply forgive them because they didn’t mean to get pregnant, and (in their minds) had no other choice. This mind-set is a lot harder to deal with than just trying to convince a woman that there is actually a baby inside her womb; it is a distortion of the Truth. Yes, it is true that if you are truly repentant of your sin, God will forgive you. But there are still major consequences that come

from this decision that so many women don’t understand. In crisis situations, it is difficult to think rationally, and so often they can’t see anything but how to immediately take care of the “problem,” not thinking of what their actions will mean for the future. The absolute best way to combat this is by approaching them in the way Jesus has established – sharing the Truth in love. In one state, the majority of the crisis pregnancy centers decided to change their focus from trying to save the baby to intentionally directing love and care toward the women. Not surprisingly, it became the state with the fastest dropping abortion rates! When they started showing love to the woman, she, in turn, chose life for her baby. When the Lord establishes a pattern, we can be sure that it will work.

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Want further reading on the fight for LIFE? click here.

READ ON

for practical ways to begin preparing to show love to young women in crisis pregnancy situations...


SET APART

lifestyle

PRACTICAL WAYS

TO SHOW LOVE TO A YOUNG WOMAN GOING THROUGH A CRISIS PREGNANCY

Prayer

First of all, we must be praying for the Lord to prepare us, and give us His wisdom and insight. We cannot rush into it in our own strength, or nothing good will ultimately be accomplished.

Humility

We must never be judgmental in our attitude toward them, but always humble. We have to remember that the Lord has shown incredible mercy and grace to us, and we are to show that same mercy and grace to them by our words and attitude.

Listen

We must be ready to listen, allowing them to share their story, asking them questions, and only offering advice when we know it is the right time. Often, once they have had the opportunity to share their situation in a safe environment, they are able to see more clearly that abortion does not have to be their only option.

Share

Finally, we must always be ready to share the Gospel: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit...� (Heb. 4:12). Do not force it upon them if they are not open, but if you see they are ripe, never be afraid to give them the Truth.


OUR GREATEST DESIRE for this woman should be that she comes to the saving knowledge of Jesus. God desires her to be saved just as much as the baby she is carrying within her. And may we, as we begin this journey, bring Him much glory by directing the eyes of those He brings into our lives to the Giver of all life, that they too, might glorify Him. (Much of the information in this article came from an article “Profile of a Woman with an Unplanned Pregnancy,” the Life Choices Level 1 Volunteer Training Manuel, 1st Edition 2012.) (For another wonderful article on this topic, read Leslie’s article, Standing for Life in the Jul/Aug 2011 issue - click here.)


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G I V E N P H O T O G R A P H Y : PA R T O N E

GIVING GOD MY CAMERA: SHARING A FEW SNAPSHOTS FROM MY PHOTOGRAPHY STORY by ANNIE WESCHE

As Creative Director with Set Apart Girl Ministries, I have received many emails from young women wanting to know how I got started in photography and specifically, with orphan advocacy work. I love sharing my story, because it is filled with accounts of God’s incredible provision when I had absolutely nothing to offer but my willingness and faith. I set out to see with His eyes through my camera, and the lessons I am still learning humble and amaze me. In this first part of a three part series, I’ll do my best to answer some of your questions. While I won’t be diving into the technical side of photography, it is my prayer that you will glean the encouragement to offer up your passion, skill, and equipment for His use, and joyfully enter into the endless possibilities of Christ-driven photography.



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FIRST, A STORY TO SET THE STAGE Standing in the open courtyard of the Haitian orphanage, my eyes fell upon a boy who looked to be about eight years old. He was staring at me from some distance away with a stone face and watching me as I worked with the camera in my hands. I smiled and waved, but his expression remained unchanged. Moments later I was in front of him, talking to him, patting his head, and poking his belly, but it was as if the boy was locked up behind a steel wall of pain. My heart broke and I offered up a prayer, Father, how do I reach his heart? Immediately the Lord surprised me by replying, Hand him your camera. I shook my head and responded, I don’t think so, Lord. What if he drops it? It’s the first day of my trip and I need this gear to do my job. But the quiet conviction remained. Hand him your camera. After a brief and uncomfortable moment, my resistance yeilded to surrender. I took my camera, set it into the boy’s hands, and saw the first spark of emotion flash in his eyes as they darted up to look back at mine. I nodded my head, reassuring him that he could hold it, and showed him where to place his hands. Apprehensively he followed all my instructions and with the first brilliant “click” of the shutter his eyes filled with wonder. I directed him to look at what he had captured, and after staring for a moment at the image, he looked up at me and revealed a heart-winning smile. In that small moment, God began something incredibly significant in my heart. I saw beyond my own goal of capturing powerful photos and it was even beyond the obedience of putting my camera into the hands of a hurting child. God was presenting before me a lifedecision about my photography. Was I willing to put my passion, my equipment, the direction of my work, and the photos themselves into God’s hands and allow Him to own this area of my life and dictate its path? That day, on my first purposeful step forward with photography, God had a question for me. Annie, will you put your camera into My hands?


SET APART

lifestyle Q: HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY?

PHOTO CREDIT: Let There Be Light Photography

For me, the hobby of photography turned into a passion when I first caught a glimpse of how it could move people. When Eric and Leslie’s adopted daughter, Harper, came home from Korea, I documented her arrival and her first few days after getting home. The photos weren’t extraordinary, and in fact, most of them were actually not worth keeping at all. At the airport, I was holding a camcorder in one hand and my Nikon in the other, and crying so many tears of joy that I could hardly see to operate either of them! But it was Harper’s adoption story that was so powerful - telling of God’s heart for each orphan, His power to heal, the miracle of adoption, and what happens when two parents obey God and walk forward in faith. After hearing everyone’s responses when

“WHATSOVER YE DO, DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD.” I Cor. 10:31

“AND WHATSOEVER YE DO IN WORD OR DEED, DO ALL IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS...” Col. 3:17

“THAT IN ALL THINGS HE MAY HAVE THE PREEMINENCE.” Col. 1:18


the photos and story were passed around, a desire ignited within me to advocate for vulnerable children and communicate God’s heart for them through photography.

I CONTINUALLY PRAY THAT HE WILL TRAIN MY EYES TO SEE WHAT HE SEES... Q: HAVE YOU GONE TO SCHOOL FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY? I haven’t. While I hope to always improve my technical skill, the most vital thing I depend upon is the Spirit of God to instruct me in every photoshoot and opportunity. I continually pray that He will train my eyes to see what He sees, and put me in the places and moments that need to be captured and shared with others. And I have seen beautiful things happen in answer to those prayers! I’ve also learned a great deal by evaluating other’s work - what makes it gripping, moving, or beautiful, and then evaluating my own work and observing other’s responses to it. Sometimes, what I think is a horrible photo, has actually deeply moved someone, and other times, what I think is a great photo, seems to be



SET APART of little interest to others. There are a lot of photographers out there. While I want to shoot with excellence, my goal is not to take the greatest photos, but to tell the greatest story, His story, within those photos.

Q: HOW DID YOU GET STARTED USING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY FOR ORPHAN ADVOCACY? In my relationship with Christ, I’ve asked the Lord to make me fully His, so the Lord reached down and wrote “HIS” upon my passion for photography, just as He had done with my heart, my purity, my time, my future, etc. And as soon as my heart was awakened to His burden for orphans and vulnerable children, I immediately wanted to use my camera in that direction. The first door to open for me came in answer to prayer. My ministry responsibilities at the time were such that I couldn’t be gone for longer than a week and I had absolutely no money for travel costs, but I yearned to get out and offer up my camera. After giving the matter to prayer and laying my constraints before the Lord, He answered in a very exciting way. An adoption agency had seen my photos of the Ludy children

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and asked if I would come photograph their unmatched, waiting children at an orphanage in Haiti. The trip would only be a week long and they would gladly pay all my expenses. I immediately went to the Lord in thanksgiving for showing me His jealous care over this newly consecrated area of my life! Since then, my approach has always been the same: I ask God to open doors, to provide all that I need to go through them, and to bless the fruit of my hands for His glory. One of my favorite promises in God’s Word is in I Thess. 5:24 which says, “Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it.” It is God who has given this ability and talent, and He knows just where He wants to spend it. If you ask, He will lead.

THE FIRST DOOR TO OPEN...CAME IN ANSWER TO PRAYER Q: WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU USE? The short answer: provided!

Whatever God has

“FAITHFUL IS HE WHO CALLS YOU, WHO ALSO WILL DO IT.” I Thess. 5:24


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I’m sorely lacking technical savvy. For years I used and loved my Nikon D40, but since its sad departure, I’ve used a couple different cameras that have been given to me. I’m on the hunt for purchasing my next camera, so I’ll have to let you know how that one turns out! There are so many possibilities with the equipment out there today, and there are also many experts who can help you navigate the decision of what equipment to use. But from my experience, whether I’ve shot with top of the line equipment or gone out with my humble, slow-shutter camera, it is the enabling grace of God that makes all the difference!

Q: DO YOU SHOOT MOST OF THE PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE MAGAZINE? Other than the orphan photography, I have actually shot very little. Because of the great amount of design and editorial work that goes into every issue, I have leaned upon others to provide our beautiful photography, and we have been blessed with incredible photographers on our team! They are young women who have all offered up their love for photography, whether long time photographers or newbies, as an act of worship unto the Lord. Lauren, Mandy,

and Grace are living testimonies of Christdriven photographers, and I know that it is because of their lives being so consumed with Jesus, that He has blessed the fruit of their hands in this creative skill.

Q: HOW CAN I MOVE FORWARD IN DEVELOPING THE PASSION AND SKILL OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN MY LIFE? Start with laying your passion before the Lord as an offering of worship. Give it up to Him and declare His rulership over your tools, time, and future work. And then begin praying that He would lead you into the exact training, experience, and ministry opportunities you will need to fulfill His calling in your life. Pursue training and excellence, but above all keep Christ at the ruling center of your work, and I promise, as you are submitted to Him and seek after His glory, He will bless your pursuit far beyond what you ever imagined! Don’t diminish the vital elements of dependency and prayer. Your life belongs to the King of kings and this area is just as much of interest to Him as any other area, that He may use it to bring His name glory and proclaim His message. Trust Him to open doors and lead you. And I promise you, He will!

*

IN THE NEXT ISSUE: LESSONS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT GIVEN PHOTOGRAPHY


“I WILL INSTRUCT YOU AND LEAD YOU IN THE WAY YOU SHOULD GO, WITH MY EYE UPON YOU.” Psalm 32:8


SACRED singleness by Leslie Ludy


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ARE YOU SINGLE? Do you struggle with discontentment, impatience, and the constant pressures of pop culture? This book will introduce you to God’s pattern for sacred, purpose-filled, world-changing singleness. This message will inspire you to discover a passionate romance with the ultimate Bridegroom - a romance that will satisfy the deepest desires of your soul, whether married or single, Sacred Singleness will show you how to: *Let God script your love story in His own time and way *Overcome loneliness and jealousy towards friends getting married *Triumph over the temptation to settle for less that God’s best *Enjoy a fulfilling life before you meet your husband *Handle the fear of being single for life With inspiring firsthand testimonials from both modern and historical single women and a comprehensive guide to serving the least and lost around the world, Sacred Singleness will awaken you to God’s amazing plan for the single season of your life!


CommonLife SISTER of the

MEET REBEKAH Rebekah Scheiman | AGE 30 HERO OF THE FAITH: DAVID BRAINERD

SIGNIFICANT LIFE VERSE: “Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me.” (Isaiah 49:1-2 KJV)

PHOTOS BY KASEY BOATRIGHT AND EMILY BROWN


Q:

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST WAYS YOUR LIFE HAS CHANGED SINCE CHOOSING TO LIVE SETAPART FOR THE LORD?

I really cannot remember a time when I did not want to live wholeheartedly for Jesus. I asked Jesus to be my Savior at the age of five, and even as a young child, I remember knowing that the only thing I wanted to do was live for Jesus. So, I cannot point to a specific moment when I chose to live set-apart for the Lord, and I cannot detail a dramatic lifechange that came with the decision. I never felt like I made any of the usual “sacrifices� (for instance, giving up movies or dating or secular music), because I never wanted those things to begin with. However, I can definitely point to the change that happened when the Lord allowed me to discover

how to live the set-apart life in His strength rather than in the strength of my flesh. This did cause a dramatic difference in a lifestyle that was already outwardly conformed to the qualities one would expect to find in a set-apart life. When I reckoned myself dead to the flesh and alive to God, I experienced great peace, great clarity, and a full and never-ceasing sense of His presence. My efforts to please man were changed into efforts to please


discovered that Christ’s indwelling life in me was able to please God and do His will, not because I was suddenly “better,” but because His grace was great enough to reach all the way beyond my sin and scoop me up and draw me to Himself, empowering me to do what my flesh could not and would not do.

Q:

YOU HAVE BEEN SERVING IN HAITI FOR SEVERAL MONTHS. WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?

Jesus. My pursuit of “ministry” ceased, and my pursuit became Jesus alone. My life changed from being stressed out as I constantly invented “useful” activity, to being full of peace and simplicity as I only concerned myself with trusting Jesus and obeying His commands. And my great grief at finding myself constantly at odds with God’s will was transformed into great joy as I

A typical day starts with prayer. I get up before sunrise and go to the roof of the creche (orphanage), where I visit with my Savior, worship Him, ask Him for the needs of the day, and dedicate myself anew to being dead to the flesh and alive to Him. All the missionaries have corporate prayer at 7:00am, and then I get ready for the day and prepare my breakfast, usually oatmeal with some cut up fruit and a little sprinkle of cereal, which I eat while I read


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the Word. At 9:00, I ring the bell to start school. I teach in a one-room schoolhouse setting with about 18 students, ages 5-15, at all different grade levels. I have also been involved with developing the preschool program for the younger children. Lunchtime comes, and I eat a plateful of beans and rice with the kids at an outdoor picnic table. School continues until 2:00,

at which point I rest, do chores, and fill the afternoon with a variety of things, such as class prep or sewing with the girls. In the evening, I get to cook over charcoal to make my dinner, take a cold bucket shower, and hopefully spare a few extra moments for personal study and correspondence by the light of a kerosene lantern. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, I walk to the local market, where I buy local fruits and vegetables, and on weekends, we do fun activities with the kids such as painting, soccer, and swimming.

Q:

WHAT ARE SOME WAYS THE LORD HAS GIVEN YOU TRIUMPH IN THE MIDST OF THE CALLENGES OF LIVING IN HAITI (THE FOOD, THE HEAT, THE CULTURE, THE POVERTY, ETC.)?

One of the biggest challenges for me in Haiti has been sickness.


I came down with malaria, and later, cholera. This was a learning experience in how to rejoice, how to balance rest and work, and how to think biblically and accurately about what God is doing in the midst of my illness. One of the things He taught me was that it is much more important for me to discover how to access the grace and strength that Jesus gives moment by moment than it is for me to be healed of my sickness. But in His mercy and goodness, He healed me, too, and raised me back up for further usefulness and service. Other challenges have come, too, like learning how to have time to do

everything when you suddenly have a lot of plain old hard work to do, like drawing water for household chores or washing clothes by hand outdoors. This sounds to American ears like I am making a tremendous sacrifice, yet the average Haitian has all this work to do on top of additional backbreaking labor during the day, and all most likely on an empty stomach. So, I have learned that there is no special merit in enduring hardship. Other people all over the world have endured constant hardship that is worse than mine. Hardship does not make me more Christlike – Christ makes me more Christlike.


CommonLife SISTER of the

Q:

WHAT HAS THE LORD SHOWN YOU ABOUT HIS HEART FOR THE ORPHAN, THE HUNGRY, AND THE LOST WHILE YOU HAVE SERVED IN HAITI?

Coming to Haiti, I discovered to a whole new extent that I don’t naturally have His heart. My human compassion is a mere shadow of the great, grand, loving heart of Jesus for the orphan, the hungry,

and the lost. There is no end to His love and compassion. I am learning that I need Him to supply this love to me; otherwise I will encounter the needy and be frustrated by my lack of resources; I will encounter the orphan and close my heart because it hurts too much; and I will encounter the hungry and withhold from him lest I should be mobbed. I am discovering that Jesus’ heart is completely different from my heart – not just greater in measure, but different in focus and approach. I am learning to not look within my own heart for the wherewithal to serve in Haiti, but


simply to ask Him for His heart, and receive it. When I open my heart in surrender and faith, He fills it. His love flows through me. His wisdom comes upon me. His direction becomes clear for how to serve the hurting and the lost.

Q:

WHAT ATTRIBUTE OF GOD HAS BEEN MOST ENCOURAGING AND STRENGHTENING TO MEDITATE UPON DURING THIS SEASON OF YOUR LIFE?

I have meditated a lot on the infiniteness and inexhaustibility of God’s power and supply, realizing that God is more than a match for Haiti’s poverty, corruption, and dysfunction. When I look at the way wealthy governments and organizations all over the world have tried to pour resources and help into Haiti, and it seems like it barely made a dent, it would be easy to say to myself, “Who am

I to make any difference? I am only one person.” But the living God is with me, and He is the one taking initiative in Haiti, not me. His resources are unlimited. His power is insuperable. I simply get the privilege of being called to participate in what He is doing, and I have simply to look to Him to supply everything that is needful for me to accomplish His work.

*


CommonLife SISTER of the

A FEW OF HER FAVORITE THINGS the color orange, my siblings, the medina in Fez, Morocco, homemade chai tea, playing Liebestraum on the piano, the book of Hebrews, baking cinnamon raisin bread, tinkering in Photoshop, sunrise hikes on Roan Mountain, long road trips, knitting, crocheting, and tatting, hymn singing


Eric and Leslie believe that a thriving marriage, not just a surviving one – should be the aim of every couple. The first few months of a new marriage is like the “wet concrete” stage of a relationship – the habits, both good and bad, lock into place. Roles become defined. Communication methods settle themselves in for the long haul. Sexual and emotional intimacy gets off to either the right or wrong start. Every couple has a choice of how they are going to begin their proverbial ride into the sunset. If you proactively maximize your first 90 days of marriage, you will avoid years of heartache, disillusionment, and having to “un-learn” all the wrong habits that were set in those early months. Marriage is serious business. It’s intense, it’s challenging – it’s important work. However, we hope this book will display that marriage is also romantic, fun, and full of magical wonder.

THE FIRST 90 DAYS OF MARRIAGE by bestselling authors ERIC & LESLIE LUDY “This book is outstanding....Eric and Leslie start out with a bold assumption - that marriage can be great and that people need to strive for a fairy tale marriage instead of hoping to just get by. I’d give this book to any couple who are going to be getting married soon, it could be the most important book they read on marriage. ” - Amazon.com review

ORDER HERE


HARPER’S DOG Okay I’m going to be completely honest with you…I am NOT a dog person. I have never been moved by cute puppy dog eyes or fluffy little doggy tails wagging. I’m not quite sure why, but even adorable little puppies do very little to melt my heart. Dogs, to be completely honest, just seem kind of gross to me. All I can think about is fleas, dander, and pet smells in the carpet. (Sorry all you dog-fans out there, I hope you are not offended!) Despite my lack of doggy-love, I’ve been blessed with a little daughter, Harper Grace, who is a HUGE, and I mean HUGE fan of all things canine. She absolutely loves to pet, cuddle, and nurture dogs. For about a year she was pleading for her very own “cozy dog” which presumably meant a dog that she could cuddle up with on the couch, brush, pet, and adore to her heart’s content...

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST


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family


don't cry over

spilled milk CHOOSING A CHRIST-LIKE ATTITUDE IN THE INCONVENIENT MOMENTS

by LESLIE LUDY


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last week

I spilled about a half a container of milk on the floor of our van. I don’t remember all the details of how it happened, but my guess is that I was probably unloading kids and groceries at the same time. And as usual, I must have been attempting to carry way more than was humanly possible, while simultaneously mediating a squabble between my three- and four- year-olds and trying to get my six-year-old to stop decorating her white shirt with some pink sidewalk chalk she’d discovered on her way into the house. My scattered attentions resulted in a large amount of splattered milk all over the carpeted van floor. Which resulted in the smell of sour milk permeating our vehicle. Which resulted in kids who were whining and complaining about the smell every time they got in the car. Which resulted in me loading up all the kids the next morning and driving thirty-minutes to the only carwash place I knew of that could shampoo car floor mats. I went through the tedious process of unloading four rowdy kids into the car wash parking lot, removing all of the car seats, and stashing all the random toys, books, and miscellaneous car items into a large duffle bag so the van would be clear for its thorough cleaning and the floor mats would be ready for a good washing.

I hauled the kids, the car seats, and the large bag up the crowded sidewalk into the waiting area and got ready to pay for the car wash, making sure to mention that I wanted the carpets shampooed. The sleepy college-aged guy at the counter then informed me matter-offactly that they had decided to stop doing carpet shampoos for the rest of the day, so all I could get would be the basic wash and vacuum. (I’m not entirely sure why they chose to stop shampooing carpets the moment I arrived, but I was convinced that they had made the decision for the express purpose of making my life more difficult.)

. . . life with kids just somehow has a way of ushering inefficiency into my life. “I just drove thirty-minutes to have you shampoo the carpets,” I protested, “isn’t there anything you can do to help me?” “Well,” he said in a distinctly non-helpful tone, “why don’t you just come back tomorrow?”


Uh…come back tomorrow? Excuse me, buddy. You really don’t understand my life. It’s a huge ordeal to load up my four kids and waste an hour out of my day to get the van carpets shampooed. Don’t you get it? I’m a mom of four little kids! I can’t come back tomorrow. Tomorrow I have to take one kid to the doctor, another kid to speech lessons, and another one to buy new shoes because his current pair is so caked with mud that they have morphed from light blue to dark brown. I also have to fold five loads of laundry, or my kids will be going to school in their pajamas. And I have to go back to the grocery store because I forgot to buy paper towels. Not sure when I’m going to fit that in. Plus, I’m on a deadline for a writing project. Did I mention that I’m in full-time ministry? My

schedule is super-full. I can’t even tell you all the things on my to-do list! Listen guy, you just don’t get it. There’s no way I can just drop everything and come back tomorrow to have you shampoo my van carpets, okay? These were pretty much my exact thoughts, and I’m very glad I did not voice them out loud. Being a perfectionist by nature, I really like it when things flow smoothly. I am not a fan of inefficient scenarios such as multiple trips to the car wash in a twenty-four hour period to clean up milk that should never have been spilled in the first place. But life with kids just somehow has a way of ushering inefficiency into my life. Things


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don’t always go like clockwork. And all my carefully laid plans often grow wings and fly out the window. One of the things God has been teaching me in my mothering lately is the importance of maintaining a happy attitude when things don’t go according to plan. Incidentally, this is one of the primary behavioral principles I’ve been attempting to instill in my children as well! Whenever their backyard adventures are interrupted by a call to come in for dinner, or when their favorite toy suddenly runs out of battery at a crucial moment in their playtime antics – they can quickly get worked up into a frenzy of emotional frustration. I discipline them for these kinds of outbursts, and talk

to them about the importance of bringing their emotions under God’s control. But I realize that I often need the same kind of talking-to about my own attitudes! Proverbs 25:28 says, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.” Psalm 37:8 says, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it only causes harm.” When I am faced with less-than-ideal circumstances, I must make a choice. If I choose to let my emotions rule, I quickly give in to the sin of fretting and frustration, and as the Bible says, it only causes harm


– both to my own soul and to those around me. But when I bring my emotions under God’s control, He gives me the grace to laugh instead of groan. When I choose contentment over frustration, I soon realize that having a totally predictable schedule and a perfectly clean car isn’t the most important thing in my life after all. Those things are nice, but when they take priority over a happy heart and peaceful spirit, they gain unhealthy hold upon my soul. Choosing to smile instead of fret in those moments of frustration requires supernatural grace. No amount of human will-power can achieve the constant, steady, unshakable peace that the Christian life is meant to have. The secret to an unruffled, peaceful, happy outlook is in yielding fully to the Author of peace, on a moment-by-moment basis throughout the day. Isaiah 26:3 gives us an astounding and beautiful promise: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trust in You.”

As Christ pointed out, we cannot change anything by fretting and worrying! (Matthew 6:27) If we are willing to receive it, He will give us the grace to laugh instead of worry, to rejoice in all things, and to joyfully trust Him no matter what.

When I bring my emotions under God's conrol, He gives the grace to laugh... It’s really that simple. Taking my focus off the dirty floor mats and irritating car wash episodes, and putting it on Jesus Christ. Shifting my gaze from the inconvenience of my circumstances to the One who gives me strength to live in triumphant victory – no matter what.

*


photography by MANDY SAELER


a merry heart

does good like medicine PROVERBS 17:22


THE LATEST

AND GREATEST

OF THE LIL’ LUDY BUNCH


HUDSON, Age 8 He’s been making Lego-movies using an old camera phone we gave him. He has several short episodes about “Steve’s Adventures” and they are actually quite entertaining! “Steve” is a Hudson-created lego character with Buzz Lightyear’s face, a yellow body and black pants. Hudson takes photos of each frame he wants in the movie, then puts them all together on the computer and adds music and sound effects. My favorite is the one called “Steve’s Big Day” which begins with Steve rising from bed to the sound of a rooster crowing, eating breakfast (which is a chicken drumstick) and then spending the day at a theme park playing games and going on rides. The final scene of this sixty-second adventure is Steve collapsing into bed at the end of his exciting day!

HARPER, Age 6 We went through her box of baby memories and read all about how we adopted her from Korea. She is very excited to eat anything that is Korean, so if there is a food I really want to get her to eat, all I have to say is “I think they eat stuff like this in Korea” and she will devour it immediately! She saw a photo album of the foster mom who took care of her until we adopted her, and the next day she wrote a sweet letter to her foster mom, complete with illustrations. I told her I would take care of mailing it for her. A few days later she asked, “Did you ever mail that letter to my Grandma?” It took me a while to realize she meant her foster mom – I guess she’s a little mixed up on who this lady actually is!

KIPLING, Age 4 The other day he was speaking in a disrespectful tone, so I told him he’d better change his voice. He thought about what I’d said for a minute or two, and then began talking to me in a squeaky, high-pitched tone that made him sound like a cartoon character. “Dub, why are you talking that way?” I asked. “Because you told me to change my voice!” was his matter-of-fact reply.

AVONLEA, Age 4 Her giggle is contagious! Every night as we are putting her to sleep, she seems to get a major giggle attack. The other night I warned her sternly not to giggle while I was praying for her and tucking her in. She clapped her hands over her mouth and genuinely tried to stop, but it was no use. She buried her face in her pillow and tried to stifle her giggles, but they just kept coming. I was sure this was just a simple issue of getting self control, but as I was trying to lecture her about it I suddenly found myself giggling too – I was feeling a little like those characters in Mary Poppins who end up floating to the ceiling because they couldn’t stop laughing!



WE’LL BE FRIENDS

until forever

JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE. WINNIE THE POOH


listen + read recommendations from our team


Available to God

by Major Ian Thomas

MANDY SAYS: Each time I’ve listened to this sermon by Major Ian Thomas, my soul has been riveted by the powerful reality of God’s working through the lives of the saints! As we are fully given to the Spirit of God, we can fully trust that He will fully use our lives for His Kingdom and glory. The truth in this sermon sheds light on the glorious possibility of being used by the God as He has unhindered reign in every area of our lives. As you listen to this sermon, your heart will leap with joyful anticipation as you are challenged to become “restfully available and instantly obedient” to the movement of God’s Spirit in your life.

FOR THE AUDIO MESSAGE, CLICK HERE

God’s Love

by Corrie ten Boom

GRACE SAYS: I was excited when I found out a few months ago that there are recorded sermons by Corrie ten Boom. I’ve listened to a few since then, and this one, God’s Love, ministered deeply to me. Corrie tells stories about when she was going through the Holocaust and what it was like in the concentration camp, but her words are filled with such joy and Truth. There is no place for self-pity in Corrie’s life, even when, in our human terms, she would have every right to give into such a thing. But, no! Her testimony in this sermon is one of joy, trust, and a deep understanding of the love of God. She testifies boldly of God’s love, even through the utter horrors and betrayals that she has lived through. God’s promises are true, and Corrie speaks boldly of this as she testifies of how God taught her to continually see HIM all around her, even in circumstances that were less-than-desirable.

FOR THE AUDIO MESSAGE, CLICK HERE


inthenextissue: WHITE AS SNOW, Experiencing the full restoration of God LESSONS FROM THE MISSION FIELD, What defines a true missionary THE BATTLE OVER ADOPTION, Exchanging social correctness for Truth

“It is not difficult for God to guide us. He longs to do so, and nothing is too difficult for His omnipotence and nothing too small for His love.” - Corrie ten Boom