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The Lord’s Provision of Tuna Melts on the Lord’s Day

The Lord’s Provision of Tuna Melts on the Lord’s Day

I went into this Lord’s Day with a near-empty fridge and no menu plan. That’s not good any day of the week, but especially on a Sunday. For months now I’ve been working toward having my grocery shopping and cooking done Saturday so I can truly rest from my work and worship God on the Lord’s Day, as He designed.

So this morning, I asked God to please provide food for us this day. Here’s how He did.

A Favorite, Easy Breakfast Recipe: Floppy Eggs

Thankfully, Trevor didn’t have to lead worship at our Cazenovia church plant today, so I asked if he’d make his delicious “floppy eggs” for breakfast. He whipped them up—along with the last of the frozen hash browns—all while carrying Hudson in the carrier. What a “super-mom” dad!

God’s Daily Provision

I saw Steve walk into Missio with his arms full of fresh baked loaves of bread. Pick us, pick us! I silently wished. (Steve is an older widower who gifts homemade bread to congregants each Sunday.) Steve chose my father-in-law for his first gifting, and my father-in-law passed it on to us! God’s kind provision.

A Favorite, Easy Lunch Recipe: Tuna Melt Sandwiches

After service, we met a young woman who is newer to Missio, and invited her to lunch. While I nursed Hudson, I asked Trevor to pull some cans of tuna out of the pantry, and start making these yummy tuna melt sandwiches.

It’s a gamble, serving someone you don’t know tuna fish. But of all things, she exclaimed with delight when she saw it! Apparently her college housemates used to protest her use of tuna in the kitchen. Again, God’s sweet providence.  

Our Lunch Conversation

This young woman is a speech pathologist resident who works at a nursing home. We learned a bit more about how unethical most nursing homes are due to insurance requirements, how patients’ health usually declines upon arriving, and how this woman is often asked by her patients to “please just kill me” (seriously).

It made me ask new questions like,

  • Do we have more nursing homes in the United States than in other countries, due to our every-man-for-himself mentality?
  • How many nursing homes per capita does Syracuse have?
  • And maybe most importantly, Am I willing to walk into those dreary, sterile places to offer hope? Maybe even with my sweet boys? (I have a few memories of playing the piano at nursing homes when I was younger.)

Song: “Is He Worthy” by Andrew Peterson

After lunch, Trevor and I “snugged” on the couch while listening and re-listening to a powerful song we sang today at Missio. Have you heard Andrew Peterson’s call-and-response song, “Is He Worthy?” I can’t recommend it enough.

Supper (Or Do You Call It Dinner?) Provision

After a long walk (we kept running into people we knew), Trevor asked what was for supper. “I don’t know; God will provide,” I responded.

And then I remembered. Our sweet Muslim neighbors had brought us “Iraqi KFC” the day before, and we still had some in the fridge. We have some lettuce already growing in our garden, so we served it with a simple salad.

I’m so grateful for how God provided today—through my husband, through Steve, and through our neighbors. Now it’s time to buckle down and menu plan for this new week. Because most of the time, God provision for my family includes me planning ahead. 

If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out “How to NOT Hurt the Singles in Your Church.” 

An Apology from Our Worship Leader + Jesus Wasn’t Hangry + Korean Egg Bread

In an effort to get the most out of each Lord’s Day, I’ve been sharing highlights on my social media accounts the past couple of weeks (here on Instagram, and here on Facebook.) Today I’m bringing my Lord’s Day to the blog. Here are a few highlights from this past Sunday, May 5, 2019.

An Apology from Our Worship Leader

Our worship leader, Nate Maxfield, apologized to us for not including more songs of lament in our services. “The lament is our song this side of heaven,” he said.

If you think church music has to be upbeat and peppy, think again. Here’s the song we sang; a song for the suffering.

Jesus Wasn’t Hangry

If you’ve wondered if Jesus was “hangry” , think again. Here are a couple details I found helpful for understanding Jesus’ actions in Mark 11:12-33 from Adam Bregou’s sermon:

  • The Fig Tree: When Jesus curses the fig tree, He’s acting out a parable rather than telling one. This particular parable is against Israel, as Israel is often described in Scripture as a fig tree or a vine. (See Jeremiah 8:13 as an example.) In this moment, Jesus is setting up what’s about to take place in the temple.
  • The Money Changers & Pigeon Sellers: Who are these men whose tables and chairs Jesus flips over? “Money changers” were the guys who exchanged travelers’ money for Jewish currency. These money changers were charging exorbitant exchange rates in order to pocket some hefty change.

We also know from the Old Testament that pigeons were the offering the poorest of the poor offered to God. These pigeon sellers were taking advantage of the poor, hiking prices for pigeons way up.

In his sermon, Adam pointed out that this whole scene was a battleground for glory. The religious leaders of the day were incensed at Jesus. They were fighting Him–the true Temple, the true High Priest, and the true and final Sacrifice–for power and glory. Why? Because they–and we–don’t easily give up what gives us significance. They were using what God had intended to be a place where people from all nations were welcomed to meet with Him, as a means to personal gain.

Again, I was challenged: Am I using Jesus to attain my dreams and gain significance, or am I on board with His mission, bearing good fruit as I seek to share the good news of the gospel with my neighbors all the way to the ends of the earth?

And what incredible news it is. As Adam shared, this whole temple system was about to change. Jesus started shutting things down, as He was about to make the final (and only!) sacrifice necessary for sinners. The thick curtain that separated mankind and God was about to be torn!

Christian, are you using Jesus as a means to an end, or does your heart beat for His agenda and glory?

Korean Egg Bread

I love it when Trevor cooks. He made Korean egg bread for breakfast. It had us oohing between each bite. If you’d like to make it, watch this video and find the recipe in the description. Then, if you’re interested, check out for more pictures from our day on Instagram, and Facebook. 

How to NOT Hurt the Singles in Your Church

How to NOT Hurt the Singles in Your Church

The singles in your church are hurting. Many (dare I say most?) of them have a strained relationship with the church.

There’s Pain in Your Pews

Since writing a book on singleness, I hear from singles often. Here’s what one thirty-nine-year-old woman has to say:

I’m convinced there is something very wrong with me! I feel like a complete outcast in each and every church. The weird thing is I don’t feel that way at work, which is a completely secular environment. Lately I’ve been crying all weekend and so grateful to be able to go to work on Monday morning because I know I’m valued and wanted there and I know I am contributing something as well.

This woman isn’t the only single who feels like an oddity in church. You might be tempted to think, Oh, toughen up! You think marriage is easy? But here’s why their hurt is our problem, too.

It’s a Family Responsibility

If you’ve placed all your trust in Christ as your righteousness, you’re now a tiny but vital member of His family and of His Body. There are millions upon millions of other members, and what impacts each of these people impacts you because we’re one now. Paul tells us:

But God has so composed the body . . . that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together (1 Cor. 12:24–26, emphasis added).

We have a responsibility to care for singles as we would our own families, because we’re not independent individuals anymore. We’re a part of something so much larger. Besides, in heaven there will be no individual marriage or families other than the family of God (Matt. 22:30).

So how can we care for singles as we ought? It starts with how we think about singleness.

Singleness Isn’t a Disease to Be Healed

Many people view singleness as a disease to be healed. I’ve been guilty of this myself. God’s Word, however, has quite a different perspective.

In 1 Corinthians 7, the apostle Paul addresses the whole church about the advantages and benefits of singleness. Singles, he says, are spared anxieties and troubles. (If you told a single that, they’d probably think, Ha! Paul obviously didn’t have a clue. I have plenty of troubles, and plenty to be anxious about!)

I don’t think Paul intends to minimize everything a single has to juggle in life. His point is that they’re not distracted by needing to please the Lord and their spouse. They have the freedom to be singularly devoted to the Lord.

Let’s be careful that we don’t adopt a “woe is you because you’re single” mindset when God celebrates singleness.

Let’s also be careful about how we “encourage” singles.

Steer Clear of Lousy Encouragement

I wonder, is your encouragement to singles actually encouraging them? Is it grounded in truth? Here are four examples straight from the lips of singles of hurtful “encouragement” they tend to receive from those in the church:

  • “God won’t bring you your spouse until you’re content in your singleness.” (Let’s think about this . . . when do we ever earn God’s gifts?)
  • “Oh, don’t worry, Honey, God has someone special out there for you!” (Does He? How do you know this? Scripture tells us that everyone will not get married and that singleness is good. A lot of unintentional hurt is caused by assuming that everyone will marry one day.)
  • “Marriage is how God makes us holy” and “I didn’t really know how much God loved me until I had kids.” (This makes singles feel like they’re not only missing out on a family but on sanctification! A better way to say this would be, “Marriage is one of the means God uses to help make us holy.”)
  • Another single requested, “Don’t remind us that marriage isn’t all happily ever after with the perfect prince/princess of our dreams. Single adults are intelligent people. We’re no longer the teenagers in the youth group. We’re not expecting Disney or Hollywood. Our dreams of marriage are normal and healthy, and being belittled because we still hope for marriage (the same way our now-married friends once did) is insulting.”

We’ve looked at our thoughts. We’ve considered our words. But what about our actions? One of the greatest ways we can bless singles in the church is by our hospitality.

Invisible No More

Here are a few ideas of how you can show hospitality to the singles in your church:

  • Invite them to sit with you rather than sitting alone. When I was single, Sundays were the loneliest day of the week for me as I sat surrounded by happy-looking married couples and families.
  • If you’re in church leadership, examine your upcoming events and make sure they’re geared to all people in general, not just toward married people or parents.
  • Celebrate the milestones of the singles in your small group, like their birthdays or moving into their own place. One single pointed out, “Our accomplishments are often ignored; we don’t get showers, registries, and parties. We are no one’s priority, and that often makes us invisible.“
  • Ask a single at church if they have plans for the next holiday. If not, invite them to your home. A dear family did this for me one year when I wasn’t able to travel home for Christmas. They even bought me a present! Don’t forget Mother’s Day, as well. One of my single mom friends noted, “Single moms won’t spend money on themselves (many are at poverty level), and their children may be too young to know how to celebrate them.”

Come On In!

Don’t stop there, though. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has said, “It’s in our homes, not standing in the aisle after church, that we have the greatest opportunity to really practice the ‘one anothers’ of Scripture.” One anothers like:

  • Love one another.
  • Pray for one another.
  • Admonish one another.
  • Edify one another.
  • Care for one another.
  • Bear one another’s burdens.

I was the recipient of remarkable hospitality as a single. The hospitality that most reflected God welcoming me into His family was when an older couple invited me to live in their home when I was in my late twenties.

For the three years I stayed with them, I never felt like I needed to keep to my own room and not bother them. On the contrary, they treated me like I was their daughter!

I’m not saying you have to open your spare bedroom to a single. Maybe you do something more like what Eleanor has encountered:

The greatest blessing for me as a single person has been eating with a family from church every week and helping put their young children to bed. Nothing extraordinary, just what they would be doing if I wasn’t there.

Sometimes I barely talk to the parents while I’m there, because they’re so exhausted. I don’t always see them at their best. They don’t just have me over when it’s convenient. But they choose to truly let me into their lives and hearts, and that is a great blessing and a joy.

Single people will sometimes be lonely. Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the lonely in families.” Maybe for one single, it’s your family.

Let’s Put Feet to This

Let’s not just write and read about how to help the singles in our church; let’s do something about it! But where should we start?

  1. Identify the singles in your church and life. Not just those you’d like to hang out with but those God has placed in close proximity to you. Think broadly: singles who have never been married, widows, divorcees, single moms, and those who for all practical purposes are single because their spouse is absent.
  2. Pray for them. Make this a priority, and try to pray for at least one single daily. (You might consider downloading an app like PrayerMate to help you remember.)
  3. Engage them. Pick at least one single on your list, and come up with a plan to reach out to them. This is just a practical way to help you love your neighbor.

Ready, set, help! Not because singles need fixing, and not because you’re the savior of the singles—but because:

  • God welcomed you into His family when you had nothing to offer Him.
  • You are now family by blood—the blood of Christ.
  • When they hurt, you hurt.

Ultimately, give yourself to them, with a genuine heart, and watch how greatly God will bless you through their friendship in the process.

A version of this post originally appeared as an article in Revive Magazine and then on TrueWoman.com

A Hospitable Church Begins with Us

A Hospitable Church Begins with Us

The American church tends to get a bad rap—and often with good reason. That’s why I want to tell you about a gem of a church that Trevor and I stumbled across on our way to Illinois this past Thanksgiving. A church that shattered the negative stereotypes of what the American church is all about. A hospitable church.

Happening Upon a Hospitable Church

Up until the day before, we planned to attend a different local church. But when my friend invited us to her church and then over for lunch at her pastor’s house, we were intrigued.

“You’re totally welcome,” she said. “We do it every Sunday. We spend the whole afternoon together, go back for a 5:30 p.m. service, and then make supper there. Leftovers, pizza rolls . . . nothing fancy.”

I wasn’t terribly keen on the idea of spending the entire day with strangers (I like my alone time!). But Trevor was excited about attending a church that made it easy for us to corporately set aside the Lord’s Day. So we said “yes.”

And that’s how we ended up spending all Sunday with perfect strangers. Believe it or not, I didn’t miss my alone time. That day was the highlight of our vacation . . . and even one of the top highlights of 2017 for us.

What made it so great? Yes, the songs and sermon were meaty and rich. Yes, the people were friendly. And boy, those homemade salted caramel cookies they served after service . . .

But what really sealed the deal was the hospitality we experienced after the church doors were shut.

Walking Into a Hospitable Home

We felt right at home from the moment we walked into the house and the kids took our coats at the door. The mom of the house showed me a messy but private bedroom where I could nurse Iren.

Trevor and the pastor talked and ate while I fed Iren. Then I came down, and different kids held Iren while I chowed down and talked with my friend.

I noted that the pastor was down-to-earth and accessible. He seemed a bit shy, but he was present with us all afternoon. He didn’t lead the conversation; he just sat on the couch with a drink, obviously enjoying the conversation and people.

Kids of all ages sat crosslegged on the floor. Men and women sat around the room in chairs—one woman knitting.

Conversation meandered here and there until I started a group conversation on parenting and rules. I was amazed to hear they’re not big on adding rules to their kids’ lives but on focusing on God’s two greatest commands: loving Him and loving others. I took lots of mental notes for when Iren gets a little bigger.

We went back to the church for evening service and then joined these same people in the kitchen for pizza and more fun, deep conversation.

Becoming a Hospitable Church

Trevor and I exited those church doors late that evening saying, “We want that kind of love, community, and hospitality at our church.”

“Let’s pray for that,” I said.

“Yes,” he replied, “and it starts with us.”

I am so grateful for his perspective. We are the church (Eph. 1:22-23). There is no need to sit around waiting for someone else to take action—not even the leaders. We can and should take ownership, initiate, and invite others into our lives and home.

How about you? Are you waiting for someone else to set the tone at your local church, or are you welcoming others into your life and home? Let’s be a hospitable church!

PS: If you live in the Michiana area, check out Michiana Covenant Presbyterian. It’s a hidden gem.

PPS: Come back to the blog next Friday to read about the one sentence this pastor shared that has lodged in my gut and changed my days—possibly even the course of my life—ever since I heard it.

 

10 Practical Ways to Push Past Social Anxiety

10 Practical Ways to Push Past Social Anxiety

Do you deal with social anxiety? This girl does. She asks:

How do you deal with social anxiety? I get so nervous around people sometimes and always feel awkward. I’ve been praying about it, but it’s still bad. I want to witness to others, but I practically have a panic attack when I do!

So for her—and anyone who can relate—here are ten helpful ways I’ve personally found to push past social anxiety.

First, though, a disclaimer: If you’re an introvert, you don’t need to become an extrovert! Think of the following list of suggestions as a few tools for you to take or leave. No one is asking you to get a whole new personality and become the most gregarious person at the party. What we are seeking is to love and welcome others as we have been loved and welcomed by God through Christ.

Hopefully one or more of these suggestions will be helpful to that end.

10 Practical Ways to Push Past Social Anxiety

1. Don’t hide behind your phone. Put it away when you’re with other people. It will help others feel more cared for and will help you engage them more easily. I’m guessing you’re actually better than you know at engaging people when the phone isn’t vying for your attention. You’ve got this!

2. Know that your approval comes not from people but from God. If you are looking to people to tell you what you’re worth, you will fear them instead of love them. Remember that we are all equal, each made in God’s image. If you have surrendered your life to Christ, you now have God’s full approval. And you have been given a mission to love Him with all your heart and to love others as you love yourself. You have to push past social anxiety to love others well.

3. Don’t be afraid to be awkward. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said or done awkward things. But here’s the deal: It’s not a sin to be awkward. It is, however, a violation of God’s law not to love others. In order not to stay perpetually awkward, give yourself permission to be awkward for a while. And if you hurt someone in the process, be sure to seek forgiveness.

4. Ask questions. If you can’t think of questions to ask on the spot, it’s not cheating to have some prepared. For example, when I see someone new at church, I’ll often ask, “How long have you been attending?” followed by “How did you hear about us?” Then I can think of other spontaneous questions to ask them once the conversation is rolling.

5. Listen well. Now that you’ve asked a good question, your job is done, right? Wrong! Don’t let your mind wander. Listen well to how they answer your question. Don’t worry about thinking through your response or your next question—just listen well.

6. If you really want to go the extra mile, jot down notes after you talk to them while the conversation is still fresh in your mind. I often take notes on my phone when I meet someone new whom I think I might bump into again. My notes consist of their name plus an identifying characteristic and maybe something interesting I learned about them. That way, I can always go back and reference my notes later if (okay, when!) I forget their name.

7. Pray. Even though I usually feel like leaving the building right after service on Sundays, I’ve gotten into the habit of asking God, “Who do you want me to talk to today?” I then look for someone to introduce myself to or to say “hi” to. My husband and I are almost always the last to vacate the premises!

8. Practice. Stretch yourself. Try sticking around on Sunday until you’ve found someone to talk to. Practice striking up a conversation with the cashier at the mall. Try smiling at the strangers you pass on the street or in the halls at school. See and engage people wherever you go, just like Jesus did while He lived on earth.

9. Remember that others are insecure, too, and don’t take it personally if they don’t seem interested in talking back. You don’t have to be everyone’s friend, but you should seek to consistently be friendly. Don’t only talk to the friends you’re comfortable with. Seek out new faces, and do your best to make them feel welcome.

10. Focus on becoming a “there you are” person. There are a few blog posts you read and never forget. This one by Jani Ortlund is one of them for me. I hope it’s as helpful to you as it was to me!

What did I forget? Any other tips you’ve found helpful for pushing past social anxiety? Why do you think it’s so important to work on it?

10 Practical Ways to Push Past Social Anxiety was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Dear New and Overwhelmed Christian

Dear New and Overwhelmed Christian

It was so good to get your email and hear that you’ve been a Christian for almost a year now:

I’ve loved it, but it is also pretty overwhelming as I am just developing as a Christian and so many things are being thrown my way. Things such as Anglican tradition, special holidays, different perspectives of the Word and Christ, ways to act as a Christian woman, you name it.

I am not sure how long you’ve been a Christian, but I am pretty sure it’s been longer than I have been. Do you have any tips or advice you could pass on, which will help me in my journey with God as a new Christian? Advice regarding getting through the Word of God, praying always, listening to God, applying God to every aspect of my life, etc.?

First, praise God for giving you the gift of faith in Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice for your sins. I’m so excited I have a new “sister” in the family of God.

I’m sorry that the excitement of your new life in Christ has been crowded out by others throwing lots of stuff your way.

Don’t ever get over Christ and what He has done for you.

My main advice is this: Don’t ever get over Christ and what He has done for you. Remember that you contributed nothing to your salvation. You were dead spiritually.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses (Col. 2:13).

Dead people can do nothing! God gave you the gift of faith in His Son. Without this gift, you would not have been able to see how beautiful His offer of salvation is:

By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8).

Guard yourself from believing that God will be more pleased with you if you read Scripture, pray, go to church, etc. Some Christians refer to these activities as “means of grace.” That’s because they’re not acts we do for God; they’re ways God graciously makes us more like Jesus.

So pursue these means of grace as gifts, not as duties. Here are a couple means of grace I’d start with:

1. Get involved in a solid church.

You need community; Christianity is not a solo sport. Here are three websites that can help you find solid churches in your area:

2. Study the Word of God daily.

All Scripture points to Christ, so this is where you go to look for and at Him. Ask an older, godly woman who has walked with God awhile to teach you how to read and study God’s Word. Here are a few posts I’ve written on the subject that will help:

Then take a deep breath. It’s okay that there’s so much you don’t know right now. I’ve been raised on the Bible since I was a little girl, and there’s still so much I don’t know! Above all, set out to know Christ.

As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving (Col. 2:6–7).

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Robert Murray M’Cheyne: “For every look at self take ten looks at Christ.”

It’s fine to explore some of these other things, but above all, keep the main thing the main thing. Or rather, the main Person the main Person: Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord. As you do, I can say with Paul:

I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

Dear New and Overwhelmed Christian was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Dear College Grad . . .

Dear College Grad . . .

Dear College Grad,

Congrats! You’ve worked so hard, and now commencement is over. I was cheering big as you walked across the stage, and I’m praying for you as you make this transition out of college. I remember well the conflicting emotions: mourning all the goodbyes, anticipating all the adventures just ahead.

Speaking of adventures just ahead . . . let’s talk about that, because if your experience is anything like mine, reality won’t quite meet your expectations.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Friends

Your circle of peers is likely going to decrease. Significantly. You’ll no longer have a built-in community to play intramural basketball or to go out with for ice cream.

You’ll need to work to find new friends. You might look right past them at first, because some will be older than you, others younger, and most not much like you at all. And while that might not feel okay, it really is. They have a lot to offer you, and you have a lot to offer them. Befriend newly-married couples. Befriend preteens. Befriend families with kids. Befriend senior citizens.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Local Church

Where can you find all these new friends? The best place to look is at a local, Christ-centered, Bible-teaching church. Of course, that’s not the only reason you’re attending, but as you spend time with these brothers and sisters in Christ week after week—hopefully in smaller settings throughout the week
as well as in corporate worship on Sundays—you will begin to feel and receive true affection for and from them.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Relationship with God

It’s not enough to just hear about God. You need to hear from God through His Word.

Attending a local church is important, but it’s not your only connection to God. And while the Christian life is not meant to be an individual affair, it is deeply personal. It’s not enough to just hear about God. You need to hear from God through His Word, as that’s the way He’s chosen to reveal more about
His character.

  • Are you aware of and in tune with His presence as you go about your day?
  • Are you regularly spending time studying His Word?
  • Are you talking to Him about everything, as He is your Father, your Counselor, your Lord, and your Shepherd?
  • Are you praising Him with songs—even if you have a terrible voice or you’re feeling depressed? (That’s the best time to sing, actually!)

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Career

It’s rare that you’ll get your dream job right out of college. Don’t be discouraged if your first job seems . . . beneath you. Mine sure felt like that. But I had a ton to learn about blessing my employer rather than making a name for myself.

Learn, learn, learn. Grow, grow, grow. Give more than you take.

So be patient. It’s not likely that your first job will end up being your lifelong career. Learn, learn, learn. Grow, grow, grow. Give more than you take.

Trust God and know that a) He doesn’t waste anything, b) He is still writing your story, and c) He is where satisfaction is found. True contentment is found in Him, not in a dream job.

Let’s Talk About . . . Your Ultimate Purpose

True happiness and peace come from knowing, enjoying, and seeking to make much of Him, not much of ourselves.

Life is not about us; it’s all about God. They won’t tell you this in your business classes, but that doesn’t make it any less true. We were created by God and for Him. True happiness and peace come from knowing, enjoying, and seeking to make much of Him, not much of ourselves.

I’d love to hear back from you. What are your expectations for friends? Do you plan to commit to a local church? What’s your plan for pursuing God daily? What are your career dreams? And what do you consider to be your ultimate purpose?

Rooting for you,

Paula

Dear College Grad was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

We Went to Church on Our Honeymoon

We Went to Church on Our Honeymoon

Trevor Marsteller and I joined hands in the stately building of Missio Church on October 3 and covenanted before God and man to love each other ’til death do us part. We returned the following morning and held hands in a pew near the front as we listened to the Word of God preached to the people of God.

Many of these people were incredulous: “You’re on your honeymoon, and you’re at church?!” We might as well have sprouted horns on our heads.

“You’re on your honeymoon, and you’re at church?!”

If it had been up to me, I probably would’ve opted to pull the covers over my head and dozed as long as possible after the stress of pulling off an event of that size. Missing a Sunday here or there hasn’t seemed like a big deal to me, especially after such a life-altering event.

But Trevor is the leader in this relationship—not me—and when he explained why he didn’t want to skip church the day after our wedding, I was so grateful.

“If marriage is an earthly picture of a heavenly reality,” he asked, “why would we miss out on being pointed to that heavenly reality?”

And so we participated in our local church service the morning after our wedding—as we do every Sunday, even when we’re traveling. We showed up not because we believe church attendance merits God’s favor (hardly!) or sets us apart as more righteous than others (as if!), but because we love God, His Word, and His people.

Caring for the Bride of Christ

In a congregational meeting a few weeks later, one of our elders reminded us of how passionately Jesus identifies with His bride, the Church.

It was amazing to see this truth so clearly in Acts 9. In this passage, Jesus asks Saul, “Why are you persecuting me?”

When Saul asks who Jesus is, He again reiterates, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (emphasis added).

How could Jesus say Saul was persecuting Him when He was safe at His Father’s side in heaven by this time (see Acts 1:9)? Because as we treat Christ’s people, so we treat Christ.

As we treat Christ’s people, so we treat Christ.

Christ’s very Spirit dwells in His bride, and His bride is in Christ. We’re one now. He loved His bride enough to give His life for her.

So how can we claim to love Jesus without caring for His bride, the Church?

After hearing God’s Word preached on October 4, Trevor and I leaned over to each other and agreed, “We’re so glad we didn’t miss this.”

It might not always be convenient, but this new bride is grateful for a husband who so highly values Christ’s bride.

How about you? Do you have a careless or a careful disposition toward faithfully and eagerly attending your local church? If you don’t regularly attend, what’s your excuse for not prioritizing Christ’s bride?

We Went to Church on Our Honeymoon was originally published on TrueWoman.com. 

 

11 Questions to Ask Before You Hug Him

11 Questions to Ask Before You Hug Him

Awkward!

Should you hug that guy or not hug him? Is a front hug or a side hug more appropriate?

There’s nothing inherently sinful about a hug. It’s just that behind our arms, we house a sinful heart that can pervert even something good into something not good.

One of you recently asked me what I think about guys and girls hugging. Not an easy question!

I went to a public school where hugging guys was no big deal. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Christian side hug years later—a “safe” hugging option designed to communicate affection while staying away from any potential sexual body contact.

Only, not every Christian is on board. For example,

  • One godly, married man I know wholeheartedly hugs women and unabashedly tells them he loves them, with his wife looking on.
  • Other godly men I know never hug any woman except their wife.
  • And then there are those who settle somewhere in the middle with the side hug.

So you and I are left to navigate this nebulous world of hugging. (Wouldn’t it be easier if we all wore tags that told whether we were open to hugging or not?!) Unfortunately, it’s not that clear-cut.

That’s probably because there’s nothing inherently sinful about a hug. It’s just that behind our arms, we house a sinful heart that can pervert even something good into something not good.

In my opinion, hugging has less to do with your body potentially being pressed up against someone of the opposite sex, and more to do with your heart and mind.

A hug can be as pure—or as impure—as your heart.

First Timothy 5 is clear about how we’re to interact with each other in the church:

“Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (vv. 1–2).

We’re family now, if we have trusted in Christ and Christ alone to make things right between us and our pure, holy Father God. As family members, we are to treat older men as fathers and younger men as brothers . . . with all purity. Yes, we’re family, but we’re a holy, set-apart family.

That’s why it’s important to examine your heart before you reach out for that hug.

When You Hug Him:

1. Is there a guy(s) you want to hug more than others? If so, why?
2. What message are you hoping to send him with your hug?
3. Are you purposefully trying to arouse him with your body contact?
4. Do you hug him just as you would any guy? Like you would your dad or brother?
5. Would you be ashamed if people could read your thoughts as you hugged him?
6. Are you hugging him in public or in private? If the latter, what are you trying to hide?
7. If he’s married, would his wife be comfortable with you hugging him like this?

When He Hugs You:

8. Is this a man who cares for you in a pure way?
9. Is there anything inappropriate about his hug?
10. Is it a quick hug or a longer-than-necessary one?
11. Does his hug make you feel uncomfortable in any way? If so, why?

When His Hug Makes You Feel Uncomfy

If his hug makes you feel uncomfortable, depending on the seriousness of the situation, here are some ways to stop it:

1. Leave some space between you as you hug, and quickly pull away.
2. When he reaches out to hug you, turn and give him a side hug rather than a front-on hug.
3. When he reaches for you to hug you, give him your hand instead. It might be awkward for a second, but he’ll get the point.
4. Tell him you’re not comfy hugging him.
5. Tell a trusted authority that you’re not comfy hugging him.

I’d love to hear from you. Has hugging been an unclear issue for you to navigate too?

11 Questions to Ask Before You Hug Him was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.