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The Story Behind My Wedding Vows

The Story Behind My Wedding Vows

Trevor and I chose to write our own wedding vows. Listen in as we share them with each other (he goes first, and then I do my best not to bawl my way through mine).

Now that you’ve watched them, I thought you might like to hear the “story behind the vows.” Why’d I choose these words rather than others?

I’m glad you asked. Let’s take it line by line:

Trevor Jon, I can’t imagine another imperfect man more perfect for me.

Some vows I’ve heard set a man so high he’s bound to crash and fall. I wanted to begin by remembering that no one—other than God—is perfect. Down with too-high expectations for Trevor; and, at the same time, up with appreciation for him! I’m amazed at how beautifully he complements me. Only God could have arranged such a match.

Thank you, thank you for choosing me. It will be my greatest honor to seek to bless you every day for the rest of our short lives this side of eternity.

Some vows I’ve heard set a man so high he’s bound to crash and fall. I wanted to begin by remembering that no one—other than God—is perfect.

It’s not every day a guy asks you to marry him. May I never get over the wonder that he chose me.

I want to find fresh ways to bless him each day, remembering that life here is short, eternity is long, and the greatest in God’s kingdom are those who stoop low to serve.

With God’s help, I will seek to be satisfied in His love each day before I seek comfort in your love. After Him, I will prioritize our relationship above all other relationships.

As the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, I know full well that my default position is to fashion Trevor
into a “little g” god. The only way I will keep from doing this is by keeping the “Big G” God first. I need to prioritize Trevor without idolizing Trevor.

By God’s power, I will have eyes for you and you alone, and I will do whatever it takes to remain exclusively faithful to you—both physically and emotionally.

Like I said, this has been a problem area for me in the past, and I’m not naïve enough to think I’ll never struggle with wandering eyes and a wandering heart again. Over a decade of working in women’s ministry has taught me that emotional affairs are just as wrong and dangerous as physical affairs. I am committed to guarding my eyes, which will help me guard my heart ( Prov. 4:23–25).

By God’s power, I will joyfully submit to your leadership—as unto Him—in all areas of life.

I purposefully paired “joyfully” and “submit” together as most people (including myself for many years!) have a prickly, incorrect view of submission. If Jesus—”for the joy set before him“—submitted to His Father when it meant humiliating, excruciating death, how can I not joyfully submit to the Father’s beautiful design for a husband and his wife?

By God’s grace, I will always seek to outdo you in showing honor . . .

This comes from Romans 12:10, which was our theme verse while we were dating. In fact, I wrote a post about it here (though at the time I didn’t let readers know I was the girl I was writing about).

. . . and I will respect you in the way I talk about you with others.

Far too often my words have torn down rather than built up. I especially need to be on guard while hanging out with other women, as we so easily fall into this subtle, slippery sin.

With God’s help, I will daily choose contentment and gratitude over complaining and bitterness, and I will do everything in my power to never take you for granted.

Godliness with contentment” isn’t natural for me, but I am setting out to make it mine.

With God’s help, I will hold no part of myself back from you—and at the same time, I will do everything I can not to overwhelm you.

Brutally open, honest communication is amazingly hard for me. Trevor has been helping me grow in this area. At the same time, I want to be wise about what and when and how much I share with him. I could easily overwhelm anyone!

And because of His immense grace toward me, I promise to never, ever divorce you, regardless of the circumstances.

By God’s power, I intend to do everything I can to give the world a right impression of God’s faithful, steadfast love toward His people.

Divorce has become so “normal” in our world, but it flies in the face of everything marriage ultimately points to. Marriage is a “great mystery” that gives the world a tiny picture of God’s never-giving up, covenant love for His bride. By God’s power, I intend to do everything I can to give the world a right impression of God’s faithful, steadfast love toward His people.

How about you? If you were getting married soon, what would be important for you to include in your vows?

PS: At our second wedding reception, we were asked why we chose the vows we chose. This is what we had to say:

The Story Behind My Wedding Vows was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Wedding Videos & More: Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Wolgemuth!

Wedding Videos & More: Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Wolgemuth!

Nancy Leigh DeMoss was in a groove. She’d never been healthier—emotionally, physically, or spiritually. She was thriving, her ministry was thriving, and then one day—out of the clear blue—she received an email from widower Robert Wolgemuth.

Most single women would have jumped right into a relationship with a man of this caliber, but not Nancy. She’d always had a very strong sense of being set apart for the Lord, and He had never “awakened love” in her heart before.

So as Robert began to pursue her, Nancy told him 1) she had to know if the Lord was redirecting her life, and 2) the Lord would then have to put love in her heart for him.

Watch this fifteen-minute video, “Unexpected Grace,” to learn how God did just that.

And if you’d like the longer version, listen to or read the Revive Our Hearts transcripts all this week to hear how Nancy grappled with issues of God’s calling for her life, knowing His will, and more; and how God led her one step at a time.

There’s more.

If you didn’t get a chance to tune in to the LIVE stream of the wedding this past weekend, you can watch the wedding here. (Yes, she’s now Mrs. Nancy Wolgemuth!)

Finally, if you’re still in the mood for more scoop on this story, watch some or all of these fifteen video clips. My personal favorites:

Wedding Videos & More: Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Wolgemuth! was originally posted on TrueWoman.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. 

 

8 Reasons Why I Didn’t Change My Name (and 6 Reasons I Did)

8 Reasons Why I Didn’t Change My Name (and 6 Reasons I Did)

Just over three weeks ago, it really happened. I got married!

Now that I’m back from my honeymoon, it’s time to adjust to a whole lotta change—a new address, a new roommate . . . and a new name. One item on my to-do list is:

Go to the social security office and officially change my last name.

I thought you might be interested in why I chose to change my name. So first, here are the reasons that are not motivating me:

  1. I’m not changing my last name because my husband defines me or because he’s my whole world. He’s not.
  2. I’m not changing my last name because I don’t like it. I love the name “Hendricks.” I’ve been a Hendricks—and proud of it—for thirty-two whole years.
  3. I’m not changing my last name because it’s fun or easy. From what I hear, it will be “a marathon, not a sprint” and will include a lot of trips and phone calls to a whole lot of different places.
  4. I’m not changing my last name because it’ll be a good move for my writing career. (FYI: I think I’ll use “Paula Hendricks Marsteller” online for now until people get used to my new name.)
  5. I’m not changing my last name because Trevor coerced me—or even asked me—to change it; this is all me.
  6. I’m not changing my last name for tradition’s sake. (Who cares if “that’s the way it’s always been done”?)
  7. I’m not changing my last name because I think Trevor and I aren’t equal. We have equal value because we both bear God’s image (Gen. 1:27).
  8. I’m not changing my last name because my identity is changing. I am still dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus. I am still a sinner-turned-saint-by-the-grace-of-God.

So why on earth am I changing my last name?

  1. I am changing my last name because we’re no longer two, but one flesh (Matt. 19:6).
  2. I am changing my last name because my authority structure has changed. Now instead of obeying my dad, I will obey Trevor Marsteller. Yes, we are equal, but God has given us different roles in our relationship, and I joyfully choose to submit to this man.
  3. I am changing my last name because I belong to another now. When I began to follow Jesus Christ, I was given His name: “in Christ.” Now that I belong to Trevor Marsteller, I will carry his name as well.
  4. I am changing my last name because we will never, ever divorce, and I don’t have to worry about what might happen in the future with my last name. (Just to be clear, I’m not naïve enough to believe that Trevor and I will always feel love for each other. But we are both wholeheartedly committed to loving each other with Christ’s love for this lifetime, as marriage is not ultimately about us but serves as a visible picture of God’s never-giving-up love for His bride, the Church.)
  5. I am changing my last name because I believe this choice shows honor and respect to Trevor. And that is what I am committed to—showing him honor and reverence for as long as we both shall live, whether I feel like he’s acting in a manner worthy of respect at all times or not (Eph. 5:33).
  6. I am changing my last name because I no longer have to fight for “my rights.” Jesus temporarily laid aside His name (“King of kings and Lord of lords”), His position (Ruler of the Universe), and His rights (to be worshiped and adored by all His creatures). He did this so I might take His name and live with and belong to Him forever. Because of His humility, God the Father has given Jesus the name that is above every name. For this reason, it is my joy to bow my knee and submit my life to King Jesus—and to the man He has given me for this short period before eternity (Phil. 2:5–11).

How about you? Have you thought about whether or not you’ll take your future husband’s last name? Why or why not?

8 Reasons Why I Didn’t Change My Name (and 6 Reasons I Did) was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

The Surprising Meaning Behind Those Famous Modesty Verses

The Surprising Meaning Behind Those Famous Modesty Verses

One of you recently asked, “How do you live 1 Peter 3:3–4? I have an idea, but I’m not sure.”

You’ve probably heard these verses before, but here’s a refresher:

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

How do you live these verses?

Not without 1 Peter 3:1–2 or 1 Peter 3:5–6. Context is critical to understanding what the Bible means. So let’s check out the surrounding verses. The chapter begins:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

Ah! So Peter is writing to married women.

Sweet! So I don’t have to listen to and apply this passage yet because I’m not married, right?

Hardly!

But before we apply it to ourselves, let’s make sure we understand the original meaning of this text.

First Peter 3:3–4 is followed by these verses:

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Yowza. This passage is all about . . . submission! Before you start sending me hate mail, let me point out some good news:

  1. In the context of marriage, we are only commanded to submit to one man, our own husband. You don’t have to submit to other women’s husbands (re-read the first part of verse 1 to see this for yourself), although part of being a Christian is respecting and considering the needs of all people.
  2. God isn’t asking us to do anything He hasn’t already done. Did you notice the way 1 Peter 3 started with the word “Likewise”? Peter is comparing our submission to someone else’s. But whose? Flip the page in your Bible to the end of chapter two for the answer.

We are all called to submit to the authorities over us. Not only to those who are “good and gentle,” but also to those who are “unjust.”

Why?

Because Christ, our Lord, did so for you and me:

Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:21–23).

Obviously there’s a whole lot more to get out of this text, but let me stop and try to answer this girl’s question about how to live out 1 Peter 3:3–4 as a single. I’d suggest starting with this:

  1. Submit to the authorities who are currently in your life while ultimately entrusting yourself to your heavenly Father. Make your dad and mom’s job easy. Seek to be easy to lead.
  2. Remember that your beautiful face will eventually go, but your character will remain. Don’t trust in your outer beauty to capture and keep a man.
  3. Ask God to help you not fear anything that’s frightening. Seek to grow your trust in Him so you don’t have to trust in yourself during frightening times, but can throw yourself on Him.

Now that you know a bit more of the context of 1 Peter 3:3–4, how else do you think you can begin to become this kind of reverent, fearless, God-trusting woman?

The Surprising Meaning Behind Those Famous Modesty Verses was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Married Woman: Sex Is a Weapon You Should Wield

Married Woman: Sex Is a Weapon You Should Wield

As a thirty-two-year-old virgin, I haven’t used sex as a weapon. Yet.

But I soon will.

Sex is not a weapon to use against your spouse; sex is a weapon to use against Satan.

I’m not talking about denying my soon-to-be husband sex because he hasn’t lifted a finger around the house or complimented me often enough. I don’t intend to use sex as a weapon against my husband; I intend to wield the weapon of sex against Satan.

Where’d I get a crazy idea like that?

As an engaged woman preparing for marriage, I’m reading This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. In this book, Piper suggests that “faith makes use of sexual intercourse as a means of grace.”

Wait. Whaaaaaat? Where’d he come up with that?

You’ve probably read 1 Corinthians 7:3–5 before, but pay particular attention to the last line:

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (emphasis added).

When a husband and wife are not coming together often, Satan is given a wide-open door for temptation.

John Piper continues:

A married couple gives a severe blow to the head of that ancient serpent when they aim to give as much sexual satisfaction to each other as possible. Is it not a mark of amazing grace that on top of all the pleasure that the sexual side of marriage brings, it also proves to be a fearsome weapon against our ancient foe?

This should not surprise us. Marriage at its exquisite peak of pleasure speaks powerfully the truth of covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church. And that love is the most powerful force in the world. It is not surprising then that Satan’s defeat, Christ’s glory, and our pleasure should come together in this undefiled marriage bed.

Sex is not a weapon to use against your spouse; sex is a weapon to use against Satan.

I don’t know how often my future husband and I will have sex after we marry, but I hope it is the exception, and not the norm, to not “play” together. Why not glorify God, fight Satan, and delight in each other as often as possible? Sounds like a win-win to me.

(I realize that not every woman’s husband is all that interested in having sex. In that case, I would encourage you to keep praying for desire on his part and for protection for your marriage. Make sure you are making yourself attractive to him—not just physically—but relationally. Finally, if he’s open to it, seek medical and/or spiritual help.)

How about you? If you’re married, are you using sex as a weapon against your husband . . . or against Satan?

Married Woman: Sex Is a Weapon You Should Wield was originally posted on TrueWoman.com. 

 

3 Reasons I Said “Yes!” to Marrying Him

3 Reasons I Said “Yes!” to Marrying Him

All week I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey from “boy-crazy to my man” with you. Thanks for being interested in the love story God scripted for us! If you’ve missed the first three parts to this story, you can read them here:

It wasn’t always easy, getting to where we are today. There were lots of ups and downs; many times I wondered if we’d make it. But my doubts never lasted long. I think this journal entry will explain why:

It seems our relationship is characterized by the most important things: Christ; communication that’s open, humble, loving, and excellent; and community. I couldn’t move forward without a single one of these.

1. Relationship Secret #1: Christ

Trevor and I are fairly different, but Jesus Christ truly is the foundation of our relationship, which is more than enough common ground. Here are two entries from my journal to give you a taste of how Trevor has consistently pointed me to Christ rather than away from Him:

Trevor prayed last night, thanking God for bringing us together from so far apart, asking that in some small way we could reflect the gospel to those around us. I realized that when I asked friends to pray that I’d enjoy God and I’d enjoy Trevor, I didn’t see those two as intersecting at all. To me, romance has always been something to hide from God, not something to share with God and thank Him for and revel in Him. (How wrong I was!)

And one more entry, from a visit I made to New York:

We played “What Am I Thinking” and “Would You Rather.” His options were hilarious. Then he asked if we wanted to pray through the Lord’s Prayer. It was hard for me to turn my mind toward worshiping God, but so sweet and needed.”

2. Relationship Secret #2: Communication

Trevor and I have had excellent communication. Sure, starting out long distance helped. Talking was our only option, other than a monthly visit. But it’s more than that.

Mostly it’s been Trevor’s humble responses and probing questions that have given me more and more courage to share openly with him. I can’t tell you how huge this has been in my life; until Trevor, I always “held back.” Here’s one example from my journal, about a Skype conversation:

As were were about to go, I asked Trevor if he’d pray for me. I got teary. I told him I was kinda anxious about his visit . . . His response was beautiful . . . He asked if there was more.

I didn’t want to tell him, but I admitted that I worry I might be getting into a relationship with an angry man. He responded amazingly and thoughtfully.

He said he was sorry multiple times.
That I didn’t deserve that.
That he didn’t want me to have to have any caution flags with him.
That he would be repenting of his sin.
That he’s still growing out of selfishly thinking his sin only impacts him and the person he’s sinned against.

He said he already has some action ideas for what to do next. And he said a lot, “Anything I say feels worthless ’til you see some change.” Although he’s also confessed he’s a sinner and this will probably be a life-long process, but he didn’t want that to be an excuse.

Trevor has modeled humility time and time again in our conversations. He has also not hidden sin from me, but confessed it. As a result, I trust him—with my inmost thoughts, fears, and struggles.

3. Relationship Secret #3: Community

The fact that Trevor is so deeply rooted in community has given me great confidence. He loves his local church body. In addition to running sound, playing guitar, and doing their books, he leads a small group and participates in a discipleship group an elder leads. Because he’s surrounded himself with people, I’ve been able to hear from others who have known Trevor a lot longer than I have what they think of him. (That’s invaluable as a girl considers marriage!)

From the start Trevor was intentional about introducing me to his friends (he even tried to get some girls to host a girls’ night while I was in town!). This has meant that when I moved to New York a couple months ago (to live with a family from his church until our wedding day), I’ve had instant community through the relationships he’s already built.

We’ve also been able to do premarital counseling with an elder/counselor, and get a wise, outside perspective on our relationship.

All three of these C’s—Christ, communication, and community—caused me to joyfully and confidently said “yes!” when Trevor got down on one knee this past April and read me a Shakespearean sonnet he’d written:

. . . I journeyed far to gain this precious rose,
By land and air through darkness deep inside.
I’ll carry her through thorns and fears below,
Held by His hand in raging storms and tides.

The rising Day will banish soon the night,
Sojourn with me ’til then, and be my wife.

How about you? Would you ever consider marrying a man without Christ, communication, and community being a part of your relationship? Why or why not?

Then, check back tomorrow for a wrap-up to this series as well as a chance to win a copy of my book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom.

3 Reasons I Said “Yes!” to Marrying Him was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

Is Marriage a Get-Out-Of-Work-Free Card?

Is Marriage a Get-Out-Of-Work-Free Card?

This October I’ll marry a “rich” (in my mind, anyway!) CPA husband. Money has never been a big priority to me; I think I always imagined marrying a poor seminary student.

So I’ve been pleasantly taken back by this surprising twist. Truth be told, I’ve looked forward to mooching off of him, to not having to put in forty hours at the office each week, to benefiting from his labors.

But then I read this in The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian:

“Show me how I can help increase our finances and not decrease them unwisely.”

What an intriguing concept!

I mean, I’d definitely imagined blessing him physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually, but . . . financially? Not so much.

Turns out, marriage is not an excuse for laziness.

I’m a little slow. I should’ve already known that from Proverbs 31, right?

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.”

In other words, she herself makes her husband rich.

But just because she herself offers her husband precious value doesn’t earn her a get-out-of-work-free card. The passage continues,

“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain” (emphasis added).

If you’re skeptical that this gain could include actual physical, material wealth, keep on reading:

“She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. . . . She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household . . . She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard . . . She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night . . . She makes linen garments and sells them . . . She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (Prov. 31:12–27).

So I have a new aim: to bless my future husband in every area, including our finances.

How about you? Is there a way you can help increase your husband’s finances while still “looking well to the ways of your household”? Or, at a minimum, are there ways you can take care that you’re not decreasing your husband’s finances unwisely?

(Singles, this starts right now, with what you do with your money even before you meet your someday husband!)

Am I the only one, or does anyone else out there need to repent of a mooch-like attitude?

Let’s get to work, ladies, and bless our husbands in every way. Yes, even financially.

Is Marriage a Get-Out-Of-Work-Free Card? was originally posted on TrueWoman.com. 

I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist

I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist

Note: A girl just emailed me asking for advice. “I’m falling in love with an atheist” she explained. The man she’s falling for just happens to be her dance partner, causing her to interact with him several times a week. Knowing that she’s not the only girl who has fallen for someone who doesn’t share her faith, she graciously agreed to let me share my response with you.

Dear “I’m falling in love with an atheist,”

I am so glad you wrote. Please don’t read this letter with a harsh, condemning tone, but with an urgent, pleading one. I am deeply concerned for you. If this letter feels like I’m dumping a bucket of cold water on your head, it’s because I want you to wake up. Let’s start with who a Christian is.

An atheist and a Christian are not compatible.

A Christian is a person who is now one with Christ. A Christian has been rescued by Jesus out of the darkness of sin and has been brought into His marvelous light—transformed from the inside out. A Christian has the spirit of Christ living inside of them! A Christian is someone whose entire identity has been refashioned around Christ. Christ is their life. Christ is the reason they are now accepted and beloved by God the Father.

An atheist, on the other hand, denies that God even exists. An atheist is a God-hater, just as you and I were until God graciously opened our eyes to our need to be forgiven and cleansed of our sin, to be reconciled with our Creator, and to be given an “alien” righteousness so we could live with a holy God forever.

An atheist and a Christian are not compatible. How do I know this?

Well, years ago, the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, urging them not to enter into any kind of a close partnership with an unbeliever. After telling them not to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (picture an ox and a donkey trying to plow a straight row together . . . fail! It won’t happen—they’ll each want to do their own thing), Paul peppered them with the following questions:

“What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?
“What fellowship has light with darkness?
“What accord has Christ with Belial (Satan)?
“What portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols?
“For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty'” (2 Cor. 6:14–18).

One way we can apply this to our lives today is that we should not marry (and therefore we should not date or long to date) someone who is not wholeheartedly pursuing and delighting in God. King Solomon made this mistake, and we’re told in 1 Kings 11:4 that,

“His wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God.”

You will have to choose between God and this man. You can’t have both. James warns,

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Let me be clear about this, though. If you choose God over this man, God will not love you any more than He already does. It won’t earn you extra points with God. If you truly trust in Christ Jesus as both your Savior and your Lord, you are already His 100% dearly loved child.

Does that mean that you have the freedom to date this man? No way! Besides, why would you want to, when Christ has revealed Himself to you as the greatest treasure there is—both in this life and for the life to come?

I get it that you have strong feelings toward this man. I’ve been where you are. And if you’re anything like me, my guess is that what you’re feeling isn’t true love, but something closer to romantic desire . . . and even maybe lust. I encourage you to:

  1. Explore whether you truly have been born again, and whether Jesus Christ really is both your Savior and your Lord (He can’t be one without being the other!).
  2. Tell an older, godly woman about your struggle. Be completely honest with her, and ask her to help hold you accountable.
  3. Break off your relationship with this guy. Stop dancing with him. Don’t text him. Run!
  4. Pursue Jesus through His Word. Get to know Him. Learn to enjoy Him the way He delights in you.

Praying for you,

Paula

I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man

Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man

Today, women will go in droves to drool over Christian Grey in a new blockbuster romanticizing BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism). In case you’re not familiar with these terms, a sadist receives sexual gratification by dishing out pain; a masochist receives sexual gratification by receiving pain.

A Strong Woman’s Dilemma

At first glance, it appears downright puzzling that women would consider this to be enjoyable entertainment . . . and flock to it in droves. Dr. Juli Slattery asks,

In a culture that constantly celebrates women’s independence and freedom, do you find it strange that a book about bondage is spreading like wildfire? All of a sudden, words like “submission,” “master,” and “obedience” are not only acceptable but sexy.

In a conversation about Fifty Shades on The View, Barbara Walters suggested that the reason women love this book so much is because, “when you go home, you want the guy to be in charge.”

Really?!

Well, yes. Women want strong, confident men . . . and we want to be in control. But unfortunately, through insisting on control, we’ve contributed to the very thing we despise: a culture of increasingly weak men.

Christian Grey to the Rescue

Enter counterfeit solution Christian Grey and the dark world of BDSM. Dannah Gresh and Dr. Slattery write,

Although Fifty Shades is fiction, we assure you that the world of BDSM is not. Since the book’s release there has been a dramatic increase in the sales of bondage gear. What was once viewed as a strange, aberrant practice is becoming increasingly mainstream for married couples and for those looking for an exciting affair.

But, they warn,

Solving the “weak man” problem with BDSM is about as logical as curing obesity by promoting anorexia. Both are dangerous distortions of appetite. The true answer is for us to grasp what health looks like.

So what is healthy in the bedroom?

Great Sex Is Not Grey

First, a couple of basic reminders about sex. Because, while E.L. James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, would have you believe that sex is grey, God is not grey on this topic. He’s black and white, so you might catch a glimpse of His unrivaled beauty:

  1. Great sex was God’s idea (Gen. 1:18–25)! If that blows your mind, that’s because, as Dr. Slattery says, “Sex has been dragged through the mud so thoroughly that most people can’t even comprehend that it is intended to be something holy.” Oh, and “holy” does not equal “boring!” God designed loving, passionate sex to be enjoyed in the safe context of a covenant commitment between one man and one woman.
  2. Great sex is not ultimately about us; it’s about God. God designed marriage and sex to tell the story of His loving sacrificial leadership toward His Bride, the Church, and of the Church’s joyful submission to Him (Eph. 5). Again, I appreciate Dr. Slattery’s reminder:

    Christ taught and modeled that authoritative leadership is for the purpose of loving sacrifice, not domination, control, abuse, or humiliation.

    Submission is all about power—not weakness. . . . God’s design for women to submit is not to take away her power but to channel it in a way that builds a courageous lover and leader in her husband. God’s plan works!

Christ Jesus to the Rescue

So what if you don’t have a strong man to love and serve and lead you?

Actually, you do.

Christ Jesus, God’s own Son, left His powerful position and riches in Paradise to stoop low to serve you. He became a man so He could receive the righteous blows of God’s justice as the willing Substitute for your sin.

Christ Jesus is the strong man your heart desires. Christian Grey is a cheap substitute for the strong, loving leader you were designed for.

Christ Jesus became a man so He could bleed, so that His blood might wash your dirty heart and body white as snow. He experienced physical and emotional pain unlike any you will ever know—so that you, through His wounds, might be healed.

He did all this to restore your broken relationship with God, so that you might glorify and enjoy Him forever, “to the praise of His glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6).

Christ Jesus is the strong man your heart desires. Christian Grey is a cheap substitute for the strong, loving leader you were designed for.

Calling Out the Hibernating Strong Man in Your Husband

Until you are with Him in person, God has given you the means to fulfill your sexual desires, married woman. Not through dark, harmful, twisted sexuality, but in the God-blessed, sanctified context of biblical marriage.

Some of you are experiencing this joyful gift right now. Others of you wonder if your husband even has a sex drive.

I’ll share a secret with you that I learned from reading Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart. Great sex will not begin in the bedroom. Here are a few excerpts that speak to this:

Becoming a great lover requires you to exercise the muscles of temporarily suspending what you want in order to understand and bring joy to your husband. . . .

Sex in marriage will always take on the form of the relationship, even for couples that try to use it to cover up other problems or to think of it as a separate issue. Many couples come to counseling complaining of problems sexually. Almost invariably, their sexual dynamics are a perfect illustration of what is happening throughout their entire relationship. . . .

If God created and defines sex as a “deep knowing” (“yada”), we can reason that the ultimate sexual satisfaction will be found when we are truly known by one another. If you want a satisfying sex life—to truly experience yada—friendship with your husband is the pathway to achieve it. When the deep knowing is given priority in our love lives, the physical aspect of sex just works better. . . .

Regardless of whether your sex life is sizzling or hibernating, my challenge to you is this: How can you begin to call out the strong leader in your husband?

If you have no idea where to start, may I encourage you sign up for the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge? Even if you’ve taken it before, would you consider taking it again?

Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.