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Everyday Life

God Believes in Aliens (A.K.A You!)

When I was a teen, all I wanted was to be “normal,” to fit in. But my parents’ rules wouldn’t allow for it. I had to wear shorts that hit the top of my knees. I was pulled out of square dancing in P.E. class in fourth grade, and I wasn’t allowed to spend the night at classmates’ houses or watch certain movies in school. I was weird, and I hated it. I’m not the only one. More

Whose Gifts Do You Qualify For?

Whose Gifts Do You Qualify For?

Do you know what Santa and the Christ of Christmas have in common?

Both only give gifts to a certain kind of person. But that’s where their similarities end! Truth is, Santa and Christ couldn’t be more different.

Watch this video to find out whose gifts you qualify for: Santa’s . . . or Christ’s.

Whose Gifts Do You Qualify For?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

Are You Really His? The Proof Is in Your Words.

Are You Really His? The Proof Is in Your Words.

For the past three weeks we’ve been talking about words, words, words. Is all this talk just a good suggestion?

Nope, it’s a lot more serious than that. Turns out your future is at stake, according to Jesus:

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:36–37).

Umm, question! Doesn’t that sound like we’re working our way to heaven?

Nope. We’d never be good enough to get to heaven on our own. It’s just that our words reveal our hearts like a thermometer reveals a fever or snow reveals cold.

Our words clearly show our true heart condition. God doesn’t miss a thing, and He says we’ll give an account to Him one day soon of every single word we ever spoke (gulp!). I’m gonna guess that also includes words we type, text, etc.

Like I said a couple weeks ago, we all desperately need a heart transplant (because our words reflect a deeper problem: a heart problem).

But how? Do you have to fill out a bunch of paperwork? Get stuck on a waiting list for years? Save up thousands of dollars?

Nope! God wants to give you a new heart. His heart.

When you confess to God the sin in your heart and ask Him to give you a new one, He will generously give you His Holy Spirit. And it won’t cost you a penny; it’s a gift! It wasn’t free for the Son of God, mind you; it cost Him His life. But it’s free for you.

Check out His promise in Ezekiel 36:26–29:

“I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

“And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. . . . You shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.”

By the way, this isn’t a get-out-of-hell-free-and-then-live-any-way-you-want card. If you really understand your need for a heart transplant and God’s crazy incredible grace in giving one to you, you will be forever changed.

And the proof will be in your new words.

You’ll begin to serve a new Master now with every single word you speak. He’ll own your tongue, your body, your life.

If you know you’ve never truly received a heart transplant, would you agree with God about the condition of your wicked heart and ask Him to replace it with His righteous one? If so, He’ll do it immediately!

If, on the other hand, you’ve had a heart transplant but when you take the Are Your Words Nasty or Nice? quiz you still see sin coming out of your mouth, would you:

  1. Confess to God the big ways you’re sinning with your mouth and choose to turn from them.
  2. Ask God how you can begin to store up good treasures in your heart by practicing the opposite of that sinful tendency.For example, if you struggle with lying, ask the person for forgiveness each time you lie to them. Do this until you begin to speak only the truth.Or if you regularly tear others down—even just in your thoughts—begin to intentionally encourage those people.
  3. Share your top struggles and commitments with a friend for prayer and accountability.

Sound like a plan?

Thanks for tracking with me through this series. I’d love to hear what God showed you and how you responded to Him!
Are You Really His? The Proof Is in Your Words” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

Treasure Trove or Garbage Dump?

Treasure Trove or Garbage Dump?

I’m crazy about fruit: plump blueberries, juicy peaches, Honeycrisp apples.

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.

Ta-da.

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.

Sympathy . . . or Superiority?

Sympathy . . . or Superiority?

Recently I got an email from a young girl asking for my advice. I chuckled inwardly when I read it because it seemed so juvenile. Oh to have problems like that again I thought.

God Exposes My Superiority Complex

I was convicted of my superiority when I read Hebrews 4:14–16:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

These verses encourage us to run toward God’s throne of grace with confidence. Why? Because He’s a God who sympathizes with our weaknesses.

God’s Shocking Sympathy

He sympathizes because He’s been there, too. He willingly laid His position aside (as the King of Kings so high, high above us) and became one of us. Actually, He became a servant to us. He spent time with us, listened to us, taught us, washed our dirty feet (and our dirty hearts), and healed us.

And while He was with us, hell threw every temptation it had to offer directly His way. Hebrews 4:15 tells us Jesus was “tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

What does that have to do with me and my big, fat superiority? Everything.

In the past, I’ve been tempted just like that young girl. But I sinned in that temptation. Sympathy should come easy for me, then, right?

Jesus, too, was tempted just like that young girl was. Like I was. But He didn’t sin in that temptation. If the same were true for me, I’d really feel superior. Not Him, though. He still sympathizes with our weaknesses, in spite of His perfect record of success.

Turning From Superiority to Sympathy

How quickly I forget that I’m a recipient of His grace. I’ve made it out of that pit—not on my own—but only ’cause Jesus entered my pit for me so I might stand on His shoulders and climb out.

Shame on me for thinking myself superior to any person because His grace has carried me past a particular struggle. Oh for His sympathy in place of my superiority.

Prayers Welcome

Would you pray for me in this? As you can see, I’m a girl who’s still in process, just like you. Good thing for me, Jesus sympathizes with my superiority in spite of His perfect humility.

How about you? Maybe you don’t have girls emailing you for advice about a past struggle. But have you secretly thought you were better than others because you weren’t tempted by what tempted them?

Do you ever chalk up other girls’ problems as just silly drama compared to the challenges you face? Where do you see superiority popping up in your life? And how might Jesus’ sympathy for you change the way you view others’ struggles?

Sympathy…or Superiority?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

4 Unlikely Places to Find a Great Friend

4 Unlikely Places to Find a Great Friend

Where can you find good, wise friends when the pickins’ are slim?

After reading “Cool Friends . . . or Fool Friends?” last week, maybe you wondered, But if I’m choosy and don’t become besties with the “cool fool friends,” where will I find any good friends?

I’m so glad you asked. Here are four unlikely places to find a great friend:

That brother or sister of yours is handcrafted by God and, believe it or not, will one day probably be one of your best friends.

1) At home. I can hear you groaning, “But I hate my brother. He’s so annoying.” Trust me, I get it. Check out “My Annoying Younger Sister . . . and the Evil Ogre Sister” post for more on the hateful ways I treated my sister when we were growing up.

Here’s the thing, though. That brother or sister of yours is handcrafted by God and, believe it or not, will one day probably be one of your best friends.

In fact, did you know that the Bible says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17)? Part of the reason God gave you siblings is so that you would have someone to walk through the peaks and valleys of life with.

High school and college friends will move far away, but you’ll keep seeing your family on birthdays and holidays. Why not begin to not just survive in the same house without killing them, but actually befriend them? (By the way, this applies to your parents as well as your siblings.)

2) At church. So they’re different from you, those people you sit next to Sunday after Sunday. Fact is, you’ll be spending a lot more than holidays and birthdays with them—you’ll be living with them forever. In Christ they’re family now—a tighter bond even than your own flesh-and-blood relatives.

Forever is a long time. Why not learn how to get along with them now? I wish I’d understood years ago that friends don’t have to be your age. Read “An Unlikely Friendship” to hear about a dear friend of mine who is thirty (yes, thirty) years older than me.

PS: Did you know you should seek out friends who are older than you to learn from (Titus 2:3–5)? Also, don’t forget that you’re an “older woman” to someone. Do you have any younger friends who can learn from your example?

3) In the Book. Proverbs 7:4 tells us to “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call insight your intimate friend.” The Word of Truth (another name for the Bible) is chock full of wisdom. Consider it your dear friend, and it will lead you well. Are you spending time with and listening to this friend?

4) In God. Did you know that God has friends?! He called Abraham His friend (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8), and He talked with Moses face to face, the way good friends talk (Ex. 33:11). Abraham and Moses weren’t His only friends. You can be His friend, too!

Believe in the One who sacrificed more at the cross for you than any friend ever will, and you will find Him to be the best friend you’ll ever know.

Psalm 25:14 says, “The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). And what does He command?

The secret is found in James 2:23: “‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God.” Believe in the One who sacrificed more at the cross for you than any friend ever will, and you will find Him to be the best friend you’ll ever know. He will never leave you, never let you down, never stop loving you.

I’d love to hear from you. Which of these four friends are friends of yours?

4 Unlikely Places to Find a Great Friend” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com

Why Does God Want My Money?

 

Why Does God Want My Money?

God wants your money. But not for the reasons you think.

He’s not poor.

He’s not a mooch.

He’s not looking to take, take, take from you.

He’s not anti-money, and He doesn’t think the poor are more holy than the middle class.

Before I tell you why God wants your money, I need to back up.

Something is terribly, terribly wrong with the subject line of this post. Read it again. Did you catch it?

Nope, I didn’t misspell any words or use incorrect punctuation. I did make a wrong assumption, though.

As much as it feels like my money, God teaches that the money in my purse, the money in my bank account, that paycheck I just received . . . is actually His money. Here are just a couple places we learn this from God’s Word:

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (Ps. 24:1, emphasis added).

If that’s not clear enough, how about this one from Haggai 2:8:

“The silver is mine and the gold is mine,” declares the LORD Almighty.

(I know you don’t buy things with silver or gold, but this passage is talking about currency. Substitute “silver” and “gold” with “dollars” and “cents.”)

Before we go any further, we need to ask God to reset our minds so we realize it’s not our money; it’s His money.

We don’t own the money stuffed away in our top dresser drawer; God has entrusted us with delivering His money to those who need it most.

Picture it like this: You buy a sweet gift for your friend’s birthday. Since she just moved across the country, you wrap it up and give it to the FedEx guy to deliver to her. But instead of delivering the package, he takes it home and breaks open the present for himself!

Obviously, this guy doesn’t understand his job. He’s just the delivery guy!

Did you know that you and I are like that FedEx employee? We don’t own the money stuffed away in our top dresser drawer; God has entrusted us with delivering His money to those who need it most.

Now that we’ve cleared that important misunderstanding up, let’s get back to the original question:

Why does God want my (ahem, His!) money?

First, though, I’d love to hear from you. Is this news that the money in your purse actually belongs to God? Or have you already been thinking and living like it’s His?

Why Does God Want My Money?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com

The Battleground of Your Mind

 

The Battleground of Your Mind

 

Crazy news flash for you . . . did you know you have up to 70,000 thoughts a day?! Researchers say most of us have between 45,000–51,000 thoughts a day, but it can be as many as 70,000!

Most of the battles you fight each day rage in the battleground of your mind. Here are just a few blog comments from this last week that reveal the mind battles you’re facing: 

  • "I feel like I’m not worth as much as the pretty/skinny/athletic/cool girls." —Ella
  • "I had formed a habit of thinking I hate myself or I hate my life when things went badly." —Michelle 
  • "Please pray for my stupid self." —Mist 
  • "I struggle with lies like I’ll never be good enough, I’ll never be pretty enough, and Even if I become beautiful enough, people won’t love me for me." —Michelle

I think the apostle Paul knew what a battleground our minds are when he wrote to believers:

Take the helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17).

Quick history lesson—back in the day, Roman soldiers wore heavy helmets that covered their cheeks, foreheads, neck, and ears so their enemy’s battle-axe wouldn’t send their head flying off. Think of the helmet of salvation like our modern-day football or motorcycle helmet—except much more beautiful.

Now obviously, you don’t need to put on the helmet of salvation in order to be saved, ’cause Paul wrote this to people who were already Christians. But you do need to put on the helmet of salvation in order to think true thoughts that line up with who you really are now in Christ.

Your thoughts matter—big time. In Romans 12:2 we’re told, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." Your mind was never meant to control you—you were meant to control your mind! As you do, you will be transformed from the inside out.

So how are you to get the upper hand over your thoughts?

Thinking Brand-New Thoughts
The answer is found in 2 Corinthians 10:5: "Take every thought captive to obey Christ." Warning—that’s a lot of hard, unending work! But it’s worth it, because the alternative isn’t pretty. Taking every thought captive to obey Christ means you’ll have to constantly monitor every thought to see if it passes the Philippians 4:8 test:

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

If a thought doesn’t pass the Philippians 4:8 test, rather than letting that thought captivate you, instantly capture it in your mind and turn it over to King Jesus. Then replace that stray thought with one that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any of those thoughts on my own. I have to borrow Christ’s thoughts by memorizing His Words so I can replace my thoughts with His.

Can I encourage you to do the same? Buy a spiral-bound, index-card notebook from Walmart, and write out verses you find most helpful. Or store them in your phone. It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you get His words into you.

I encourage you to start with verses that talk about what all is included in the gift of salvation. Become a serious student of your salvation. (This is how you put on the helmet of salvation—by knowing and chewing on what Jesus has done for you and given to you.) What saved you? How do you know this? When God saved you, what benefits and lavish gifts did He give you? For a great place to start, read or listen to these forty-five gifts God gave you when you were saved.

If you’re in a relationship with Jesus, you now "have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16). Obviously that doesn’t mean you’re omniscient, that you know every single thing there is to know as God does. But it does mean your mind, which used to be hostile toward Him, can now understand, accept, and think on the things of God. Incredible!

So pick up that helmet of salvation and put it on. I want to see some helmet hair!

Then come back here and tell me about a mind battle you won this week. Let me know what thought you caught yourself thinking and how you beat that thought back by putting on the helmet of salvation and taking every thought captive to Christ.

Note: Parts of this post are excerpted from Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl.

The Battleground of Your Mind” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.