Paula Writes Header

Take the “Would You Rather” Quiz

I wish you could meet my sister. In addition to being a downright awesome friend and woman of God, she has a great sense of humor. Growing up, she’d often ask outlandish questions like:

Would you rather only eat green olives dipped in mayonnaise for the rest of your life, or would you rather never bathe or shower again?

Her questions were always so “out there.” Both options seemed hilariously . . . horrible!

Today let’s play a more obvious version of “Would you rather.” Here are four questions you shouldn’t even have to think twice about:

  1. Would you rather:
    1. Live in Ahwaz, Iran (the city filled with the dirtiest air in the world), or would you rather . . .
    2. Live in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada (boasting some of the cleanest air you’ll find of any city in the world according to the World Health Organization)?
  2. Would you rather:
    1. Fill your Nalgene bottle with water from Lake Karachay in Russia (the world’s most polluted spot thanks to the Soviet Union dumping nuclear waste from their largest nuclear production facilities into the lake from 1951–1953), or would you rather . . .
    2. Fill your Nalgene bottle with tap water from Switzerland (the country known for the best tap water in the world)?
  3. Would you rather:
    1. Buy raw meat from a third-world country market with flies covering its carcass, or would you rather . . .
    2. Buy organic meat from your local Whole Foods store?
  4. Would you rather:
    1. Stay in America’s dirtiest hotel room (complete with bed bugs, of course!), or would you rather . . .
    2. Stay in the cleanest hotel room America had to offer?

I bet you chose “b” each time. All of us want what’s most pure (by the way, “pure” means “clean” and “uncontaminated”). With that in mind, I have a big question for you. Are you ready?

Why do we place such a high value on pure water, pure air, pure food, pure everything . . . but we don’t wholeheartedly pursue pure lives?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In the meantime, here are some questions you might not answer quite so easily . . .

  1. Would you rather:
    1. Act and appear pure to others, or would you rather . . .
    2. Actually grow in purity from the inside-out? (We’re talking pure thoughts and pure desires that that no one but God can see.)
  2. Would you rather:
    1. Spend fifteen minutes watching your favorite show that’s “not that bad,” or would you rather . . .
    2. Spend fifteen minutes reading God’s Word?
  3. Would you rather:
    1. Move your knee a little closer so it brushes your crush’s knee, or would you rather . . .
    2. Move your knee away so it doesn’t brush your crush’s knee, even when you’re tempted otherwise?
  4. Would you rather:
    1. Rely on “good deeds” to make you feel clean and pure before a Holy God, or would you rather . . .
    2. Agree with Him that even your “good deeds” are 100 percent polluted and trust only in Christ’s purity and cleanness on your behalf?

    Take the “Would You Rather” Quiz” 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

Excuse Me? How We’ve Gotten the Motivation for Purity All Wrong

Excuse Me? How We’ve Gotten the Motivation for Purity All Wrong

There’s a “truth” I hear tossed around Christian circles that makes my stomach churn. It goes something like this: Marriage is the ultimate reward for living a life of purity right now.

Come again? Marriage is a great gift, but it is not the ultimate reward. It can be hard to believe, but God really is the ultimate reward; not a guy, not a relationship, not marriage. More

Them’s Fightin’ Words!

 

 width=

 

This morning my coworkers sat in a circle and shared a childhood adversity they had to overcome. Some were teased ’cause they were short; some were teased ’cause they were taller than the rest. More than one had to wear special orthopedic shoes that were UG-ly. One was bullied.

What do they all have in common? They were all wounded by fightin’ words. 

God’s "Fightin’ Words"

But these kinds of "fightin’ words" pale compared to the power of God’s "fightin’ words":

The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12).

God’s "Fightin’ Words" for You

Did you know that God’s Word is like a sword? Ephesians 6:17 tells us what the sword is:

Take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17, emphasis added).

This is no plastic kid’s sword! After watching Robin Hood this weekend, I was reminded that swords are meant to kill. Pastor John Piper says we use the sword of God’s Word to kill our fears and cravings.

Have you been treating God’s Word like a kid’s play sword or like the sharp, living sword it really is?

For example, he says when he craves some illicit sexual pleasure, the sword-swing he often uses is Matthew 5:8: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." He remembers how great it is to see God more clearly and how oppressive the aftertaste of sin is, and with that, "God has killed the conquering power of sin."

God’s "Fightin’ Words" for Others

You can also go to battle for others with God’s "fightin’ words." I heard a true story this past Sunday from a missionary who visited my church. She told of a woman who was terrified to return home after a man put a curse on her because she didn’t accept his marriage proposal. Guess what verse the missionary had read in her Bible just that morning?

Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest (Prov. 26:2).

After sharing that verse with the woman, the missionary asked, "Have you done anything wrong to deserve this curse?"

"No," the lady responded.

"Then God says the curse won’t stick," the missionary assured.

With that, the woman’s fear lifted, and she returned home.

So how about it? Have you been treating God’s Word like a kid’s play sword or like the sharp, living sword it really is?

I know I’ve not been taking it seriously enough, so I think I’m going to download the "Fighter Verses" app on my phone and begin to sharpen my sword. Join me?

Oh, and if you happen to be a part of the too-short, too-tall, ugly-shoe-wearing bullied crowd, here are some real "fightin’ words" for you to take to heart from Psalm 139:13–14:

You [God] knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Them’s Fightin’ Words!” was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

More Than a Misfit

 

More Than a Misfit

 

Did you know there’s a story of a runaway slave in the Bible? 

Here’s the backstory. Philemon once owned a slave named Onesimus. That is, until Onesimus ran away.

But in God’s sovereignty, Onesimus crossed paths with Paul and came to believe in Paul’s Jesus. Onesimus was then a huge help to Paul, but Paul didn’t feel okay partnering in the gospel with Onesimus without Philemon knowing about it. So Paul wrote Phil a letter.

In it, he asks Philemon to take Onesimus back. But not as a bondservant. He asks Philemon to consider him as "more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother." Now that Onesimus has put his faith in Jesus, they belong to the same family. God is their Father, and they are now brothers.

This would’ve been a crazy news flash for Philemon, almost too much to take in without sitting down. Paul was telling Philemon that his slave, Onesimus, was no longer a second-class citizen. Even though they ran in different circles and seemed to have almost nothing in common, and even though Philemon may have thought he was much better than Onesimus, they were actually equals at the cross. The gospel tore down every barrier that separated them. Jesus welcomed them both into the family of God, so they were now brothers in Christ—family.

Reminds me of Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (emphasis added).

We’re not told how the story ends, only that Paul is confident Philemon will obey him and will view Onesimus as more than.

And that’s where you and I come in. I bet you don’t own slaves, but you do know misfits. People we view that way, anyway.

  • Maybe you view that girl at youth group—the one with the lip ring—as a misfit. Or maybe you view that girl without piercings as a misfit. But have you ever stopped and thought of her as more than a misfit . . . as your sister in Christ?
  • Maybe you refuse to even make eye contact with that guy who smells like he sleeps in a trash can. But do you realize he’s more than a misfit . . . he’s your brother in Christ?
  • Maybe you make fun of those quiet sisters with the long skirts and braids. Or maybe you look down on those girls wearing the tight skinny jeans. But do you receive them as your sisters in Christ?

Just because they look or smell or act differently than you, do you really believe God loves you more because you perceive yourself as more "normal" on the outside?

Or are you flat-out stunned that God would pick you up out of the trash heap of sin, clean you inside and out—even your heart—and open wide His arms to you? Cause He did that for you. And for them.

They are so much more than a misfit . . .

FYI: This post was inspired by a sermon Brad Neese preached. I didn’t have the privilege of hearing it, but I heard about it from those who did.

More Than a Misfit” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

Coming Out Christian

 

Coming Out Christian

 

 

This past month Michael Sam came out of the closet. This was a big deal because, if drafted, he could become the first openly gay player in the NFL.

In an ESPN interview, when asked what it was like to tell his teammates, Michael said, “I was kinda scared, even though they already knew, but I was still scared of telling them.”

Our culture views this kind of coming out as incredibly brave but wants to push Christians more and more “into the closet.” That’s why Pastor Trent Griffith challenged us this past Sunday, “I’m asking you to be at least as courageous as Michael Sam. Stop taking the path of least resistance. Come out Christian.”

Just that week I’d come out Christian in front of 120 freshmen at the local public high school. Because Jesus tells us to expect persecution, I wondered if they’d throw their lunches at me or kick me out . . . or both. It felt illegal. But of course it’s not. (At least not yet.)

So during the four-and-a-half hours while I shared writing tips as well as the process of writing Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl, I openly identified myself as a Jesus-follower and spoke freely about Him. Then I offered a copy of Confessions to anyone who wanted one.

To my utter amazement, over eighty students lined up for a book. They didn’t throw anything, and they didn’t kick me out. In fact, the teachers said it was the most inspiring thing that’s happened all year.

 

whole class

 

 

It must’ve been my orange shoes. (Kidding!)

But in all seriousness, I did put on special “shoes” that day. Ephesians 6:15 describes them this way:

And, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

Let’s break that down. It basically means, “Always be prepared to share the good news of peace with God and total well-being through Him.”

Whether you’re headed to high school or just playing ball with your friend at the park, strap on the “shoes” He’s given you. Isaiah 52:7 says,

How beautiful . . . are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

I’m not telling you to cart around a heavy Bible or plaster your car with bumper stickers or leave tracts in the girls’ bathroom. I’m asking you to share the good news of happiness with those who have no true hope. Don’t let the names and labels you might be called keep you from sharing the fact that God has gone to crazy lengths to have a relationship with anyone who will accept His free gift of forgiveness through faith in His Son, Jesus.

After all, this was Jesus’ last instruction to us before He returned to heaven to prepare His home for us:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20).

So how about it? What keeps you from coming out Christian?

The world is trying to shove Christians back in the closet, but I’m calling you out today. Will you join me?

Coming Out Christian” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.