faithful is He: Jeida’s story

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! -Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4‬:‭9-10‬ ESV

Friendship is one of God’s greatest gifts. In a dog-eat-dog world, it is a blessing to have people who genuinely love you. I believe, however, that friendship has many levels. My friendship with Jeida is on a special level though: Jeida is my Person.

Continue reading “faithful is He: Jeida’s story”

His Passion and Purity part 2

For this post, Brittany and I have decided to split chapters 2-5. She’s taking 2 and 3 and I have 4-5.

MY Affections

In Chapter 4, Elisabeth Elliot really starts to dig in. Like I said in the initial post, Elisabeth has a way of speaking to matters of the heart effectively and aligning scripture properly. The title of this chapter is “Unruly Affections” and I think a quote that encapsulates this chapter most appropriately is: “As I grew into womanhood and began to learn what was in my heart I saw very clearly that, of all difficult things to rule, none were more so than my will and affections. They were unruly in the extreme….”

I think her admission is not only brave, but profound. Humans are naturally prideful people. None of us are born with a taste for humble pie. We are taught that the things we desire and want in life are good and shouldn’t be scrutinized or judged. Elliot’s admission shows that there is something awry in her desires. I agree. I can honestly admit that my desires and dreams are more rampant that ever. Things I want to do, people to meet, goals, love, blah blah blah. It can feel absolutely consuming at times. Buddhists believe that ALL desire is bad, and one must divorce oneself from Desire completely to have peace and achieve Nirvana (“a state beyond sorrows; a state of freedom from cyclic existence”) I can see how that could appealing, but ultimately it feels too easy. I’m sure it is monstrously difficult to live an ascetic lifestyle at first, but humans are very adaptable beings. The whole thing feels cowardly. “Feeling weighed down by desire? Throw it all away and be a sage!” God has made all things good, but sin taints and ruins. God is calling us to pull these unruly affections in rein, not simply because it’s responsible, but because it brings Him glory as well. It will not be easy:

Bringing anything at all into order – a messy room, a wild horse, a recalcitrant child, involves some expenditure. Time and energy at least are required.

One thing that love does it toil for the object of its devotion. How can we say we love God and not toil to bring these things into submission?

His Control

One of the chief aims of this book is showing readers how to submit their love lives to Christ. God is always in the business of redemption: people, cultures, errethang. It’s always cool to pronounce belief in God, but action follows right belief. In the book Blue Like Jazz (an absolute must read by the way) Donald Miller says “but the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something.” People think it might be absurd to think that the God of Eternity and Infinity is concerned about something as trivial as our love lives. Elisabeth remarked much later in the book “Was He interested in the plight of two college kids?” I know so. God made us all with intrinsic value and worth, and any good father is concerned about the affairs of his children, for nothing is trivial. God desires intimacy with us. God not only wants us, He also wants our desires. Since he loves us, and since love isn’t soft and passive, he wants the absolute best for us and purifies us. His love toils. The book mentions how God sifts the hearts of men. My partner Brittany mentions that this is significant. She gives a baking example to explain.

Well, I think it was significant because of the way sifting works with flour. It separates the fine and course particles. When God sifts our hearts, He’s able to see what’s really there. He sifts hearts to see the real intentions and attitudes it holds and to see where He is in it.

He sifted Abraham’s heart through Issac. Jesus sifted the heart of the young ruler through his possessions. The thing(s) we hold most dear can often became the thing through which God sifts our deceptive hearts; for “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Our abstinence doesn’t make us pure, our unyielding devotion to God does.

His Passion and Purity

This post is a guest post written by my partner for this series Jovontae. To read my post, visit his blog here.

Love and relationships is a topic that can appeal to any and everyone. There are many perspectives and ways of looking at this topic. Going even deeper, one’s worldview also influences the way one looks at love and relationships.

DISCLAIMER: I am a male. I am a virgin. I’ve never been in an official relationship. I am unabashedly christian. I believe that it is difficult, if not incomplete, to discuss and dissect love without God. So, this is the platform which I’ll be basing my stance.

There are a MYRIAD of books in christian culture that discuss this topic. Some are old, some are new. Some are old school, some are hip and trendy. Some from written from a male’s perspective, other from women. You get the idea right? From laypeople, ordained ministers to Doctors, there are hundreds of view to gather information on this topic from. There is but one book that I’ll be discussing: Passion and Purity. Mention this book in most christian circles and you’re guaranteed to elicit some response. It’s that famous.

Passion and Purity is a book written by speaker and former missionary Elisabeth Elliot. The book is half expository half auto-biography. In addition to giving insight and advice from a biblical perspective, she also recalls the process of courting and eventually marrying her college sweetheart Jim Elliot, to flesh out the things she’s explaining.

Some say the book is archaic, that it is too outdated for today’s progressive world. While I understand, I believe this book can be just as effective to a reader as when it first came out. She has a way of speaking to matters of the heart very accurately and bringing scripture to the picture. It’s a rare ability. Another complaint is that it’s just for women. I actually laugh at this postulation. While it is written by a woman, who’s describing her experience, and using stories of women who write to her, I still believe that men can, and should, read this. The example of her ex-husband Jim alone is worth reading about. I’ll be briefly explaining the first chapter.

The first chapter sets up the tone of the book. You learn about Elisabeth in college years. She describes her looks in a very quaint manner. My partner on this Blog series, Brittany, says this is key. Women are expected to care tremendously about their looks. You’ll see that, while she does mention her looks (“like most girls, I wished I were pretty, but it seemed futile to tamper much with what I had been given…) the emphasis is placed on her character and her dynamic relationship with God; which in of itself is counter-cultural. From there she describes the current state of society (“We have Sex and the Single Girl now. We have freedom. We can, in fact, ‘have it all and not get hooked.’ Women can be predators if they want to, as well as men.”). She touches on societal pressures on men: (“Men aren’t men unless they’ve proved it by seducing as many women as possible – or as many men, for we now may choose according to our ‘sexual preference’.”). To be honest my favorite quote from this chapter: “In forfeiting the sanctity by casual, nondiscriminatory ‘making out’ and ‘sleeping around,’ we forfeit something we cannot do well without. There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized. By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.” 

The last statement is a bold one. We live in a pretty hedonistic, do-as-thou-pleases society. We should never judge another on the things they decide to enjoy. Sex is good! Why not right? That’s the thing about pleasure: it is always fleeting. We’re always going to and fro to the next big thing, but it will always elude us. She says that “There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized” I can’t tell you how many “oh, that’s interesting” looks I’ve gotten whenever I mention I’m a virgin. It’s cool (to an extent) for girls to be chaste, but men are validated by their sexual prowess. Since I have none, either I’m gay, scared, or medically impaired. Neither is true. I love God. I realize that some things in life have to be sacred in order to truly enjoy them. Unpopular? Yes. Necessary? I think so. Man has a natural fascination with Mystery. If we eliminate that and make plain what is sacred, all we have left is morbidity and boring, sanitized living. Pleasure and things like that exist to lift up higher to the One from which they come from. (see Anna Stesia by Prince)

Once we see this, we are well on our way to finding the fulfillment these lonely hearts yearn for.

Introducing Passion and Purity: A Blog Series…

Good afternoon friends,

I want to take a moment to share something very exciting that has been in the works for a little while. I love to read and while going through some of my old books, I recently rediscovered the classic Christian book “Passion and Purity” by Elisabeth Elliot. I read the book for the first time about four years ago and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t understand it fully. I picked the book up about a month ago during a trip to a friend’s wedding and I was blown away by Elisabeth Elliot’s character, faith and dedication to not only her own purity, but that of her would-be husband, Jim. I decided then that the lessons in the book should be shared with as many people as possible.

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Just when I started to talk about it, one of my great Twitter followers @JaeDooks mentioned that he had read the book as well. After this, I knew that a series must happen! I’ve yet to see topics like purity, love and being obedient to God be explored from both a male and female perspective so I’m very excited to be teaming up with him on this project. Our first posts will be up on Wednesday, July 17th. My thoughts will be on Jovontae’s blog and his will be on mine. So that you don’t miss any of the action, be sure to follow both blogs by e-mail.

I hope that you’ll join us.

Brittany

When God Takes Away…

 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ – Job 1:20-21 NKJV

If you live long enough, there will be a point where God takes away something that you really love and enjoy. This could be a job, a position, a relationship, a dream or even a long time friendship. Just the thought of this can be scary, but there is no way around it. Regardless of how much you love God, things you don’t like will happen. And when loss occurs, it is very easy to become confused and sad.

I can talk about this because I was in this place just over a year ago. I was 22, one year away from college graduation, in what I thought would be my last relationship ever and loving life. But shortly after the one year point, God revealed to us that He wanted our relationship to end. When it happened, I was quietly devastated. I had never experienced being so attached to something and then having it removed from under me. But now that I look back at the situation, I realize that God was working in every single detail.

I want to share some of what I learned from my experience with loss and how to make it through that season.

1. God is sovereign. If He allowed it, there is a great reason for it.

Trusting God is not always easy. It can be downright painful. Seeing something that you loved leave is hard, but there is a point that we have to get to as believers where we decide to trust Him regardless of how we feel. Your faith in God’s plan for you cannot be controlled by your emotions. If it is, you’ll be fickle and you’ll never stand firm. We have to understand that if God allows something to happen, He knew that you could handle it. Nothing that happens to us catches Him off guard, so you have to know that you know that you know that you know that He will help you through it, that He is good and that He is for you.

2. It may not have aligned with His purpose for your life.

There are some ventures and undertakings that we jump into that may benefit us for a time, but that may not align with God’s long-term purpose and vision for our lives. We get comfortable in places when God is trying to move us to where He needs us to be. Maybe God removed it because it wouldn’t have allowed you to reach your fullest potential for Him.

3. He may be saving your from future issues or hurt.

Anytime I think about loss, I remember a testimony a church member shared once. He was serving in the military in Kuwait, and he had been praying that he would be able to return to his family soon. When the day for his scheduled return came, his officers pushed it back and told him that he wouldn’t be leaving yet. He was sad and really disappointed that he wouldn’t be back home when he thought he would be. But shortly thereafter, he was awakened with news that the plane that he wanted to be on had gone down and that people had lost their lives. Sometimes, God is literally blocking issues, pain, hurt or further loss from us by saying “no” right now.

4. He may be removing an idol from you to get closer to you.

I have learned a lot about idols through this experience, so much so that I blogged about it. I’ve realized that God hates them. He will smash them into a billion pieces if you place them where He should be. When I look back, I realize that I had placed the relationship on the altar of my praise, where God should have been. I spent most of my free time with the guy and made no personal time for loving God. The time that I had prior to the relationship quickly vanished. Although I would have said that I was living for God and many people regarded me as an outspoken Christian, God was not the object of my affections. I would have never said that I worshiped my relationship, but my actions said it for me. God is a jealous God. He will not allow us to hold onto those things that keep us from Him, because He loves us that much.

And through all of this, there is hope…

If this speaks to something that you have gone through or if you are currently going through it now, there is hope for you. My best friend Jeida shared something so great with me once. She said, “when we experience loss, we have a choice to make. We can either fill the hole that it left with more things (friends, people, stuff, etc), or we can choose to fill it with Jesus.” When I had to make this choice, I was blessed to have a God-loving friend by my side to help me make the right decision. It was during this time that Jeida would spend hours on the phone with me talking about Jesus, picking me up to go to church and small group Bible studies with her, and she would pray for me when I became sad. Her presence in my life was instrumental to my healing process. That brings me to my first piece of advice for those who are dealing with loss…

1. Surround yourself with a community of God-loving, praying, compassionate and transparent people…

God never meant for us to struggle through issues alone. Galatians 6:2 NKJV says, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” God created us to be relational people who thrive when in community. We need each other. When you suffer loss, reach out to 2 or 3 people that you can trust who will pour into you, keep your eyes stayed on Christ and just love you sacrificially. The healing process starts when you share what you’re going through. Holding things in doesn’t help. Don’t let pride or shame keep you from getting the support you need. If no one comes to mind, pray and ask God to show you who can support you. If you still have no one, please message me and I will personally pray with you. I mean this.

2. Don’t be ashamed of yourself for crying or feeling down.

Healing from loss usually doesn’t happen overnight. You will experience a wide range of emotions and feelings, but if you give those feelings to God, in time you will be okay. Know that crying or having bad feelings doesn’t mean you don’t trust God, it just means that He is still making you new.

3. Pray, read the word and journal like a madwoman (or madman) and declare God’s promises daily.

Like Jeida said, when you have a void in your life, you have to fill it with something. If you fill it with the knowledge of the love of Christ, His promises, grace, mercy and everything else that is Him, you will receive joy and peace. I poured out my heart to God through prayer and writing in my journal everyday. Some days, I wrote through tears, but I felt relieved as I shared these feelings with my journal and even now when I look back on them, I can see where God has brought me from. What a beautiful sight. Also, declare the promises of God every time you get a chance. When I was going through my toughest days, I repeated certain scriptures and reminders daily. Some of my favorites were:

God is working everything out for my good and for His glory. (this became my motto)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory;
no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. – Psalm 84:11 NKJV

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18 NIV

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1 NIV

 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. – Galatians 6:9 KJV

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 NIV

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39 ESV

Write these on your mirrors, put them on flash cards, hang them up around your room or do whatever you have to do to be reminded constantly of God’s truth concerning you.

4. Don’t jump into anything else to keep yourself distracted or try to open a door that God has closed.

A huge mistake that many people make, especially after a relationship ends, is jumping into another one to fill that void. They find another person to consume their time, share their broken heart with and try to find solace there. This is so dangerous, both for them and the person whose heart they are involving. After loss, healing must take place. If we pursue another relationship before God’s appointed time, we risk further damaging ourselves and hurting another person. Love protects and it preserves. Do not bring someone else into your life until you are emotionally available and God leads you to do so. Lastly, don’t try to open a door that God closed even if you don’t understand why He did it. Obedience doesn’t require explanations or understanding. In His time, He will reveal things to you and you will be thankful that you obeyed Him. Obedience wins.

5. Renew your mind daily. (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23)

There will be days that you wake up with the memory of what is now gone. It can consume your thoughts, but if you can daily submit your thoughts and your mind to God, you can keep those thoughts at bay and keep your mind stayed on Him. Renew your mind daily with the knowledge of Christ.

More than anything else, keep in mind that God’s love for you is unending. His goal is not to hurt you; it is to save you. Your happiness matters to Him but your salvation and growth matter more. And just like Job, God may take something away, but He will always make it worth your while. This doesn’t always mean that you get a better home or job, but it may just mean that He connects with you deeper. God didn’t give me a new relationship, but I have been brought into a deeper place with Him. He gave me more of what I needed to grow and if loss is what it took to get here, I’d go through it all again.

I pray that this blesses you!

Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning… – Job 42:12 NKJV

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