Before social media, my junior high friends and I used to write each other old-fashioned notes using lined paper and pencils—the kind they make from real trees! I still have some of those notes, so I’m going to share two of them with you today: the first from 6th or 7th grade and the second from college.
As you read these notes, look for the fruit (did their words build someone up or tear someone down) as well as the root behind the fruit of their words (what’s obviously in these girls’ hearts).
Will you go with me to talk to Megan? I want to tell her why we won’t tell her why we’re mad (because she’ll tell her mom and then we’ll get in trouble).
Her clothes are ugly.
She flirts (and denies it).
She thinks she is awesome.
She brags about her grades.
She brags about her brothers.
She brags about the ugly cars they have.
She said she has only gotten spanked once.
She thinks she is cool because she has a silver trumpet.
She tells her mom everything.
She copies us.
She thinks she is talented at running, drawing, and school work.
She thinks she is pretty.
She thinks she is cool because her dad is the preacher.
She thinks she is a good babysitter.
She thinks everyone likes her.
She thinks she is a tomboy (pink, teddy bears, mama’s girl, likes dresses).
She thinks she has a perfect life.
Oh yeah, when her mom asked what was wrong she said, “Are you jealous of Megan because of something she has or can do or does?” I stood there thinking, Yeah right!!
I’m kinda scared too because she’ll tell her mom, and then her mom will tell my mom, and I’ll get in trouble!
PS: Write back.
10 Things I Love About Paula
10. She delights in simple pleasures.
9. She gives great advice.
8. Her iron will when it comes to resisting sugar. 😉
7. She loves people.
6. She makes me laugh.
5. Her curiosity about people and life.
4. She’s my sister Resident Assistant.
3. Her beautiful smile.
2. She gives great back rubs.
1. Her boast and confidence is in Christ.
How about it? Did exhibit 1 and 2 build up or tear someone down? What can you tell about the writers’ hearts based only on their words?
And, more importantly . . . are your words more like exhibit 1 or exhibit 2? Maybe you say, I would never write a letter like Kelly wrote. But before you let yourself off the hook too quickly, take this twenty-question quiz from Mary Kassian.
Then, write someone a note (yes, on real paper from actual trees!) with the goal of building them up. Let me know you did so below by Friday, October 3 for a chance to win one of two copies of Mary’s Bible study Conversation Peace in our Freebie Friday giveaway.
“Two Letters; Two Hearts” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
I’m crazy about fruit: plump blueberries, juicy peaches, Honeycrisp apples . . . it’s one of the main perks of living in Michigan—they grow some mean fruit here!
In Matthew 12 we catch Jesus, probably as He’s walking by some fruit trees, using fruit to teach the cream-of-the-crop religious folks an important lesson about their words. Let’s join them now:
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit” (v. 33).
(This isn’t rocket science. What’s the best way to recognize an apple tree? Right . . . by its apples!) Jesus continues,
“You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (v. 34).
(Paul David Tripp says it like this: “The heart is the control system. Change doesn’t need to take place first in your words; change needs to take place first in your heart.”) Jesus goes on to explain,
“The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil” (v. 35).
Let’s break that down from the top.
Jesus is using an analogy of a fruit tree. For our purposes, we’ll call it an apple tree. Jesus is explaining that our words are connected to our hearts the way apples are connected to their tree.
Hockey Puck Apples
Pretend with me that there’s an apple tree growing in your back yard (and thank you, Paul Tripp, for the following illustration!). Every year the tree grows hard, brown, nasty, shriveled up apples you would never dream of eating. This happens year after year after year: the apples turn out as hard as hockey pucks. Finally you’ve had it; you decide to do something about it.
If what continually comes out of your mouth is junk, you desperately need a new heart.
So you head for the garage and collect a ladder, branch cutters, and a nail gun. Then you drive to the local farmer’s market and buy three bushels of Honeycrisp apples. Now you’re ready. You climb the ladder and carefully cut off all those hockey puck apples. Then you nail three bushels of Honeycrisp apples onto the tree.
From a distance, people will think your apple tree looks lovely, right? But not up close! And time will soon reveal the truth. They’ll rot cause they’re not hooked to the life-giving source of the tree, and next year that tree will continue to produce hockey puck apples.
Paul Tripp comments, “Most of what we do in the name of Christianity is just apple nailing.” We try to maintain nice(ish) words on the surface but never think we have a big enough problem that would require us to dig down to the root issue.
We Need a Heart Transplant
But Jesus tells us clearly in v. 34 that we have a deeper, underlying problem than simply our words,
“How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Here’s the deal: Our words reflect a deeper problem: a heart problem.
Jeremiah 17:9 says,
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
(By the way, when Jeremiah talks about our hearts, he’s not referring to our blood-pumping organ but to the very core of who we are. Our insides—the part of us no one but God can see: the home of our desires, decisions, thoughts, and feelings.)
We’re told that our hearts are 100% polluted from the day we’re born. All of us need a heart transplant. Because only when we have new hearts will we have new words.
Jesus throws in a second analogy in v. 35:
“The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”
Jesus says our hearts are either like spiritual treasure troves . . . or garbage dumps. Each of us can only “bring forth”—fling out—whatever treasures or junk is piled up in our hearts.
If what continually comes out of your mouth is junk, you desperately need a new heart.
And if you’ve already been given a new heart but still have junk coming out of your mouth, you need to store up good in your heart, like stocking up your pantry before a big snowstorm. How? By memorizing Scripture, by thinking about things that are “pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise” (Phil. 4:8).
So I need to ask . . . what are your words telling you about your heart?
Check back next week for a fun, practical exercise to see if you can spot what kind of heart someone has based only on their words. And stay tuned the following week to hear how to get a heart transplant!
“Treasure Trove or Garbage Dump?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
“We come from the stars. . . . How amazing is that?” These were Oprah’s opening words at The Life You Want Weekend 2014 Tour.
Undercover at Oprah’s Tour
I know, because I was there. Oprah Winfrey’s The Life You Want Weekend Tour is drawing women like crazy, and I wanted to see what women are feasting on. What is Oprah feeding them? I figured I’d return to the office with fresh passion for why I do what I do.
I got that . . . and more.
As I slipped into my seat just minutes before the tour started with my pen and notebook, I asked God for compassion, wisdom, and discernment.
Those prayers quickly turned toward marriages and families as Elizabeth Gilbert encouraged women to go on a quest (even if it meant divorcing their husbands, as she did, in order to “find themselves”).
I prayed for Rob Bell, who, according to TIME magazine, “is at the forefront of a rethinking of Christianity in America.” I prayed big, that Rob would share the Gospel without even being able to help himself, but . . . alas. There was not one mention of sin or of our need for a Savior.
I prayed for speakers Oprah and Mark Nepo and Iyanla Vanzant. You might assume I left discouraged, disheartened, and thoroughly defeated, but just the opposite is true.
I left praying prayers of thankfulness.
Praying Prayers of Thankfulness
I left praying prayers of thankfulness that I know the name of the “unnamed spirit” Mark Nepo addressed in his group meditation:
“Oh endless Creator, Force of Life, Seat of the Unconscious, Dharma, Otman, Rah, Kal, Dahr, Center of our Love, Christ-light, Yaweh, Allah, Mother of the Universe . . . Oh nameless spirit that is not done with us . . .”
I left praying prayers of thankfulness that I don’t have to figure out why I’m here by catching the “whispers” the Universe sends my way—I already know why I’m here through the reliable, unchanging Word of God.
Now I’m praying that Oprah Tour attendees will rub shoulders with Spirit-filled Christians and breathe in deep the fragrance of Jesus Christ, slain for sinners, raised to defeat sin and death and secure for His children everlasting life with Him.
You may not have attended one of Oprah’s The Life You WantWeekend Tours, but in your own life—as you see what the world has to offer—what prayers of thanksgiving can you offer as you consider all that is yours in Christ?
Do you talk too much? Do you babble? Do you spend a lot of time on the phone or in chat rooms? Do you monopolize conversations with your opinions? Do you interrupt? (See Eccl. 10:11; Prov. 15:28; 29:20; Jas. 1:19).
Are you reluctant to admit you’re wrong? Do you fail to ask forgiveness? Do you refuse to admit your error when you feel another’s error is greater? (Prov. 29:23; Jas. 5:16).
Do you betray a confidence? Do you repeat matters that you should keep private? If someone has failed or injured you, do you feel compelled to tell someone else about it? (See Prov. 6:19; 17:19; 19:11; 25:9–10).
Do you criticize? Find fault? Focus on the bad instead of the good? Do you see people’s shortcomings more than their strengths? (Ps. 41:5; Rom. 1:30).
Do you complain? Do you bewail the circumstances you find yourself in? Do you let others know that you resent being inconvenienced? (See Phil. 2:14).
Do you make assumptions and assume the worst about other people’s motives and intentions? (See 1 Tim. 6:3–4; Prov. 29:20).
Do you hold grudges? Focus on past wrongs? Accuse others? (Prov. 11:12).
Are you sarcastic? Do you mock others? Do you use negative humor to put others down? (See Prov. 15:1; 16:27).
Are you malicious? Are your words intended to cut and wound? Are your words harsh? (See Prov. 11:12; 15:1; 16:27; 17:4).
Are you insincere in your compliments? Do you flatter others for your own advantage? (See Prov. 26:28; 29:5).
Is your speech filthy? Do you swear or use foul language? Do you use the latest slang or crass expressions? (See Prov. 4:24; 10:31–32; Col. 3:8).
Do you fail to listen? Do you jump to conclusions before you are sure that you have heard and understood? (See Prov. 18:13; 19:20; Jas. 1:19).
How’d you score? If you suddenly realize you have a problem with your words, come back next week as we drill down to the root of those nasty words.
“Quiz Time! Are Your Words Nasty or Nice?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
Please don’t think that all my posts from now ’til eternity are going to be about what Christian guys think about [insert topic here]. BUT . . . because of your huge response, I’m going to follow up last week’s “What Christian Guys Think About Makeup” with one on how Christian guys think about pursuing Christian girls.
Here’s what I asked my guy friends this week:
What would pursuit of a girl look like for you personally? I ask ’cause a teen girl recently told me her fave quote is:
“The next time a boy pursues you, he better do it like a dying man looking for water in a desert. When it’s the right guy, you’ll know, because he’ll cherish you.”
Might be me, but I just don’t think that first sentence is realistic, and I don’t think it’s gonna necessarily be that obvious. Am I wrong? Please help a girl (scratch that—lots of girls) out.
Here’s what they had to say:
“That’s over the top. I want Christ to be my top priority and then if He brings along a girl, then that’s good. I certainly want to cherish her but not like a dying man. For me personally, pursing a girl looks more like becoming good friends with her first, and when the time is right, with permission from her parents, taking that relationship/friendship deeper.” —Trevor J.
“As the other Trevor said, I think that picture of pursuing a girl is a bit over the top. The picture in Jeremiah 2:13 of forsaking the fountain of living waters (God) for broken, dusty cisterns (anything that is not God) comes to mind. My thirst needs to first be satisfied by God and then by a wife (Pr. 5:15–23).
“For me, pursuing a girl looks like befriending her, seeing what her trajectory in life is like, speaking clearly about exploring the possibility of marriage, and then moving forward from there, certainly keeping her parents in the loop all the while.” —Trevor M.
“Haha yeah, I’d say that statement is a little extreme. The start of pursuing a girl for me is more about getting to know a girl and seeing if there is even any mutual interest. Extreme desperation is probably not the best place to start.” —Mat
Now, I will say God does challenge men (specifically husbands) to cherish their wives, to follow Christ’s example and lay their lives down for her in the daily grind of everyday life:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . .
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church (Eph. 5:25, 28–30).
But expecting a guy to leap from admiring you from a distance to pursuing you with the zeal of a dying man looking for water in a desert seems unrealistic and unhelpful (and quite possibly unhealthy) to me.
How about you? What do you think?
Fact is, there is a man who pursued you all the way to death, the God-Man Jesus. He didn’t do this out of desperation for your love, (Acts 17:25 tells us He doesn’t need anything!) but out of obedience to His Father and out of pure, selfless, sacrificial love that was looking out for your best interests:
God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
“I don’t have a problem with makeup, but I think it should be used tastefully. Light makeup is usually the best.” —Mat
“No makeup: totally ok.
Some makeup: totally ok (personal preference). Tons of makeup: tacky.
“Girls shouldn’t approach makeup with the thought of trying to add something to their physical appearance for the sole purpose of being more physically attractive.
“The greater focus when it comes to thinking about physical appearance and attractiveness should not be on the external, but on the internal and spiritual (1 Pet. 3:1-5). That said, I think it is totally possible for a girl to wear makeup while not unduly craving a more attractive physical appearance.”
“I’ve known many girls who have become super self-obsessed when it comes to makeup. At that point, they’re not really doing it to bless others but probably more from pride or fear.
“I like it when girls wear makeup. I think it shows they take care of themselves. It can be over the top, though, and when it gets too excessive it’s more of a turn-off for me. —Trevor J.
“Honestly, and maybe surprisingly, I don’t really think makeup is a big issue. However, I think makeup use can reveal heart issues very easily, and so we can tend to call makeup the problem, instead of addressing the deeper issues like:
1) Someone always has to feel like they ‘look good,’ or they stress out.
2) They talk a lot about how they look bad when they don’t have time to put makeup on.
3) One of their main concerns is how they and others look, not who they are, and much of their conversation revolves around those two things.
“When I see these things—along with a lot of makeup—the girl is usually dealing with a lot of insecurity. I will usually not spend much time with these girls, because of the chance that they will try to find security in me.
“If their makeup use shows that they are not content with the way that God made them, I believe that they don’t really know that God loves them for who they are. Therefore, they won’t believe that other people love them for who they are.
“Makeup, done for the right purpose, looks great! However, makeup will never cover up insecurity or bad character. I wish girls knew how attractive God made them to be to us! Godly girls are beautiful inside and out! So . . . trust that God and others will love you for who you are and not how you look. And then use however much makeup you want to.
“The root issue is where we (guys included) are finding our identity and worth. If we are finding these in our appearance or in our acceptance by the opposite gender rather than in Christ, we cannot manage our appearances correctly. (Snap! I just preached a sermon to myself.)
“If the heart is in the right place, makeup is more of a preference thing. Some girls look awesome without makeup. Some look awesome with it. Personally, I think a lot of girls overdo it; I tend to think simpler is better. But that’s just my personal preference.” —Micah
“Inward beauty is much more important than outward beauty (1 Pet. 3:4). That being said, I like it when girls take care of themselves. I like it when girls use makeup to enhance their natural beauty. In my opinion, if a girl does her makeup right, I shouldn’t notice it. The makeup won’t be distracting. Ultimately, it’s not about the makeup. It’s about your heart. If your focus is first on pleasing Jesus, and then you want to wear makeup, then great, go wear makeup.”
I hope you found their thoughts helpful! I’m curious: are you a no-makeup, some makeup, or tons of makeup kind of girl? What makeup are you sure to apply before you leave the house?