23 Candles

Hello friends,

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but I wanted to share some thoughts on being in getting older and being in God’s will. In case you couldn’t tell based on the title if you didn’t already know, today is my birthday! I am now 23 years old and I’m thankful to see this day. For the weeks leading up to my birthday, many thoughts lingered in my head about my soon-coming birthday.

Is 23 even really an important year?

Should I celebrate?

What makes 23 different from 22?

The more I thought about these things, the more I realized how ridiculous I was being. It’s not that age 23 itself is guaranteed to be monumental, but that God had done so much for me and through me at age 22 so I know that this will be a phenomenal year.

Last year, I went through many changes in my family, education, walk with the Lord and every other aspect one can think of. I also had submission issues. I had done a really great job of calling God my Provider, my Healer, my Restorer but a really poor job of treating Him as Lord, Master and Guide. I wasn’t very interested in submitting to Him deeply yet and it showed in my life. But none of that mattered because He is jealous for me. Jealousy is a strong emotion that doesn’t take “no” for an answer and God made it very clear that He wanted me to himself. He made this clear through one of the most heartbreaking experiences I’ve ever gone through, but it is a sheer blessing that He loves us disciplines us, considers our soul first and feelings later.

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. -2 Corinthians 11:2 KJV

My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. -Proverbs 3:11, 12 KJV

As a result of this experience of God shaking up my life, I am in a place that I would not trade for anything. I have made so many bad decisions, wrong turns and honestly, done some really stupid things but the amazing thing about God is that He can make all things work together for our good. His sovereignty blows my mind because I know that before I do anything, He knows how things will end. Nothing catches Him by surprise so even when I go through bad things either as an attack of satan or as a result of my own bad decision, He knows that the experience can be used for my good and for His glory. How amazing is that? Also, He has poured into my life during these past few months. I’ve been blessed with a community of Godly friends, an amazing best friend who loves God dearly and even a phenomenal small group Bible study that I started last night. There is nothing that brings sheer joy, peace, contentment and gratefulness like knowing that you are where God wants you, living for Him and staying in His will. It’s hard going through life if you’re bucking up against His plans for you, and I’m thankful that I don’t even try to anymore.

Turning 23 means so much to me because this is the year that I began walking with God. For the first time in my entire life, God hasn’t been an afterthought or just this scary figure that I had to keep happy. He is my Beloved, my Father, my Lord and my Master yet also my Bridegroom, Provider, Protector, Best Friend and Guide. At this age, nothing matters more to me than living for Christ and making Him known so that others can share in this blessed assurance that I have. The reality is too, my life is not perfect. I have lots of struggles and challenges to work through every single day across many areas of my life. But knowing that God and I are walking together and that God will work everything for my good makes me the happiest girl alive. After knowing that God wasn’t pleased with me before, there’s no gift greater than to know that we are back in a good place.

If you’re in a rough place with God right now, know that He is jealous for you and that He wants to know you intimately. There’s nothing that should come before Him and that if He needs to move things around to have access to you, He might do that but that just shows His amazing love even more.

This is a brief post but thanks for reading and please send up a birthday prayer for me! Prayers are one of my favorite gifts. ๐Ÿ™‚

A little older and a (hopefully) a little wiser,

Brittany

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Unrealistic Expectations or Godly Standards?

For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. -Psalm 84:11 KJV

And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. -Luke 6:31 KJV

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God. -Proverbs 31:30 MSG

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful face on an empty head. -Proverbs 11:22 MSG

Hello friends. I hope that you’re all doing well. I want to talk about the difference between unrealistic expectations in a significant other vs having Godly standards. I think that often times, young Christian people can get the two confused.

We live in a society where our ideas about love, romance and marriage are distorted by music, movies and romance novels. I can’t speak for men, but I know that most of my female friends have watched The Notebook and wondered when they’d meet a guy like Noah or watched Disney movies wishing that they’d get their fairytale ending. I know that those stories are fun, but more than likely, it won’t be your story. Real life is not a movie.

Many of us have expectations for a significant other that came from a place other than God’s word. If you fit in this category, this has to change. As Christians, our standards and expectations for everything should come from God’s word. We should desire to be with someone whose character and demeanor resembles Christ’s, not Prince Charming. Not saying that you expect them to be perfect, but they should be working to be like Christ each and everyday. So often, we miss out on the opportunity to get to know amazing people because we have man-made, unrealistic expectations. My friend Charmaine talked about this on Saturday and hit the head on the nail. She talked about how often times Christian women want a guy who loves God, is in perfect shape, will buy them a huge wedding ring, makes tons of money, will put up with their bad attitude, who will cook everyday, who will be just like their dad, who will be great at pleasing them sexually, etcetera. And it’s not just women. I recently saw a Christian guy say that if he could pick two things about his wife, he’d want her to love God and to have a big butt. I’ve also heard Christian guys say that they want a woman who loves God, has a “perfect” body, will cook everyday, will watch sports with them, will want to have sex everyday forever, will cook like a professional chef, will be a specific complexion, etc. The list can go on and on and on!

Now, there’s nothing wrong with preferences, but is it possible that we could be missing out on God’s best for us because we can’t see past all the unrealistic expectations we have created? I mean, wouldn’t it just be better to take a trip to the Build-A-Man Workshop or order a Stepford Wife? I honestly think that’s the only way that some of us will find someone that meets all of our qualifications.

Now that I have you thinking, I want to share 5 things that I think will help us keep our standards Godly and realistic at the same time.

1. Understand what marriage is actually about…

I, like many people, used to be under the impression that marriage was just God’s gift to single people. Having a wonderful, handsome man all to myself for my time here on Earth sure sounded like a treat from a loving Savior to me! lol. But recently, I’ve come to understand that marriage is not entirely about our pleasure and happiness. Ephesians 5:22-33 shows us how marriage is actually an earthly representation of God’s love for His people. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” and the verses behind it shows us that wives represent us, God’s people. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” shows us that husbands represent Christ, who came and died to save His people. Also, keep in mind that marriage should make us even more like Christ. It exists to make us holy.

When we understand that marriage is actually supposed to primarily glorify God and not just please us, we realize that the standards for a significant other really should be present to ensure that we will date or court and eventually marry someone who we can glorify God with. As a result of glorifying God, we are blessed and receive joy. When you think about it that way, it really isn’t a requirement that he gets you a huge engagement ring, is it? ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Get your standards from God’s word, not society…

Many of us have adopted society’s standards for who we date instead of the standards that come from God’s word. We prefer looks over character and money over spiritual strength. We forget what’s most important in a significant other and start choosing people for the wrong reasons. God gives us His word so that we can utilize it in every area of our lives. Women of God, you can’t ask God for a Godly man who also resembles the world. The same goes for men of God. Don’t be lukewarm or double-minded in your determining who to have a relationship with. Look at the character, lifestyles and personalities of most important Jesus, then possibly great men and women of the Bible and adopt those as your standards.

3. We should be able to reach the standards we want in a mate…

If you know that you want to marry a woman who has a thriving prayer life, is educated, takes care of herself and has goals in life, make sure that you are a man that encompasses all of those attributes and qualities. Really, how fair is it to have a list of standards for someone else that you cannot reach? It’s not fair at all. Be willing to have as much to offer as you want to receive. If this means working on cultivating faithfulness in your own life before deciding to date, do that. I’m not saying that you have to be perfect before pursuing a relationship, but that you should be working to gain whatever qualities or attributes that you would like to see in the person that you want to marry.

4. Realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect person…

There is no such thing as a perfect person. None of us are perfect so we should not expect that from anyone else. At some point or another, the person you date will likely make you mad, annoy you, disappoint you and make mistakes. It’s apart of life. I’m sure that Boaz annoyed Ruth and that Rachel probably got on Jacob’s nerves at least once too. But if God has blessed you with someone who loves Him and has a relationship with Him, has Godly character, works to be a better Christian everyday, is working hard in other aspects of their life and truly loves and cares for you, love that person. We all live in a sinful word and we all have our past hurts, mistakes, issues and problems. Ask God to help you see that they although they aren’t perfect, that they are a blessing to your life.

5. Don’t compare…

Your husband leaves the toilet seat up and your college boyfriend never did. Your girlfriend can’t cook as well as your last one. So what? Love them anyway and encourage them to be better. So many of us are unhappy with who God has given us because we are comparing them to someone from our past. Not only is this wrong, but it’s unfair. How would you like to be compared to other people? God knows what He is doing. If you were supposed to be with the last person, you would be with them. Don’t waste your time reminiscing on what the old person used to do so well and thank God for everything that the current person is. The grass is not greener on the other side or in the past. Water your grass by supporting, loving and encouraging the one God has blessed you with.

I don’t want any of you to think that I’m saying date someone who you don’t like just because they love God or marry someone you aren’t attracted to. I believe that you should enjoy as well as be attracted to the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with. I’m just encouraging you to make sure that your standards are Biblical and all for ensuring that you settle down with the person that you can best glorify God with.

I want to make it clear that I don’t think I have any special knowledge or that I know it all. I’ve dated, but I’m not married so I have no idea what it takes. However, I read a lot. I’m going to include a short list of my favorite resource that pertain to dating/courting/marriage. They may interest you.

Thanks,

Brittany

The greatest want of the world is the want of menโ€”men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. – Ellen G. White

Resources

Books
“This Momentary Marriage” by John Piper
“Letters to Young Lovers” by Ellen G. White
“Waiting and Dating” by Dr. Myles Munroe

Sermons
Boy Meets Girl Message Series by Louie Giglio
Lionhearted and Lamblike: The Christian Husband as Head, Part 1 by John Piper
Lionhearted and Lamblike: The Christian Husband as Head, Part 2 by John Piper
The Incredible Worth of a Woman by Mark Bickle

Articles and videos
You Never Marry The Right Person
The Story of Ian and Larissa

Getting Desperate

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? – Psalm 42:1, 2 KJV

Hello friends. I haven’t blogged in a while and I wanted to sort of share some things that have been on my heart. This entire summer, I have been learning about what it means to truly seek God. For many years, I used phrases like “seeking Him,” “pursuing Him,” and “chasing after Him” all while not even lifting open the front cover of my Bible or praying regularly. I felt because I was reading my devotional every few days, whispering a quick prayer while half sleep and volunteering with ministries, that I must be pursuing Him. After all, that’s all there is to this Christian thing, right? Well, I’m learning now that I had no idea who He was because I wasn’t desperate for Him…

I think that many of us have a very poor understanding of what it means to pursue God. Earlier this summer, I read an amazing book called The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer, which I highly recommend. In the book, Tozer talks about how we don’t follow hard after Christ. He suggests that God is one who feels, loves, wants to communicate and that He will communicate with us. But the issue is that pursuing Him with fervor is not something that many of us are interested in. He says,

I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.

I completely agree with Tozer. The Psalmist says “as the hart (or deer) panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee.” My pastor preached on this a few weeks ago and painted an amazing picture of a panting deer. The definition of the word pant in this context is “to breathe quickly, spasmodically or in a labored manner” or “to long eagerly; yearn.” If I remember correctly, he told us to picture a deer that has been running hard and has been searching for water. You see, deer don’t have sweat glands so when they run and their bodies heat up, they breathe faster and become desperate for water. It’s the only way that they can get quick relief from the extreme heat in their bodies.

When was the last time your soul panted after Christ? Have you ever wanted to encounter Christ more than you wanted anything else in the world, even more than your next breath?

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Sometimes I wonder about the body of Christ, including myself. At times, I know I’d rather talk to my best friend for hours than pray for one. I could encounter the lover of my soul, but I’d rather watch TV. What’s even more pathetic is the fact that I’ve probably panted for cute shoes and money more than I have over Christ. Can you relate?

What is with us? Why are we so willing to chase, pursue, seek and work so hard for things that are so insignificant? Now, don’t get me wrong, our friends, family, and other people are always important. We should love as Christ loved. Education, work, responsibilities, etc are also very important. But when we spazz out if we miss our favorite tv show on Thursday night but not when we miss out on time with Christ, we have a problem. Priorities.

Yesterday, I had a talk with my dear friend Gabrielle and while discussing this matter, we came to the conclusion that we, the body of Christ, have to become extremely desperate and thirsty for Christ if we really want to see Him move! Like Tozer said, complacency kills! We have at times been so caught up in the church culture, our own agendas, our own limits on what we’ll give God and so many other things that completely distract us from truly seeking and pursuing God. I HATE this! It drives me crazy because God wants to change us, do even greater works in us than He did through Jesus and use us to spread His love to the ends of the Earth but we don’t want Him. He is literally waiting to be wanted by many of us. Why don’t we want Him? Have we really gotten drunk on the pleasures of the world to the point where we aren’t interested in the Bridegroom? Or is it that we’re so complacent and lukewarm in our “I’ll squeeze Jesus in where I get time” lifestyle that we have no desire for Him? Or perhaps, we are apart of the “I just like church because there’s good music and fine men” group who comes to browse but never purchase? Don’t even let me get on the “I don’t like this kind of music so I’m not worshipping” group! *regains composure* How did this happen? How did lukewarm Christianity completely over take us? How did we become so content offering Almighty God the leftovers of our time, devotion, love and life instead of what was first?

Satan loves a lukewarm Christian. He loves when we live our lives without pursuing God. As long as we never come to a full understanding of who Christ is or dedicate our lives to Him fully, satan knows that we’ll be powerless and completely subject to everything he throws at us…even the smallest of snares.

My prayer for all of us (self-included) is that we become completely desperate for Christ. That He becomes the place where we find joy, peace, love, comfort and shelter. Also, that we become so madly in love with Him that we would rather pursue Him than anything of this world.

We’ve got to get serious about falling in love with Jesus and following hard after Him every single day. Jesus over everything. NOTHING is more important.

Until next time,

Brittany

How Deeply I Need You – Shekinah Glory