Coffee Shop Talk: Travel Spots, Testimonies, and How We Love

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

[box_light]Double ed. note: Thanks for your patience. We’re on the 2012 Quarterlife Ultimate #RoadTrip12 and we got a little carried away yesterday. Enjoy the Friday version of Coffee Shop Talk![/box_light]

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The Quarterlife Ultimate #RoadTrip12 is happening right now. Name one place in the United States you’d like to be TODAY.

If I could be anywhere today, I’d love to be on a beach in Florida or roaming the streets of Chicago. Both, I would have to say are like second homes to me. If I were to choose somewhere that I have never been, then my choice would probably be Nashville. My cousin goes to school there and says I would absolutely adore downtown Nashville–––my fear is that I would never leave!

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What’s the most powerful piece of your testimony?

I don’t know if I could pinpoint the most powerful piece of my testimony because honestly, my testimony really has nothing to do with me. If I had to say something, the most powerful piece of my testimony isn’t what… but who. God & His grace. The only reason I am here and not completely falling apart in this world is because of Him. Every detail of my story was woven and stitched together by God–––ultimate highs and the extreme lows–––all now used specifically by Him and for Him.

“By the blood of The Lamb and the words of our testimony, we will overcome.” [Desperation Band]

God knows the power that our stories hold. But only by the blood of Christ. Without the cross, our stories are just that–––stories. But when they are drenched in the grace and mercy of Jesus there is power. The most power.

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How do we love people better as a Christian community?

As a Christian community I think we all need to get on the same page.

So often you’ll hear, “I just don’t feel called to that.” And that’s often times referencing things like serving food to the homeless, volunteering at a fundraiser, donating money or items to those in need; the list goes on and on. Whatever the case may be, we are limiting how God wants us to love people. We put restrictions on who is worthy of our love and if we feel “called” to love them.

God tells us that the greatest commands are to love Him & love His people (personal paraphrase from Luke 10:27). Whether we would like to admit it our not–––reality check–––we are called to such things. Are they our big dreams & passions? Maybe, maybe not… and that’s okay, really.

We love and are the hands and feet of Jesus because He has commanded us to be His hands and feet. The Christian community is sorely lacking in this truth. We are so inwardly focused on having the best dramas, lights, music, or sermon series, that we forget about the sick and dying world–––and they’re right outside our doors. [I’m talking to myself as well in all of this.] The community as a whole needs a nice jolt to the heart. It’s time we allowed God to rub the paddles together and yell out “CLEAR!” and shock us back into what life is supposed to be: true living that is centered around Kingdom loving.

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until our next chat,

B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]

Coffee Shop Talk: When God is Missing, Video Games, and Chick-fil-A

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

[box_light]Double ed. note: Thanks for your patience. We’re on the 2012 Quarterlife Ultimate #RoadTrip12 and we got a little carried away yesterday. Enjoy the Friday version of Coffee Shop Talk![/box_light]

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What do you do when it seems like God is missing?

I wish I had a step by step answer for this question. Honestly, God’s grace saves me every time it seems like He is missing. A lot of times when I feel this way in my life, I tend to shut down. I am thankful I have a group of friends that won’t let me push back and completely give up. They fight for me and give me the kick in the butt I need to fight for myself.

Prayer definitely helps. Most times I can’t say much more than, “God–––I just need to feel you. I need more of You.” I praise Him that He is a God who draws near to us when we draw near to Him. I just need to take a step in His direction and He will come running.

A lot of times, I have to push myself. I force myself to show up at church, to pray, to worship, to read the Word. And those are all great things, but can we all get honest with ourselves for a hot second? We have all most likely gone through seasons when walking away seemed a lot easier and more appealing than fighting for someone who seemed to be missing. BUT God in His goodness and grace promises that NOTHING can take me from His hand. Not even my stubborn, selfish, lazy self. I have to press on and continue to be around people who will keep me accountable; people who genuinely love me and will listen without judgement but will also be the voice of reason I so often need.

Sitting in the silence and just getting desperate for God to move and break through helps. So often we run away. We search through life for a break or just break down. We need to seek the break through. God is waiting and constantly fighting for us. Jesus fights for me everyday. He fought for me all the way to the Cross and didn’t stop there. He fought death and won for me. Am I going to fight for Him?

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Do women really hate that men play video games?

I definitely cannot speak for all women on this because there are some hardcore “gamers” out there that represent for the female race, [Power on girls! *fist pump*] but if we were to generalize, I would have to say that it’s a love/hate relationship. It’s not that we hate that you play video games; we just don’t really want to hear about it.

It’s a lot like how men don’t like sitting around listening to our problems and our friends’ problems and the friends of our friends’ problems and so on. I can’t really say I know a lot of women (I don’t think I could even name three), who genuinely care what level you’re on in Halo or what guy in your Xbox chat time thing was talking trash (clearly, I don’t know the lingo).

It’s one of those things–––go ahead and play. Burn off steam. Have time with the guys. Go nuts. We ask for one simple thing: pause it when we talk to you. We will work on giving you your time and respecting the game, but when we are trying to talk just pause it and acknowledge our presence to indicate that you see us and hear us.

Also: every so often, ask us to play. We will most likely say ‘no’, but once in a blue moon, we will feel adventurous and say ‘yes’. And then ask you to show us how to move the head and body of the little blue guys at the same time while moving forward, while also pressing all the buttons to make the weapons appear and reappear. Seriously. That’s hard stuff right there.

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What’s your opinion on the Chick-fil-A controversy?

To be completely honest, if you were to ask me about 30 minutes ago what this was all about, I would have said “it’s something about chicken sandwiches and gay marriage.” I just finished reading a few articles to try and figure out what all the commotion is about and honestly–––it’s all completely heart breaking to me.

On one side, there is a man who is trying to be a light and a godly leader in this society, living his life based upon biblical truths and on the other side, there are gay men and women who are feeling broken down by both the company and the customers over comments made and implied (whether they happen to work for Chick-fil-A or not). In every article I read, it is clear to see that there are so many little battles that are being brought up in one major argument, even though they all need to be addressed separately.

I am proud of a fellow brother for standing behind the Word of God and living in a way that is honoring to the covenant of marriage and how God has intended it to be. In the process of how this issue has been addressed, though, so many people are being broken down and pushed further from the Truth. The world we live in today will never understand why we can’t just see and edify them in their “love” for each other and the choices they make.

We are living in a time when sin is thrown in the face of Christians and we are expected to accept it. No where does God tell us to accept the sin… but we are to LOVE His people. We need to love them as He loves them. See them as souls to be won for the Kingdom, not homosexuals to be converted. This whole thing has been blown out of proportion by both sides. I can’t really say I have a strong opinion on this alone. I have strong opinions on a lot of the smaller battles trying to be fought, but those are for another time.

All I can say is I have no problem eating an order of waffle fries no matter who serves them to me.

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until our next chat,

B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]

Coffee Shop Talk: Engagements, Hearts for Worship, and Loving Others

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

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She wants a long engagement, I want a short engagement. Which is better?

I think this all comes down to personal preference and the reasoning behind each. Whether your engagement is long or short it’s really up to you; it’s all about compromise.

Now, for me personally, anything longer than six months is a bit ridiculous. But, that being said, I know I’m a control freak who can plan a party in days–––so I don’t really need all that long to plan a wedding. Really, that’s the only reason I see having a long engagement. Perhaps you propose in June but she wants a June wedding; clearly you’ll have to wait a year (unless you’ve decided that an old man dressed like Elvis at some drive-thru is sufficient… then by all means)! Otherwise, long engagement wins.

Please don’t be that couple who is engaged for years and years. Just get married already or don’t propose!

Once you’ve decided that you liked it so you put a ring on it, [Beyonce is my jam!] you BOTH should be ready to say “I do” that very second. If you’re not, don’t ask! Ladies, don’t say yes! If you’re at a crossroads and are trying to decide what is best for the two of you–––talk over why each of you wants the length of engagement that you do. Talk about the pros and cons of each and then put it to prayer. God will open doors for you to walk through and close those that you need to steer clear from. Be mindful in all things to pray without ceasing. Especially in your marriage. It starts even now with the engagement.

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What helps you prepare your heart for worship?

Prayer.

Life is a mess most of the time. It’s full of joy and heartache all in one fell swoop. I don’t want my worship to be that way. Worship isn’t about me anyway. I think a lot of us get that confused.

We hear things like, “Oh man worship was great tonight! I felt so moved and I felt just on fire. I loved that song!” Or we will hear, “I just couldn’t get into it. The songs were lame, the beat was too slow, did you heart that guy’s voice? Can you say tone deaf?” [I’ll admit now–––I am just as much at fault for saying these things a time or two.] Worship isn’t about any of it. It’s all about God.

It’s our time to stop all that is going on around and in us and just say, “God, You are Faithful. You are Good. You are Holy.” Praying these truths about the character of God and telling Him all of these things is the best way to silence the white noise and just be with Him. It reminds my own heart and mind who I serve and why I even worship in the first place. Worship has nothing to do with my emotions and how I feel. Whether I am heartbroken, overflowing with joy, crippled by grief or crying from complete happiness, God deserves my worship because He is still God and I am not. Praying the whole way to church or even just those few seconds before service starts helps align my heart a little more with His and prepares me to give all I can to Him. He deserves nothing less.

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What do you do when you find it hard to love [or even tolerate] others?

[Ed. note: A certain “B” will be switching out this note for content later. She just plain forgot… so please don’t stone her!]

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Okay, okay! I FINALLY got to a place with internet! [Yes, some places are still in the dark ages–go figure!] Thank you so much for being patient everyone!

I don’t want to sound repetitive, but I pray. I had [and still do have] people in my life that would drive me up a wall and legitimately make my skin crawl when I would see them walk into a room. It went on for years. I felt justified in my anger and my disgust. My own selfish desires were to stay comfortable; let them fall through the cracks in my life because it’s easier to have them there than in my face. Then, as usual, God slapped me upside the head and the Holy Spirit convicted me— hard. He posed the question in my mind and it was something to this affect-

 

“Brittany, are you really going to let this keep you from loving MY child? Is their soul not worth more to you than your own comfortability?” 

 

Oh, God I am so sorry. Who am I before you, Lord, that I would idly stand by watching the ones You love so desperately, never encounter Your love through me? Jesus tells us that the greatest commandments are to the love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. [paraphrased Luke 10:27] It comes down to those two simple Truths.

 

Love God. Love people. 

 

Pray that God would give you eyes to see the people you find hardest to love as He sees them. Pray for a new heart that feels compassion and grace for those who irritate you. We are all struggling and trying to find our way through this life. We need to come together in the love of Christ and reach out our hands to the broken world around us. Prayer is an essential part to our faith and our daily lives. God wants us to fight for the things of His heart. He is in the business of loving people. We better get on board and start living lives that show we love His people—no matter what. Our love can’t be based on our own comforts and on who we think deserves it. I never deserve the love of God-but I praise Him that His love isn’t conditional. He will ALWAYS love me. I’m called to love the same way.

until our next chat,

B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]

Coffee Shop Talk: Serving Others, Missionary Dating, and Being Equally Yoked

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

[box_light]Double ed. note: Thanks for your patience and enjoy the Friday version of Coffee Shop Talk![/box_light]

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What does it mean to you to serve others?

Serving others can look so many different ways. It could be helping out with projects or helping clean up… maybe organizing events (etc. etc.). For me, personally, defining what serving others is is simple.

Love them.

If I am focused on loving others the way Christ loves them, I will want to give my time, my talents, my money, my abilities to serve them. It’s going to look different for every person, but one thing that should look the same is love. God is love and He’s the whole reason why we serve.

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What are you thoughts on “missionary” dating?

First, for those of you who were just as confused by this question as I was when I first read it–––let me clarify. This question is asking what my thoughts are on dating someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus with the intention of trying to bring them to salvation. Now, please don’t take this as the “be all, end all” of answers. I’m not God and He can do whatever He likes and can use whatever and whoever He wants to bring people to Him. Could that be through a relationship? Definitely. With that being said, be very, very careful.

In every relationship, I would encourage you to enter into serious prayer first, seeking the heart and will of God before doing anything. My thoughts, however, are this:

Do not date people who do not love the Lord.

If you are a God-fearing man [or woman] and you are seeking the face of God and desiring the things of Him–––wouldn’t you want to be with someone who is seeking the same things? If you want to grow and dream God-sized dreams and see His Kingdom come in this generation alongside a woman [or man] in a relationship, don’t you want them to love God too? God is everything to me and the most important person in my life. I don’t understand how I could date someone who doesn’t love Him too. [I don’t want to get ahead of myself though. We’ll talk about that in the next question.]

The saying goes, “look at their friends and you’ll see who they are.” It’s true. We adapt and change dependent on who we surround ourselves with. “Bad company corrupts good character.” I don’t think I need to list examples or details. I’m sure you can all think of situations and instances where you’ve seen this. These two phrases carry over into the dating world too.

God can definitely use you to bring someone to Him in a relationship… so be their friend. You don’t need to date someone to save them. Only God can save them anyway. And more times than not, Satan uses those types of relationships to keep the one who loves Jesus stagnant in their faith or completely fall away from God. So please, be very very careful.

Once again, I don’t have all the answers, but I know God does. He says,

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
–2 Corinthians 6:14, ESV

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Where is the line drawn on being equally yoked?

Obviously, this question is closely related to the one above, but I think this question is dealing moreso with two Christians dating. This again, comes down to time in prayer and seeking the will of God.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
–Proverbs 27:17, NLT

As believers, when we are all seeking and actively pursuing God, we will be challenged and sharpened by the fellow believers around us doing the same. The same is true in a relationship… the key though, is the pursuit.

Are both people actively and willingly seeking more and more of God individually before they seek together? 

That is my key question to all of you. If the person you are dating doesn’t want to seek God on their own, chances are they’ll be gritting their teeth when you want to seek Him together. Both people need to be strong in who they are in Christ before they can be in a relationship. God didn’t create relationships so that we could “complete” each other. Only God can complete us. God created relationships to sharpen us and strengthen us for HIS glory and to lift HIS name high.

If your relationship isn’t doing the one thing it was designed for, chances are you are unequally yoked.

In everything guys, pray. Pray continually for wisdom and guidance when it comes to relationships. Hearts are on the line. Don’t break someone else’s and guard yours from being broken.

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until our next chat,

B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]

Coffee Shop Talk: Annoying Men, Missions, and Eating Ten Cockroaches

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

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1. What annoys you most about men?

I only get to pick one thing? Oh boy.

No–––just kidding! The thing that annoys me the most [or at least is in the top three things] is when men objectify women. I think it annoys me even more when it’s supposed “Christian” men who are being just as bad as men of the world. Women, or at least me, do NOT enjoy being whistled at or groped or spoken to crudely. We are not a dog and will not respond as one. Honestly, what do you achieve by whistling as you drive by… besides royally ticking me off?

Also, while at the gym–––please leave me alone. I really don’t think my beat red, sweaty face has the whole “come hither” look going on. Let me do my thing; you go on doing yours. Thank you.

Guys: just be a gentleman okay? Talk kindly, give compliments [that you actually mean] and look at her eyes. And maybe, just maybe… you’ll get a number or a date.

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2. Which do you prefer: short-term or long-term missions?

I am so passionate about missions that I really don’t think I can pick!! I would say for me personally, long-term. I would love to be somewhere for more than 2 weeks and really drench myself in the culture and the people. Living somewhere long term opens up doors for honest connections and more heart-to-hearts to take place. I’m not saying that can’t happen in short term trips, but there’s a sense of trust and true friendship that can form.

I think EVERYONE should go on a short-term trip once in their life. I’m not saying that you’ll leave wanting to be a full term missionary. Heck, you may never go on a trip again. But I can promise you the experience is life-altering and you will never be the same.

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3. Would you rather eat ten cockroaches every day for the rest of your life or never smell again?

Ha Ha Ha! YES! I ask people these random “would you rather” questions all the time! The more disgusting and creative, the better, I say! This is a pretty good one. After much thought, I would have to say that I’d rather eat ten cockroaches every day. In some countries they’re a delicacy right? They can’t be all that bad…

Yeah, okay. Let’s get real–––it’s flipping disgusting!

I couldn’t imagine not smelling coffee roasting, newborn babies’ heads, Christmas dinner cooking, or pumpkin spice candles. Pass the cockroaches on over, I’m digging in.

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until our next chat,

B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]

 

Coffee Shop Talk: 3 Big Fears, Questionable Media, and Being Used

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

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What are your three biggest fears?

I was going to just say dumb things like spiders and roller coasters and janky feet, but I feel like I need to be honest with myself and should talk about three fears that truly weigh on my heart some times.

Fear #1

Three and a half years ago was the first time I was ever in a relationship that I could somewhat see moving forward. I had never dated anyone longer than 2 months at this point because by a month and a half I would already know if I could see myself marrying him. Well, long story short, we had made it to almost 4 months. This was huge for me. I never told him “I love you” and I wasn’t even sure if I did at the time. [I didn’t.] The possibilities were there, though.

And then–––out of no where–––he left for another girl. I was shattered in so many ways for so many different reasons that I won’t get into now. But, if I’m being honest–––which I want to be–––I pray through this fear more than I’d like to.

I have a fear that the next man I date [which I believe will be the man I marry] will do the exact same thing to me. He will leave me for someone he sees as more beautiful, worthy, or more godly. I know how silly and insecure it is to fear this… and I believe with all my heart that it won’t happen if the man I am with (and myself) are constantly seeking to live in the will of God. Even so, it cripples me at times when I imagine one day waking up and he tells me he wants someone else. Just like three and a half years ago–––one day I woke up and he changed his mind.

Fear #2

The second fear I have is that I will never be bold enough for Christ. I want to fight each day so hard for the hearts around me; especially my family and those people who are close to me. I fail Jesus so many times. The fear in this is that at the end of my life when we all stand before Christ that the people I care most about will be standing to my right and to my left and I’ll have to listen as God says, “Get away from me. I never knew you.” It rips my heart out to think that there are so many people I know who are skating by on a “get out of hell free card” and that’s the extent of their relationship with God. And to think that they’re okay with it. I fear that I will stand in my own way and allow Satan to cripple me into silence. Each day I fight and pray against this fear because I refuse to allow the devil to steal the hearts I love.

Fear #3

One of the other fears I have is that my children [God willing if I have them] won’t love the Lord. I know it is mine and my husband’s responsibility to raise/direct our children in the way they should go, yet, I see so many godly men and women who are so on fire for Christ and their children are lost in darkness. There are so many different reasons and circumstances, but I fear that even if I do the best I can in raising my children in the Lord, they will choose to walk away.

I pray for them already. (Yes, I’m that crazy girl who prays for her nonexistent children… back off!) I pray God gives my husband and I wisdom and patience in our home with our kids. I pray that they will be men & women after God’s own heart. That they will be the David and Joshua and Esther of their generation.

These things I fear at the moments when I take my eyes of Christ… but then, I recall this to mind, and in THIS I have hope:

GOD IS STRONGER.

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Where do you draw the line concerning questionable media (like TV/music/etc)?

This is an area that causes so many issues for Christian men and women more than we even allow ourselves to see.

The things we listen to and see and pour into ourselves directly effects our thoughts and our attitudes. I’ve come to realize for myself that it directly effects my walk with the Lord. There’s such truth in the phrase that says, “You can’t be poured out for God if you’re not first filled by Him.” How can we be filled by Him if we are already filling ourselves with the things of the world?

God has been laying onto my heart how much garbage this world tries to feed us. How slowly over time, the church (as a whole) has allowed these lies to slowly creep into our hearts and we don’t even realize it. We live as Christians and Christ followers that try to honor God in all we do, yet we are filling our ears and eyes with things that completely contradict it. If music curses or uses the Lord’s name in vain or is sexually suggestive, why listen to it? Is it really worth compromising the honor of the Lord for a song with a few good beats and catchy melody?

“And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”
–James 3:10

Movies and TV crossed the “honorable” line a LONG time ago. Take a second and think back to the 90’s with me. The movies that were rated R then are movies that are a “mild” PG-13 movie now.

The conviction the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart over censoring this area of my life has been heart wrenching. I have allowed the world to taint my standards. The world has convinced me that somehow I need to be okay with them taking the name of the God I love and serve and say it so flippantly. I can’t hear those words or phrases anymore without my skin turning.

If I know watching movies filled with sex scenes and swearing are going to cloud my judgement and my heart and cause me to stumble–––I have to avoid them. I still listen to secular music and watch TV and movies, but I’m much more conscious of the choices I make.

I won’t write this and tell you to only listen to Jesus Culture and Hillsong and only watch Veggie Tales. That’s extreme and ridiculous. At the end of the day, we all need to stop and examine our hearts and what we are filling it with. We need to start being a generation that doesn’t tolerate the dishonorable things that are filling the media.

Bonus: I want to just encourage all of you to pray over this. Allow the Spirit to move in you and show you areas that may need to be refined and pruned in your life.

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I’ve had a lot of sexual sin in the past and at times feel “too far gone.” Can God really use me?

Absolutely.

That feeling of being “too far gone” is Satan and his lies. God’s hand stretches farther than any distance. We are never too far to be out of God’s reach. In the Bible, God uses “the least of these” time and time again to accomplish His work. He specifically chooses people that you wouldn’t expect to accomplish His plan for His glory.

Think of Rahab. She was a prostitute. She was continually involved in sexual sin and yet God used her. Rahab hid the spies that Joshua had sent into scout the land of Jericho. She not only risked her own life by lying to the king, but she also risked the lives of her entire family. She knew that the God those men served was the One True God and that the Israelites would take over the land.

“I know the Lord has given you this land…For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens and the earth below.”
–Joshua 2:9,11

Not only did God use Rahab to further His plan for His chosen people, but God also blessed Rahab. Rahab would be in the direct line of Jesus Christ. Rahab was the mother of Boaz, who was the father of Obed, who was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of king David; whose line Christ would come. (Matthew 1:5) Rahab had every reason to feel like God could never use her or love her because of her past sin. God not only showed His power in how He used Rahab, but through the blessing He poured upon her and her family, God showed Rahab His love for her.

God loves us. He is jealous for us and our hearts more than we can even fathom or imagine. We are NEVER too far gone to be used by the Lord. His power and love runs so much deeper than any of our mistakes. Paul says it perfectly in Ephesians 3. We can feel like the worst of sinners, yet God is greater and His grace cannot be contained or bound. Nothing I say will ever matter or convince you of this truth… so I just want to close with this:

[box_light]By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.

Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone[a] this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.

10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.

12 Because of Christ and our faith in him,[b] we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. 13 So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.

Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[c] 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[d] 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

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(Ephesians 3:17-21, NLT; emphasis added)

until our next chat,

B.

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Coffee Shop Talk: Women Pursuing Men and Men Pursuing Two Women

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

[divider]

How far should a woman go in pursuing a man?

Oh, how this question gets me riled up. About a year and a half ago, a sister and I got to talking about the things we were seeing at the church we were attending at the time. It was a 18-2o somethings age range, and the sight was heartbreaking. There were so many sisters throwing themselves before the men around us. Going out of their way to make it known they were single, and they were looking. They would initiate the texting every single time and call incessantly. They would try planning hang outs and dates. A few even told me, “I know he said I wasn’t the one, but he’s changed a lot and so have I, so I really think it could work now.”

My rage-o-meter was sky high.

I actually wrote a blog post back then to the women I’m describing and I figured I would just post that below. I think it’s clear from my previous writing that I do not feel a woman should go very far at all in pursuing a man. Yes, women need to show enough interest so that the man knows he is correct in pursuing her and asking her out. The reason I share what I wrote before is because so many brothers in Christ have told me how easily distracted they are from the heart and will of God, when a woman [attractive or not] pursues them.

In one situation [I’m referring back to the girl who said things were different and disregarded his statement that she wasn’t the one] she began falling back into her old habits of flirting and seeking him out and monopolizing his attention. He went along with it. He knew what God had told him about her, and knew he needed to guard his own heart and help her guard hers by keeping distance between them. But, he was distracted. Too distracted by the “thrill” of it all, that he didn’t even see how he was being disobedient to God. How he wasn’t living up to his call as a godly man, or as a sister in Christ’s future husband. It was heartbreaking to see.

Eventually, a brother brought to attention what he was doing and kept him accountable. But women–––we need to stop!

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[Previous post]

Stop distracting the men of God.

Stop longing and pursuing their hearts. As women of God we are designed to be sought after, to be wanted, to be cherished. We are designed to care for, nurture and love others. Yet when we begin to pursue the heart of a man, we are leaving the heart of the Father. We have taken our eyes off of Christ, off of His heart, and His love for us. I don’t understand why we are wired to want relationships so desperately… but a small reason I do understand is that this want for a man should be magnified in our desperation for God. 

Wait for a godly man. Wait for the man that pursues your heart just as Christ pursues the church, His bride. “Just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy…” [Ephesians 5:25,26] It’s not about us pursuing him. God didn’t design us this way. He tells us that husbands will pursue, and protect, and fight for their wives. That we will become “one flesh.”

JUST WAIT.

Patiently wait for him, while actively pursuing God. Don’t lose sight of the only heart we should be seeking after. Do you not see when we actively pursue the heart of a man how our focus has shifted?

“Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such things have no place among God’s people.”
(Ephesians 5:3) 

Why are godly women becoming greedy after a godly man’s heart? Why are we allowing the lust and impurity to pollute our hearts and minds? Is it not enough to be encouraged through fellowship? Is it that difficult to look at a man of God and be so proud of the work God is doing in him and to simply encourage him without an agenda?

You are lusting after another sister in Christ’s husband.

A man that God has designed specifically for one heart–––and because you can’t be patient enough to trust God and His design and His timing, you are tainting what is meant for someone else. What is almost even more heartbreaking is that you’re hurting a fellow brother’s heart and distracting him from growing into the leader and spiritual warrior God so desires for him. You are twisting your own love story into something it shouldn’t be. You are not the pursuer, not a manipulator or deceiver to gain attention and love. If you are, RUN! Run so quickly in the other direction, because those things come only from one person–––the father of lies himself.

Brothers and sisters: Pray God would remove the veil that Satan has cast over your heart. The lies of making you think you have to seek a man’s heart in order for your love story to be fulfilled or that men–––you don’t need to step up and pursue a woman’s heart or help her guard it by being obedient to God in your actions.

How far from the truth! Ladies, a good godly man that you would WANT and DESERVE to be with, will honor and respect you for how you pursue the heart of God first, and are active in being obedient to that. Men, don’t fall for the women who make it easy. Who give a pretty smile and bat of their eye lashes and distract you. If a woman isn’t putting YOUR ministry and calling before her own desires, she isn’t the one for you. She will show you she’s interested, but fellas… the rest is up to you.

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There are two great Christian girls–––both friends and both dateable. Can I pursue both?

I think the first thing we need to look at for this question specifically is that you’re FRIENDS with both of these girls. This changes the situation completely. I know there are so many different scenarios you could throw at me, but for the sake of arguing, we’re going to assume that you are in active friendships with both of these girls (whether they are friends or not doesn’t matter).

It is definitely NOT okay to pursue both. Like I said in the question above, if you are thinking of pursuing a godly woman, then clearly she has shown some sort of interest in you. In this case, both have shown some form of interest if you are thinking of taking things to the next step. You WILL ruin both friendships if you do this. If you have taken the time to pray and seek God’s will over these two friends, I believe He will speak clearly enough to tell you “yes” or “no” to either one (or maybe even both girls). I would definitely say if you do decided to pursue one of these girls, you need to talk to the other.

And be honest.

Will the conversation be hard? Possibly even awkward? A thousand times yes. But women will respect your honesty and your courage in being up front with them and helping them guard their heart.

We don’t want to waste a guy’s time anymore than we want them to waste ours. In the process of letting her know where she stands with you, you have the opportunity to keep a friendship intact while pursuing the other girl. But you have to be honest. Keep all people in the loop. If you’re even the slightest bit unsure that if you pursue one of these women and you may change your mind and realize she isn’t for you–––don’t even go there. You’ll for sure lose her as a friend and the other will see what’s going on and most likely ditch you too.

Be a gentlemen. Don’t go after two girls at once.

Especially not two of your friends. It’s just trashy, really. Am I allowed to call it skanky? [Ed. note: Sure!] We’ll see if the editor leaves this in here.

Men: Boys mess with girls’ hearts and are fickle. We aren’t wanting to be pursued by boys. We left high school dating behind for a reason. Get honest, step up, and be real with your feelings.

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[Ed. note: Question three was edited for time, as the article word count was nearing 2200 total words. You can catch B’s three biggest fears in next week’s Coffee Shop Talk.]

[divider]

until our next chat,

B.

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Coffee Shop Talk: Non-Christian Men, Standing for Truth, and Total Darkness

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

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Why do Christian women react to the behaviors of men?

This is a very vague question so I’ll try and hone in on a certain idea to elaborate upon:

I think Christian women react to the behavior of ungodly men because we are “fixers.” We hold men to this ridiculous standard that we set up in our minds [you can thank romantic comedies for these thoughts] that you will all act like the fictional hero we see on screen. The men who always say the right thing at just the right time…

HELLO! It’s scripted!

Yet, there we go again, believing that men will step up and do all these things. We root for the bad guy who draws us in and then hope that we can change him. “He’s different with me.” is the sad excuse we feed our friends and family for why we stay with the jerk. And yet, we are appalled when worldly men don’t change and behave in the exact opposite way we are hoping them to go.

We stick around for the small moments of break through we see; and blind ourselves to the behavior that should be signaling us to RUN!

Christian women fall into the trap of believing that being in relationships with ungodly men is our godly duty to bring them to pray the prayer of salvation. I know this question could be taken so many different ways. I just felt pulled to write a little about this.

[divider]

What does it mean to have a generation of men standing for truth?

First, and foremost, I pray continually that this will ring true of the men in our generation.

What does this mean? It means that we would have men stepping up and out for the cause of Christ. Men who threw off the godlessness of the world and all that it tries to tell them to be. We would have men taking the lead in purity. Living in such a way that is truly honorable in a generation that is so lost and far from it. Men who actively seek the heart of the Father over the desires of their flesh are men who stand for Truth. The brothers I have surrounding me, I am so proud to say, are men who stand for truth. They are amazing examples of what this means and looks like.

They are men like Daniel. Drenching themselves in the Word and in prayer. The faith and obedience they have like Abraham. Even when they don’t understand what God is calling them to or even if it requires sacrifice–––they are obedient. Men like Joseph. True visionaries for this Kingdom and all the different avenues God can use our gifts. Men that stand for truth stand for Christ and live lives that reflect Him. Like David, they are men after God’s own heart and His desires for them.

Something I think a generation of men standing for truth will be identified by is courage. More than anything else, it takes courage to stand against the world. Men like Joshua. Young men leading the way into battle and taking a stand for God.

“This is my command–––Be strong and very courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

–Joshua 1:9

[divider]

What do you do when you’re far from God?

I absolutely hate those moments in my life.

I look back at the times I let Satan, my selfish desires and laziness slowly pull me further and further from God. Yet, at the very same time these are some of the greatest moments in my walk with Him. My faith and relationship with the Father are deepened and strengthened through the days spent wandering in the desert. I wish I could say that I knew how to pull myself out of the pits when I’m lost and without direction. I sincerely hope and pray that those of you reading this don’t struggle to push through the dark and numb stages of life as difficultly as I do. The moments when I’m far from God I feel like I just want to shut down.

It is actually easier to just stop caring, to stop fighting, and let Satan pull me into the pit and allow my self pity to swallow me whole.

The truths of God and His love are the lighthouse that pull me through the dark.

Even when the last thing I want to do is pray–––or read the Word–––or worship, I make myself. I press in. And I praise the Lord that He is faithful to me even when I am unfaithful to Him. The moments I must completely break His heart by allowing defeat to over take me–––He still comes running when I call. He still carries me when my weak little legs give out. My fickle heart needs His love constantly beating and propelling me forward.

I’m a talker too. Well, generally. Unless I’m very, very, very, upset–––I’ll talk it out with someone. I have a close knit group of brothers and sisters that I can sit down and pour out to. They keep me pointed on Christ and make me see when I’m allowing Satan to blind me and when I’m allowing my selfish desires to keep me from moving forward. I am so blessed by them.

“If we are unfaithful He will remain faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.”

–2 Timothy 2:13

[divider]

until our next chat,

B.

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Coffee Shop Talk: Priorities, Spiritual Valleys, and Dreams

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

[divider]

What are the priorities of a twenty-something Christian woman?

Oh my, oh my. This one stumped me a little bit.

Every individual is different and every twenty-something woman is going to be at different walks in their earthly and spiritual life. Are they actively seeking God’s will? Are they stagnant in their walk? These are two HUGE factors when seeing where priorities lie. So, with that being said, I choose to answer this question based on the women that are in my own life and what I see to be the recurring priorities among us all.

We will be a bit selfish at this stage in the game. Women of this age generally are working a full time job, saving their money for future plans whether that be for travel or a home or car. We make time with our friends and fellowshipping with other women a priority. The women we spend time with may be from our work place, home church, or friends we’ve had forever. We know we need to vent.

Women need other women to listen and give affirming nods that, “Yes, it is truly terrible no one acknowledged ______ about you!” We are working our way through this life as independent, God fearing women and praying we don’t fall on our face in front of you good looking men. We generally make our friends, our job, and our family priorities.

If we are in a relationship then yes, that most likely will take the majority of our time. This is the stage of the game when dating becomes serious and we are NOT looking at just dating the next guy after the next. We are ready for commitment and “The One.” We will make a relationship a priority, but not dating. Casual dating is for chumps.

Twenty-something year old women are in the stage of “preparation.” We are allowing God to shape us and mold us into the women He would desire… to be the women He has designed us to be for our specific calling. He is preparing our hearts and minds for the day we become a wife, a mother. These years of our lives are truly spent waiting on the Lord and preparing for what He has next.

[divider]

How do you deal with “the valleys” of life?

Crying ….a lot. No, I’m not saying I have melt downs in public and fall to my knees weeping; but after a long day if you were to see me in my car or in my room, you’re guaranteed water works.

I try and pray and worship my way through it. God has blessed me beyond measure and His joy is something that can’t be stolen from me, even when happiness fades. I may be sorrowful, frustrated or anxious, but I will always have joy in the Lord. I try to either drive in silence or put on worship music and sing [even when I don’t feel like it because God is worthy of worship despite my emotions.] “The valleys” always seem bigger when I’m driving and have time to contemplate them.

Prayer. It helps to pray while I drive. Out loud. I let out all of my fears and doubts and hang ups while always making sure to speak the Truth of the Word and God’s promises and faithfulness. And then that’s when I cry… a lot. I store things up too long inside of my mind, fighting back every tear so that when I finally open the gates the floods come. One solid good cry–––or three or four–––is so helpful.

Friends. The community of believers and brothers and sisters God has put around me helps me so much. Whether they just sit and allow me to ramble on at them (while they nod to show they’re following) or if they are challenging me to press into God more; they’ve got my back. They remind me of the God I love and serve and just how BIG He is and how much He loves me. The true brother/sisterhood I have is key to how God keeps me from losing my mind and crumbling in on myself when life just sucks.

Reflect. Even when I’d rather be allowing my mind to shut off and my emotions to numb out everything around me, which I will be honest, and say both of those things happen but God is gracious; I make myself reflect on all the times before. I look and see all the moments and other “valleys” God has already pulled me through. Is He not that same God today as He was then? YES! That unchanging truth is my sanity when I feel like I’m falling apart.

When the “valleys” come, the best thing to do is to focus my eyes on The One who saved me and saves me each and every day from the “valleys” that try and swallow me whole.

[divider]

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I will be twenty-eight years old. Mehhhhh. Sorry… I had a small midlife crisis just thinking about that! Anyway, I truly do not know where I will be in five years. I will be wherever God has placed me and called me, but for the sake of this article, I’ll give you my dream answer.

I would see myself married to the man God has brought me to. Furthering The Kingdom side by side through youth ministry, missions, small groups, and community outreach. Reaching the sick and lost for Jesus. Grabbing ahold of high schoolers’ lives and seeing how the Gospel and Jesus transforms them. Taking those changed students and then going and reaching the community. I see myself with one child born, possibly another on the way. [I’m praying for boy-girl-boy, so if you could all pray for that too I’d appreciate it.] I would be planning future mission trips for the high school students (possibly even adults) and connecting with missionaries around the world with us to partner with as a youth group.

In five years, I’ll still most likely be in school. Slowly, but surely, getting my degree in Biblical Studies and perhaps even looking into a Master’s program (GASP!). Along with school, youth ministry, missions, and married life, the big dream I pray to see come to fruition is the prayer room. God laid this vision on my heart almost two years ago. I believe with all the I am it will happen and this will be a HUGE part of my ministry. He has shown me details of the room and what it looks like and how it will run. He has even given me the name for it too!

I will open a prayer room that will be available 24 hours, everyday. My heart’s passion is prayer and fellowship. I long for the days to go into the prayer room and put on a pot of coffee or cook a meal and share it with whoever may be there. Hearing their story. Talking about how their heart breaks. Crying with those who mourn and rejoicing with those full of joy. Praying over people for all kinds of different needs. AHHH!!! My heart races as I type all of this out. To have a place where the youth can come and seek the Lord and I can pray with them (and for them). A quiet place for adults to step away from the demands of their days and find peace in the Lord. I pray that in five years this will come to fruition.

I have big dreams for myself and my future. I know God has even bigger dreams for me. In five years, I see myself living out these dreams and grabbing the vision for the new dreams God will lay ahead of me.

until our next chat,
B.

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Coffee Shop Talk: Sex, Struggles, and Temptations

[box_light]Ed. note: This is B. She’s our weekly Q&A writer and will be answering questions from a female perspective (naturally). You can find her subsection under “Faith.” Do you have a question or comment? Send it to us on FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_light]

[divider]

Do women have problems with sexual temptation like men do?

This question could be answered with one single word…

ABSOLUTELY.

I don’t feel like I should have to go on any further, but I’ll give my thoughts here anyway. We are constantly told (as women) that men are visual, modest is hottest, don’t cause a brother to stumble, etc. etc.

These are all very real, and true statements. Women definitely need to understand how men operate and be mindful of such things. We also need to honor God with our bodies in how we treat them and clothe them. However, with that being said, I want to look at the other side of the coin. (Note: these are just thoughts on this topic, and I completely agree; women need to step up and help you brothers out. Continuing on…)

We have been drilled to think that it is somehow our fault that men operate that way, and at times that leaves us to feel guilty and shamed. But men, can we be honest? If an attractive woman were to wear a burlap sack over her body–––you’d still have to fight temptation wouldn’t you?

Because of this guilt… or shame… or “to do list” that women have been brought up with to help men avoid temptation (Which I will keep saying, YES! Women, help men out.) …it’s almost saying that we have no sexual bone in our body and that it’s only men that struggle. Why do women not have a voice in this matter?

I cannot speak for all women, but from conversations I’ve had I can see the double standard. Men–––most women get just as turned on when they see you in a bathing suit as when you see us in one. [speedo’s are not included in that statement. Gross.] We may not be as visual as men, but we run off feelings and memories. If we have a good time talking or hanging out with an attractive man, we then show those clips in our minds over and over and over and over and… I think you get my point.

We fantasize about what you’d say and what you’d do, how you would move in for the kiss, what we could say or do to get you to kiss us. All of these things lead to us acting out these fantasized temptations with men. (Especially when godly men won’t take charge in sexual purity and say: “No.”) We may not talk about these things openly because we are always the ones addressed to help you. Just know, women struggle with sexual temptation and sin. It might be in different ways than you, but we definitely struggle.

[divider]

What’s Your Biggest Struggle?

Oh, boy…how much time do you have?

I know I struggle daily. What those may be change every 24 hours.

I would have to say the most recurring one, however, is self-control. I mean that in two different ways. First, I struggle with self-control in the sense of avoiding or restraining from certain things. This isn’t the biggest struggle, but it’s definitely part of it.

The second way is that I am a control freak.

Yes, I need everything my way and I need to know how, when, where, and why everything happens and/or will happen. I’m a planner [to an extent] and with Jesus, I can’t be. Everyday I have to let go; it’s a day by day thing. If I don’t consciously pray each morning “God, take control of me today.” I lose sight of why I’m here. I become obsessed with MY schedule and what I need to do. I worry about future plans. I try and make the future things God has given me glimpses of come to fruition by my own doing.

I’ve learned A LOT in these past few years–––but especially in these last 365 days. Because of situations and circumstances God has brought me to, I’ve had to learn to wait, to be patient. Surrendering all control. It isn’t easy by any means. I trust that God is greater and has a far greater plan than I do. He has different ways of accomplishing them too.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
–Isaiah 55:8-9

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Do most women consider themselves a “Proverbs 31 woman?”

Proverbs 31 is the “go-to” chapter when learning how to live as a godly wife and woman. It is packed full of qualities and character traits God wants His daughters to possess. I, personally, spent a whole summer reading through this chapter and spent so much time over each and every verse.

Honestly? It was discouraging at times.

I feel most women would agree if they were to be honest with themselves. Women strive to be a “Proverbs 31” type of a gal, but I don’t think any of us would ever consider ourselves as one. We are constantly working and growing into that woman and I don’t believe we will ever achieved it until we stand before our True Bridegroom.

As godly women, we should be constantly working and growing to become the women God desires. I can look in my life and clearly point out a handful of women that I consider to be “Proverbs 31” ladies, but when you ask if we consider ourselves one though, I think you’ll always hear “no” or “I try to be.”

As women, we will be the first to admit we don’t have it all together, and we rely on God’s grace and goodness each day to teach us how to become what He desires. That’s all we can do, is give everything to God and watch how He refines us.

I will say this: encourage your sisters in Christ. Be genuine and praise them in the Lord. I don’t mean: put them on pedestals and feed egos… but just as you would take time to encourage a brother in Christ, encourage her. We won’t take it as you “putting moves” on us. (Especially you married men. “Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her.” Proverbs 31:28)

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Why is it so important to get involved at a church?

Fellowship and serving. These two things are so important in our walks of faith. Serving God uses our gifts and abilities to further the Kingdom.

I also think when we serve, we are humbled.

When we are involved in church, we are around like minded people. These are people who can encourage and strengthen us in the Lord.

We have the time to be around people of all ages and all walks of faith. Take advantage of that. Learn from the wisdom of those who are older and have lived more life. Be reminded of the “child-like faith” we all need to possess when you watch the young ones.

I also look at it this way… if I’m spending my time involved at church, that’s less time Satan has to tempt me with the things of this world. Idle hands are the devil’s play things, right?

until our next chat,
B.

[box_success]Send us your questions! You can do so via FacebookTwittervia email, or in the comments, and we’ll do our best to have her answer it in future weeks.[/box_success]