We’ve got it Backwards

Not long ago I wrote a post called, Has The Church Become a Modern Israel?, in which I talked about similarities that I had noticed between modern Christians and the Israelites. The main similarity being our dependence on our ability to do what we’re supposed to do and other ways in which we have seemed to forget the cross and its life altering meaning.

Recently I listened to a sermon by Pastor Joseph Prince in which he talked about the way we usually teach or view our Christianity. We tend to say (or if not say, act like) we need to stop being lazy (or sinful, or tempted, or lost, or confused, or weak, or some other condemning thing) and start following Christ and doing what he says. If we do that we will be loving Christ and we will have peace knowing that we are finishing his work on the earth.

This is how Christianity is so often thought of! We are sinful and so we need to start doing things right! That’s when we start getting the perks. That’s when we become real, good Christians. We quote verses like “Do you love me?” (John 21:16) and “come and follow me” (Matthew 4:19) and “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17) to condemn ourselves further and draw the requirements out of us.

According to the bible we have it all backwards.

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins he shouted, “IT IS FINISHED!” (John 19:30)

He finished his life work right then and there. He doesn’t have some need for us to do anymore work on that front. The whole point of his coming was that we couldn’t save ourselves.

After his death he appeared to his disciples in the upper room and said, “PEACE BE TO YOU.” (John 20:19)

What did they have to cause them peace? The finished work of Christ. Christ calls us to rest in him. To be sure of his grace, to be sure of his salvation, to be sure of his love for us.

After his disciples found that peace he asked, “DO YOU LOVE ME?” (John 21:17)

Why then? Why after they’d found his peace? Because he loved us first. “We love because Christ first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) We would be unable to love him if we didn’t see anything in him to love and if we didn’t trust him. All Christ wants us to do is look at him and to his finished work on the cross. That is how we love him. We declare his goodness and his greatness by resting in him.

After the disciples said they loved him he said, “FOLLOW ME!” (John 21:19)

It goes from Grace to Works, not from Works to Grace.

The point of the old testament, the point of the ten commandments, the point of the cross was to show that we couldn’t be good enough alone and that we could never deserve the free gift of love that God was giving to us, so why do we keep trying?

Why do we continue to strive?

Why do we still find ourselves filled with guilt and condemnation and confusion and sin?

More importantly how do we stop?

That is what I will discuss next time in the context of Isaiah 2-4

May God bless you with an inability to forget the cross.

I love you,

Deanna ❤

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Guest Blogger – Stephanie!

Hello Everyone! Today we have a guest blogger who is very dear to my heart. Right now she lives in Florida – which is way to far away from New Mexico – but she is doing great things there. She is deeply involved in Journey Church and just got back from a missions trip to Mexico where she absolutely fell in love with all the kids. I cannot wait to see where else she will go and what else God will lead her to do for His kingdom. It is beautiful for me to watch my friends grow up around me and she is one of them so without further ado Stephanie’s post!

steph

A Word Misunderstood:

“The number one question people are constantly pondering, studying, researching, asking, googling, reading about, and striving to find the answer to is: ” why are we here?” or, in other words, “what is the purpose of life?”. It is a question that has been attempted to be answered by millions of people in an infinite amount of ways. Each person may have a different answer. Some might say to be happy or to be successful or to have a family or to contribute something positive or to protect the environment or to make yourself and others happy. The list goes on and on.

As a Christian my first response to that question has always been “to reach the lost for Jesus.” – a noble cause. I always found that at the center. After all was that not Jesus’ last command to us? To go and make disciples of all nations. Therefore, as a good Christian, I could confidently say the purpose of my life was to tell people about Jesus, to point others to him. In my mind that was the purpose of every life. God gave people talents so they could use them to point others to Jesus.

The purpose of life is not to be successful because success will fade. The purpose of life is not to be happy because happiness is a fleeting emotion that can easily change. Not that these things aren’t a good part of life but rather that they are not at the center of life.

Recently I have found that the purpose of life is not to point people to Jesus. Here is where a righteous gasp would be allowed and an indignant “how dare you say we are not supposed to point people to Jesus!”

That is not what I am saying at all.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them. He created man in his own likeness and from him he created woman. In the first couple chapters of the Bible we can see the purpose of life as God intended it. Before the fall of man and before sin came into the world, before people chose to forget God, before people needed to be saved and pointed to Jesus God had a purpose for our lives. Every day God met with Adam and Eve to walk and talk and laugh and have an intimate relationship with the people he loved.

The purpose of life is to be a lover; and not just a lover of anything but a lover of a Creator who loved us beyond any of our own capabilities before we could ever love him.

The word lover has been ruined by todays society – corrupted. The word itself would make me queasy and uncomfortable, feeling like I was intruding on something that was none of my concern. For a while all it meant to me was someone who had intimate relations with another – usually when they weren’t supposed to. It felt secretive and dirty to me and had little to no connotations of actual, real love.

Instead of explaining what a lover is not allow me to expound on what a lover is and how it fits into our purpose. A true lover is someone who stands in awe of another being. Nothing could compare to or satisfy like being in the presence of this being. Being a lover of our Creator is not something strange and uncomfortable: it is simply standing in awe of our Savior and losing our breath and losing our words. It is wanting to spend our life getting to know Him better, getting to spend time with the one who gave His life for us. It is us being satisfied that He is all we need. He is our everything. It is a love that realizes that He sacrificed himself for us and in return we willingly and lovingly do what he asks of us because we LOVE Him.

Life is, but a fleeting moment compared to eternity. It comes and goes and what we gained and accomplished in it will be forgotten and lost. So what is the purpose of life if at the end, when we are laying on our death beds, we cannot take anything with us and chances are in 100 years we will be no more than a name on a stone next to hundreds of stones that all look the same? Well to answer that you must look at the bigger picture: at eternity. For eternity we will spend our lives praising and worshipping a beautiful God. The one thing we can take with us when we die is our relationship with our Savior therefore our purpose in life is just to be a lover.

Naturally, when you are in love with God it affects the rest of your life. His love through you affects the people you meet, the way you act, they way you work, the things you do. Which in turn affects your happiness, your work, your success, your passions and desires, your family and friends, and everything else in life.

When God is at the center of not just your life but at the center of the entire essence of your being, when you focusing your love and adoration on him is at the center of every decision you make, of the words you say, of the relationships you have with others, of the work you do, and at the center of everything you are, THAT is when you know you have fulfilled life’s purpose. Because you are who God made you to be: His lover.

Sometimes I lay in awe and wonder of God and in these moments my heart swells till I feel like His love is going to make it burst. I cannot begin to fathom or wrap my head around a love so extravagant and so real. It shines through everything around me. All the things I take for granted and all the things I enjoy are strategically placed in my life as love letters from God. His handwriting is everywhere! Bleeding through my life as a pen bleeds through paper. His love seeps into my being and fills me with a joy that is incomparable.

Even in the hard times he leaves behind his beautiful handwriting. His hand is there guiding me. His arms are open to hug me and comfort me when my face is red and blotchy with tears. He knows. To have a lover that will never misunderstand you, will never let you down, will be there for you no matter what, and knows exactly how to make you smile: that is all anyone could ever ask for and it is already ours. It was ours before the world was made. What more could I ask for?

Words are frustrating because they can never convey the love of God fully. It is something you must experience for yourself to understand the full gravity of. My soul is bursting at the seams through these words trying to find a way to convey the complexity of a love that existed before words, of a love that invented languages. It is impossible. Sometimes it is best to just let yourself be wordless, speechless, and just let God be God.”

This spoke volumes to me.

In what ways do you and I need to just let God be God this school year?

Where must our worries cease and allow His hand?

Should I have more guest bloggers? Should I convince Steph to come back some time?

Please share in the comments!

God is faithful and you are utterly blessed.

Love,

Deanna and Stephanie ❤

God is so Big.

This year God has really been impressing upon me His bigness.

He made the heavens and the earth.

He set the stars in their place and whispered to the waves their gentle beat.

He created me, and you, and everyone and created us all for our certain time. He made us revolutionaries.

He sent His Son who died for our sins.

He gave us the Holy Spirit to lead us.

He loves us and accepts us.

He is sure in His promises to us.

He plans for us.

He graces us.

He provides for us and takes care of the very depths of our hearts.

He knows the hairs on our heads.

He created the morning and causes it to burst forth with a new Grace.

He created the night and is our lamp within it.

He knows the creatures in the depths of the sea. He set them there and is sure of all of their ways.

He has seen the gates of death and indeed He has overcome them.

He knows the height and depth and length and breadth of all things. From the universe to your heart.

He keeps the snow and hail in his treasury.

He knows how light is defused.

He knows how to scatter the winds over all the earth.

He is the owner of the thunder and of the lightening.

In all those ways God is big.

That in and of itself is the most amazing thing that I could have imagined.

But God goes above and beyond our expectations.

In Job 38:25-27  it says that He is the one “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water… To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one, a wilderness in which there is no man; to satisfy the desolate waste.”

God is so big that even after having blessed us so immensely, even after caring for the needs of the universe and the requirements of the animals He even cares for the places that nobody lives in or thinks they need. He loves us and His earth so much that even if no one lives in that desert he waters it and prepares it for the people that someday will. He drenches the whole world in water and just as he does that with the earth He does that with us. He drenches us all in His love equally. He causes His love to rain down on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Even if you are far.

Even if you are desolate and no one cares about you God is still big.

God is still watering you in His love.

God still adores you.

God still wants to use you.

That is the big God we serve.

He seeks out the desolate places to water them.

He seeks out the lost to find them.

He seeks out the sick to heal them.

Whatever you are going through remember that God is most definitely bigger.

Guilt Kills, Love Heals.

Guilt has got to be the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with.

As a perfectionist it attacks me at random moments and over the stupidest things. And it’s not just a momentary flash or like my conscious reminding me not to do something. It is total condemnation. It makes me feel like a horrible human being, like I am not good enough to be a light and like I am unlovable.

Worst of all it makes me feel like there is no chance of escape.

Beyond that it clings to me for far too long. And it’s stupid because I know none of the things I am thinking are true with Jesus Christ as my mighty, faithful Savior.

Guilt – whether it’s something I said, something I did or something I thought – immobilizes me.

It makes me absolutely unable to be happy. It makes me afraid of the future and afraid of each moment. It taunts me with the possibility of messing up yet again. It makes me hide and it stops me from doing anything worthwhile whilst it remains inside me.

Is all this leading up to telling me how to get rid of guilt? – you ask.

I honestly don’t know how to get rid of guilt. It sticks to me like glue. My personality is prone to it and as a thinker and a writer I analyze it.

I was going to write something fun about where I want to travel now that I am an adult, but I just couldn’t bring myself to it. I am sitting here, right now, trying to figure out the answer to that question and I’ve realized something terrifying.

Maybe it’s just one of those questions I will never know the answer to – or maybe I won’t know it for a good while yet.

It’s like asking why bad things happen when God is good and whether or not the man you marry is really the right one. I guess you never know until you live through it. Or maybe you just never learn those kind of answers. Maybe our human minds just aren’t big enough to handle all that that entails.

Life is full of twists and turns and I hate that. I don’t like not knowing the plan. I don’t like being confused or unsure or not having an answer to a burning question. I despise it. I absolutely despise it.

So of course God decides to have a sense of humor.

He answers my questions only the moment I need them – like not a second too soon situations. His constant response to all my prayers and all the passages in the bible that he highlights for me tell me to wait on Him.

In fact, at Storm Student Conference this year He really convicted me about the state of my heart. He showed me that while, yes, I was giving Him my time and my voice I was not giving Him my heart, my desires or my emotions.

He called me to let Him have my biggest dream (to get married) and not just to let Him do what He will when He will, but to forget about it until He makes a move!

FORGET ABOUT IT!?!

Gosh! What is He thinking?

Golly Bob it, you guys! How am I – the romantic, the matchmaker, the woman who wants nothing more than to be a wife and mother – supposed take a back seat so far back that I cant even see the stage of my own love story? (You know I am really asking so if you have insight that would be wonderful. ;))

I was feeling pretty good about the progress God and I were making on this until yesterday.

Yesterday was like an explosion of “well crap, today sucked.”

Actually the day was pretty great. How distracted I allowed myself to be and how I decided to spend my time? Not so much.

So now it is Wednesday night and I am thousands of words behind on my newest book, I have wasted opportunities to share God with my fellow Christians and I have allowed myself to fall into the depth of despair with loving this guy again.

I love him, but it really sucks, ya know?

I guess what I am trying to figure out is how to do what God would have me do in this time and still be the woman He created – myself, but focused.

I know my mission, I know I have other dreams besides getting married and I know God loves me so I am fabulously excited, but at the same time there is that nag in the back of my head that reminds me how stupid I have been for at least the past two years if not the past four when it comes to guarding my heart and keeping it sacred for my Father in Heaven.

I feel like a fool and I don’t know how to get over it. Guilt is making me feel empty after all I have gone through in this area. I look back over the past four years and I hear in my head, “wasted time”, while my heart shows me all the fruit that has grown up in me because of it.

I have learned so much during this time, you guys, and I hope you can take my honesty and my idiocy and grow from it. That is the point, right?

This is my random me quote of the season – the stupid love – is – in – the – air summer season – “Life is a great big, stupid, beautiful adventure.”

Well guys, I hope you take that and fly with it. I hope you don’t make the love mistakes I have made (quick hint – its not just the hands you must watch, it’s the heart.) I hope all of you will go out into the rest of your lives and do something giant for God that blows your mind! Be strong and of good courage. Don’t quit and most of all when you screw up every single thing in your life remember: God is bigger than it all.

I think that is the only way we can get past the guilt when it hits. Remember how big God is compared, how good He is to save and then get up and do what you were meant to be doing all along.

Don’t waste another second, okay?

I’m not.

Love,

Deanna ❤

Storm 2014 Series Kick Off!

Every year I try to pen what the Spirit of God revealed to me at Storm. I do that because I want you all to see Him the way I do; so that I won’t ever, ever – not in a million years – forget what He did there; so that I will never misplace who He is and who that makes me.

Every year I have had a different experience.

The first year (2011) God gave me the word Compassion. He told me it was meant to use up my whole life and no matter what career route I may one day take Compassion must always be at the forefront of my selection. Back then I was so worried about who I would become, where I would go to college and what classes I would require.

Well, today I was sitting in a Hokona hallway. Today was my second day of orientation. Yesterday I chose the English-Philosophy double major. Yesterday I planned the classes I had stressed so much over and I realized the stress wasn’t worth it.

It doesn’t matter what I do to serve when I love Christ because he has consistently shown me that He is the only thing that genuinely matters.

My dear friend Jayne once told me, “Wherever God goes you will follow and wherever you go – there He is.”

So from 2011 to 2014 I can say that what God said to me was true. Compassion is still my calling and otherwise all that matters is His grace and fidelity. When I am small He is nevertheless a big God.

In 2012 I SAW God for the very first time! I felt as if I could never be loved, like I was too impure and too imperfect, but then God picked me up, took me in his arms and said, “All I want is you.”

From 2012 to 2014 I have found God absolutely worthy of my commitment and absolutely faithful in his pardon. Everyday I see His beauty consuming my calamity and His salvation consuming my humanity and I couldn’t ask for a better trade. It really is a beautiful exchange and now He fully has my heart.

In 2013 God called me to remember his bigness.

He said stop worrying, I’m bigger.

He said stop striving, I’m bigger.

He said lay off trying to burst your own chains, I’m bigger.

He said stop trying to figure it all out alone, I’m bigger.

From 2013 to 2014 I have grappled with giving God full control of my dreams and my affection. After this year I can say there is no part I am not steadily giving to Him.  He has my thoughts, my words, my actions, my dreams and most of all my desire for marriage. I need not seek out what he bears in His hand. I have not the strength to carry it.

Now in 2014 I realized the deepest aspect of God that I had ever experienced.

I went into Storm not sure of what I wanted to meet, understand or see of God. That had never happened before and so I knew nothing else to do, but pray for what my leaders were praying for. That prayer was for every student to meet God right where they are. I really focused in on the Students that were new and had never come to The Storm before. I prayed for new people to meet God for the first time, to truly see Him like I did in 2012, to dedicate their lives to Him. I got all that and more!

Unknown to me the spirit that God desired me to take from Storm 2014 was the spirit of His REACH.

That is my word to pair with compassion.

I am meant to “go unto all the world and preach the good news, to make disciples of all nations”.

This year I realized that the Storm is not about me, but about the people around me.

It’s about discipling my peers and those younger than me. It is about learning from and encouraging those older than me. It is about generation connections and generation building because when we are firm on the inside we can extend out and effect the world God loves.

Storm empowered me to remain in touch with the friends I made at Storm, to check in, pray with them and believe in them.

Storm empowered me to get into my writing with an even greater vengeance. We only have so long to be His witness.

Storm empowered me to become involved in The Forgotten Foundation and other community service opportunities.

Storm empowered me to take the focus off of my to do list and on to the people that matter.

Most of all Storm empowered me to stand up as a Light of Christ on my UNM campus.

God picked me up and made UNM my mission for the following four years.

He plucked me up and said, go heal the broken.

He emblazoned Joy, Compassion, Wisdom, and Grace upon my brow, calling everyone like moths to His flame.

He consumed me.

So going into orientation I prayed that he would use me somehow to change a life. I didn’t know what to expect, but it became so much bigger than I had anticipated.

All of the incoming freshmen from session 6 were gathered together for a lecture about the diversity of people on the UNM campus.

The speaker showed us a video about some people who created parties in which one would dress up in gardener clothes or janitorial wear with the names Pablo or Juan on their name tags. These parties were full of racial slurs and derogatory language specifically against the Latino community. There were other parties featured that had a bias against other racial minorities.

The speaker moved on to ask us questions concerning the substance of the video or any other such matters (the judgment against LGT community for example). One of the questions asked WHY do people behave in such a hurtful manner towards certain groups and I had the opportunity to speak up.

I brought up the issue that I believe everyone was thinking about.

Why do people of religion cause so many prejudices?

From African American Segregation to The Protests Against Same Sex Marriage Christians have propagated hundreds of discriminations against other races, choices and beliefs.

I said, “Honestly, one of the biggest reasons for bigotry is religious morals. The problem is that Christian people who behave in a mean way towards certain groups don’t understand the profundity of God’s passion for us. They don’t realize that God loves every single person the same. He takes each of us exactly as we are. Hence even though I don’t accord with everyone and I deliver my own morals, I find it infinitely sad that people are judged by Christians because God has adoration for the very person that they are judging.”

Obviously I didn’t phrase it that well, but that is it in a prettier nutshell.

I was so terrified that I would have a ton of people jump up and rebuke me for my beliefs in Jesus Christ, but everyone cheered! Even the speaker thanked me for being so “eloquent and truthful”.

I have been approached by multiple people since then who told me that they loved what I said! I even met one Christian woman who stated that she was so proud of me  and that meant the world.

It reads in Luke 1:17 that God will go before me and He proved it to me that day. I am already known as the young woman who spoke up at orientation and the girl who remains firm for what she believes in. I couldn’t ask for a better way to come into my freshman year. I couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to my impact.

I was able to show the love of Christ despite what those around me may have thought of Him before. I was able to counter the confusion many Christians may of caused concerning God’s character. The Freshmen came in with one opinion of His acceptance and were able – by God’s grace – to leave with another. I am sure within my spirit that God changed someone’s life because of my words and I am so blessed to know that.

Beyond that God guided my writing and it has taken off among my peers! I was given the opportunity to share about my novella, The Home of Our Hearts, in a smaller lecture and many people now know about my Facebook page, my blogs and my books. They are all so excited to read what I have to say.

I feel so honored to know that God loves me in that way. That he cares about my dreams enough to establish them in a new place like He did today.

I have become a great light, a REACH, a COMPASSION in the lives of the Lobos and it wasn’t because of me. It was because God is continuously good, faithful and marvelous.

He has turned my world upside down and I know He will do so every single day.

I have endless possibilities.

Endless grace.

Endless favor.

And endless reach – so do you!

It’s all because God is so so so good.

– Deanna ❤

This is Not a Bad Captivity.

Today at church my pastor said something that really struck home with me and my current fight in life. He said, “At the base of everything else there can be only one sin that creates not only a war between yourself and those around you, but a war within your own soul. It is this: you lust after and desire something so much that you would fight to the ends of the earth to get it. You would even go so far as to fight God.”

I realized earlier in the month that I had been fighting very hard for a man that I have loved for more than four years. I discovered that even though my love for him may have been a beautiful, pure love that there was a such thing as loving him to much.

There were times that I actually did fight with God over why we weren’t together and whether or not I should tell him about my feelings, but typically my idolatry – for idolatry it was – took the form of thinking about him too much and having that yearning that darkened even good days.

Ever since I realized that I decided that my continuing to live that way was not only wrong, but that it was hurting me and holding me back from the great life I could be having as a single. I knew God didn’t have me single for no reason. I knew that I had a purpose in my years as a single that I could chase with a Christ-like passion, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I kept feeling like I had a dream and I was trapped, unable to get to it.

Then on May  18th my pastor’s wife said,  “Being single is not a disease that you one day over come. Being single is not a cage that you someday escape.”

In my spirit I heard something that God had been saying to me for weeks now. He said, “This is not a bad captivity.”

It was in Jeremiah 29 that I first had this revelation from God. Jeremiah 29 is a letter written to those that God sent into captivity in Babylon.

He starts straight away by saying I am here with you in this time and I know where you are. I want you to build houses here. Rest here and bare fruit here. Be content and rest. Increase and grow even in captivity. Be like the Israelites. They grew even greater than their enemies. Seek the peace of your captivity because I have caught you there. Pray for My peace because in this captivity there is safety and peace.

Do not listen to the people around you who tell you this is a bad place or tell you things that make you dissatisfied. Do not listen to your heart and your dreams because when you are in a place your flesh does not like they will deceive you even if the place is good for your spirit and for the world. Don’t let yourself be tricked. Rest in this captivity.

After a time – a certain time that I know and that will not change – I will bring you out of this captivity and you can go where your heart feels at home. I have good plans for you and this time of captivity is part of it. This is for your good and will not harm you. This is to give you the future I have planned and to fill you with unending hope should trials come when you leave the captivity. Know this and you will call me. I will hear you. You will seek me because you know with head knowledge that I love you. You will seek to really know my love and you will find that you do know it. That in fact you know it better than ever before. If it weren’t for this captivity in my arms you never would have had the time to seek me in that way.

You will find me and I will free you. There are people out there who refuse to be taken captive by me and will not look for me. Because of this – and because they tempt you to do the same – they will find themselves unprotected, restless and full of troubles. Their ways are not my ways. Even in hardship you are safe because you live in the place I tell you to. I can keep you from getting sick if you live in the city I tell you to live in. I know which cities will be struck with disease and which will not and so why would you try to live in the place you think best? My instructions to go here or not go there are to protect you. If you do not listen what else can I do?

Listen to my voice. It is your peace in this captivity. You are held captive by me, but not by force. Find joy in the fact that I want you safe and so close. I know what you have done in the past and I know where you are. I am witness to your tears and have whitened all your wrongs.

Let me take you captive. Do not think that you know everything. No man should think higher than he ought. You are not a prophet. You do not know the future or even really know who you are. Take comfort. I know who you are. I know the path. I planned the path. Trust me all the way. Everything is for your good.

For this purpose you will be here for awhile: build a house, take a break, bare fruit by knowing me. I just want you to take time to know me. This is not a bad captivity.

I accepted those verses completely and I was seeking and searching trying to understand Gods purpose for me here. I was asking him, “What house do I build? What fruit do I bare?”, but most of all I was asking, “How do I rest in complete peace and contentment?”

I was trusting. I was growing. I was slowly letting go in my thoughts and my emotions, but there were many times – days even – when I was not content. I felt a pit in the center of my heart and no matter how much I prayed or wrote or worked it would not leave me.

Last night while I cried myself to sleep God said, “Deanna. It is so so easy for you to think of things to do to fill the void for a time, but I am trying to make you a dwelling place.”

I racked my brain to think of what that could mean. I thought of a bunch of different places I could dwell and grow and learn, but none of them held a passion or an excitement to move for my Savior. He wanted me to find a work that was deeper than writing or helping or dreaming. He wanted to show me that even though I was not a married woman that I had a place and I could live my dream.

God made me exactly who I am for exactly where I am right now.

I have discovered that life is all about the right now.

I don’t have to wait to use my talents.
I don’t have to wait to find joy, peace, contentment and fulfillment in my life.
I don’t have to wait to live my dreams.

Today in service they were taking questions through text and this is what I said,
“I have wanted to be married my whole life. Over the last four years I have prayed about it intensely and really grown in my beliefs concerning family and marriage. I know that God’s plan is the best plan. I recently turned 18 and had this fantasy that I would have a boyfriend for my birthday lol and be on my way to my life long dream of being a wife and mother. That obviously hasn’t happened. My question is how does a single whose dream is to raise a family find contentment and purpose in being single and stop being unhappy wishing for what they do not have?”

I asked that question feeling empty and lost.

I left service today feeling not only full, but empowered to live my life!

She said, “There are children all over the world who are helpless and abandoned. They would love to have a mother like you!”

I realized in that moment that while I may not be a physical mother to anyone yet that I am (and have the potential to be) a spiritual mom to many, many young men and women. I have my siblings, the darling babies in the nursery, the wild kids of promise park, and those coming up behind me in yx.

I have a place in the family of God.

God gave me the gift to encourage, nurture, listen, pray and love fiercely not just so I could one day be a mother and a wife. He gave me those gifts to bless everyone that walks into my world. God has given me the grace to raise up young men and women for him – right now.

My encouragement to you is this:

You don’t have to wait for a certain season of your life to bare fruit. Step out, realize the Grace and Power of God in your life and bare fruit even when the world calls you a captive.

We are in the world, but not of it.

The world and what it deems to be “normal” is not of any importance to us.

You purpose in life is to use your gifts to glorify your Father in Heaven and you can do that in an earth shattering, opinion destroying, life altering way when you do it with God.

There is a time to live and a time to die.

There is a time to be single and a time to be married.

Stop waiting and live while you still have the chance.

Should I Get Tattooed?

There is a question that I have noticed alot of christians struggling with and I have struggled with it alot over the past couple years and it is this: now that we are under the new covenant what rules should we continue to follow? For example: is cutting your hair/beard a sin? Is eating pork still wrong before God? What about tattoos? What about our love lives?

God has been revealing alot of his grace to me lately and so I know that condemnation is no longer an issue in these questions but I still continued to ask, “How do we know your will on these issues? Surely we cant just go through life doing what we think is best because of grace! I know you will still love and care for us if that is what we do but God I want to do what you want me to do.”

So how does grace relate to our walk and these daily questions we have?

In our new lives under grace “all things are allowed for us but not all are beneficial.” In this new convenant anything that brings glory to God is beneficial for us and for the rest of the world.

But how do you know if something glorifies God?

God told me to ask myself these three questions:

1. Does this reveal something about who God is?

2. Is this something I can be proud of or something I feel the need to hide from other christians?

3. Does this edify me? (bring me closer in my relationship with God)

Lets think about this concerning a romantic relationship. You could ask yourself:

1. Would beginning a relationship with this person reveal God to those who see us? Am I at a point where I can show Gods love to this person in a consistant and pure way?

2. Would I introduce this guy to my church family? My parents? My grandparents or even great grandparents? Would my friends be proud to call him my boyfriend? (while you shouldnt base your choices entirely on what the world says I am revealing the fact that the christians around us can give us advice and cues that we wouldnt get otherwise. Also we are a model of Christ to the world and if they cant see him in our actions how else will they?)

3. Will being in a romantic relationship pull me farther from or closer to God? Is this man ready to edify me when it comes to spiritual areas?

And then there is the all important question of “to tat or not to tat?”:

1. Does this tattoo I have in mind reveal something about God? (It doesnt have to be a cross or a bible verse. It could be anything beautiful and pure or encouraging. If someone asks you what does your tattoo mean or why did you get it that could be an opportunity to share a little bit of who God is to you. For example I want to get some mallow flowers tattooed on my shoulder and they mean I am utterly consumed by your love. It reminds me that Gods love covers my every moment. This is a testament to how Gods love chases us and covers our sins <3)

2. Do you feel comfortable telling your folks, your spouse or your grandparents you have a tattoo? will getting a tattoo cause someone else who feel convicted not to get a tattoo to get one when they shouldnt? (consider those around you and how your choice will affect them. Even though the choice is yours your choices affect the world and its view of Gods character)

3. Does this tattoo bring you closer to God or remind you of the beauty of knowing him?

These questions are so practical and the really interesting thing is that everyone will come to different conclusions. Your choices are between God and yourself. One person may be able to glorify God with a tattoo and others may not. Some may be ready for a relationship and others may not.

I am certainly NOT saying there is no absolute right and wrong. THERE IS. I am simply saying that the key is to not be legalistic, but graced. They key is to live under the new testament of freedom and relationship and not the old of laws and letters. Whether the A is captitalized for you or not isnt the issue. The issue is your heart and your reflection. Let God work in you and use you the way he will. He knows the people he has called you to touch and the places you will go. Listen to Him.

Love,

Deanna ❤