Cookie Cutter Comfort Getting outside of the “Personality Box”
Larissa & Ian “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”
LOVE BEYOND THE FEELING.
Sunshine & Blue Skies Christianity THE MYTH
The Secret of Being An Unshakable Girl
What IS an Unshakable Girl? Is there some kind of club you have to join, a certain type of clothing youâ€™re supposed to wear, or a secret handshake or something?
Buy It Now!
An Unshakable Girl is one who is not shaken or overcome by the flood of worldliness and sin that is continually surrounding her. She stands out because of her purity and joy and vibrancy in the midst of a culture where darkness and sin is sought after, praised, and exalted.
THIS is her secret. Find on Lulu.com and Amazon.com
RED BORDERS Contents:
Daily Disciplines The Secret of Being Unshakable
Interview Ian and Larissa: “Sorrowful Yet Always Rejoicing” - Part 1.
Fashion & Modesty Wear THIS not That!
Devotional “Seeing the Large Crowds” - A Devotional
Culture and Life Beyond Our Cookie Cutter Comfort - Getting Outside of the “Personality Box”
Relevant Truths Sunshine & Blue Skies Christianity The Myth.
Red Borders Unshakable Girl Magazine Designer: Tai Sophia www.beggarlybouquet.com All content in this publication is copyright 2014.
The Secret of Being Unshakable
hat IS an Unshakable Girl? What does she look like? How do you spot one in a crowd? Is there some kind of club you have to join, a certain type of clothing you have to wear, or a secret handshake or something? Well...Unshakable Girls ARE usually pretty easy to spot in a crowd...generally because they are the only ones NOT doing what everyone else is doing. They are the ones that refuse to comply with even their friends’ standards, choosing instead to pur-
sue the standard which Jesus has set. And why? It is because an Unshakable Girl loves Jesus more than anything or anyone else in the world, and looks only to Him to define what is right or wrong. An Unshakable Girl cares only what He thinks about the way she is living.
The things that flow out of her heart into in her daily life through her words and actions sparkle with His love and sweetness. An Unshakable Girl is not
shaken or overcome by the flood of worldliness and sin that continually surrounds her. She stands out because of her purity, true joy and vibrancy in the midst of a culture where most of the kids are walking around like zombies - not even able to enjoy a beautiful day...and not caring. Her smile is full of the joy of the Lord, and her heart is continually abiding in His presence. Her closeness with Him is evident; the things that flow out of her heart into in her daily life through her words and actions sparkle with His love and sweetness. And THIS is her secret:
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV)
I know for myself, that I can often get caught in the same trap as Martha. If we are honest, most of us get sidetracked in the same way. We begin to believe that, in order to please God, we have to be continually busy, working on projects and goals that will make Him happy, planning mission trips, fundraisers, luncheons, youth group activities, being on the worship team, or going to every church meeting and activity held during the week. We are even trapped into the day-today routines of life-school, tests, studying, jobs, and all of the mundane things that need to be done in any given day. And, it is so easy for us to measure our “Christianness” by the outward things that we’re doing (or not doing)“for God”. (We must also guard against looking at others as “less Christian” because of what they are or aren’t doing, or feeling proud of ourselves because of what WE are doing that others around us aren’t.) But, even though things do need to be accomplished during the day, do you see what is wrong with this picture? First, note that Martha is the one who welcomed
Jesus into the house. And yet...she was unable to make the effort to just spend time with Him. How often do we do this? We talk about Jesus. We listen to “Christian music”. We have a Bible on our shelf. We may even have
with Him as He shares His heart with us. There is only one truly necessary thing, and that is spending time with Jesus. Everything else pales in comparison. Why is this? It is because our
“Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” (Psalm 119:24) verses written on sticky source of life IS Jesus. notes on our mirrors. Yes, we should desire Sure, he is welcome. We to do things that are love Him...or at least, we pleasing to Him (and it love the thought of havis very important to be ing Him nearby...as we “doers” of His Word, and work on all of our other not simply “hearers”), but stuff. But do you know these things can only what ACTUALLY makes come out of FIRST falling Jesus rejoice? It’s not all in love with Jesus. Gazing the stuff we are “doing” into His eyes. Knowing for Him. The thing that the depths of His heart truly causes His heart to and His good character. sing is when we lay aside When Jesus came, he all of our other busyness gave us the opportunity and goals to simply sit to actually spend time
The thing that truly causes His heart to sing is when we lay aside all of our other busyness and goals to simply sit with Him as He shares His heart with us.
with Him - something that thousands of people LONGED for during the first centuries of the earth. When He came, He handed this gift freely to us! We can visit as many third-world countries as we want, dress in a certain way, and we can even throw out all of our awful books and movies and music in our desire to please The Lord. However, unless it stems OUT OF our love for Jesus and Who He is, it will not do a ding-dong thing for our lives. If you do all of these things, but still never will quiet yourself to sit with Jesus and talk to Him...it is all meaningless. There are hundreds of different religions and groups who do all the things I mentioned above, and yet, they have no light in their eyes, no joy in their hearts, and no freedom in their lives. They labor to earn favor with their “gods”, thinking that it will make them good enough to get into whatever version of “heaven” they believe. But even all of their “earned” righteousness will wash away with the tide of the sinfulness this world is flooded with. But it is not so with Jesus. Jesus died to take away our slavery to sin and death. When we spend time with Jesus, we truly will find our-
selves falling in love with Him! As we fall in love with Him, He will show us day by day what loving Him truly means. He, Himself, will break off of us the power of sin, showing us what is displeasing to Him in our lives so that we can repent of it, and get rid of it. All because we love Him--because He’s been speaking to our hearts and because we have been spending time with Him. Not because
It is not in our own strength that we can overcome the world - we already know too many who have fallen prey to its lusts to think that we could be any better or stronger.
Jesus’ hand to hide them from the raging storm. Girls who love to sit at His feet, and who delight to obey His voice. Because it is not in our own strength that we can overcome the world - we already know too many who have fallen prey to its lusts to think that we could be any better or stronger. No. But the key is in what Jesus said in John 16:33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (ESV)
“Give me the Love that leads the way, The faith that nothing can dismay, the hope that no disappointments tire, the passion that will burn like fire, Let me not sink to be a clod: Make me Th y fuel, Flame of God!”
“Make me Th y Fuel” By Amy Charmichael
we are trying to earn the free gift of salvation. Not because we are striving to look like a better person, but because Jesus is actually making our hearts brand new. (And yes, we must be aware of the fact that when we get close to Jesus, there are things in our hearts and lives that will have to change.) That is what He does for those who seek His face. He makes us Unshakable; not girls with muscles of iron standing on the tallest mountain peak with super-hero capes flapping behind us - but girls who run to the shelter of
Just weeks before they would have been engaged, a life-altering accident caught Larissa and her Where many would have given up...they held on in faith a
Rejoicing! 2 Corinthians 6:10
r boyfriend, Ian by surprise. He was rushed to the hospital, where he stayed for over half a year in a coma. and in love...and watched God move mountains. This is their story.
s soon as I heard Larissa sharing her story, something in it grabbed me. I knew it was a story that girls - and everyone else, for that matter - needed to hear. Our culture glorifies “happily ever after”. Having “your needs” fulfilled is seen to be of utmost importance...and as soon as your partner ceases to be able to do that (or you simply lose interest), it’s expected that you’ll simply move on with your life. Everyone is only concerned with what THEY get out of their relationships. Lust is equated with love. Everyone wants to date the “hottest” person they know. Everyone wants the fairytale relationship that is dripping with romance. All of these things are what has shaped today’s standards of dating a dozen different guys a year by the time you’re twelve.
“If you shrink back from the pain of nails being driven through your hands, love will incline you to say, ‘Not my will but yours be done.’” ~ John Piper
Nothing about that is love. And yet...all of those things are exactly what many girls are led to believe is the standard of love and relationships. Our culture is so saturated with it that you really can’t escape. Not even you dear homeschoolers. It is everywhere. And this is the reason I so badly wanted to let you
know Larissa and Ian’s story. It’s because the kind of love that God has poured into their relationship is NOT the kind that is flaunted by Hollywood. It’s a love that is far too deep for the plastic masks that “teen idols” hide behind. It’s a kind of love that you might never hear about aside from this story. And THAT is why I had to share it. It is because love actually means giving without expecting anything in return. It means a commitment to stick with the other person through the good and the humdrum and the terrible. It means looking for ways that you can bless and serve someone else. As a little background for you: In September 2006, after Ian and Larissa had been dating about a year, and were talking about getting married, Ian got into a serious car accident on his way to work. It left him with a brain injury...and it left Larissa with lots of questions... and a faithful God, who sustained both she and Ian through the darkness of the days...months...years after the accident, and spoke hope into their hearts through His love. n
T: Can you give us a
window into your own personal background; a little picture of your life before you met Ian...and then what God started to do in you?
L: I met Ian in college.
I grew up in a Christian home, but I don’t believe that I was saved until college. I didn’t have a view of sin or an understanding of God and His holiness or anything like that. So, when I met Ian in college, during our sophomore year, I had been saved just before that, but I still had so much to learn. I’d had a lot of really unhealthy relationships in high-school and college, unfortunately, and I had a pretty distorted view of what love meant. I knew ultimately what I wanted my husband to be like, but I made really bad decisions along the way, and didn’t put myself in healthy relationships. Once Ian and I started hanging out, God used him to show me so much about who He was, and also just what it was to be treated as a treasure, as opposed to just an object - which was a huge difference for me. Even just Ian’s approach to a relationship was really different; he was trying to guard my heart and trying to make sure we
weren’t making dumb decisions and pushing boundaries. Around the time when I started hanging out with Ian a lot is when God showed me so much about Himself, and I grew so much in my understanding of the
Bible, and trying to honor God as opposed to just fulfilling our own fleshly desires.
T: Before you’d met Ian,
what were your views on relationships? What had been your goals and ex-
of the things I learned so much after Ian’s accident was just how much I was letting Ian fulfill my longings for things. To me, he had become a source for a lot of things that only God should be the source of. It was very clear once he couldn’t talk to me; I realized I had become really dependent on Ian for things that I should have been dependent on God for - not man.
T: Did you have any par-
ticular hopes and dreams for the future?
L: It’s funny...God must
Ian and Larissa after they had begun their relationship. Bible. Ian was one of the biggest contributors to that. I learned so much from him even when he wasn’t trying to teach me on purpose - just the way that he was living his life was totally different than I had been living mine, or the way that many of my college friends were. I learned so much from him even just from the decisions that he was making about how he spent his time, etc...and as we started dating, it was just a totally different relationship than I’d ever had before, because it was centered on the
pectations in them? And how did that change as God changed your heart?
L: I think that before
I was a Christian - and even when Ian and I first started dating - I approached it the way most of us do; that we’re in this relationship because it’s fun, and it fulfills something in us that we want to “feel” - because it’s nice to feel “in love”, or that you’re special to someone. I don’t think I had these horrible expectations of men or myself, but I was totally selfish in the relationship. And one
have shielded me, because I did want to get married and have kids... but I didn’t have much beyond that. Though I did always want to live in Virginia...but I don’t. Other than being married and having kids, I didn’t have a real specific longing.
T: How did you meet
Ian? And can you give just a little bit more background about Ian when you met him?
L: Ian also grew up in a
Christian home. His dad was a pastor for about 20 years. Ian became a Christian when he was a young teenager. But he still had stuff that he was struggling to learn, like not knowing how to not sin...
and knowing the right thing to do, but feeling
T: After that, you guys
were pretty much doing things with the intention of getting married, correct? Could you explain what that means, for girls who might not know what having a purposeful relationship looks like? Ian before his accident. powerless to do it. He was linked to film. He and a friend started studying communications media IUP, which is where I met him. He is the oldest of 5, and I’m the youngest of 3...and we were born like 2 months apart. We spent the first year at college not knowing that the other person existed, even though we were in the same major. And then, we met in our sophomore year...and he drove me absolutely crazy. I got to know him really good before the summer, and then the summer of our sophomore year, God started to change my heart and helped me to start to see Ian the way that he saw him.
T: How long did you
know each other before you were actually in a relationship?
L: Around 8 months; not
L: Ian and I had both
been in other relationships and we just wanted to avoid the hurt that can come from so many relationships that are not healthy, or where we give our hearts away and our selves away when it’s not the person we’re going
older) because you want a partner, but you’re not necessarily committed to working through difficult things or being committed to the long-term in the way that we were when we were looking at it like, “Okay so this could be marriage.” And that changes how you view conflicts and different circumstances, because you have to work through them and think about, “What would this be like in 10 years?” As opposed to people just letting it fester or expecting it to get better un-addressed.
T: Can you give a pic-
Min ulla feum in henim iureetue tat, ver aute vercil iril cons. Kept in sent gave feel will oh it we. Has pleasure procured men laughing. to be with for the rest of our lives. So, we wanted to be in a position where we felt like that person was actually potentially a future spouse, so that we were just being careful in our affection, and wanting to only spend time investing in that relationship if it was someone we could see ourselves having a future with. And in some ways I think that probably eliminated quite a bit of that selfishness that we were talking about earlier, because it’s really easy to date when you’re younger (or even
ture of where you were at just before Ian had his accident, and then share the story of what happened and what kind of things were going on in your mind?
L: We started talking
about marriage in the summer of 2006. We were both on our internships, and that fall we went back to school, and we both started working; Ian started working 2 jobs, and having conversations with his parents about marriage - which I didn’t know about.
We would talk about it a lot, and eventually at some point, I said, “Let’s stop talking about this.” Because I wanted something to be a surprise... you know...timing and all that kind of stuff. But, because we talked, I knew exactly where he was, and exactly how he felt about me, which proved to be so invaluable later. We were just the kind of people who liked to talk about everything. Then, his accident happened on September 30, 2006. It’s funny because the night before, I had been really whiney and just “getting sick of him”...so then, the next morning when that happened, it was just...interesting timing. The accident itself was horrible. And after a few days, he was failing 4 out of 5 brain activity tests. He and his parents and I just ended up staying at the hospital, and didn’t end up even leaving the city he was in for probably two weeks after the accident. And honestly, it was devastating. It went from us graduating in December, and planning to get engaged shortly after that, to not even knowing if he was going to make it through the night. So instantly, I kind of had to change my expectations of the future. And I obviously had
to learn real quickly, “Okay...I need God. I need God to fill me and help me.” I remember at the time, when Ian was in a coma, that I couldn’t imagine him staying in a coma past December...and I thought he was just going to wake up and be healthy. And now, here we are, 8 years later, still working through it. But that timing was very difficult, because it was at the very end of our senior year, and we had thought that engagement was right around the corner - he had even made appointments to look at rings. So, that was quite a change.
T: Can you explain just a little bit for anyone who wouldn’t
know, what happened to Ian? How did things change? What was he no longer able to do?
L: Everything! For 2 1/2 years he didn’t talk. Ian spent the
majority of the day sleeping. Before he could use his voice, at one point he would use his feet to try to communicate; he would kick to say yes, and something else was no. He would blink. So, we knew he was in there, but he definitely was trapped in there. His body was keeping him from displaying what was in his mind. And yeah, it was 2 1/2 years before he started talking, and at that same time, he was fairly immobile. He needed a wheelchair and a lift to get him in and out of bed. And then he eventually progressed to not needing a lift, and talking very small amounts. Once he started talking, we realized that his vocabulary and everything was still intact - he just didn’t have the ability to do the action of speaking. Since then, he’s just been making progress. We’re on year 8 now after the accident, and he is really close to learning how to walk. [Update: He HAS walked without help! Check out their blog to see more.] So he literally went from being able to do nothing, to now - where he still has lots of limitations...but the most important thing before we could get married or before I would leave - and I certainly didn’t want to leave - but I wasn’t going to leave before we had a conversation about it. And before we would consider marriage, Ian had to talk and be able to say that’s what he wanted, and communicate with me as a husband. But yeah, after his accident, he literally couldn’t do anything. So that was lots and lots of hours spent sitting by his hospital bed just reading and watching movies...I just loved being with him. And I just felt like I needed to be with him, even if he couldn’t necessarily talk back. But God always gave us signs that he was in there... like his heart rate monitor was always the highest when I was with him...and his nurses would say, “He looks at you
God continues to do amazing things for Ian and Larissa as they cling to Him. differently!” One day, and I didn’t know this, but his therapist had been working with him for like 3 weeks just to get him to lift his hand up and grab her hand...and she was getting so frustrated that she was getting ready to give up. And she called me into the room, and asked me to ask him...so I asked, and he did it three times in a row. She just started crying; I didn’t even know that was something she’d been working on. So, God let me know that Ian still knew who I was, even though he didn’t have all of his faculties at his disposal.
Questions to Ponder What is love? How have you been “dying” to yourself, and looking for ways to serve and help others? What are some things in your heart, mind, and/or actions that you thought were love, but are actually not? What do you think the purpose of relationships is? Is it just to have fun, or to be appreciated, or to feel “in love”? Are there things in your heart that you have been looking to guys (or friends) to fulfill that you should actually be looking to God Check out Larissa and Ian’s website at: prayforian.com AND keep an eye out for their new book, “Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up”, which should be hitting shelves August 28, 2014! Also, keep an eye out for our next magazine to read Part 2 of this interview.
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Wear THIS NOT
Lets face it....sometimes it’s just downright difficult for a girl to know what she should and shouldn’t wear - even with the best intentions, the current trends are so strong that she can be pulled in without even realizing it! This is just a little section to give you some helpful suggestions on dressing both modestly and femininely.
No-No Item: Leggings
This skin-tight alternative for pants has become a fashion must-have. However, we recommend the leggings stay hidden under a skirt, or go to the thrift store. Why? They show off every “curve”, and cause both godly and ungodly guys to fall into lust. It’s no different than wearing tights without anything on top of them...and that’s just not how we should roll. Modesty isn’t just a bunch of rules...but it does dictate that we dress in a way that cares for the hearts of those around us. We want our clothes to draw people’s attention to the fact that we love Jesus...not to our bodies.
Better Item: Jeans As long as they’re not skin-tight (yes, we said it), jeans are a very practical and modest pant...and they come in many different colors and cuts these days. They leave some things to the imagination without making you look like a paper bag. As a bonus, the classic blue-jeans go with almost everything. Grab a darker-wash for a more classy look, or a lighter-wash for a casual ensemble.
Best Item: Skirt
Both modest and feminine, skirts make you look and feel like a lady. There are many styles, ranging from formal to casual, poofy to straight cut. We’re sure you can find a few that you absolutely love. As a general guideline, you don’t want one that is too much shorter than your knees, or you run into the same problems that leggings present (and more). However, you can’t get anything more beautiful and modest than a flowy skirt. Try it! We think you’ll like it!
“Seeing the Large Crowds” By Anna Faith
“I need some ‘me time’.” How often do we joke about this? I know for my own family, if we are about to go take a nap, sometimes we tease and say “I just...*sniff*... need some ME time right now, okay?” Yet, there is a tiny little part of us that actually means it. As a Western culture, we love our “down time”. We protect our vacation times, and are always looking for a chance to “get away from it all”--even if it means closing ourselves in our rooms. I am a quiet person, so I sometimes love being alone in the quiet, just resting. Yet, so often I find myself getting aggravated when people interrupt my time. My little sister, because we share a room, often felt the brunt of it. Not necessarily outright agitation, but my attention would be reluctantly turned to her instead of being eager to love her 24/7. I was frustrated at people, frustrated at myself, and just...frustrated! Then, the Lord walked me through the gospel of Mark.
“Seeing the large crowds, He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” ~Mark 6:34 Jesus was 100% God, but in the form of man. He had physical needs just as we have physical needs. He frequently went away “to a quiet place” to pray, or called His disciples away to rest (Mk. 6:31). But at the same time, even from the beginning of His ministry, He was completely swarmed with crowds. No matter the place or even
time of day, He would find Himself surrounded again by crowds (Mt. 1:35, 3:7,20). There were times He was not even able to eat because there were so many people, desperate for His healing hand (Mark 3:20). Can you imagine the physical AND spiritual pull of always being needed and always being asked questions? And yet, Jesus turned no man away who needed Him. “Seeing the crowds, He felt compassion on them”, and went to them. He did not roll His eyes or sigh because He was trying to have some “me time”. Instead, His heart was stirred to mercy. His humble spirit longed to comfort the poor, the widows, the outcasts, and the children abandoned by all. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” was the heart of Christ (John 6:38). Even when He was tired, He truly knew that “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Seek to serve others, my friends. Ask the Lord for strength (physical and spiritual) to pour yourself out, even if it means cutting into your “me” time. Do not be so protective of your down time that you miss out on the sweetness of ministering to those around you--especially your family; God has placed you in your family for a reason! Rely on the Father for help and you will see the blossoming fruit spring forth from your labor. May we seek to serve, just as He came to serve us!
Anna Faith is a fellow “Unshakable Girl” whose life sparkles with the love of Jesus. She currently lives in Virginia with her family.
Beyond Our Cookie Cutter Comfort
Getting Outside of the “Personality Box”
Introvert, extravert, melancholy, type A, amiable, INTP, ESVJ, lion, beaver....we have probably all heard of these different personality “types”. Chances are, you know what your “personality” is, either from taking one of multiple different personality tests, or simply from having people comment about it your entire life. Comments like “You’re so shy!”, “Boy, you sure do talk a lot” or “You’re such a people person” begin to craft our puzzling personalities. As humans, we try to figure out ways to better understand ourselves and those around us, choosing to lock onto even simple things like comments or “personality profiles” in order to attain this. For someone who just LOVES people, these “profiles” can be helpful in aiding them to make some sense of the person who would rather read a book in the quietness of their own home. When they understand that it is a matter of “Extrovert vs. Introvert”, it clicks. “Oh, I’m an extrovert, and Melanie must be an introvert that’s why she doesn’t have people over much or go to many parties.” Suddenly, that which seemed out of the grasp of reason to the person who could not understand why anyone would ever want to be alone makes sense! There is a box, and they have discovered that Melanie fits in it. They have also discovered their own personal box and they know for sure that it is different than Melanie’s. It makes sense, not to mention it’s actually quite comfortable and snug. We relish the comfort of being in our personal boxes. When someone questions the way we act or think, we can point them to the fact that we are an “INTP”, and that ALL INTP’s act and think that way...so what we’re doing is perfectly reasonalble. It’s almost like a club, if you think about it: When we meet someone else, we whip our our “INTP” badge and compare it with their “INTJ” badge. We feel less self-conscious about our quirks or differences, and more like we are actually who we are supposed to be. We may even think we have a right to say “that thing” in that less-than-kind way because..well...it is who we are. We can almost feel ourselves becoming proud of our little title. We might say we are “comfortable” with who we are. Well, that is the truth. We feel secure in knowing who we are and who we are supposed to be. At least, according to our personality type. It gives us something to
work with and, not to mention, something to aim for. It gives us humans the boundaries we long for - a desire that was originally created in us in order to point out our need for God and His good laws. However, we get so comfortable in our personality boxes that we are hesitant - unwilling, even - to step outside of them. It is a terrifying and difficult thing. If we do something that is totally outside of our personality box...doesn’t that mean we are trying to be someone else? Are we being fake? And then if we do something that is not what a “INTP” is supposed to do, like going to make small talk *scream of terror* or something that is uncomfortable for us...what if people ask us to do it again?! And what’s worse...what if God asks us to keep it up? What if it does not stop with that ONE area? What if God asks us to do MORE uncomfortable things? What if our lives become TOTALLY uncomfortable for us........ auuuuggghhh!?!
What if our lives become TOTALLY uncomfortable for us??? And this, my dear friends, is where this article comes into play. This is actually EXACTLY the place that God wants us to get to. Uncomfortable? Yes. Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (ESV). Our lives, our bodies, our time--it belongs to God. If we call ourselves Christians, we are essentially handing over the “keys” and rights of our lives to God. Not that they were ever really ours to begin with, but when me make the statement to God that our lives are His, it shows Him that we are serious about wanting Him to be the King. Not our own desires. Not our guide-lining “Myers-Briggs 4 personality letters”. Friends, when we truly love Jesus, He will ask us to do things that are uncomfortable for us. “Living Sacrifice” is not just an eloquent verse - it means we sacrifice ourselves to Him. We give up ourselves to Him, living the life He asks. The Lord is continually putting me in situations that I would never have chosen for myself. Situations that stretch my faith, situations that teach me important lessons (especially humility) or situations
where He asks me to go completely outside my normal introverted personality. It is terrifying at times, yet we must be willing. Willing, as Paul says in Romans 12, to surrender ourselves completely to God, as a sacrifice, for Him to do with whatever He thinks is best. To accomplish this, we must be willing to let God bust us out of our personality boxes. There are times I find myself being stubborn. I can often put up a good fight in my heart against what I know God wants me to do. “But God,” I say, “I can’t do that! I’m not outgoing enough. You should probably ask someone who is better at talking to strangers.” or, “But God, I need quiet to recharge - it is part of my personality. I don’t think I can handle having those people come over today.” But do you know what happens when I just obey God, and do what He asks me to do? He blesses it. He gives me joy in the situations I might be tempted to be miserable in. He gives me words to speak when I have nothing to say. He fills my heart with His love for people, so that helping them seems more desirable to me than my own comfort. Susam, nost, saperovid quamtackle facia“As we let Him the sitatur alit exero beaque lam, of quam, stubborn parts our percorro corpos iur, sundae sonalities thatnobitatque we hold on to, sunto idus repeGod ped magwe dolore are nimil letting remove nimp nonseq ‘veils’ that are theerciur, mortal over our lives so that those around us can see Jesus more clearly through them.”
Do you know what happens when I resist the Lord and convince myself that He would never ask me to wear my INTP-self out? I miss out. I miss out on growth that God wants to do in my heart. I miss out on spreading “the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14 ESV). “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:11 ESV). Our personalities ARE part of who we are, but if we are Christians, Christ IS our “personality box”. WWJD should be our “fourletter” description. Even if we are tired introverts, what would Jesus do?
Just like the rest of our sinful nature, our personalities are fraught with tendencies that go against God’s love and holiness, needing to be re-shaped by The Potter’s hand. Our old selves, including our very personality types must be laid on the altar with a willingness for God to shape and change us as He sees fit. It is through these numerous (and sometimes painful) changes that we are being made more like Jesus! All of the sinful tendencies we have hold us back from being able to truly reach out to people with the pure love of Jesus. Yet, as these are carved out of our hearts and lives, we are slowly - bit by bit - able to live, act, talk and serve more like Jesus. By God’s grace, as we let Him tackle the stubborn parts of our personalities that we hold on to, we are letting God remove the mortal “veils” that are over our lives so that those around us can see Jesus more clearly through them! As long as we hold on to what we feel are our “rights”, we will be missing out on what God could be doing in and through us if we actually let Him have full control over our lives. What if we stopped dictating what we think God would ask us to do based on our perception of “INTP”? What would happen if we surrendered our discomfort enough to actually hear and obey God’s voice? What would He be able to accomplish through us, His human vessels? It is hard, but not a thing that is too difficult for us to bear. The more we surrender to Him, the more we see His trustworthiness. The more we let Him use us as He wishes (and obey Him!), the more we are able to see His own power at work through us! It is then that we can begin to understand that Jesus does not ask us to do anything in our own strength - for, indeed, we have none - but He Himself supplies with His own strength for every single situation and task He sets before us. We never have to fear that we aren’t qualified, nor good enough at coming up with things to talk about, nor “a lion”. For, that which our Lord sets before us, that is the task He is yearning for us to lean on Him to accomplish. He will fill us with Himself, and make up for all we lack through the power of His Holy Spirit. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 ESV).
â€œLive like Jesus died yesterday, rose today, and is coming back tomorrow.â€? Mary Slessor 19
Sunshine & Blue
H T Y M E
H T 20
"Everyone enjoys the idea of being a Christian. It brings with it connotations of happy people, sunshine, and nothing bad ever happening. Everyone likes the thought of their prayers being answered and going to paradise when they die. Everyone wants a better life. Who wouldnâ€™t? "
Skies Christianity Y
eah, I’m a Christian,” Amy said with a shrug, as she snuggled in closer to her boyfriend, “but it doesn’t mean anything. I mean, it doesn’t mean anything for you. I don’t care what you believe. And I don’t even mind if you keep smoking and go out to party with your friends sometimes. And I don’t care how many video games you play, or anything like that. I love you...just the way you are,” she grinned, “Just like Jesus loves me.”
Sunshine & Blue Skies The illustration above is just one example of an all-too common mindset today - one that I see everywhere. Everyone enjoys the idea of being a Christian. It brings with it connotations of happy people, sunshine, and nothing bad ever happening. Everyone likes the thought of their prayers being answered, and going to paradise when they die. Everyone wants a better life. Who wouldn’t? But, unfortunately, many of these people who call themselves Christians are not ready for what being a follower of Christ actually means. Are you?
Facing the Definition “So...what is a Christian then?” you might ask. Well, Jesus Himself defines what a follower of Christ should look like. In the gospel of John chapter 14:23-24a, it clearly says: “....If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” A true Christian is someone who loves Jesus. And loving Jesus means obeying His words. How do we even know what His words are? Good question. God has given us the Bible...and the entire book is filled with His words. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may
be complete, equipped for every good work.” Thus, if we claim to be followers of Christ, it means turning to the Bible to find out what God thinks on anything and everything in our lives. But even more, it means acting on what we find there. So few people - especially the young people I meet everywhere - actually read their Bibles. Sure, many will get the latest “cool” Bible - ones that are designed to look like a fashion magazine or are covered in flowers and hearts. They come into their youth groups or Sunday schools toting these snazzy bibles, or anywhere that will earn them favor with the people around them. But...how often does this generation of Christians actually open the Word of God and read an entire chapter...or two...or three? It is incredibly rare. I recently met a woman in her 60‘s who aquired a Bible when she was first married...and never once read it. It sat on her table for 40 years, but she is only now just starting to desire to know what is actually inside the covers. Can you imagine how much wisdom she could have gleaned over the past 30 or 40 years if she had been diligently studying God’s Word and praying?! She would be a dear grandmother whom all the younger ladies and girls would look up to because of her wisdom and the radiance of the Lord in her (I know because I have personally met such ladies). But instead, she is just beginning her journey in the Lord herself. In your own quiet times, it might seem like you aren’t getting anywhere quickly in your relationship with the Lord, and you may be tempted to give up, or to think, “What’s the point?” But being faithful to study the Bible each day, day after day after day, actually will produce lasting spiritual fruit. That is the only way you will become one of those dear grandmothers who absolutely glow with the love of Jesus, and whose wisdom you would just love to soak in for hours upon hours.
Even simply dissecting the word “Christian” speaks loudly of how we ought to live: Christ = Jesus. “-ian” means, “adhering to or following; an adherent of”. So “Christ-ian” means someone who follows Christ Jesus and adheres to what He says. “The word christian means “ Little Christs” That means we are to be like little Jesus’s running around...doing what He did and He does.” ~Keith Green “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” (John 8:31-32) That kind of maturity and grace does not happen overnight. It takes persistence and determination and a real love for Jesus and His Words. And sadly, the dear woman I met can never get back all of those years of her life, despite the recent realization of how important it actually is to spend time reading the Word of God. The reason God created our relationship with Him to require faithfulness, determination and perseverance is because God wants to know how serious we are about loving Him and loving His commands. God takes our relationship with Him very seriously. He weighs the motives of our hearts, testing whether we are attempting to reap only benefits or if we truly desire Him to be our King because we love Him. The most common thing I hear when I ask girls how their relationship with the Lord is going is a slow, “Wellllllllllll...it could be better, I guess. I’m having trouble finding the time to read my Bible and pray.” And this is my own constant struggle too! Did you know that studying the Bible and praying are two of the most essential ingredients to having a victorious Christianity? I guess that’s why it is so hard. The things that are hardest to do are often the most important. And the easiest things to do, like “vegging out”, flipping through worthless youtube videos, reading that romance novel, or going shopping, are usually the most fruitless waste of time. Each day there are only two choices: Either we are going forward in our relationship with Jesus,
or we are going backwards. There is no “static” place of apathy where we can sit comfortably and relax.
Apathy Gets You Nowhere And yet, as rare as it is for people to read the Bible, it is even more rare to find someone who will actually obey what they have just read. Countless “church kids” have grown up hearing all about Jesus; they go to every Wednesday night meeting, they play on the worship team, all while their parents make sure they are spending at least some time reading the Bible. However, these same kids rebel against their parents’ leadership, get involved in multiple ungodly relationships, live with countless secret sins (and, consequently, the guilt that follows), all the while, drowning themselves in media so they don’t have to face the real world or face their sin. It is a hard, but honest truth. An apathetic, un-purposeful life is not going to work. You can’t go through life calling yourself a Christian, but never actually investing time with the One you say you’re following. You can not love Jesus if you don’t spend time with Him. It’s as simple as any other real friendship. If you never hang out with your friend... well...there is no true way to have a relationship with them. If you never talk to them, listening to them when they share what is weighing on their hearts, you have no way of knowing them. A relationship takes commitment and work. Imagine you had a boyfriend and all you wanted was
to spend time with him. What if all of a sudden, he started to call you less and less? What if you went to go see him after class, but he shrugged you off saying “I’ve got too much work” or “I’m going to go shoot hoops with Travis”, or just told you he was too tired. What kind of relationship would that be? That’s just it--it is not a relationship. Yet, how many of us put Got in that position every day? What if God asked you why you call yourself a Christian? What would you say? “Well, I prayed a prayer once, to receive Jesus into my heart.” Ok, that is the first step. It is essential to ask Jesus to be your Savior, and to set you free from your sins. But what then? What is the next step?
Each day there are only two choices: Either we are going forward in our relationship with Jesus, or we are going backwards. There is no static place of apathy where we can sit comfortably and relax. Did you know that when you prayed that prayer, when you asked God to come into your life as Lord, you are asking for a heart renovation? When you asked Him to save you from your sins, you are asking that He take away your old life? Do you know that it means that you will stop your pursuit of sinful desires, and instead will chase after Jesus with all of your strength? Do you know that it means asking God to purify your heart...and that if He or another Christian points out an area of sin in your life, it is your duty to take it to the Lord in prayer and to ask Him to remove it from you, and to actually pursue change? Do you know that it means taking Jesus’ words literally when He says, “forgive....from your heart” (Mt. 18:21-35), and “everyone who looks....with lustful intent has already committed adultery” (Mt. 5:28), and “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44), and “do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Mt. 6:19), and “do not be anxious about your life” (Mt. 6:25), and “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Mt. 6:33) etc., etc. Do you know that not obeying these things and not taking them seriously, is disobeying Jesus?
“He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.” (Romans 2:6-8)
Jesus Desires Our Joy Now, Jesus is very gracious, and He does not want to punish anyone! Keep in mind that every single thing God commands us to do, or asks us not to do, is always - ALWAYS - for our good. It is not because He wants to keep us from having fun or because He is a mean God who is frowning on everything we do . Quite the opposite, actually! The purpose of obeying God is to protect us from the devil, from the consequences of sin, and from ourselves! He wants to protect us, so we can be filled with true joy and have lives of purpose and fruitfulness far surpassing anything our little brains could dream up on our own! God has created us to be His own children, and what Father would not desire the best for His kids? He knows better than anyone all of the destruction that sin brings upon our lives! We may not be able to change the sin and destruction that humans have created over the whole world by disobeying God, but we can change our own personal “world”. We can start by surrendering our hearts to Him afresh and letting Him know that we actually want to follow His way, and not our own. Even if you have already “prayed the prayer”, making a fresh commitment to God with a deeper understanding of what you are actually committing to is always helpful and refreshing. As we do this, we will have the smile of God shining down upon us. And let me tell you, it is a sweet thing to know that you are walking in the smile of Jesus. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:8-11)
Contact Tai Sophia at: UnshakableGirls@gmail.com