Saturday, December 31, 2011

Beautiful Romance

What's it like to be in love?

I'd like to clear something up.

There is a terrible misconception about me.

I've been told that I'm religious.

I'm not. 

I've been told that I'm too churchy.

I'm not. 

I've been told that I talk about Jesus too much.

I don't. 

I don't talk about him enough.

I don't have the self discipline to be religious, there are days when I really don't want to go to church, and I definitely don't talk about Jesus as much as I should.

I am a Christian.

There is a terrible misconception about me.

I believe there is a terrible misconception about Christianity.

Religious? Intolerant? Pushy? Hypocritical? Self Righteous?

These descriptions grieve me. But I'd have to admit that I've met people that call themselves "Christians" that would fit the stereotypes above. Sadly, these people that call themselves "Christians" are even more clueless then the ones who have invented the stereotypes. After all, simply labeling yourself a Christian does not make you one any more than calling yourself a horse gives you four legs, a mane, and a tail.

But even true followers of Christ have their faults, and you don't ever have to look that hard to find them.

But I would suggest that there is much more to Christians than faults and failures.
I should know, I am one.

And if there was just one thing I could tell you about myself, I would tell you this:

I'm in love.

I'm in love with Jesus.

The Jesus Christ from the Bible that claimed to be the son of God. The one the religious leaders hated, the one the Romans scorned, the one the disciples loved, the One who allowed His creation to nail him to a tree.

That Jesus.

He loves me.

I cannot comprehend why the almighty God of the universe would take on the form of a man to become my Savior. To hurt for me. To weep for me. To die for me.

Why would He choose to rescue a filthy and unworthy sinner like me? I am not good enough for Him! He is the perfect Creator, and I am nothing but His marred creation. Why?

Because He loves me.

Some people think I'm too obsessed with my "religion". But if that's what they think, they've entirely missed the very essence of my faith. I'm not obsessed with my "religion", I'm obsessed with Jesus!

I'm in love with Jesus.

When you are head over heels, passionately and wonderfully in love with someone, you just can't keep it to yourself. You have to tell someone!

If you had a death sentence hanging over your head, and the Judge pardoned you with his own blood and then wanted to protect you, teach you, and shape you into something beautiful, wouldn't it change your life?

What if He, after saving your life, wanted to have an intimate relationship with you? To get to know you? Would you be able to keep it a secret?

That's what Jesus has done for me. I can't keep it a secret! Why would I?

The Creator of the world has offered me a personal relationship with him and I have accepted. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me.
The more I get to know Him, the more I fall in love. The more I learn about Him the more wonderful He is to me.

If I could only make you understand! But I can't! See, if you've never met Jesus, I guess I look kind of stupid.

He's my lifeline, my everything. He isn't just a hobby, he's my whole life. Yes, I still make mistakes. Yes, I still struggle with sin. But it isn't about me, it's about Him. That's the best part! It doesn't matter who I am, or what I've done, or how good or bad I think I am. That's not what my faith is about.

It's about loving Jesus.

Loving him enough to look like a fool.

Loving him enough to take up my cross and follow him.

Loving him enough to sacrifice everything for His sake.

It's all worth it because He loves me!

But how can I put that into words?

How do you explain what it's like to be in love?

How can I tell you that when I say I'm a Christian, I mean it! I'm a follower of Christ. His beloved!

It isn't about religion. Christianity has never been about religion.

It's a Beautiful Romance.

But how can I show you that?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
-John 3:16

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
-Zephaniah 3:17

"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."
-John 17:3

"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ"
-Philippians 3:8

"nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord"
-Romans 8:39

This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”

-Jeremiah 9:23-24

Friday, November 25, 2011

It's unexpected.

Are you ready?

"Joanna, wake up."

I looked at my alarm clock and blinked. It was 5:30am, Wednesday morning.

"I have some sad news."


"Grandma died."

"Jer, you had a bad dream" I croaked. "Go back to bed."

It took a minute, but after the fog in my tired brain cleared, what my 9 year old brother had said, finally registered.

Grandma died? 

Saturday had been my Grandmother's 92nd birthday. She had been living with us for almost 3 years and had become a very big, and wonderful part of my family's life. 

We celebrated Grandma Ruth's birthday Monday night at a restaurant in town. She ate her favorite meal, followed by a homemade pecan pie. She was lively, animated, witty and joyful. She stayed up late that night enjoying the company of my parents and sharing stories of her early life. Grandma was at the top of her game.

But Tuesday morning was very different. She was not her cheerful self. The first thing she said that morning was a grumpy "Shutup" to her loud and sometimes annoying room-mate, the bird. As the morning progressed my parents quickly realized that something was very wrong. By afternoon my Grandma had been admitted to the emergency room, and was struggling to breathe. 

When I went to bed late Tuesday night, she was doing much better and my last thought was a prayer for my Grandma's health, as I drifted to sleep.

I was not prepared for what I woke up to the very next day. Maybe I hadn't realized how serious the situation was when she went into the hospital the day before. Maybe I had just denied it. 

Grandma's death was unexpected

If you had told me on Saturday that my Grandma would pass away within a matter of days I wouldn't have believed you.

For a 92 year old with Alzheimer's that has lived a long, full life it is a little easier to say goodbye. But not everyone lives to be 92 years old. Last week a woman just a little older than my mother died as a result of a long and hard battle with breast cancer. A few months ago a 27 year old family friend passed away with absolutely no warning. One day here and the next, gone.

Death is unexpected.

For family and friends, letting go is painfully hard. Death is not pleasant. Death is very real, and not as uncommon as we would wish it to be.

We live in a broken world. See all the pain? The suffering? The persecution? The evil?

Something is very wrong. 

We are not made for this world. It's ruined. Ruined with our sin. It goes all the way back to the very first man and woman, and their decision to disobey their creator, God. Everyday we continue that decision of rebellion that they started in the Garden of Eden. 

God knew that we would choose to turn away from Him. He knew that His perfect creation would be destroyed by the sin that we chose. God did not create a broken world full of sin, but he did have a plan when we messed it up with our selfishness. He sent his son, Jesus to die.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
-Romans 6:23

The wages of sin is death

Sin has a big price tag. The death that verse is referring to is not simply physical death. The "death" here is speaking of eternal separation from God. Forever. That place of separation is hell. Since we have all rebelled against the righteous God of the universe we all deserve death

But when Jesus died he payed the required penalty of sin so that you and I could have the opportunity to live with Him foreverin the perfect place that we were created for! 

However, if we do not choose to accept that gift of eternal life we will be accountable for paying the price of sin ourselves.

My Grandma loved Jesus. The two women that I mentioned above also loved Jesus. Because all three of them made the the choice to put their trust and faith in Him to save them from their sins I have confidence that I will see them again someday. The reason I have that confidence is because I too have put my trust in Christ, giving me access to eternal life with Him in heaven. 

Death is unexpected. 

We don't know when our time on this earth will be over. 

Are you ready to die?

You could die next week. You could die tomorrow. You could die today.

Are you ready?

I could die within the next 5 minutes, I could die in 50 years. I don't know when I'll die. But I do know that I'm ready, whenever that day comes.

I rejoice for my Grandma! She has graduated from this broken world and is with her Savior in Heaven! She is finally home.

I cry, because I miss her sweet smile. I hurt, because death is painful. But I rejoice! I look forward to the day when I will be reunited with her. 

But much more than that, my soul longs to see the face of Jesus Christ, my Savior and the love of my life.

I miss you, Grandma. But mostly I'm just jealous. I want to go home too!

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
Philippians 3:20-21

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far..."
Philippians 1:21-23

"...admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."
Hebrews 11:13-16

“Where, O death, is your victory? 

   Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
-1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Monday, September 12, 2011

Here we go again...

"I want you off that foot for one week. If it isn't improving I want you back for x-rays. No more bucking bales or anything like that, ok?"

I nodded, but in my head I'm thinking "Yeah, right. That's so not happening."

I was in the middle of a week of teaching 5-day clubs and the following week I would be working at the Fair in the CEF booth. I was incredibly busy, with the end of my summer all laid out and packed full of things I needed to do and commitments I had to fill.

I left the doctor's office discouraged, but determined. There was no way I was going to just throw all of my plans out the window because of a stupid sprained foot. My clumsiness wasn't about to slow me down!

So, for the most part it didn't. I continued on as usual, making a small effort to stay off of my foot and still manage everything I had planned.

The doctor called back in a week to see how "Gimpy" was doing (I was doing just fine, thank you very much.) and my mom informed her that I needed another week to rest it because I hadn't managed the whole "I want you off that foot" very well at all.

The following week flew by and like the good girl that I am I did exactly what the doctor said. Ok, not exactly. Not at all actually. I headed back to Shiloh Bible Camp for a week to work on the dish-crew for a rental. I had a blast and God blessed me in some big ways but unfortunately when I got home my foot was waving the white flag of defeat and I realized that continuing to shoot it wouldn't help me very much in the long run.

Frustrated and exhausted, I resigned myself to a recliner, an ice pack, and an ace bandage.

I am notorious for sprained ankles. In fact, this summer when I sprained BOTH ankles at camp (in one week no less) I knew I'd never hear the end of it. It just so happens that the previous summer, during the last week of camp I gracefully tripped over some invisible object and sprained my ankle. Hilarious, right?  Someone has a mean sense of humor.

If you know me, you know that I hate sitting around and doing nothing. I hate it with a passion. It drives me crazy. I am the happiest when I am busy doing one thing and looking forward to the next, and so the prospect of only being allowed to do things that can be accomplished sitting down was devastating.

Ok, maybe that's a little dramatic. But I was not looking forward to it!

The doctor ordered x-rays and the results were: "No, your foot is not broken. Yes, you need to wrap it in an ace bandage and stay off of it."

These have been two very long weeks of doing close to nothing, and I must admit, I have had a ridiculously horrible attitude towards God.

Hello God,
Did you know that I could accomplish much more for you if you would just heal my foot? Just saying.

Dear God,
There can't possibly be any good coming out of this, can there? I mean, it's just a little bitty sore foot. No big deal, right? Could you fix it?!? Pleeeeeeeeeeeease?
-Yours Truly

Hey there God,
I'm really really really sick of this. Can I be done now?
This is dumb.

Like a spoiled little brat I've been sitting around complaining to my Savior about how I have to rest and let an injury heal.
I, the daughter of the King have been complaining about a sprained ankle when my brothers and sisters are struggling in much bigger ways! Fighting the battle against cancer, standing their ground in a broken home, taking persecution for the name of Jesus Christ, the list goes on.

Ashamed? Yeah. What happened to trusting Him and having joy in tough situations? A sprained ankle isn't even a very big trial! And I flunked it. Praise God, He offers second chances. I'm ready to take the one He is offering.

Dear Jesus,
I'm so sorry.
I was too busy wallowing in my selfishness to ask you "How can you use me through this?"
Please forgive me.
Help me use this opportunity that you have given me to bring glory to your name.

Thank God for ace bandages and ice packs ;)

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
-1 Thessalonians 5:18

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
-1 Corinthians 10:31

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Home sweet Home :)

After FOUR long, incredible weeks at Shiloh Bible Camp I'm finally home!!! Did you miss me? :)

I don't know how I can describe to you exactly what happened during that time, it would take much too long and I'm sure half of it wouldn't make any sense. You just had to have been there! I suppose I could just sum it up by saying this:

God works in amazing ways.

There you go. That's my camp experience, summed up into one sentence. 

For the first three weeks I participated in the CIT program. For those of you who don't know what that is, here is the description given by the camp:

"(CIT)  is a three-week discipleship program that is designed to help high school students, ages 15-18,  grow in their love and devotion to God, and to learn how to serve God by serving others.  This is accomplished by daily Bible study and prayer times (individual and group), training, daily work projects (cleaning, woodcutting, trail prep, painting, etc.), and other acts of service."

Basically, we worked hard, played hard, prayed hard and studied hard. In the process we also grew spiritually in ways none of us thought possible.

The camp's theme this summer was "Knowing Jesus Through the Eyes of John" so our CIT group studied the book of John in the Bible. Wow. Good stuff. Go read John, right now.

One of the things that I loved the most was all the prayer time we got to have. I was convicted about how much time I actually spend in prayer at home. During CIT we had a group prayer meeting and then our own special time set aside to go be alone with Jesus. Oh how I loved that! 

We had an incredible group of teens that were on fire for the Lord. The fellowship was so sweet! I loved every moment. I think that is what I will miss the most, the Christian fellowship was amazing! I had other brothers and sisters in Christ with the same mindset to encourage me, keep me accountable and worship the Lord with me! 

God is good.

In one of my last posts before I left I said that I felt like I had "Construction Zone tape all over my heart" and that God had been working on me in ways I hadn't thought possible. Well guess what? He's not done yet!    

He's working on me but I'm not finished yet! Praise Jesus!  I won't even try to list all the things He changed in my heart during that 3 weeks.  I couldn't! 

But I will share with you one of the biggest things that I'm learning. Here it is: I belong to Jesus. He bought me with His precious blood and I am His. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Completely and totally His.

Every moment of every single day belongs to Him. Without Him I am nothing. Do I spend my time in a way that is honoring to Him?  

Every morning when I wake up do I start my day asking "How can I serve you today Jesus? How can you use me? What can you teach me?" 

I should.

It's sobering how many minutes, how many hours, how many days and weeks of my life I WASTE by being distracted by the things of this world and not setting my eyes on Christ, the Author and perfecter of my faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

In one of my first blog posts I wrote about distractions in the Christian walk. Ouch. Where is my eternal perspective? Where is my focus every day? What is my attitude? What does my heart look like?

I want to be so completely and totally abandoned to Christ and His will that if you took Him out of my life I would have nothing left.

Jesus is the only reason I am alive. The only reason I am who I am. The only reason I don't have "GUILTY" written on my forehead! The only reason I no longer bear the burden and label of "SINNER". Christians, if your life isn't completely consumed by the cross, by Jesus Christ, then what is it consumed by? What's holding you back? Is it worth it? 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing worth living for. I was reminded of that again at camp. It's reminder we all need every single day.

We are here on earth to glorify and honor the God of the Universe. Everyday our lives should point others to the cross. Every moment.

When you reach the end of your life, which could be at any given moment, and you look back what will you see? Will you have taken every opportunity to praise, serve, glorify and honor God? Or will you have wasted   countless minutes, hours, days of your life on things of this world that don't matter in the end?

The fourth week of camp was High School Camp. The theme was "Don't Waste Your Life"

I'll be returning to camp on Sunday for my fifth and final week at SBC this summer. It's Girls Camp (3rd-6th grade) and I get to be a cabin leader! :) When I come back I will start doing 5 day clubs through CEF, I would so appreciate your prayers. God has lots more in store for me this summer and I can't wait to see it unfold :)

The God that we serve is amazing! Amen? He deserves ever breath from you in this life, every second of your time. It's what your made for! Don't Waste Your Life! 

Praise Jesus, tomorrow is a new day!

Hebrews 11


Romans 12:2

Philippians 1:21 

Philippians 2:14-17

Colossians 1:10

Ephesians 5:15-17 

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose" -Jim Elliot

Sunday, June 5, 2011

On a lighter note....

I've been trying to brainstorm up another blog post during the past couple days. Unfortunately, up until now I've been too stuck on the last post to come up with a new one. Sooooo I decided to just sit down and see what ends up coming from the keyboard.....Ready for this?

I had a conversation with a dear friend about a week ago about bad circumstances. We hadn't really talked for a while and since we had both been going through a kinda rough time the conversation consisted of mostly sad or depressing stuff that had been on our hearts. Friends that had betrayed, family that had disappointed, and cranky days that ended in hurt feelings. Some of our complaints were little, some were big and caused many tears that had remained unshed for too long. When we finally finished all of our woe-is-me's and the sober conversation was coming to a close I realized something that I really hadn't noticed until then. "You know," I said "even though I feel like this has been the roughest 6 months of my life, I feel like my faith is stronger then it's ever been." She smiled at me and said, "I know exactly what you mean."

I can't even begin to describe the work in my life that Christ has been doing. I feel like my heart has "Construction Zone" tape all over it. The way I think has almost completely changed. Can a heart change this much in a year? Even though many of the lessons have been somewhat painful, through ever bumpy spot in the road Jesus has been teaching me something. I'm closer to Christ now than I have ever been in my life.

That is an incredible feeling. Being close to the Creator of the Universe? No way. Is that possible? Wow.

It seems like every time I felt despair was drawing near my Savior gave me just what I needed to keep going. Hmm, God is super good at providing for His children, huh?

Like a much needed sermon or lecture, an encouraging letter from a friend,
being on the receiving end of a spontaneous phone call, just the right scripture, at just the right time,
being kidnapped for a break from the stress....ect

The list goes on and on. Jesus knows what I need, when I need it.

During one of my "quiet" days I received a very unexpected email from someone I barely knew. This person asked me if I could make sense of the confusing religion that I believed in. Could I possible share why I believed what I believe?

Could I?!?! Yes! I think that sharing my faith is my favorite thing to do in the whole world. The more I share, the more excited I get as I remember how incredible the story is! The story that I so love to tell is the most amazing and most needed story there is!

I couldn't unplaster the smile from my face for days.

Did you know Jesus loves you?
Wow. God is good. 

I've been incredible busy during the past week, it's flown by faster than...something fast. All I did was blink on Monday. I want my week back!
I guess I got my "Dear God, please make me more productive everyday" prayer answered.

Be careful what you pray for, God may just give you what you asked for.

Which brings me to my next subject:

Dear faithful blog followers,
Joanna will be signing out of the blogging world for the summer, starting in about two weeks. If she so happens to survive long enough, she should return right around the end of August.
Into Marvelous Light

I prayed that God would give me every opportunity to serve Him this summer. Well, He has. So now I am getting ready for a lovely, relaxing, laid back summer that includes 5 weeks at Shiloh Bible Camp and 3 weeks with CEF 5-day clubs. I'm also pretty sure my family would like me to join them on a summer vacation somewhere too...
During my short "visits" home in between everything else I have a yearling colt to work with and some trails that are just begging to be ridden by horseback. (like, seriously begging to be ridden)
I suppose when all else fails farm life will manage to keep me busy in the hours and hours of boredom I will have to deal with this summer.
Between now and when I leave for camp in two weeks I really need the pregnant dairy goats to give birth so my poor mama doesn't have to take care of newborn goatlets by herself. Finishing up school and getting everything I need for camp is on the "to-do" list as well.

I really love being busy, but I am SO glad God's got my day planner cause I have no idea how I'm going to get everything accomplished this summer. But even while I'm busy stressing over silly details I am also so incredibly excited about what God is going to do this summer! Big things I'm sure!

Are you ever just overwhelmed with how awesome God is? I sure am. Right about now.

Jesus loves you. Did you know that?  

God is good. 

No really, God is good all the time.

Be thankful :)

......P.s. Get all that? Hope Ya'all could make sense of it... I apologize for worse spelling and grammar than usual, I do need sleep... 

[Christians: prayers for Shiloh Bible camp and the upcoming summer of 5 day clubs would be greatly appreciated! Pray for all the kids I will be working with this summer and that I would be a good witness and example. Pray for all those sharing  the good news that they would have wisdom and boldness but most importantly, love when they share. Thanks in advance to all my brothers and sisters that are prayer warriors!]

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Mathew 6:26
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

"Don't tell God how big your circumstances are, tell your circumstances how big your God is."

Friday, May 27, 2011

No Compromise.

I have been discouraged and disappointed more recently then any other time in my life. Why? Because Christians are not perfect.

Well, duh Joanna! Of course Christians are not perfect, nobody is except for God!
At one time or another every single one of us stumbles and falls, only to be picked up by the loving and merciful hands of the Father. I know that Christians are not perfect, but sometimes I subconsciously get the mindset that a real strong, solid Christian that I know must be perfect.

Recently I have had a front row seat to the trials and temptations that many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have faced. While some of them endured the testing of their faith and emerged stronger and more assured of their firm beliefs, many of the people I am closest to have come away from a situation having compromised their carefully established standards and convictions. The ones that I thought would never in a million years let me down have faltered and given up their standards when the time came to hold fast to them!

Watching my peers and mentors, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ that I went to for advice and encouragement, lowering their standards to take what the world had to offer has disappointed and hurt me. The temptation to let my guard down is even greater when someone that I am close to has already compromised. Why even try? Compromise seems to have worked out just fine for them!

And in the many different areas that are easy to compromise in (relationships, media, books, movies, music, ect…) there are almost as many justifications for lowering standards!

He may have compromised his standards in his relationship, but at least he has a special someone…

She may wear stuff that shows a bit too much skin and draws too much attention to the wrong places, but did you see how everybody was looking at her?

He may have been dancing to a song that goes against everything he believes in, but he sure fit right into the group. And the tune was catchy…

She may have watched a movie with a bit too much language but hey, she said the story line was really good…

I have poured my heart out in prayer and cried out to my heavenly Father in confusion. Is it even worth it to strive for righteousness? Is it even worth it to try and stand alone when it seems like everyone else is falling to temptation?

After agonizing over questions that I already knew the answer to I finally went back to the truth, and ultimately the Word of God. The answer is Yes! It is worth it! Why? Because Jesus asks us to! And He doesn’t ask us to because He would like us to miss out on enjoyment here on earth, but because He knows what’s best for us! He knows that the momentary pleasures of sin won’t last, in the end they will steal precious purity and innocence from His children. And His children are satisfied in His righteousness, and only His righteousness.  

Sin looks so appealing. But don’t be deceived! Satan is a liar and the father of lies, and deception is his expertise. He makes poison look like a feast and one of his favorite things to do is trip up the Children of God and convince them to compromise their convictions and slowly adjust to those of the world. He sugarcoats forbidden things and convinces us that what we are doing is "not that bad" or even a “good thing”! But the sin of the world will never, ever begin to compare to the satisfaction that we have in Christ, it cannot fill you up! Only the joy that comes from knowing Jesus can satisfy you.

When I see a Christian compromising to suit the world the first thing I think is: "Why?"

Why would you pursue something so worthless when you have tasted the riches of the King? 
As a saved, born again Christian who knows the righteousness and holiness of God, Why would you clothe yourself in the rags of sin? You know that the momentary pleasures of the world are nothing compared to the eternal life you have received! Don't you remember who you are? What you are? You are set apart, called out, different! Did you forget? You are no longer part of this world! Why are you acting like it?

The Slippery Slope.

I read a book not too long ago by the name of Twilight (familiar?) I had to be convinced to read it in the first place because I was awfully wary of a book about "good vampires". It sounded, well, evil. But once I started reading it, I found myself liking it. In fact, I liked it a lot. It had an exciting and interesting story of romance and adventure and I couldn't understand why I hadn't read it sooner. I finished it in two days. It was loaned to me by a friend and my parents didn't know that I was reading it. I didn't think they would mind, I was smart enough to choose my own reading material, right? Well, about the time I finished it my parents noticed what I was reading and started talking to me about it. As soon as they started reminding me of why I was wary of it in the first place, I started feeling guilty.

In fact, I felt like I had been smacked upside the head with a two-by-four. I suddenly realized how stupid I had been! I was so ashamed of liking the book that I wanted to burn it. Something that I had thought to be so wrong and evil before, I had actually found myself becoming a fan of! When I had started reading it I told myself that I wanted to know what it was about so I could decide for myself if there was anything wrong with it, and instead I had gotten completely swept off my feet and forgotten my purpose for reading it in the first place!

Now, I know a lot of Christians that love the Twilight series, and I'm not going to go into all the reasons why I think it's wrong, if you disagree you can contact me and ask me why, but Twilight isn't my point. My point is, I was so convinced of my standards and convictions when I started I told myself that if it got bad I would put it down. But I didn't! I was so sucked into enjoying the book that I didn't recognize the flashing red lights when they were right in front of me. I let my guard down; I compromised my standards and convictions and only by God's grace was I able to have my eyes opened and see what was really happening.

Isn’t that how sin often works though? You thought that you would be strong enough to back away if it happened to get bad, but because you opened the door for it in the first place you couldn’t manage to get it shut again.  I am so thankful that our God is a forgiving God! Because how many other times have I done the exact same thing and without realizing it, gradually lowered my standards?

But even though we will stumble and fall into sins and temptations again and again, God calls us to righteousness, purity, and holiness. He requires us to be constantly striving after His standards. Not the world's standards, not our own standards, His standards. 

Please, as your sister in Christ, hear me out. Don’t compromise your convictions guys! It isn’t worth it! It isn’t worth the pain you will cause to your heavenly Father or the disappointment of your brothers and sisters in Christ. When you compromise you damage not only your relationship with your Savoir, but your witness to non-believers. Remember that you are a representative of Jesus Christ to a world that does not know Him.

Don’t chase after the rags of this world! Instead clothe yourself in the righteousness of Christ!

Proverbs 3:7
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

Psalm 58:11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

John 14:15
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Joshua 24:14-15
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Psalm 26

Psalm 64:10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart exult!

Psalm 5:12 For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

Note: I’m sorry I haven't posted in a while.... I've sat down to write several times, but I just haven't been able to until now. I knew that I needed to write about what the Lord placed on my heart but I didn't want to because I knew this post was going to be a very painful one to write. Because even though all of the things I've posted about have been dear to my heart, I think this one hits closest to home.