We get in our own way with “oops” posts. Things we didn't think all the way through, that once we give it more thought, or in many instances the next morning when your head isn't quite as foggy, we immediately take down. However, there is no deleting the post from people's memory once they have seen it. Worse yet, there is a perma data trail linked to that post. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg for being so efficient!Read More
I think first we need to truly examine our hearts before we press post or publish. We need to ask ourselves if our heart in the post is to honor God, bring glory to Him, or is it to tear someone down or manipulate someone?Read More
See we all know in the back of our minds what’s right for us but we tend to get so wrapped up in the world's ways that we can lose our way. But good news!!! God is sitting right there waiting for us to call on Him and He will come running, He even left us a road map, called the Bible to help us navigate.Read More
By Kerry Cramton
Have you ever felt called to do something greater, but fear and doubt sets in, or past failures make you feel unqualified and insignificant? Do you know that Jesus isn’t looking for perfection, He is looking for a vessel to pour out His anointing on? In your weakness you will find His strength.
I think about the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well. How Jesus saw her, not for her faults, and he didn’t come to condemn her. Yet, Jesus brought her hope. She said, “He knew everything I ever did.” (John 4:29) If you have read the story you will see she had multiple partners and I’m sure a laundry list of things she wished Jesus the Messiah didn’t know about her. But when she realized who Jesus was, she had faith and she left her water pail and went to the city to tell the people about the Messiah. I believe she must have felt His grace and love just being in His presence. She left the well wanting to walk away from her past and walk closer to Jesus. She wanted the living water that He spoke of and how she would never thirst again.
In the book of John, Jesus says, “A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the truth worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23) There is such freedom in what only the blood of Jesus can do. He washes us white as snow and longs to redeem every part of our soul. When we give our lives to Jesus, He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us maneuver through this fallen world.
2 Timothy 4:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”
He has given us these gifts through the power of the Holy Spirit; Power, Love, and Self-control. The Holy Spirit works through us! When we surrender our lives to Jesus, the fears that we once knew have to flee. We have a new identity in Jesus Christ our Lord and a Savior who saves us from the pits of death and resurrects us to have a new life in Him! We have to stand boldly on the truth in His word!
He told the Samaritan woman,“but whoever takes a drink of the (living) water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty anymore, but the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto eternal life.” (John 4:14).
These words should make you, just like the Samaritan woman, realize that THIS, THIS is the living water that you crave! You will never thirst again from this unfulfilling well of the world, this life was meant for more and you should be ready to fight for your true identity in Christ. When your identity in Christ takes root, it is one of purpose, accuracy, destiny, fearlessness. I don’t know about you, but when I read the truth, a peace comes over me. I want to do the best for God every day to glorify Him. I know He has enough grace for me every single day because He says it in His word.
I love what the apostle Paul wrote, (1 Corinthians 15:9-10) “For I am the least [worthy]of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I once wronged and pursued and molested the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace towards me was not for nothing (fruitless, and without effect). In fact, I worked harder than all of them [the apostles], though it was not really I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
I will choose not to dwell on the past and I certainly will trust Him to not be anxious about the future. He says that through His Spirit; Power, Love, and Self Control are given to me! This is an eternal promise! Step out and trust that Jesus who created you, has enough grace for you today. He calls you His daughter. He sees the destiny for your life and knows what is best for you! Be bold, courageous and just trust Him to do a work in you!
We are not broken creatures; we are daughters of the Lord Most High. You are healed and whole because Christ is within you. And if Christ is within you, then there is light. Once you accept that healing and invite Jesus to work on your heart, the light is there. Therefore, seek the Creator and all of His promises will enter your life, including the promise of restoration. Once you kick-start your healing process, don’t be afraid to be yourself! Our lights are the only things on earth that are battling the darkness, and we always need more of it. Invite the healing, shine your light, and watch the world change.Read More
You are seen. You are captivating. You are never too much and always enough. Because you were created by God Almighty, you are enough. You were fashioned by the hands of Love because creation was not complete without you. You reflect a piece of God’s character and nature that nothing else in all of time and space can duplicate.Read More
He wants you to know, He’s there and He’s there in EVERYTHING that you are doing. He wants to use you as you are. Not perfect, but in pursuit of excellence. Not physically naked, but being raw and naked of who He created you to be.Read More
Here's a little secret that I'm going to share about myself...I've always wanted the ability to step out of my body and be able to see how I'm seen or perceived by others. I'm not sure if this would be a blessing or a curse, but for someone who has always valued what others thought of herself, I thought that this would be a super-human power to possess. I was the child and even the woman sometimes, that would mimic how girls I admired or idolized acted. I wold try to copy how they talked, how they posed in photos and even how they wrote their name. In my mind, if I could take on their characteristics I would be able to be seen the same way that I saw them. Looking back now, the reason I desired this so strongly was because I was not comfortable in who I really was.Read More
Growing up, I heard time and time again that we are all sinners and broken people going through life and trying to do the best we possibly can to love and live like Jesus. Or that we are all inherently bad people that Jesus had to die for us just so we wouldn't burn in hell and that we're all just hanging on by a thread until Jesus comes back...and hopefully he comes back soon.Read More
When I was first asked to share my testimony I was thinking, “Oh man, what should I even say..?” I’m not going to lie ya’ll, I was kind of dreading if it ever came time for me to be asked. I was sitting in my car and had just gotten back from my lunch break and immediately God interceded and said, “You have plenty to share and I’m only asking for a snippet to encourage the women of your church family.” This is a bit long, so bear with me, ladies!Read More
We are told to wait. We are encouraged to wait it out and remain pure until marriage, to abstain from physical intimacy. The Bible says to wait. It’s outlined in plain text multiple times that sex is reserved for husband and wife. Sometimes (if we’re lucky), we get a little glimpse into why we wait and are usually told that the act is honoring God as well as our husbands. We want to make sure we are clean and pure for our wedding night; no one wants something “spoiled." You might as well consider yourself damaged goods if you have already crossed that line. It is a disappointment that so much talk about purity has been motivated by shaming girls, instead of teaching them the "why" behind the "wait."
I am very curious and always a little cautious when someone tells me to do something. I always want to know the “why” behind it. What is the driving force? What is the ultimate goal? How is this helping me get to that goal? If I had to speculate, I’d suppose that many other women feel this same way about purity. Why do we wait to be intimate until marriage? Yes, God commands us to. Yes, it’s honoring God and your husband. But there are also so many layers to this beautiful gift of intimacy that the Lord has given to us. Read through 1 Corinthians 6:14-20 in the Message translation:
“God honored the Master’s body by raising it from the grave. He’ll treat yours with the same resurrection power. Until that time, remember your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master’s body. You wouldn’t take the Master’s body off to a whorehouse, would you? I should hope not. There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much a spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two shall become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever – the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.”
Ok, now go back and read it again. Seriously, I cannot write or teach better than the Word and it’s all there!
This is our “why." These are the reasons we wait for physical intimacy. It is so much less about making sure we are virgins for our future husbands and so much more about realizing our own worth that God has given us. We are created in His image and with the same dignity that Jesus was created with. Let that sink in for a moment. Our bodies are not ours to do whatsoever we wish with; they are a beautiful gift from God to house our spirits and the Holy Spirit while we are here on earth. Therefore, honoring God with our bodies (eating right, remaining pure, dressing modestly, exercising, etc.) should be on the forefront of our brains continuously.
The act of physical intimacy – and I’m not just talking about sex – is intended for marriage because that is the closest relationship we can have on earth. Sex functions within a marriage, and functions extremely well! When we misuse sex (outside of marriage), it is dysfunctional. Our spirit gets confused because we are participating in an act with someone that isn’t our spouse. Our spirit wants to become one with the other person’s spirit because that is what sex was designed for. But the spirits can’t mesh because the individuals are not married. Sex outside of marriage can never become one and sex was designed to create one flesh from two people. This causes loneliness, confusion, distress, shame, and a conflict that arises within our spirits.
Sex is a beautiful and wondrous thing when it is done on God’s terms. He created it to be that way! God doesn’t call us to wait for our husbands because He wants to ruin our fun; He commands us to wait because:
1.) He wants to protect us from the spiritual and emotional damage premarital sex can cause.
2.) He wants us to know how incredible sex within the marriage bedroom is. When we give in to temptation and partake in premarital intimacy, our idea of sex is skewed. The only sex we know is one outside of marriage, and that is nowhere near what it was made for. When we sin against ourselves, we are creating damage in our own lives, and we’re better than that.
You are worth so much more than the repercussions of premarital sex. You are God’s final touch of creation; woman was the last thing God created before He sat back and thought “now it’s complete." You are worthy. You are enough. Our bodies are sacred temples; some translations even refer to them as tabernacles because the Holy Spirit resides inside of us. It’s our responsibility to tend for our bodies and our spirits just the same. Remaining pure until marriage not only honors God, but keeps yourself from heartache and a dysfunctional idea of what sex is.
I have been there. I had sex before marriage and didn’t date purely until I started dating my now husband. I thought that it was too late and I was already worthless and dirty, but God redeemed me and my sins were washed white as snow because I had the privilege of repentance. Jesus died so that we GET to repent and become free from any shame. I can’t tell you how many times I read 1 Corinthians 6:14-20 while Cody and I were dating to remind myself of the “why." I had to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me through the healing process of my past mistakes, but it was worth it. Sex outside of marriage was destructive in my life. Sex within marriage has created prosperity. Sex outside of marriage tore me down and told me I wasn’t good enough. Sex within marriage has told me how cherished and precious I am. Sex outside of marriage created confusing soul ties with men that weren’t my husband. Sex within marriage has created one flesh between my husband and I. Sex outside of marriage was not blessed. Sex within marriage has been abundantly blessed.
There is never a point that is too late, never a past too messy, and never an individual too far gone to receive God’s grace and turn around. Always remember your “why” and always remember your worth.
Okay, so you have made the decision to stay pure, and stop having sex before marriage, when suddenly you’re flooded with feelings of guilt and regret about your past decisions. You struggle with feeling like you’re not good enough because of your mistakes, or that you don’t deserve a Godly husband. Or maybe, someone in your life reminds you of your past and makes you feel about 2 foot tall and full of shame. Girl, I have been there...and it is not fun.
Shame is a terrible feeling and is something that can truly hold you back from moving forward with your life and even prevents you from intimacy with God because it makes you feel unworthy and distant from Him.
But here is the good news, God does not want us to live there.
He calls us a new creation, and tells us that we can let go of our pasts and look to the future (2 Corinthians 5:17). I am here to tell you that no matter how many people we have slept with, or if you had a one night stand in college, you can come to Jesus. Ask Him for forgiveness, repent, and He will forgive you (1 John 1:9). God’s grace is so big and His love is so faithful that He wants to set us free from sin, shame, regret and feelings of unworthiness.
But I know that’s easier said than done.
When I decided that I would stop having sex before marriage and wait for my husband I felt great at first. I felt forgiven and excited for the future, but slowly I began to let shame undermine the amazing grace that God had already given me. About a year after I decided to walk in purity, I dated a guy, and together we had agreed that we would be waiting until marriage. However, he constantly reminded me of my mistakes, how many people I had slept with, and it brought back tons of guilt and regret. I felt so much shame from that relationship I even began to question IF I was forgiven at all. And because of that lingering question of if I was truly forgiven, it created distance between me and God.
Fast forward to when I met my husband, from the very beginning he made it clear that he did not view me as unworthy or unpure. One night while we were having our two hour-long distance phone calls, he told me that, “When I met you, I decided that I didn’t care what you had done in your past, in my eyes you are pure." He showed me an earthly representation of God’s grace, and how God saw me. His love and forgiveness mirrored what God was saying to me.
Even though my boyfriend (now husband) viewed me as pure and worthy, it was something I truly had to settle within myself. Overcoming shame from your past needs to be something that you and God work through together, and an area that you ultimately let God heal. Bring all of your pain and memories of the past to God, journal about them, pray about them, and then ask God to take them from you. In Psalms 103:12 it says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." That is what God wants to do with your sin and your shame, but you need to let Him.
Release the shame
Release the guilt
Release the memories
Release the judgement you’ve held towards yourself
Give them to God
And let Him heal your heart.
If you are reading this and are struggling with guilt and shame because of past sexual sins, please know that first of all, you are not alone. I have experienced it, and I have talked to tons of other girls who have as well. Find a friend or a mentor, get connected with a small group at church and find people that you can confide in and who can remind you that you are forgiven. Second, I want you to know (yes, you reading this!) that you are so loved and that God has forgiven you. The Holy Spirit has already begun to work in your heart. Release the shame and guilt, give it to God and just rest in His grace!
Why did Adam and Eve eat from the forbidden tree in the garden? What was is it that they wanted? Did they really believe that God was holding out on them like the serpent would lead them to believe? He shared with them that they were missing out on being like God, having His knowledge and knowing good and evil.
But were they really missing out? Weren't they already "like God?"
Genesis 1:27 states, "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."
Adam and Eve were already like God. They were clothed in His full Glory! They had all authority and dominion given to them by God to rule the earth. Nothing was held back from them, all that God had and possessed He gave to them. The very next verse in Genesis 1:28 says, "Then God blessed them, and said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"
They had power to name the animals and they didn't just give the animal a name, in Hebrew a name carries the true meaning of what that animal was. So when Adam named the lion, he was calling out the lion's purpose through it's name. It's purpose to roar, to hunt, to do everything a lion does.
The greatest part of all of this is that Adam and Eve were able to commune with God at all times. There was no shame or guilt before the Fall. There were no walls that were built around their hearts from past hurts. Up unto this point they had only known true joy and happiness in getting to experience the full presence of God himself. God made them highly intelligent beings just like him. They weren't some dumb cavemen, they were holding deep and meaningful conversations with the Creator of the Universe. Can you even imagine? I'm sure God was showing them how he placed the stars in the heavens, how he made the designs in the constellations and how he stopped the waters on the earth with just his hands. God was and still is in the show and tell business. That's why he gave us his Word and let his Son become our Savior so that he could restore this same communication like he had in the Garden with Adam and Eve.
I bring all of this up because the Devil has not changed his message. Yes, he may change up how he brings it about, his methods, but the true message of his deception has not changed and that is that God is holding out on us. He doesn't want us to have fun. He wants us to remain brainless, go through the motions, bow down and worship every day for the rest of our miserable lives. If he was truly a good and loving God he would make this world perfect. Nothing would go wrong, bad things wouldn't happen and all of us would be rich, healthy and happy. You see if he can keep us in this thinking that only if we'll keep practicing our "religion" of showing up and doing all the things we keep doing because maybe just maybe God will give us some blessings, we miss what God has already given us....and that's his Son, Jesus and what his work on the cross did for all mankind.
Okay, so you may have read this far thinking, "Okay, I thought we were going to talk about pure dating relationships in this Set Apart series? When are we going to get to that part?"
Well, I say all of this because when Adam and Eve chose to listen to the Serpent over listening to God they traded masters. They traded a good and loving God for a vicious, murdering, accusing, lying thief. They traded intimacy for hearsay. They traded uninhibited communication with God for confusion, gossip and sloppy seconds. To be really raw and unfiltered; they got in bed with the enemy instead of holding out for their fairy tale. Satan not only took the keys to this world right out of their hands but he placed shackles on their hands and feet and they became his slaves.
But God knew the end from the beginning. He had a plan from the start. A course of action to redeem, restore and set back into place everything that had been stolen from him and that included the hearts of his people. And that plan was called...JESUS. God threw off his power, his crown, his righteousness to become human. To enter into our physical world. To experience all of the same situations that we experience. Rejection, defamation of character, betrayal, sadness, joy, mourning, compassion, abuse and temptation to sin. And through it all he chose love over hate. When he died on the cross he broke the curse that came upon all of creation at the time of the Fall. This opened the door and tore the veil down for his children to step again into his presence and to have intimacy with him again. True intimacy, not the world's perversion of intimacy. Jesus restored intimacy with us again because this is favorite form of communication. We draw near to him and he draws near to us just as what James 4:8 states.
So with this, I bring up sex. God gave Adam and Eve sex because it was the ultimate culmination of intimacy. But just like the Devil always does, he took something pure and good and twisted it around to cause confusion and bring shame. He took the intimacy out of the act of sex and with that humans came into bondage. We would become addicted and in a sense worship the act when it was never meant to be worshiped. In it's original form sex was after covenant (Genesis 1:24). It meant communion between husband and wife. If anyone is going to stay pure until marriage, you have to have the correct view of what sex is. I really do believe the church has done a terrible job at this. Sex education should not be left up to the secular schools to teach, it should be taught in the pulpit. God created sex, so why is it so taboo?
COMMUNICATION!! This is what I'm trying to get across. When we don't bring to light God's truth it gets twisted and confused by the Devil.
Parents, when you don't teach your kids what sex truly is and how God created it to be in the first place we learn from our friends and from a deceptive world. Church, when you choose to condemn instead of bring to light God's heart on sex you turn your children away to go find their information from another source outside of the Bible. If you're waiting until marriage to have sex the person you're dating or courting needs to know where you stand sooner rather than later. Communication is part of being a mature adult and it will help you so much when you are navigating your life. God is calling all of us to wait until we enter into covenant with our spouse to have sex because before that, lines get blurred and communication gets clouded. Not only between each other but with God as well. When Adam and Eve sinned they hid themselves behind fig leaves because of shame. God came calling for them and realized what they had done. This broke God's heart because it ended that sweet and intimate relationship he had with his creation.
So my friend, as I bring this long-winded blog post to the end, I want you to know that you are a child of a loving God. He wants his best for you. Not to hold out on you, not to let you have no fun or enjoy life, but because he knows how good it can be when we trust in him and wait until marriage to have sex. In this time of waiting he will grow us, prepare us, and speak to our heart's deepest desires. And when he brings that promised person into your life you will know that all of it was worth the wait. Even if you have caved and had sex before marriage God has not forgotten you. You are not dirty to him, but he does want your contrite heart. Repent, ask for forgiveness and he promises to make you new again.
My entire college experience was a series of dysfunctional romantic relationships. I dated a boy that would wait until I was drunk enough to take advantage of me, then do whatever he felt he “needed” that night. Then, there was one that was so controlling, I could hardly make my own clothing choices, let alone choose how long I was to stay out at night or who I was allowed to talk to. And who could forget the one that liked to rough me up at the bar and then make threats, the one that left me fearing for my safety? Oh yes, I chose them all and those were some very poor decisions not in any way directed by God. Those choices led me into the most painful and damaging four plus years of my life.
Sometimes I wonder what my 17-year-old self would’ve thought about those relationships. I’d assume the girl that was shopping for her purity ring, writing letters to her future husband, and unashamedly on fire for Jesus wouldn’t even believe it. She’d stand strong in her faith and shake her head defiantly, fully knowing that she would never put herself in those positions. But that same girl, just two years later would be knees-deep in the college hype. What happened? Why was there such a dramatic change in such a short period of time? The only way I can explain it best, is that I had the passion for Christ, but not the knowledge. I was a baby Christian and had never gotten into the Word. Hosea tells us that God’s people perish by their lack of knowledge and I did just that.
Fast forward a year post-grad, and I was a new creation, on fire again for Jesus, but with the knowledge to back it up. I finally found my fulfillment in Christ instead of men. I became content by myself and stopped dating altogether. I started writing letters to my future husband again. I started fervently praying for my future husband. When the men came knocking, I would simply turn them away and refuse to even entertain a dinner date because I was in a fully committed relationship with God. I didn’t have time to flirt, I was helping expand God’s kingdom…and then Cody came along. I remembered Cody as the goofy, but terribly sweet and lanky cowboy that I occasionally ran into my freshman year in college. I remembered how I never got any uneasy feelings from him, never felt on edge with him. Which at that point in my life was a feat because I was always weary of men. I remembered his kind eyes and his sweet laugh. Then there he was, catching up with me after all of those years apart.
Innocent snap chats and texts turned into dates and late night phone calls. We talked about God and I tried my best to hide my past. I didn’t want him to see me as damaged goods, especially because he was so godly. Dates turned into spending more time together and meeting each other’s families. Pretty soon, we had the talk. The talk where you draw a stiff line in the dirt that you decide not to cross until marriage. The talk where you aren’t quite close enough to feel completely comfortable yet, but know that you need to have the talk regardless. The talk that solidifies the possibility of marriage one day. The talk about dating pure. We had that talk…and then another talk, and then another, and continued to talk about it for the remainder of our dating and engagement.
After the first talk, I battled with my flesh. I tried my best to reason with God that maybe I could get out of this, maybe I could find a loophole in the system. And it went about as good as trying to reason with God ever goes.
But lots of good Christians don’t remain pure until marriage.
I didn’t call you to follow other Christians; I called you to follow me.
But how will I know if we have good physical chemistry?
If you’re going to trust me with your relationship, you need to trust me with the whole thing.
But what about my past and everything that I’ve already done?
I’ve redeemed you from that and already set you free.
But what if things go terribly wrong and I’m in a marriage with someone that won’t know how to satisfy me?
Are you going to look out for yourself, or honor me and trust my promise?
And that was that. My heart was committed to remaining pure until marriage. I made a promise to God and to Cody that I was determined to keep.
I didn’t want to tell some of my friends. I wanted to keep something that was so intimate…well, intimate. I knew the majority of them wouldn’t understand and I knew that almost none of them would believe in the same relationship. However, I didn’t expect to receive shame from some of them. People I had grown close to were telling me that I was making a terrible mistake, that I would wind up unsatisfied for the rest of my life if I didn’t “test drive." I was talked down to, as if I didn’t have a clue about relationships and the real world, like I was trying to dredge up a century-old tradition that was better left buried. I felt isolated. I felt like no one else was dating the way that I was, until a good friend and I started getting real and close with each other.
My friend and I were dating our now husbands around the same time, and we got to talking one day about dating pure. Having a friend that was going through the same process as Cody and I was my saving grace. God knew that we could’ve used the support during a difficult and tempting time. We shared a lot with each other, and I will forever be thankful that the Lord blessed me and continues to bless me with her friendship and listening ear. Cody was my biggest support, but having a girl friend that I could talk to outside of my relationship was a game changer.
Cody and I dated for a little over a year before we got engaged, and boy was I ready to be married. I just knew that once the ring was on my finger, I would be so excited and busy with planning, the temptations would slow down and it would be easy sailing until our wedding night. That truth bomb hit me like a ton of bricks when I started realizing how much harder it got. The temptation was stronger. The emotional intimacy grew as we realized that we were planning the rest of our lives together. It was NOT easy. But this was our time of growing. Our late nights together consisted of bearing our pasts to each other and truly getting to know one another. Our connection grew deeper and with more meaning as I realized he was seeking me for my heart, not my body. The ties that I had to his spirit continued to be sown closer, and we saw each other in an emotional nakedness.
I didn’t realize how many couples wait for the longest time. Many women, like myself, are afraid of rejection or isolation for their choice. So they don’t talk about it, and dating purely becomes wrapped up in heavy stigma. There are so many couples out there that still do it the good old-fashioned way. There is never a time that’s “too late” to turn around. There is no past too rugged that isn’t covered by the blood of Christ. There is still a powerful and redeeming God to give you the strength to resist any temptation thrown your way.
Sitting here next to my husband and realizing that we were obedient made everything worth it. Our marriage is flourishing and I’m so grateful that we made the decision together to wait. We can confidently say that we did it God’s way. We crossed the finish line with a solid foundation built on the Word. Anyone can do the same, as long as they’re willing to trust in and pull their strength from Christ.
Throughout this blog post, I promise that I am going to be completely honest and real. I truly believe that purity and intimacy is something that is not talked about enough and if we want to teach people about it and see hearts transformed, we need to be open about it and allow for honest conversations. Whenever I used to hear about purity or “waiting until marriage,” I thought it was just some outdated idea that only super strict Christians believed in. It wasn’t because I was against purity, but I had simply never been told what the Bible said about it, or why it was important. Shane (my husband) on the other hand had learned what the Bible said about purity but had strayed away from it as he grew older.
Honest moment, neither Shane or I stayed pure UNTIL we met each other. We both had pasts covered in mistakes and pain resulting from the choices we made. But here is where God is SO faithful. Prior to us even meeting, God had already begun to work on our hearts individually and we had both decided we would stay pure until we were married. For me, I had a pretty serious relationship in college that ended in heartbreak, and after that I finally listened to what the Holy Spirit had been telling me all along and decided I wanted to stay pure until marriage from that point out. And around the same time Shane was walking through some things and had also decided to stay pure until marriage. It was not easy by any means, and I entered into a few relationships between that time and meeting Shane that weren’t God’s best for me. I learned (the hard way) that even if you’re not sleeping with someone, a relationship can still be unpure and NOT a God thing.
Before we had met or started dating, I truly believe our prayers for our future spouses had already begun to shape our hearts (1 John 5:14-15). So, when we began talking, one of the first things we established was that yes, we both had less than perfect pasts, but that we were determined to honor each other and God and wait to be intimate until we were married. If you are entering into a relationship, or are wanting to, I really encourage you to protect your heart and to have this conversation early on. And if you’re feeling shame because you have had sex in past relationships (I struggled with this too!) God wants to redeem that, and He can restore purity, so don’t believe the lie that it is too late for you to change your future.
As our relationship grew and we began to talk about marriage more seriously, denying our flesh became harder. We both had already awoken love before its time (Song of Solomon 2:7) and to be honest, it was a struggle to wait. It was especially hard once we were engaged and knew we would be spending our lives together. Some practical things we did to help ourselves not be in a situation where we were tempted included; not spending the night together, spending time with family and friends, reading our Bible together, and of course PRAYER. We also decided to get married within about a year of when we first started dating, because once we knew that we were supposed to get married, why wait and make the temptation worse?! Another obstacle we faced (which I didn’t quite expect) was some people judging our decision to wait. I came across people who questioned why we were, and almost seemed concerned with, “How would we know we were a good match if we didn’t sleep together before we were married?” I understood their concerns, because that is how I used think about it. But it almost just fueled my fire to stay pure, and to walk out what I knew God was asking me to do, and lead by example.
As we have now been married for almost 5 months, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that waiting until marriage was the best decision we made in our dating relationship. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” This really outlines that when we are operating in God’s will (His will is that he wants us to remain pure until marriage and to keep the marriage bed sacred (Hebrews 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8) that He will hear our prayers and answer them. I know from personal experience that when you are walking in purity while dating, that you will have a clearer perspective on the relationship, that you will feel closer to God and that your relationship with your man will be strengthened. Now, whenever we look back on our relationship we remember how we struggled to stay pure, but how God helped us through it, and it encourages us to this day! It is not easy, but when God asks you to do something, He will give you the strength and the willpower to do it.
To all the ladies (and possibly gentlemen) reading this, if you’re considering waiting until marriage, do it. Walk the narrow path that God is asking you to, and you will be blessed for it.
I had the opportunity to speak to a group of women at my church last week and I posed the question to the room, "Who here was attracted to the wild, Bad Boy in your younger and dumber years?"
Hands went up all over the room.
My point was that there something in us that is drawn to that wild nature. The allure of an adventure waiting to happen in accompanying this unpredictable person on a voyage of finding out who they are, as well as finding out who we are when we're with them.
You see I believe this attraction is God-given because that's who God is. He's wild, unpredictable in our human standards, but he's good through and through. Unlike the wild, bad boy; we can trust God with our heart.
When I first started dating my husband, Kody, I found this same attraction. He was wild. He drove a fast car, was a successful bull rider and was known for being the prankster among his friends. He was exciting and unpredictable and always taking me on adventures. Whether it was heading to the next rodeo or up to the mountains we were always having fun together. For a girl, who wasn't able to trust her heart to boys she had dated in the past, I found myself falling hard for this green-eyed boy, but something I was falling even harder for was the Jesus he introduced me to.
This was a different Jesus that my Catholic upbringing hadn't me about. This Jesus would make you brave, would push you to pray big prayers and more than anything he gave you a desire to stay pure in your dating relationship because you wanted to honor him.
You see, I had never, ever met a boy like this. I had never met a boy who drew me closer to God. I had never made a vow to save myself for marriage, but honestly because I hadn't met anyone that I had fallen in love with and that I guess, was my only prerequisite...that I needed to be in love. I can look back now at all of those relationships and see that God was truly leading me away from those relationships and to Him. I'm not saying that I was a saint in these past relationships but there was a limit that I wouldn't cross.
God knows that when we give our bodies to another we give away part of ourselves. That's what it means in Genesis 2:23-24, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, they shall become one flesh." The Message translation says that, "Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh." Our spirits get meshed together when we have sex. My Pastor gave a beautiful example of this when she gave different colors of Play-Doh to everyone in our small group. Then each person exchanged a little piece of their Play-Doh with each person in the group. The Play-Doh that I had did not remain the same color it started out as, instead it transformed into this drab brownish-gray color. We lose our true selves when give ourselves away physically to more than one person. For woman, this wreaks havoc on our self-worth and emotions since we are emotional beings. Intimacy and our emotions are strongly connected. I honestly, cannot separate them myself and I'm sure I'm not alone.
So back to dating Kody, we were 16 years old when we started dating and it's not a lie when people say that hormones are going crazy in these teen years! But we had THE talk early on in our relationship. I can still remember sitting in this little Chinese restaurant in my hometown and Kody just brought it up so naturally. He admitted that he was not a virgin, but had asked for forgiveness and knew that Jesus had redeemed his sexual past. I admitted that yes, I was a virgin, but I still had compromised in certain areas in past relationships. Both of us were able to communicate so freely in who we were, what we wanted and how we were going to hold tight to our values in this relationship. In my book, if you can't have this open kind of communication, you're not mature enough to be dating yet.
The road to our wedding night was laden with temptation. It was NOT easy at all, but it was so worth it! Nothing compares to being with your spouse for the very first time. God has blessed our union in so many ways and I know that a lot of that had to do with putting God first in our relationship from the start.
Molly, Meghan and I are so excited to expound on this topic and dive into some different aspects of remaining pure while dating. The biggest thing that we want to relay is that it's not impossible, couples today are getting married without having sex before marriage and we ARE going to bring to light that is happening in today's sexually charged culture. The most important thing that I want every reader to understand about this topic is that God is not upset with you if you have failed in the past, he only wants the best for you and for your future spouse. He wants to be your first love and will not settle for your second best. He's passionately pursuing you more than any other person on this earth will do, he's after your heart. He wants all of you because he knows that only he can make you whole. God honors us when we honor him in our relationships, so I encourage you to strive for that. Honor each other and honor your God in all you do and his promises will come to past in your life!!
I've been thinking and studying a few things out about how we feel God's presence. Since this is an off-week for our Brave Series (I can't wait to unveil who we have next week!) I wanted to bring something to you that would help you live a life that's in the fullness of what God has for you. I mean what's more brave than that? To know that we are hearing his voice and and walking out our destiny is an abundant life in my opinion.
To precedent what I'm going to say here; I believe that God is always speaking to us, but we are not always listening. Getting to know God for us is how we hear him more clearly. We learn his character, what he holds dear to his heart (hint: it's US!), what he hates, and what his heart is in every situation.
I've been walking with God going on 13 years now as a born-again Christian, but it's definitely been a journey from knowing about God to knowing God. To be honest, for a long time I was okay with just knowing about him. To only sing songs about him. To read books about him. In my mind I knew what Jesus had done on the cross for me, that he loved me enough to do that and I was thankful for that. I think so many of us are okay with being in this place as well. It's comfortable...we're doing good.
Comfort...what do you think of when you hear that word? You may think of security, relaxation, convenience...even boring. Haha! Those are not necessarily bad things, but I think back to some of my heroes in the Bible who were rocking and rolling in their lives with God. I think of Abraham who was called a friend of God. He left everything he knew in his old life to trust God and leave for the promise land. He trusted God to give him a son in his old age and then he was willing to offer up that beloved son when God asked. I think of Joseph who was willing to interpret Pharaoh's dreams because He knew that God was faithful in granting him an interpretation. I think of Esther who went in front of the King with a chance of being killed to save her people. Then we have Mary, a young girl who is given the great task of caring the Savior of the World. She could've said "no" to God when He told her His plans but she trusted him.
What do all of these people have in common?
They all got to KNOW God.
They fell head over heels in love with the God who was pursuing their heart from the very beginning and they continued to fan that flame of love by continuing to know more about Him throughout their life. You don't learn how to do brave things for a God that you've only heard about. Only when you've learned to trust a God that you know without a doubt is good...that's when you can do brave things for him.
Heidi Baker is who comes to mind when I think of doing brave things for God. She says in her devotional book, Reckless Love, "I am seriously saying Jesus' presence is worth more to me than anything; His love and precious blood are worth more to me than life." She lives in one of the most volatile areas of Africa in Mozambique. She's constantly bombarded by people shooting at her, holding knives to her throat and the death of her adopted children but she counts it all worth it because God's presence rests on her everyday as she works. She truly is a woman who lives from the lap of the Father.
So how did I go from just knowing about God to actually knowing him? To begin, I don't know if I'll be able to find words to explain this in it's fullness, but I got glimpses of what my life could be like if I was willing to let God have all of my heart and dive into a deeper relationship with him. It was more like I was able to see the woman that I could be who lived in complete trust in the Creator of the Universe. So in a way, He was calling me to come closer, but He wanted me to draw near first. I love how the Passion Translation puts James 4:8, "Move your heart closer and closer to God, and he will come even closer to you." It's an invitation, not a command.
Can you still get into heaven by only knowing about what Jesus did on the cross and making him your Lord?
But why just stop there?
Why not live with heaven on earth now? He wants to go on this great adventure with you now that will echo all of eternity!! I can't even explain the joyous tears I've cried when I realize how my heart is completely safe with my Jesus. Unlike any human relationship we can have on this earth, God will never, ever hurt our hearts. He won't ever betray us or abandon us. His Word promises this!!
I feel like I could make this the world's longest blog post with going on and on about everything I'm learning by knowing God's heart, so I'm going to stop now and pray for you...of course only if you'd like to really fall in love with the lover of your soul.
Right now, I ask Father that you would make your invitation to your beloved something that they can't miss. That their heart would be open to accept this invitation because they've made your Son, Jesus their Lord and Savior. I pray that they would have the veil removed from their ears to hear Holy Spirit calling them deeper. That their passion for your Word would be lit in their heart and that NOTHING would hold them back from encountering you, Lord.
I pray this in Jesus' name!!
I'd love to hear if you've made the commitment to get to know God on a whole new level, please reach out to me on Instagram or email me!!
Cooped Up Cowboy's Wife
A couple weeks ago we had a beautiful snow fall. Church got cancelled and Kody asked our girls if they'd like to go call in coyotes. Of course my little adventure lovers were screaming in agreement because this would be a first for them.
We got them dressed in snow pants, coats, hats and gloves. I told Kody I wish we had more neutral colors for them to wear besides they're pink and turquoise coats, but he reminded me that coyotes don't see color.
"Oh, yes, then they should be good!"
I don't think he really planned to actually call anything in, this was more of a learning experience for the girls. So the pressure was off, thankfully.
Locked and loaded they headed off to find a spot along a creek in the pasture.
Kody explained to me that both girls had a hard time making it to their spot because they kept tripping over frozen cow patties that were hidden by the fresh snow. He said every time he looked back to make sure they were getting along alright one would be recovering from her fall or one would be flat on her stomach. Darn cow patties! Not to mention that it was still snowing and the wind was starting to pick up. My tough cowgirls!
So finally they found their spot and sat and waited. Sat and listened. I'm sure if you know any 3 and 5 year old little girls, sitting still and being quiet is excruciatingly hard! They literally cannot sit still for more than a moment.
My patient husband was teaching them a life lesson in this instant.
Stop...stop the motion, the busyness, the chatter in your head and quiet your spirit. When you do this there's something that happens. You may be conscious of your breathing, the beat of your heart and you will even be able to feel what parts of your body are tense.
Look...look for what God is trying to show you. It may be a flashing light up sign that helps you make a wise choice when faced with a decision or more than likely it' something very subtle. God loves to use His creation to speak to His creation. Sunrises and sunsets are something that always speak to me. As well as my horses and cattle.
Listen...listen for God to speak to you. My Pastor says this usually is a thought or words that come into your mind that sound way smarter and deeper than anything you could come up with yourself. Let those words wash over you. Meditate and focus on them.
Learning to take time to do this everyday I promise you will open your heart up to hearing from God on a more intimate level. A place in the Bible that Jesus spoke on this Stop, Look and Listen was in the Garden of Gethsemane. In Matthew 26:38, Jesus said, "My heart is overwhelmed and crushed with grief. It feels as though I'm dying. Stay here and keep watch with me." Jesus was wanting His disciples to be praying, to be listening and to keep watching not for the betrayer and his men to come and haul off Jesus to prison but to be listening to what the Father's heart was in this solemn, consecrated time. Jesus was preparing His mind and body to take on the sin of the whole world. To be separated from His Father for the first time ever because He would have to go to the pit of hell first before He was resurrected. At the same time, these men who had spent every day of the last 3 years with Jesus would turn their backs on Him. They would be persecuted and run. They may have been spared of this if they would've followed Jesus's orders to stay awake, listen and pray.
Be careful to take time each day to do this...especially when things are going good. This will help sustain you when things go wrong, when persecution comes and you're left all alone. You'll be peaceful in knowing that you're hearing Papa, you've been sitting still long enough to see His love and hear His heart.
Cooped Up Cowboy's Wife