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6 Things Singles Need to Know about Marriage, Pt. 1

Tami Myer is my friend and fellow writer who blogs about godly marriage and what that looks like. I asked her if she could share a biblical perspective on marriage for singles that we could apply to our walk now, and she graciously said yes.

Whether you’re a teen, young adult, or adult who’s not yet married, it’s my hope that Tami’s two-part series will bless you as much as it has me.

***

Why should singles care about the topic of marriage?

If marriage is not on your radar or even on your wish list, you may think that the subject is not relevant for you right now. But regardless of your marital status, you will benefit from understanding the divine design for marriage. [i]

Here are six important things to know about marriage.

#1. Marriage is a profound revealer of spiritual truths.

When we look at the universe, we know that there is a God. And when we look at marriage, we learn who this God is. The created world reveals the existence of God, but marriage reveals the nature and character of God. We learn that He is a God of relationship and that He is loyal and loving.

In the Scriptures, God makes a stunning claim:

For your Creator will be your husband. (Isaiah 54:5 NLT)

God will be our husband? What does that mean? As we study biblical marriage, we learn that a man is to be the protector and the provider for his wife. The husband is responsible for the well-being of the woman. He lays down his interests in order to love her well. His very life is to be a covering of protection over his bride. He honors, nurtures, and cherishes her.

Amazingly, God is eager to be this kind of “husband” to everyone who enters into a covenant relationship with Him.

I will take you to be My wife forever. I will take you to be My wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. (Hosea 2:19 HSCB)

As a type of “wife,” we accept God and welcome Him. We take His name as our name. “I am His” becomes our identity. We become covenant partners with Him, and we allow Him to carry the weight of responsibility. We give up being spiritually single. We end our other spiritual love affairs (pursuing pleasure, prestige, or possessions), and we devote ourselves to Him. Instead of being spiritually independent (“I know what is good for me”), we depend on His guidance and wisdom.

We live to know Him and to make His name great. We trust His care, knowing that His goal is our radiance. [ii] Our thriving is His glory.

We abide in Him, and He abides in us. We delight in Him, marveling that He delights in us.

As a groom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.
(Isaiah 62:5 HCSB)

#2. You can have a great impact on others in the area of marriage.

As you interact with people every day, you can be a powerful influence. You don’t have to be married to know what God teaches about marriage. Understanding the Scriptures will enable you to share helpful truth with others.

It has been said that wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective. Whether married or not, we all need wisdom in this area because the marriages around us affect our lives. Marriages shape our society and culture.

#3. You may have heard that sexual purity is a gift to your future spouse, and that is certainly true. But purity is also a valuable gift to yourself.

You are far more than physical instincts and chemicals. You are more than an animal, which lacks moral strength or character. You have inherent honor, for you are a man or a woman created in the image of God Himself. Women have the God-given glory of being women. Men have the God-given glory of being men.

Your sexuality is deeply linked to your spirit. If you are abused sexually, there is a deep wounding in your spirit. If you give your body away sexually, your spirit is dishonored and demeaned. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18 NLT)

Perhaps you don’t know how much you are worth. Perhaps you don’t know that you are a person of high value. God says that you are a treasure. You are priceless!

Your body and spirit are worth far more than cheap words and empty promises. You are worth nothing less than someone’s solemn vow before God and witnesses to honor you “til death do you part.” Guard yourself against anyone who says you are worth less than a lifetime commitment.

Sexual purity isn’t just physical. It is also mental. Stay away from porn. It will destroy you. We live in a pornographic society, so it takes strength to fight back, but it is well worth the effort. Porn promises pleasure, but then it sabotages even the ability to enjoy pleasure. It is highly addictive, encourages abusive behavior, creates dissatisfaction, destroys empathy, and causes users to view people as objects.

Pursue sexual purity in your behavior and in your thinking. You will reap great rewards from this, both now and later, whether single or married. Purity will free you to be healthy physically, spiritually, and in your relationships with other people.

Whatever may be in your past, you can embrace purity now because God loves to give fresh starts and clean slates.

~ Tami Myer

To be continued… Be sure to come back next week for the second part of: 6 Things Singles Need to Know about Marriage.

Notes

[i] One of the best books on marriage was originally written for singles. The Meaning of Marriage is based on a series of sermons which pastor Timothy Keller preached at his church in New York City, where his congregation is predominantly single.

[ii] Ephesians 5:27, NIV

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How to Have a Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day might be the one holiday that leaves people feeling polar extremes of warm fuzzy or arctic cold.

Honestly, it’s a holiday that holds a mixed bag for me, too. I had one boyfriend call our relationship quits on Valentine’s Day (necessary but not exceptionally thoughtful). Other years, I’ve celebrated “Galentine’s Day” with my girlfriends instead. This year, I’m focusing on old and new friends alike.

I guess somewhere along the way, I realized that I can celebrate Valentine’s Day, regardless of my relationship status.

Let me say that again.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about our relationship status. 

That’s where we go wrong. We see the heart candies, roses, and those ridiculous large bears and start to daydream of our romantic relationship or lack thereof.

There’s our problem. We make the day about us. Did get a card? Did he remember to send me flowers? Did she get me a gift?

When we make the day about us, we’ll be disappointed every time, because there is usually a gap between expectations and reality. I’m not saying we shouldn’t give gifts or send flowers. Not at all! Those things are wonderful and can be thoughtful expressions of love.

But here’s the kicker: We don’t have to have a specific relationship status to do so.

Valentine’s Day can be a day to celebrate the people we love. 

Maybe that person is a significant other or spouse, and if so, celebrate that special relationship with gusto. Relationships are gifts, and couples should enjoy a day set aside to honor their love.

However, we don’t have to limit ourselves to romantic relationships. Instead, we can expand our horizons so we don’t miss the other people we’re blessed to love. Maybe that person is a father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter. Maybe it’s the teens in our youth group or peers in our Bible study.

Bottom line: Make the day about someone other than you. Cook dinner for your parents. Send flowers to your little sister in college. Bake brownies for the church teens, or host a game night at your house. And if you do have a special someone in your life, find a way to show that person how much you appreciate him or her.

After all, Jesus Himself commanded us to love (John 15:12). He said that we’re to love one another as He loved us—and He didn’t just say He loved us; He showed it by dying on the cross for us (John 3:16). The love God wants us to model isn’t sappy or shallow but sacrificial.

My college Bible professor captured that idea in a simple definition of love. It’s one I haven’t forgotten and hope I never will:

“Love is purposing the good of another person.”

Isn’t that what I Corinthians 13 says? The “love” chapter is all about giving of ourselves selflessly. Love is not “self-seeking” but generous (I Corinthians 13:5 NIV).

This Valentine’s Day week, look outward, not inward, and see how you can shower the people in your life with love. I think you’ll find that when you do, you’ll have the happiest Valentine’s Day yet.

~ Kristen

I’m grateful to DailyPS.com for sharing this post on their website. Visit DailyPS.com for more practical and encouraging ways to live intentionally.

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Olympic Dreams Start with Small Habits

I always get excited about the Olympics, but this year, I’m especially eager in light of my recent ski trip. With my new perspective on snow sports, I know I’ll have a greater respect for winter Olympians and their skills.

The games starting this week highlight the athletes’ best performances, but they don’t reveal the countless hours and early mornings that have led up to the moment. These athletes had to be intentional every day to take the steps and make the sacrifices necessary to reach this opportunity.

You and I may never participate in the Olympic games, but we do have dreams God’s planted in our hearts. What habits do we need to cultivate in order to reach them?

#1: Desire God more

Wait a minute, Kristen. I thought you were going to talk about how we can achieve our goals?

That’s right. Who better to teach us and train us for the journey than the Dream-Giver Himself? As God’s children, we should ask Him to inspire our dreams.

The only way we know God’s best plan for our lives is to spend more time with Him in prayer and in His Word. Seeking His will on a daily basis is essential for walking the path He wants us to travel.

He invites us to do just that.

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV)

#2: Be willing to work hard

No one wakes up one day and accidentally becomes an Olympian. If we’re serious about achieving our goals, we need to roll up our sleeves and get busy.

Did you know God’s Word both commands and commends hard work? Yes, God calls us to give our best.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might … (Ecclesiastes 9:10a NASB)

He also promises to reward our best.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV)

So why would we give anything less than our all?

#3: Do the next right thing

One of my mantras for life is to do the next right thing. The reason is simple: I’ve learned that sometimes my long-term plans just don’t go as planned. I can’t control tomorrow, but I can focus on the task at hand.

You know what? That’s okay. Proverbs 16:9 explains why:

A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps. (NKJV)

I’d rather have God redirect my steps as He sees best than always get my own way. Wouldn’t you?

Parting Challenge

Think about where you were four years ago and where you are now. Think about where you want to be in the next four years.

What have you done with the dreams God has given you? What baby steps can you take this week to work toward the goals He’s laid upon your heart?

~ Kristen

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3 Ways to Shred Fear on Life’s Slopes

Recently, this Florida girl left her state behind to experience snow and skis for the first time. And. I. Loved. It. All.

Yes, I’m not too proud to say the white stuff stole my breath and claimed a space in my heart. That said, I wasn’t an instant star on the slopes. I wiped out hard and often, but by the end of the trip, I truly enjoyed skiing, despite my ungraceful moments.

I learned so much on the slopes and realized that some of those same principles apply to our Christian lives. We can’t let fear keep us from growing; instead, we can intelligently channel that emotion to discover new potential.

#1: Abandon the Bunnies

There’s a difference between caution and fear. Caution kept my unskilled self off the icy black slopes, but fear would have kept me on the bunnies.

It didn’t. Instead, I abandoned the training slope on day one and went for the green. In the process, I mastered my trademark 360 wipe-out move and discovered I have speed/control problems. However, I wouldn’t have improved my slowing techniques with the pizza move and side-to-side method if I hadn’t had a place to experience speed.

The same is true in life. Sometimes, we’d rather stay in our comfort zones, but we can’t grow if we don’t encounter steep places and challenges. As James says, it’s the “testing” of our faith, not the sheltering of it, that develops patience (James 1:3). Only in the middle of the slopes do we identify our weaknesses and practice mastering them.

#2: Don’t Ride Lifts Alone

If you’re a pro skier, you’re more than welcome to go solo. But a newbie should always have someone go with her the first time.

I’m thankful I did. I was so eager to get off successfully that I actually jumped off the lift. (You’re not supposed to do that.) Thankfully, my friend was right there, grabbed my arm, and helped me up from my awkward split in the snow.

Sometimes, we think we can handle life solo (pride), but the fact is that we need people alongside us to pray with us (James 5:16), sharpen us (Prov. 27:17), and fellowship with us (Hebrews 10:25).

#3: Wipe-Out and Recover

As I tell my students, we can’t be afraid to fall. Though sometimes painful and embarrassing, failure is often the best teacher.

If a new skier is scared to wipe out, she will never learn to ski. Truth is, eating the snow taught me more than caution would have.

  • I learned how to get back up. The bottom line is that if you can’t get yourself back upright, you can’t get off the bunnies.
  • Wiping out gave me motivation to improve my slowing techniques, because I very much wanted to get down the green without falling. (That only happened two or three times, but the sense of achievement was sweet.)
  • I learned to laugh at myself. Everyone wipes out at some point (some people harder than others). The key is to shake it off and keep smiling.

Those are good reminders for life. Uncomfortable or embarrassing places allow God the opportunity to work His good through our mistakes and mess (Romans 8:28). How we respond to those situations gives us a chance to model His grace at work in our lives.

Happy Shredding

I can’t wait to go back to the slopes one day and hone my skills, but until then, I want to remember what I learned.

Don’t let fear keep you from discovering new places and hidden potential. Remember 2 Timothy 1:7? We are not to approach any part of this life with fear but with God’s power, love, and fortitude.

~ Kristen

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Want to Do More? Start Small.

“I feel like I should do more for God,” a friend recently shared. However, she already has a full-time job and ministry commitments. How can she do greater things when she barely has time to sleep?

I felt her frustration, because I’ve been there. For many years, I resented where God had me. My job wasn’t what I’d planned to do after graduation, and I didn’t feel effective or like I was making a difference.

Slowly and painfully, I learned something that seems counter-intuitive: Our biggest influence is in small faithfulness now.

But what if we don’t have much to give?

Sometimes, the bank account may edge dangerously close to the red, or there isn’t a spare second in our calendar. But each of us has something unique to give.

Remember the widow from Mark 12? What if she hadn’t given her two small coins, because she felt too embarrassed or ashamed at how much other people were giving?

Yet as Jesus points out, she actually gave more, because she shared out of her poverty. That poverty can take many forms (financial, relational, or other). Jesus doesn’t demand a specific amount but instead asks for us to do more with what we have.

Generosity has nothing to do with a price tag and everything to do with the condition of our hearts.

Click here to read the rest of this post at DailyPS.com.

~ Kristen

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Want to do more? Start small. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Generosity has nothing to do with a price tag and everything to do with the condition of our hearts. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

The Revolutionary: Coming March 2018

If you’ve started a reading list for 2018, I hope you’ll add The Revolutionary! Mark your calendars: The sequel to The Revisionary is scheduled to release March 20 through Write Integrity Press, and today, I’m excited to share the cover with you. Special thanks to my graphic artist Kelli Sorg (Make it Snappy) for another job well done!

Portia’s story continues much differently than she had imagined. There’s no hero’s rescue for her or easy solutions to save the Brotherhood’s threadbare rebellion. The Revolutionary demands an honest look at:

  • The source of one’s true identity
  • The struggle of guilt
  • The crippling effects of fear
  • The power of second chances

Summary

REVOLUTIONS RUN ON SACRIFICE … AND BLOOD.

Three months a satellite prisoner, Portia wonders if the Brotherhood has left her to die—until she plunges into the domain of a smuggler contacted by her brother. But her rescue comes with a price tag, and now, she must forfeit her identity to act as a spy. She learns that her enemies want the Dome to approve mass satellite executions, though no one knows why. Worse, they’re using her friend Luther, now a Court Citizen intern, to sign the short-term orders. She wants to confide in Luther, but can she still trust him with the company he keeps?

Plagued by shadows and guilt for leaving her protector Gath behind on the satellite, Portia must find a way, not only to rescue him and the other prisoners, but also to destroy the slave camps once and for all.

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The Revolutionary, a Sequel: Dive into a dystopia that mingles American history with hope. Coming 2018. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

3 Things Every Christian Should be Prepared For

Last week, Florida had its first measurable snow fall in nearly 30 years! Although we only received a tenth of an inch here in Tallahassee, a long section of Interstate 10 was closed for hours, FSU canceled classes, and several schools closed for the day.

Of course, social media was a-buzz as northerners made fun of us for making a big deal out of such a small amount of snow and ice. But the truth is that we weren’t prepared for this kind of weather—and we never are. That’s because the potential for it is too low to justify the expense of preparing for it.

This experience got me thinking about the topic of preparation, and I wondered what the Bible said about spiritual preparation. After a little research, I found the following three things that every Christian should be prepared for.

1 – Prepare to see Jesus.

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7 NAS).

We may witness the Second Coming of Jesus, or we may pass on to Heaven before He returns. Either way, we will see Jesus face to face one day!

So, how do we get ready to meet our Savior? The answer is through “sanctification,” the process of becoming holy. In his best-selling book, The Pursuit of Holiness, author Jerry Bridges states that “Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.” This is something we must do, not something that is done to us. (See Ephesians 4:20-24 and 1 Peter 1:14-16.)

Here are four ways we can pursue holiness in our lives:

  • Know God’s Word. Meditate on it and commit as much to memory as we can. (Psalm 119:15-16)
  • Focus on Jesus, and everything else will fall into place. (1 Peter 1:13 NAS)
  • Do good deeds with a sincere heart. (1 Timothy 6:18 NAS)
  • Stand firm against evil but prepare for peace. (Ephesians 6:14-16 NAS)

2 – Prepare to pay the cost.

In The Cost of Discipleship, author Dietrich Bonhoeffer states that true grace “is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life…Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son…and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

As followers of Jesus, we must walk in godly discipline, prepared to pay the cost of our discipleship.

  • Be disciplined. (Hebrews 12:4-7)
  • Carry our individual crosses. (Luke 14:27)
  • Commit all that we have to the Lord. (Luke 14:33)
  • Trust in God and do not fear. (1 Peter 3:14-15)

3 – Prepare to share the Gospel.

It is not enough that we believe in Jesus; we must also introduce others to Him. Regardless of your calling or your role in the church, make sure you are willing and able to share the Gospel and to mentor other believers in your sphere of influence.

“I solemnly charge you…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:1-2 NAS).

Resolve to Prepare

It rarely snows in Florida, so it makes sense that we would be less prepared than northern states.

But as Christians, being unprepared doesn’t make any sense at all. If we truly love the Lord, why wouldn’t we want to draw close to Him, to be like Him, and to introduce others to Him?

If this list seems daunting, though, don’t worry! The first step is to write down the Scriptures so you can study and meditate on them throughout the year. You may also want to check out The Pursuit of Holiness and The Cost of Discipleship referenced above.

As always, ask for God’s help and guidance. You can pray something simple like this:

“Father God, you said that I should make myself ready for your return, to pay the cost of discipleship, and to share the Gospel. Please soften my heart and harden my resolve that I would be prepared for all the wonderful things you want to accomplish in my life and through it. Let everything I do glorify You. In the name of Jesus, who was and is and is to come. Amen.”

Are you resolved to prepare yourself spiritually? What methods or tools are you using to help you get started and stay on track?

~ By Ashley L. Jones of BigSisterKnows.com

Thank you, Ashley, for sharing this timely guest post! If you’re looking for more encouragement for your daily life, check out her blog at BigSisterKnows.com. Also, take advantage of a giveaway opportunity (including the chance to win a copy of my book The Revisionary) that she’s offering to raise awareness for her book project Girls with Gusto. Click the image below for details and to enter. 

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