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Will You Get a Divorce Someday?

Will You Get a Divorce Someday?

You probably know someone who’s divorced. Maybe an aunt or uncle, one of the leaders in your church, or your own parents. If so, I’m so very, very sorry for the pain it’s caused—and maybe still is causing—you. With divorce so common, I wonder, What’s to keep you from heading down that same road someday? My desire in writing this post is to save your marriage before you even meet your future husband. More

When You’re Just Not Beautiful Enough to Keep His Attention

When You’re Just Not Beautiful Enough to Keep His Attention

How I need You, Abba. I don’t normally think about things like this, but I don’t have toned thighs, and suddenly I’m aware he would probably like that. I think it all started when I asked him how he’s most often tempted and what he does about it. He told me he wasn’t too keen on sharing details, but he said the standard things you hear guys struggle with are true, beginning with idolizing outer beauty. More

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.

A Lighthearted Interview on Singleness

Enjoy this lighthearted interview that Brenda from Triple Braided Life did with me. 

Brenda: First, tell us a little about yourself – your name, age, where you live, and where you grew up.

Paula: Hey there! I’m Paula Hendricks. If you’d told me as a teen that I’d be 31 and single someday, I think I would’ve said, “Shoot me now!” What a journey it’s been . . .

I live in Michigan (you should too; it’s lovely!). I grew up in the Midwest, surrounded by cornfields (not a fan).

Brenda: Where do you work, and how did you get started in your job?

Paula: I serve as Writing & Editorial Manager at Revive Our Hearts, a women’s ministry calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. I’ve practically grown up here, as I started working at ROH over nine years ago, fresh out of college. It’s a real God-story how He led me here, but unfortunately too lengthy for this post. Ask me about it sometime if we ever meet!

Brenda: Tell us one thing you LOVE about being single and one thing you hate (or your biggest struggle) about being single.

Paula: I love the quiet. “Silence is golden.” It really is.

It’s also nice not to have to wear makeup everyday or worry that my armpits stink or . . . ut-oh. You just asked for one thing. Oh well, that was getting pretty personal anyway.

What I hate: going to church solo on Sundays.

Brenda: Do you ever get mad at God because you are single? When bitterness, discontentment, confusion, and even jealousy creep into your mind, how to you deal with it? Do you have a go-to person or scripture verse or something else that helps?

Paula: When I’m tempted to think wrong thoughts about God, I talk to myself and pray. It usually starts out something like this: “Thank You, God, that You’re not capricious. You aren’t cruel; You’re not trying to tease me. . . .”

Brenda: What is your biggest pet peeve about the way single women are perceived?

Paula: There’s this lie Christians have bought into that if a single woman will just relinquish her strong desire for marriage, then . . . poof! God will give her the gift of marriage. As if we’ve ever earned His gifts . . .

Brenda: Do you struggle with finding community in your local church? How do you find community in a world that seems coupled up?

Paula: If I’m looking for people who are just like me, yes, I struggle. There aren’t many older single females my age left. But if I’m open to God providing community through people who aren’t necessarily in my stage of life, then I realize how incredibly rich I am.

Brenda: Our perception of you is that you are living a fulfilled, purposeful life as a single woman. You’re not waiting around for marriage, but fulfilling God’s call on your life now. What would you say is your secret to doing this?

Paula: Actually, if I weren’t involved in meaningful kingdom work right now, I’d probably be pining away on my couch with a romance novel and a big bag of candy. I’m so grateful God allows us to play a part in advancing His kingdom here on earth. Not only is it crazy adventurous; it’s an awesome antidote to self-pity. You don’t need a public position to do this: volunteer at your church, rake that widow’s leaves, babysit for your neighbors . . . the opportunities are endless.

 

Brenda: What words of advice do you have for other single women who want to live with purpose now and not wait for marriage to start their lives?

Paula: It’s not original to me, but if you’re not content single, you really won’t be content married. Begin to live fully in the moment. It may seem God isn’t answering your prayers, but He’s not just answering them the way you want. Ask Him to help you see the incredible ways He takes care of and loves you each day!

Brenda: And some fun stuff!

Brenda: Which do you like best – Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest (or all of it!)?

Paula: None of them. I honestly think I belong on the prarie making homemade soap and fighting off wild bears. But since people are on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve caved and joined them. You can find me @PaulaWrites678 and Facebook.com/PaulaWrites678. (The “678” is reminiscent of Romans 6–8 as the truths in those chapters changed everything about me several years ago.)

Brenda: What’s your favorite drink?

Paula: That’s tough. Right now apples are in season, and I have some mean fresh apple cider in my fridge. Yum!

Brenda: Where would you want to live the rest of your life – beach or mountains?

Paula: Beach. I have a dream of owning a house made of sand—well, at least having a bed of sand with sand floors so I’d never need to sweep the sand off my floors.

Brenda: Do you read more fiction or nonfiction?

Paula: Probably more nonfiction, but my true love is fiction. I’m working my way through the classics now; the last one I read was The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Brenda: Are you an introvert or extrovert?

Paula: 50/50, according to the tests.

Brenda: What’s something quirky about you?

Paula: I “pluck” (a.k.a. demolish) my bread. I really shouldn’t be allowed out of the house . . .

Brenda: What else do we need to know about you? Where can we connect with you online?

Paula: You can connect with me at PaulaWrites.com to learn more about my book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, to read my blog posts, and more.

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.

Undercover at Oprah’s Tour

Undercover at Oprah’s Tour

“We come from the stars. . . . How amazing is that?” These were Oprah’s opening words at The Life You Want Weekend 2014 Tour.

Undercover at Oprah’s Tour

I know, because I was there. Oprah Winfrey’s The Life You Want Weekend Tour is drawing women like crazy, and I wanted to see what women are feasting on. What is Oprah feeding them? I figured I’d return to the office with fresh passion for why I do what I do.

I got that . . . and more.

As I slipped into my seat just minutes before the tour started with my pen and notebook, I asked God for compassion, wisdom, and discernment.

Those prayers quickly turned toward marriages and families as Elizabeth Gilbert encouraged women to go on a quest (even if it meant divorcing their husbands, as she did, in order to “find themselves”).

I prayed for Rob Bell, who, according to TIME magazine, “is at the forefront of a rethinking of Christianity in America.” I prayed big, that Rob would share the Gospel without even being able to help himself, but . . . alas. There was not one mention of sin or of our need for a Savior.

I prayed for speakers Oprah and Mark Nepo and Iyanla Vanzant. You might assume I left discouraged, disheartened, and thoroughly defeated, but just the opposite is true.

I left praying prayers of thankfulness.

Praying Prayers of Thankfulness

I left praying prayers of thankfulness that I know the name of the “unnamed spirit” Mark Nepo addressed in his group meditation:

“Oh endless Creator, Force of Life, Seat of the Unconscious, Dharma, Otman, Rah, Kal, Dahr, Center of our Love, Christ-light, Yaweh, Allah, Mother of the Universe . . . Oh nameless spirit that is not done with us . . .”

I left praying prayers of thankfulness that I am not the “master of my fate, the captain of my soul,” (the mantra Oprah imbibed as a young girl), but I know the One who is.

I left praying prayers of thankfulness that I don’t have to figure out why I’m here by catching the “whispers” the Universe sends my way—I already know why I’m here through the reliable, unchanging Word of God.

Mostly, I left praying prayers of thankfulness that God would reveal Himself to me. I left freshly aware that the best the world has to offer is utterly empty in comparison to the riches found in Christ.

Now I’m praying that Oprah Tour attendees will rub shoulders with Spirit-filled Christians and breathe in deep the fragrance of Jesus Christ, slain for sinners, raised to defeat sin and death and secure for His children everlasting life with Him.

You may not have attended one of Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend Tours, but in your own life—as you see what the world has to offer—what prayers of thanksgiving can you offer as you consider all that is yours in Christ?

Undercover at Oprah’s Tour” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.