Christmas Giving & Giveaways

It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving. – Mother Teresa

Giving is one of the most beautiful parts of the Christmas season. As Karen Ehman explains in her book, there’s more than one way to give. Yes, people primarily think of gifts, but giving of one’s time is often even more valuable.

A friend shared a story how someone had decorated her tree and house for Christmas a few years ago after she had her baby, and that gift of time meant more than any present.

Are you looking for opportunities to give? Am I? Let’s not be so wrapped up in our own schedules that we miss opportunities to bless others.

To paraphrase Mother Teresa, how much love do we put into our Christmas giving? Let’s load others up with love this year.

Drum Roll, Please!

Congratulations to Jann, the winner of the Listen, Love, Repeat book pack giveaway!!

Thank you to all who commented, shared, and participated. Even if you didn’t win, Karen’s book would still make a great gift this season.

Another Giveaway – Free for All!

Today and just today, my book Captive Beneath the Bahamian Sky is available FREE in kindle version (regardless of whether you have Kindle Unlimited or not). This is the first book in my series Wings of the Dawn, a young adult Christian suspense trilogy.

Click here to download your free copy. Merry Christmas on me!

Next Week

I’m super excited to share a beautiful, biblical Christmas craft idea with you all next week. If you enjoy making items to share at Christmas, you won’t want to miss next week’s post.

Have a blessed week!

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Load others up with love this Christmas. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Free YA Christian Suspense on Kindle today – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

Book Giveaway! Listen, Love, Repeat

christmas-giveawayHow many of you find that listening and loving come naturally? Before you answer, take a quick quiz with me:

  • T/F: I always actively listen when my friends are talking with me, instead of anticipating how I’m going to respond.
  • T/F: I can remember all of the prayer requests from Sunday school class.
  • T/F: If I can remember last week’s requests, I prayed for them regularly throughout the week.
  • T/F: I make a point of being nice to the kid in class who is socially awkward and unpopular.
  • T/F: I welcomed the new student/coworker instead of racing off to my next class/meeting.

I wish I could say “true” to all of those (that apply to me), but the truth is that sometimes, I can’t. And maybe you can’t either.

Perhaps unintentionally, we become so busy with living that we’re swept up in our own little worlds and unaware of the hurts and needs of those around us.

That’s the problem Karen Ehman addresses in her book Listen, Love, Repeat. Her bottom line is that we need to be intentional in listening to and loving others.

About Listen, Love, Repeat

When I first picked up Karen’s book, I was intrigued by the sub-title: Other-centered living in a self-centered world. She talks about our “selfie-centered” culture and sets about to combat this mindset with the challenge to “live alert.”

… to become a person who thinks of others first takes great effort on our part. It requires us to live alert (18). – Ehman

She calls for Christians to cultivate sensitivity to “heart drops” or “when a person, either directly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into his or heart heart” (15). Do we pay attention when others share their interests and needs, or are we too busy to notice?

Karen builds upon the premise of Matthew 22:36-40 and outlines what she calls a Three-Step Life Plan:

  1. Love God.
  2. Love others.
  3. Love yourself.

Then, she spends the rest of the book outlining the major categories of people who cross our paths and develops ideas for how we give of ourselves to them.

She’s quick to clarify “the why” for loving people. Our motivation shouldn’t be that others notice us but that they notice our Savior.

We need to remember our why: the reason we love and serve and give thoughtful gifts and do good works. It is so that others will see Jesus. They may look at us, but we hope they see him (100). – Ehman

An ideal Christmas gift for Christian women

Are you not sure what to give your mom, sister, or friend for Christmas? I recommend Listen, Love, Repeat for godly women (and godly young women, too) who want to make a difference right where they are but maybe aren’t sure how.

Karen drives home the reality that we pass people every day who are hurting and in need of Jesus’ love. Some of them may even live in the same houses with us.

Blending the biblical with the practical, Karen offers easy recipes to share with hurting families, simple ideas for making someone’s day, and personal stories of victory and failure.

Christian women who love Jesus and lead busy lives will find this book refreshing and challenging. The beauty of Karen’s message is that we can serve God and love others right where we are.

Because Jesus wasn’t about doing big things. He was about doing the right thing. And often for him, the right thing was noticing one simple soul (19).     – Ehman

Listen, Love, Repeat is a book that will keep giving long after Christmas.

Book Pack Giveaway

I’d like for you to have a copy of this resource to use yourself or share with someone you love. It would make a great study for your small group, Bible study, or with your mom or girlfriends.

Merry Christmas early! I’m giving away one gift set, which includes:

  • (1) Copy of Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman
  • (1) Study Pack, complete with a six-session DVD and Study Guide

Four Ways to Enter

To enter, simply do one of the following: 

  • Leave a comment below. (It can be a comment about this post or something as simple as: Please enter me into your drawing.)
  • Subscribe to the Think True Thoughts newsletter.
  • Share this post on Twitter and tag me @kjhogrefe.
  • Share my Facebook post with your friends.

The winner of the random drawing will be announced on this blog next week. I hope this resource will be a blessing to you as it has been to me.

~ Kristen

Special thanks to The Blythe Daniel Agency for making this book pack giveaway possible!

 

Tweetables

Book Giveaway! Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Listen, Love, Repeat is a book that will keep giving long after Christmas. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Contentment: Truth and Lies

Fall has officially reached Florida with cooler morning temperatures and lower humidity. Break out the boots, and get ready for bonfires!

Over the weekend, I enjoyed my first smore of the season with some friends. I watched as people piled dry branches onto the bonfire. Almost instantly, flames engulfed the branches, and the radiating heat made me step farther back.

We’ve been talking about contentment here, and as I thought about the weekend, I realized that the bonfire is a perfect analogy. If we’re discontent in one area, that spark will spread to other areas of our lives.

However, the opposite is also true. Remember that song we sang as children? This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine.

Contentment can be equally contagious. If we’re grateful, we can challenge others to focus less on what they don’t have and more on what they do.

Today, we’re going to look at a few more truths about contentment that I hope will help spread hope and snuff out guilt for those who struggle in this area.

Where we find contentment

Have I mentioned lately that I love the girls in my youth group? Well, I do. Their sweet attitudes and big hearts refresh my spirit.

One high school student who follows my blog handed me a slip of paper on Wednesday with some verses about contentment she wanted to share with me. One of the verses was Acts 2:28, which paraphrases the Old Testament truth of Psalm 16:11. It spoke to this very question: What is the source of our contentment?

You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence (Acts 2:28 NKJV).

We find true joy and contentment when we live in God’s presence. And not just live as in scrape by and survive. No, live as in abundantly! After all, Jesus Himself said:

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10b).

The bottom line is that we find contentment when we make Christ our center and stay grounded in His truth. In His presence alone are fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

What contentment is not

Some of us will still face the battlegrounds of discontentment. Sometimes, these encounters leave us feeling defeated and ashamed that we grew so easily discouraged.

Satan will try to shame us into believing we’re not enough. This is a dangerous lie, because in one sense, it’s true. In and of ourselves, we always fall short.

But we aren’t the source of our sufficiency. God is. Let the words of these two verses wash over you:

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5).

And one more:

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Every time you’re tempted to give in to a defeated spirit, remember that God is always more than enough to see you through the struggles you face.

One last truth for the day

My final thought about contentment is this: Wanting something doesn’t equal discontentment. A few years back, I talked about this truth in a post called I shall not want.

Many of us may have unanswered prayers or unmet desires. If that describes you, take heart in these lines penned by R. Leighton, based on Psalm 37:4:

Delight thou in the Lord, and He shall give thee thy heart’s desire,—HIMSELF; and then surely thou shalt have all.

Live in abundance,

Kristen

 

Tweetables

Contentment: Truth and Lies – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Spread hope and snuff out guilt for those who struggle with contentment. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Wanting something doesn’t equal discontentment. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

Is Contentment Possible?

A few weeks back in youth group, we were talking about what contentment means. One of the discussion questions asked, “Do you know someone you would describe as content?”

One of my middle school girls looked at me and said, “You’re content, right?”

My words spilled out like a lukewarm apology. “Me? Well, not all the time, but I certainly try to be.”

The struggle between wanting to set an example and being transparent split me in two. In the area of contentment, I sympathize more with the language of “striving after” but not yet “attaining” that Paul uses in Philippians 3:12 to describe the Christian walk.

However, my response seemed to disappoint the teen whose expression suggested: Well, if you’re not content, how can you expect any of us to be?

I thought about the question long after youth group ended: Is true contentment possible?

The next two weeks, we’re going to wrestle with this question. Read on, and let me know your thoughts.

Contentment is possible.

I Timothy 6:6 says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” Contentment is part of sanctification, the growth process of our Christian faith. To have contentment is “gain.” We can’t gain something that’s unattainable.

I also believe contentment is possible, because our God is good. He wouldn’t dangle a worthwhile state before us and yank it away just before we could reach it.

The Apostle Paul declared in Philippians 4:11-12:

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (NKJV)

We might be tempted to think, “Easy for him to say. He was an apostle, after all.”

Let’s take a closer look at Paul’s story. I don’t think “easy” was any part of his equation.

Contentment isn’t connected to circumstances.

Remember, Paul (once called Saul) was the man whose life God radically changed. He went from persecuting the church to boldly proclaiming the gospel, even at his own peril.

2 Corinthians 11 recounts some of the trials and hardships he endured:

  • 5x – received 40 stripes minus 1
  • 3x – beaten with rods
  • 1x – stoned
  • 3x – shipwrecked

The list only grows from there. Paul continued his account:

… a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? (2 Corinthians 11:25b-29 NKJV)

Yes, this is the same man who said he learned to be content in any situation! In other words, he was able to experience contentment simultaneously with the following:

  • Weakness
  • Suffering
  • A state of want or need
  • Responsibility and cares
  • Frustration

But wait! Don’t we usually equate those things with discontentment? At least, I do.

Perhaps we’re missing the point. If contentment demanded a perfect set of circumstances, it would be impossible to attain (at least for long).

Much like joy, contentment isn’t grounded in experience. It’s grounded in an eternal perspective, possible only when we fix our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

I didn’t say contentment was easy. I just said it was possible.

Next week, we’re going to tackle another misconception about contentment, but for now, I’d like to hear from you. Do you agree or disagree that contentment is possible? Why or why not?

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Is Contentment Possible? – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Contentment isn’t grounded in experience but in an eternal perspective. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

 

Willing Hands Building Fences

Recently, my Bible study group helped build a fence for one of the ladies at church, and a motley group of us arrived early on a Saturday morning to set to work.

As I looked around, I guessed that most of us hadn’t built a fence before. Other than limited experience with a nail gun on few construction projects, I didn’t have much to offer either. But that’s what was so neat about the day. Some ended up working on the fence. Others re-screened the porch. Some helped clean or paint a mailbox.

We didn’t all need the same skills. We just needed to be willing.

The Body of Christ

In I Corinthians 12, Paul compares the body of Christ to the parts of the body. There are many members but one body. All serve differently but for one central purpose.

This truth seems obvious enough, but when we consider human nature and our tendency to exalt or desire certain skills over others, contentment can break down really fast.

That’s why the Apostle Paul resorted to hyperbole or exaggeration to make a point.

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? (I Corinthians 12:17 NKJV)

In other words, if we were all certified fence contractors, the fence might be up in record time, but the floors wouldn’t be vacuumed, and the screens might still be sagging.

What are you building?

I think the point is less what we build and more what we do with the skills and gifts God’s given us. Let’s face it: God hasn’t called all of us to be pastors, missionaries, and certified contractors. He’s called some of us to be students, teachers, businessmen, stay-at-home moms, and a myriad of other roles.

The awesome part is that He’s given us exactly what we need to serve Him right here, right now. Maybe we don’t feel especially qualified. We could make excuses about our lack of experience. We could argue that others would do a better job and that we belong on the sidelines.

Nonsense.

The question we have to ask is: Are we willing to serve God wherever He calls, with whatever skills He gives us?

If you say yes, look at your surroundings this week, and find the fence God wants you to build. It might not require a nail gun, but it will require obedience and a willing spirit.

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Willing Hands Building Fences – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Find the fence God wants you to build – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

A Lesson in Contentment

A few weeks back, I enjoyed spending time with my niece and nephews. They taught me several things:

  1. Sugar rushes are real. When you mix a nine-year-old and a Boston Creme donut, you get off-the-wall energy and contagious laughter.
  2. With a little imagination, you can reinvent board games so that any age can play.
  3. If there are two boys and one has the toy helicopter, the other will want it too—even if he has a whole box of LEGO® blocks. The toy itself isn’t the issue. The fact that the other one has it is.

The truth is that we all tend to want what we don’t have. Maybe we’ve graduated from coveting toy helicopters, but we fall short in many other ways.

  • Why can’t I be more musical like Sarah?
  • I wish I had Pete’s athletic skills.
  • If I could only be smart like Claire, I wouldn’t have to do summer school.
  • I wish I were taller, thinner, prettier, etc.

I imagine that some days, God sees us and wants to shout, Cut it out! 

Stop fighting. Stop envying. Be content. I gave each of you good gifts, so instead of wanting the ones you don’t have, start using the ones you do.

A Special Skill Set

In I Corinthians 12, Paul reminds his readers that the Holy Spirit has equipped each believer with his own skill set. The purpose is not so that we can glory in our gifts, but rather so that we can better serve each another.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:4-7 ESV)

Paul underscores this point by using the body and its parts as a metaphor. What if the ear wished it were an eye, or the hand wished it were a foot? Ridiculous, of course! Yet how ridiculous are we when wish to trade places with Justin, Katie, or Sam?

Never Say Can’t

But, Kristen, I really want to make the team this year. I’m just not as good as my peers. Are you saying I shouldn’t even try?

That’s not what I’m saying at all. Maybe you’re not as naturally athletic as someone else, but if you have a desire to play, go for it. Even if you don’t think you’ll make the team, you ought to try.

Why? Because God uses things we’re not good at to keep us humble, to make us depend on Him more, and to prove that we can do things beyond our natural capabilities in His strength.

There’s a fine line between coveting another’s talents and growing your own.

Here’s my practical, though imperfect, measuring tool:

  1. Thank God for the gifts and talents He’s given you.
  2. Recognize and praise the gifts and talents He’s given others.
  3. Attempt the desires He’s placed on your heart.
  4. Regardless of the outcome, praise Him.
  5. Celebrate others’ successes. One day, if God wills, your turn will come.

The moral I have learned is this: Don’t fight over your gifts. You’ll enjoy life more when you share them with others.

How has God uniquely gifted you for a specific task or job? What is one thing you can do this week to share the talents He’s given you with someone else? 

~ Kristen

If you didn’t have the chance last week to enter the book giveaway for Little’s Know What You Believe, I’m extending the deadline through Sunday. To enter, simply leave a comment below, or subscribe to my newsletter.

Tweetables

A Lesson in Contentment – Such Things as We Have- @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

There’s a fine line between coveting another’s talents and growing your own. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Book Giveaway – a classic that will strengthen your faith – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

 

 

Just Like Dad: Biblical Fathers Leave a Model to Follow

Did you ever go to work with Dad when you were little? I remember when my dad’s company hosted “take your child to work day.”

My dad was a chemist, which pretty much equaled superhero to an eight-year-old. He took my brothers and me to “the lab,” showed us the equipment and factory, and let us look at bacteria under a microscope. He even had his own private office. So cool.

Chemistry class killed any inklings of my own future in this field, but I remember being proud and thinking how awesome I would be if I were “just like dad.”

More often than not, little feet want to follow in dad’s footsteps. Why else does Little Tikes® make junior-sized lawn mowers and grills?

I realize every family dynamic is different, and this post won’t break down all the “but you don’t know my dad” scenarios. If that’s how you feel today, I hope you’ll keep reading. This post isn’t going to romanticize fathers (like the one that maybe you never had); it is, however, going to look at three fathers from the Bible who model qualities we as believers should want to imitate.

Keep in mind that no dad is perfect, and the dads in the Bible were certainly no exception. Most of them serve as subjects for Father’s Day sermons, typically from a critical point of view.

Let’s set those illustrations aside today and learn from what they did right.

Adam

First man. First husband. First father. No pressure there! He didn’t experience the pride and joy of fatherhood until after the Fall when Eve bore their first son Cain.

We can only imagine his heartbreak when his firstborn later murdered his second son Abel. This dad must have felt like an epic failure.

But we serve a God of second chances, and He blessed Adam with another son named Seth, through whom godly men would come.

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord. (Genesis 4:25-26 NKJV)

Adam recognized his children as gifts, appointed by God. Despite his own sin and the sin of his firstborn, he recognized God’s providence and graciousness at work.

We would do well to keep his eternal perspective and remember that God works through both tragedy and triumph.

Noah

As mankind spiraled downward and deeper into immorality, God grew disgusted with His creation—all except one. A man named Noah found grace in His sight (Genesis 6:6-8).

God determined to destroy his perverted creation and start fresh with Noah, described as a “just man” (Genesis 6:9). From a human standpoint, Noah was alone in a world that took pleasure in unrighteousness.

Noah understood how lonely a godly lifestyle can be. In addition, God tasked him with building an ark to take him and his family through a worldwide flood. To his neighbors, the job seemed absurd. Imagine their further consternation when Noah began collecting two animals of every kind and loading them onto the ark.

The ark was the first zoo, and I’m sure Noah’s neighbors enjoyed many jokes at his expense. But Noah didn’t listen to the world’s mockery. He listened to and obeyed God. As a result, he saved his family from destruction.

From Noah, we learn godliness is better than popularity and obedience to God’s plan is always best.

Abraham

If our lives unfolded like this man’s, I wonder if we’d still be faithful.

  • God commanded Abram to uproot his family and go to a destination yet unseen (Genesis 12:1). At 75 years old, Abram obeyed (Genesis 12:4).
  • God promised Abram that he would be the father of “a great nation,” even though he and his wife had no children of their own (Genesis 12:2, Genesis 15:2-5).
  • Ten years later, no baby (Genesis 16:1-3).
  • Abram and his wife Sarai took matters into their own hands and obtained a son through Sarai’s concubine Hagar. Abram was 86 when Ishmael was born (Genesis 16:16).
  • Fast forward. Abram was 99 years old when God next appeared to him and restated his covenant with him. God changed his name to Abraham, for he would be “a father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5). God also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah, for she would be a “mother of nations” (Genesis 17:15-16). The heir of promise would come from their union, not from Hagar.
  • At 100 years of age, Abraham and his wife Sarah welcomed their son Isaac into the world (Genesis 21:5).

Twenty-five years after leaving his homeland, Abraham finally saw God’s promise fulfilled. How well we would do to follow his example and walk by faith, not by sight!

Conclusion

These “first” fathers made their share of mistakes—everything from committing the first sin to fathering a child with his wife’s concubine. However, they also walked with God and believed in Him despite human odds and impossibilities.

I don’t know your dad. Maybe he isn’t in your life right now, and if that’s the case, I’m truly sorry.

Regardless, we can learn from the dads in the Bible who have gone before us and model their positive traits in our lives.

Little Tikes® may have grills and lawn mowers. Bible dads demonstrate faithfulness and perseverance. Those are qualities worth imitating.

6 Things Singles Need to Know about Marriage, Pt. 2

If you missed last week, you’ll want to look back at the first in this two-part series by Tami Myer. In these posts, she maps out a beautiful and biblical perspective on marriage for Christian singles.

Today, we pick up where we left off last time with the fourth thing singles should know about marriage.

If this post is a blessing to you, please leave a comment below-or share it with your single friends to encourage them in their walk.

***

#4. Marriage will not complete you.

Single people are not “halves” waiting for their other “halves” to join them. Two single people are two complete people. But after a man and a woman marry, God unites these two individuals as one married couple. Two people become one flesh and one team.[i]

Christ is the only One who is able to fully satisfy us. Whether we are married or single, Christ is the Lover of our souls who knows us completely, loves us unconditionally, and cares for us perfectly.

#5. Marriage is not the cure for loneliness.

Singles struggle with loneliness, but so do married people. In fact, some people say that the loneliness they experienced within marriage was more intense than the loneliness they felt when single.

Ravi Zacharias points out that the only lasting cure for loneliness is worship.

That may seem like a strange statement unless we understand that true worship is actually an expression of relationship. Worship is not a monologue of verbal praise or a one-person performance. Instead, it is a two-way relationship: we delight in knowing God, and God delights in knowing us. Genuine worship requires that we know God in our spirit (not just as facts in our brain) and in truth.[ii]

Without worship, we experience only temporary relief from loneliness through various distractions. But true worship can be a continual posture of our soul; it becomes a lifestyle. If we live in worship, then we can live free of deep loneliness.

#6. Marriage is an assignment from God.

Instead of looking for a soulmate, listen for God’s calling. Click to Tweet.

Marriage is a calling to serve another person. It is as much a calling as a missionary’s call to Africa or a pastor’s call to preach. A wife is called to minister to her husband’s needs, and a husband is called to minister to his wife’s needs.

If you marry because someone makes you happy, what will you do on the day that he or she doesn’t make you happy? (And that day will arrive sooner than you expect.)

Most of the reasons that people give for marrying then flip into their reasons for leaving: “he was kind, but now he’s not,” or “she was attentive and appreciative, but now she’s not.” However, if your reason for marrying is to serve, then you will never have a reason to leave because you will always be able to serve.

If God is calling you to serve Him as a single now, then fulfill that calling with everything you’ve got.

If God calls you someday to serve as a husband or wife, then fulfill that calling with everything you’ve got.

And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life. (1 Corinthians 7:17, MSG)

The calling is God’s business. Faithfulness to the calling is our business.

 

Notes:

[i] Genesis 2:20-24; Mark 10:6-9

[ii] John 4:24

6 Things Singles Need to Know about Marriage, Pt. 1

Tami Myer is my friend and fellow writer, and every time she blogs about godly marriage, I sit up and take notes.

And I’m not married yet.

So I started thinking: Could Tami share a biblical perspective on marriage for singles that we could apply to our walk now? I mentioned my idea to her, and she graciously agreed to guest blog here.

It’s my hope that Tami’s two-part series will bless you as much as it has me.

***

Why should singles care about the topic of marriage?

If marriage is not on your radar or even on your wish list, you may think that the subject is not relevant for you right now. But regardless of your marital status, you will benefit from understanding the divine design for marriage.[i]

Here are six important things to know about marriage.

#1. Marriage is a profound revealer of spiritual truths.

When we look at the universe, we know that there is a God. And when we look at marriage, we learn who this God is. The created world reveals the existence of God, but marriage reveals the nature and character of God. We learn that He is a God of relationship and that He is loyal and loving.

In the Scriptures, God makes a stunning claim:

For your Creator will be your husband. (Isaiah 54:5, NLT)

God will be our husband? What does that mean? As we study biblical marriage, we learn that a man is to be the protector and the provider for his wife. The husband is responsible for the well-being of the woman. He lays down his interests in order to love her well. His very life is to be a covering of protection over his bride. He honors, nurtures, and cherishes her.

Amazingly, God is eager to be this kind of “husband” to everyone who enters into a covenant relationship with Him.

I will take you to be My wife forever. I will take you to be My wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. (Hosea 2:19, HSCB)

As a type of “wife,” we accept God and welcome Him. We take His name as our name. “I am His” becomes our identity. We become covenant partners with Him, and we allow Him to carry the weight of responsibility. We give up being spiritually single. We end our other spiritual love affairs (pursuing pleasure, prestige, or possessions), and we devote ourselves to Him. Instead of being spiritually independent (“I know what is good for me”), we depend on His guidance and wisdom.

We live to know Him and to make His name great. We trust His care, knowing that His goal is our radiance.[ii] Our thriving is His glory.

We abide in Him, and He abides in us. We delight in Him, marveling that He delights in us.

As a groom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.
(Isaiah 62:5, HCSB)

#2. You can have a great impact on others in the area of marriage.

As you interact with people every day, you can be a powerful influence. You don’t have to be married to know what God teaches about marriage. Understanding the Scriptures will enable you to share helpful truth with others.

It has been said that wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective. Whether married or not, we all need wisdom in this area because the marriages around us affect our lives. Marriages shape our society and culture.

#3. You may have heard that sexual purity is a gift to your future spouse, and that is certainly true. But purity is also a valuable gift to yourself.

You are far more than physical instincts and chemicals. You are more than an animal, which lacks moral strength or character. You have inherent honor, for you are a man or a woman created in the image of God Himself. Women have the God-given glory of being women. Men have the God-given glory of being men.

Your sexuality is deeply linked to your spirit. If you are abused sexually, there is a deep wounding in your spirit. If you give your body away sexually, your spirit is dishonored and demeaned. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18, NLT)

Perhaps you don’t know how much you are worth. Perhaps you don’t know that you are a person of high value. God says that you are a treasure. You are priceless!

Your body and spirit are worth far more than cheap words and empty promises. You are worth nothing less than someone’s solemn vow before God and witnesses to honor you “til death do you part.” Guard yourself against anyone who says you are worth less than a lifetime commitment.

Sexual purity isn’t just physical. It is also mental. Stay away from porn. It will destroy you. We live in a pornographic society, so it takes strength to fight back, but it is well worth the effort. Porn promises pleasure, but then it sabotages even the ability to enjoy pleasure. It is highly addictive, encourages abusive behavior, creates dissatisfaction, destroys empathy, and causes users to view people as objects.

Pursue sexual purity in your behavior and in your thinking. You will reap great rewards from this, both now and later, whether single or married. Purity will free you to be healthy physically, spiritually, and in your relationships with other people.

Whatever may be in your past, you can embrace purity now because God loves to give fresh starts and clean slates.

To be continued… Be sure to come back next week for the second part of: 6 Things Singles Need to Know about Marriage.

Notes

[i] One of the best books on marriage was originally written for singles. The Meaning of Marriage is based on a series of sermons which pastor Timothy Keller preached at his church in New York City, where his congregation is predominantly single.

[ii] Ephesians 5:27, NIV

Hold Fast to Your Identity

Since we reached 100 posts here at ThinkTrueThoughts.com, I looked back over the last months and read through some of my favorite posts.

While I can’t say that I have one favorite, “Identity in Christ” would be in the top ten. I want to re-share this post today. (Click on the image below to view.)

More than ever, we as believers need to stand on the truth of God’s Word and hold confidently to our identity in Christ, because we live in a culture that increasingly confuses fundamentals and denies moral absolutes.

So my challenge today is simple: Hold fast to your identity. The world would have you question everything you believe, but Christ is the solid rock on which we stand. All other ground is sinking sand.

Do you have a favorite post, or did a particular topic resonate with you? If so, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

~ Kristen