Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Stepping into a New Year with Jesus ~ by Amy Vest

I love this reality:

When you step into a new year, you step into it with Jesus.

This reality changes everything.  Jesus changes everything.  Jesus is everything you need.

Listen to His sweet promises for those who are His:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)

"I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matt. 28:20)

Jesus is with you, friend.

He goes with you, before you, and within you.

In Him you have an:
All sufficient Savior
Faithful Shepherd
Truest Friend
Unfaltering Guide
Ever present Help
Unfailing Love
Reigning King
and so much more!

He is: 
your only hope
all you need
with you
for you
working all things for your good
giving what you truly need
going to keep you to the end

He will be with you every step of the way.

The Jesus you have known in the past will be the same in this coming year - "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Heb. 13:8) -  and each step offers the opportunity to discover so much more of Who He is!

What a beautiful reality!

Yes, you can step into this new year - and each new day of the rest of your life - with joy, because you step in with Jesus.

I am with you always...

  "I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  
~Matthew 28:20

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Wonder of Immanuel - "God With Us" ~ by Amy Vest

I stood outside gazing up into the winter sky in breathless awe as I pondered the wonder of the reality:

Immanuel - "God with us."

GOD - the King of the universe, the One we were created for, and the only answer to the longings of our hearts
WITH - being not just far off in Heaven, but taking on human form and becoming present and near

 - not just with the angels - but with us needy, sinful humans desperate for Him!

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 
Matthew 1:23

In Jesus - our Immanuel - God came to be with us, so that we could be with Him forever.

Jesus came to be with us, so that He could redeem us from our sins through His perfect life, death on the cross in our place, and resurrection from the dead - triumphant over sin, death, and hell.  He did this so that those who trust in Him as their Savior, receive His grace to turn from their sin, and surrender their life to Him as Lord, could be with Him forever as His own.  What amazing love!

"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

Jesus came so that we could enter into an eternal relationship with Him. He came to rescue us from sin, to allow us to know Him, to transform us into His Image, and so that we could walk with Him every moment.

Isn't this amazing?

When Jesus is with us, everything changes.

He brings salvation to the lost, hope to the hopeless, comfort to the hurting, healing to the wounded, joy to the discouraged,  peace to the troubled, freedom to the captive, satisfaction to the longing... He is all that we need!

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 4:19
I love how the Gospel of Matthew begins in Chapter 1 with Jesus being "Immanuel - God with us" - and ends in the last chapter with Jesus promising His disciples - "I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

He has promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

My heart can't stop whispering, "God with us." this Christmas season... and I don't think the wonder will ever disappear, because its reality never will.

{Deep, grateful breath}

"Thank You, Father for sending Jesus.
Thank You, Jesus for coming.
Thank You, Holy Spirit for opening our spiritual eyes to Jesus."

Immanuel - God with us.  And because He came, we will never be the same.

Have an incredible Christmas rejoicing in Jesus and treasuring the reality that He is with us - and for those who are His, we will be with Him forever!

God with us...

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.” 

~Matthew 1:23 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Love Story for God's Glory ~ by Amy Vest

As we conclude this series on "Love Story and God's Glory", I pray you have been encouraged with a deeper treasuring of the Big Love Story of His redemption and a bigger vision for considering marriage for His glory! 

There is a bigger story than our earthly love story.
  This story is the purpose of our lives and is the Love Story you are called to no matter what your earthly love story looks like.  All of your life and relationships will flow from where you stand in this Love Story.

The Biggest Love Story – The Gospel - God created people to be in fellowship with Him, bringing joy to man and glory to God.  But people sinned and broke our relationship with God.  God showed His powerful love by sending His perfect Son Jesus to earth to die on the cross for people’s sins and rise victorious – offering forgiveness of sin, a restored relationship with God, and eternal life in Jesus.  When we trust in Jesus to save us and give our lives to Him as our Lord, we become His - the Bride of Christ – forever.

This is the most beautiful Love Story of all time.  All of life and human love stories point to this.  Only when we grasp this Love Story will we be fulfilled, and be able to have the right approach to a human love story - lived in, from, and for this Love Story.

The Big Love Story - and a human love story - are about Jesus.

A love story based in Jesus, through His life in you, and for His glory.

A love story that points you and every one watching to Jesus.

A love story for His glory.

"...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

We are called to live, consider marriage, and marry to the glory of God - in a way that declares how good He is.  Isn't this amazing and exciting?  It twinkles with beauty - and the sweet reality is that God's glory and our joy always go hand-in-hand.

Let Jesus write your love story, friend. The One Who is Love and the creator of love can - and must - be trusted with the pen of your love story.

As you are satisfied in Jesus, growing into who He has called you to be, and are considering marriage for His glory, He will write the perfect story for His glory in your life.

Many of you know my favorite illustration to use when I talk about marriage - and I want to share it as we conclude this series.
Picture this:

You are running the race of life with Jesus. 
You are running with Him, in Him, and for Him with all of your might. You are loving the run and are satisfied in Him. As you run, you begun to think,"I'd sure love to have a running partner, but I don't see anyone around here."

At this point there are 2 decisions you can make.

1. You can let the thought enter your mind, "Maybe if I just get off course a little, I can find someone." This will both get you off course and cause you to likely end up with someone sitting on the sidelines, not running the race - causing heartache in both ways.
2. You can keep running the race to know Jesus and make Him known with all that you are, and trust Him to bring someone who is running with the same passion. You can join paths and continue the race together as teammates. In this there is so much joy.

If He calls you to singleness, He will always be enough, you are fulfilling your purpose, and you can run the race fully satisfied in Jesus!

Whether single or married to someone who is running the race with Jesus, you are running the race and living the Big Love Story.

If it is His will for you to marry and He leads you into marriage, you and your husband can go on mission together to know Jesus and make Him known.

It is joining together as one in a love story founded on, thriving by, and for the glory of Jesus - as part of the Big Love Story for His glory!

I love these verses as we look at this, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!...And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken."  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12)

Two to walk with Jesus together, cheer one another on in Him, and lift one another up when they stumble. Companions and comrades on the journey with Jesus.

I have been so inspired by the love story of Charles and Susanna Spurgeon. Their mutual hearts that deeply loved Jesus, longed to grow in Him, and beat with passion to share Him formed such a unity and unusually beautiful marriage.

As you and the husband God gives you go on mission with Jesus together to:
- know Him
- grow in Him
- love and serve one another
- make Him known
it brings great glory to God, joy to your marriage, and blessing to others.

This union reflects Christ and the Church - the Big Love Story - to a world who needs Jesus.

Oh friends! Yesterday at church I saw a living example of what I wrote about in the last post - and my heart is still so full of joy.  In the worship service there was an older couple in their 70s sitting in front of me. It was obvious from everything about them that they loved Jesus, one another, and others.

The darling older gentlemen with a twinkle in his eyes slipped into his seat before service after serving in the bookstore.  His adorable wife gave him a warm smile and patted his leg. They sat there shoulder to shoulder, leaning against each other in their coordinating sweaters, soaking in the teaching of the Word. The older man lifted his hand in worship as we sang.

After service, the man slipped out to help in the bookstore again and we visited with his wife.  Our conversation with her confirmed what was obvious in their living. As she warmly talked with joy shining from her eyes, it was clear they had spent their lives loving Jesus, loving one another, loving others, and living for Him and His Kingdom. 
This is vision we want to keep before us for marriage - the vision of loving Jesus, loving others, and living for Him together in a way that points people to Jesus.

It begins with walking with Jesus this way ourselves, trusting Him to bring someone with the same heart, allowing Him to lead us into marriage, and then living for Him together every season of the journey as we grow and mature in Him!

A Love Story for His glory.

God is writing a story for His glory in your life as a part of the Big Love Story. 
Whether an earthly love story is in His perfect plan for you or not, you have the matchless satisfaction, purpose, and joy of living in the Big Love Story with Him.

As you walk in love with Him, surrendered to His plan, embracing life with His love wherever He calls you, with the goal of making much of Him, whatever it holds will unfold - for your greatest good and His greatest glory.

He is calling you:
Seek Me.
Trust Me.
Follow Me.
Glorify Me wherever I place you.
I love you and have the best in store.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Walk hand-in-hand with Jesus and He will lead you in His Love Story for His glory. And there will be a happily ever after - and there will be no end.

A future and a hope...

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

~Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

God's Man for You ~ The "who" of "I do" ~ by Amy Vest

Just think of it - If God has a husband for you, he is alive and walking the face of the earth right now.

As you walk this amazing journey with Jesus, the most important decision you make after committing your life to Christ, is who you will marry.

{Enter prospective husband.}

Okay, wait.  Pause. 

It is so incredibly, incredibly helpful to seek Jesus and know ahead of time what is important in a husband BEFORE a guy comes along vs. being caught up on the fact that a guy is pursuing you and losing sense of what is important.

In this post we are going to look exactly that - seeking God's heart on considering a guy as a potential future husband for you.  {Did I hear a woo hoo? :)}

So far in this series we have looked at the purpose, approach, and you of marriage - now we are going to look at considering the "who"  of marriage. 

I want you to see how incredibly serious and sacred this decision is.  This is the person you are going to spend the rest of your life on earth with.

I encourage you to stop and ask the Lord for His guidance for you personally - we so need His leading to choose wisely. 

As we begin, I want to be so clear that you are looking at a guy's heart, character, and direction of life.  No guy is perfect (we sure aren't!) - but taking a serious look at his heart, his growth in Jesus, and his pattern of life is essential.

Okay, ready?

Keys to look at:
~ Christ's place in his life - his walk with Jesus. 
Is he Christ's man? (Again, NEVER consider someone who isn't Christ's!)  Is Jesus his life, or just part of his life?  Is he in love with Jesus?  Does he walk with Jesus?
~ Character - his heart and who he is.
Is he like Jesus?  Is he growing in Jesus and becoming like Him?  What is he like when no one is watching?  Is he humble, a man of integrity, selfless, faithful, consistent, etc.?
~ Convictions - what he believes.
What does he believe?  Are his convictions founded on the Word of God?  What is his vision for life, marriage, children, raising/schooling your children, church, use of time, activities, finances, etc.?
~ His lifestyle - how he lives.Does his walk match his talk?  How does he treat others?  Where does he invest his treasure?  What does he watch, look at, spend time on?  What does he get excited about?  How does he respond to suffering?  Can he support a family?
~ His mission - what he lives for.  Does he live for Jesus?  Is his desire to glorify Christ with His life?  Is his mission to know Jesus and make Him known?  Are you both on the same path?  Can you join him in his mission?

A guy who is fully Christ's, who deeply loves the Lord, walks with Him, seeks to obey and honor Him and His Word with his life, desires to grow in His likeness, and seeks to make Him known and build His Kingdom.
This will flow out in a million different ways in every area of his life - and through your life together.

1. Pray about him - get the Lord's heart for the kind of guy you should marry.
2. Make a list of key qualities - from the Word, key things you know are important in a godly spouse, specifics the Lord lays on your heart.
3. Pray for him - pray for him, pray for those qualities to be formed in his life, pray Scripture for him, ask the Lord to bring you together in the right time.
4. Place this in Jesus' hands, release to Him, and trust Him for His will - knowing Jesus knows best.

Remember these things:
~ Realize what you are choosing - not only your husband, best friend, teammate, lover, and key growth partner, but also your kid's father, the spiritual leader of your home, who you will submit to and support, and so much more!
~ Consider the Bible's call to husbands and wives, and see - this is the man you will be answering God's call to place yourself under his spiritual leadership, submit to, and support - as teammates with equal value and beautifully different roles.  You must know that he is a man who is following Christ!
~ You are going to do LIFE with this person - with all that it holds of celebration, suffering, and daily life - not just 2 hour conversations over coffee.

As you consider him:
- Ask key questions about key areas to get to know one another and see if you are on the same page - walk with Christ, theology, expectations for marriage, children, raising/schooling children, church, past, entertainment, finances, etc.
- Observe him and have those you trust observe him.  Like someone said - "Use a magnifying glass before marriage and put on rose colored glasses after marriage."  This is your time to identify things that could be huge issues after marriage.
- Really, REALLY get to know him.  It is so important to know a person incredibly well before committing to spend the rest of your life with them!  (Make sure he was living the way he is and following Christ before he met you vs. trying to get you by living how you do.)
- You want to look first at their heart and who they are as a person, and then consider chemistry and emotions.  Emotions will come and go, but who a person is is critical.
- Notice:  "Do I love Jesus more after being with him?" "Does he lead my heart more to Jesus than himself?"
- Remember as you consider "him", you are really considering "us".
- Pray, pray, pray!  Seek Jesus every step.  Fast.  You want Him to choose and lead you to His man for you.  He knows best, does best, and sees the big picture.

Can I walk toward Jesus with this man?
Is this God's man for me?  Is God calling me to marry him?

~ If the Lord makes it clear that a guy is not His man for you, don't settle - you can know that He has a plan that you can trust is best.  (I want to encourage your heart - there are great, godly guys out there who are pursuing Jesus!) 
You must know that Jesus is leading you to marry a guy - not emotions, expectations, or pressures.
~ If as you seek Jesus about a guy, He makes it clear that this is His man for you - embrace this gift with joy!  It is a beautiful treasure.  You have the joy of sharing life, being a team, and supporting him as you love, follow, and share Jesus together! 

Can I tell you a little something you may not know?  I am a romantic at heart.  This is why it is extra important that Jesus is the love of my life and that I surrender this area to Him - and where I have found such fulfillment and freedom!  While there are sacred things I ask Jesus for that I will keep between me and Him, I will give you a little general glimpse of what I am trusting Jesus for:

Someone whose hand I can grab and run towards Jesus together with all our hearts, who we can fan one another's flame of closeness with and love for Jesus, who we can challenge one another to growth in Him, and who we can pour out our lives for His glory for each other and the world around us.

Someone I can live for Jesus with - and die for Jesus with.  Whether that is living to a ripe old age as an adorable little old couple whose wrinkled hands still clasp together in prayerful worship for His faithfulness in the joys and trials, or dying at any age for our faith in Jesus, hand-in-hand, declaring to one another, "Jesus is worth it!"  Someone with whom to share this journey with our Jesus and live this verse, "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!" (Psalm 34:3)
Now it is your turn, friend.

I encourage you to go before Jesus, pray, search His Word, think, and know what is important in a husband.

Then write it down and lift it up to Jesus in prayer.

He hears you and He cares about this more than you ever could.

You want God's man for you.  Don't settle for less.  Follow Jesus, stay true to what He shown you, and trust Him to bring His best for you.

Jesus knows best, His way is best, He gives what is best - and only we want what He wants to give.  "...the Lord will give what is good..." (Psalm 85:12)

If it is His will, He will bring His man for you in His time - and together you can heart in heart and hand in hand walk with Jesus, grow in Him, and live for His glory!

"O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!" (Psalm 34:3)

Two are better than one...

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!...And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken."  

~Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The You of "I Do" - Looking at yourself before looking at marriage ~ by Amy Vest

Sweet Friend, I wish for this blog post, we could be sitting together over warm mugs of cocoa for a heart-to-heart talk. 

I am thinking of you - precious you - so deeply loved by Jesus, kept in His care, and for whose life He 
has a breathtaking plan.


I invite you to listen closely and ask Jesus to meet you in these next moments.

The things we are going to look at are an invitation to the life Jesus created, redeemed, and called you for.
This is crucial for you to understand and embrace the life you were created for - whether you are married or not.

You don't want to settle for anything less than all Jesus created you to be and do in Him! 

As you live in this, you experience the fulfillment, joy, and purpose you were meant to experience. 

You are called to live a full life - right now.
When you understand who you are, the life God has called you to live, and are living in this, you are in a healthy place to consider joining paths with a guy on the same path.

It can be so easy to focus on finding the right person - the qualities of the guy you desire, or the right way to consider marriage, etc. - and miss being the right person - the person Jesus is calling you to be.

You see, you need to know who you are and the life God has called you to live before you know if the guy you are considering is who you should marry. 

The goal is to look to Jesus and then look at you, before you ever consider who you will marry.

Does that make sense?

Are you ready to look at you?

A theme verse for my life has been Mary's response to the Lord's call for her - "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38)  May our hearts pray, "Lord, I am Yours - do in, with, and through my life all that You desire!"  As we look to, listen to, and are lead by Jesus, as His, He will lead us into the life He has in store for us - and nothing compares. 

Let's look at your life with Jesus:

The areas are powerful.  There is much that could be said about each one - and I encourage you to do further study yourself!

~ Whose you are - You must know whose you are before anything else.  Have you become Christ's through seeing your sin and need for a savior, trusting in Christ and His death on the cross on your behalf, receiving His forgiveness and life, and turning from your sin and giving your life to Him? (More HERE.) 
If you have, you are His - you belong to Him, you are loved, forgiven, eternally rescued, and spiritually alive.  You are His, He will keep you eternally, and your call is to follow Him with your life.

" are Christ's..." (1 Cor. 2:23)

~ Who you are in Jesus - Understand who you are in Jesus.  He alone has the right to define you - not what others say, your feelings, your relationship status, etc.  Listen to Jesus in His Word, discover who you are in Him, and seek live in that reality.  This will bring a security and humble confidence.

" Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Cor. 5:17)

~ Whole in Christ - See that Jesus alone can complete and satisfy your deepest needs.  While longings for marriage can be very real, and a guy can be a great gift, only Jesus can satisfy your deepest needs and complete you.  He alone can also bring the freedom to your soul, cleansing from your sin, and healing from your past.  Allow Him to meet you, complete you, heal you, and set you free.

" Him you have been made complete..." (Col. 2:10)

~ Who God created you to be - God has a beautiful plan in who He created you to be and how He fashioned your life.  Your personality, spiritual gifts, passions, strengths and weaknesses, etc. are incredible things when yielded to Him for His glory!  Don't try to be someone else, or try to be what others want you to be - be you.

"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well."
 (Ps. 139:14)

~ What you believe and why - Look to Jesus and His Word to receive and know what YOU personally believe.  Ask yourself WHY you believe it.  Is it because you have seen it in the Bible and Jesus?  Or is it because someone you respect said or believes it?  You must receive it from JESUS - and then seek to live it with all of your heart!

"...your word is truth." (John 17:17)

~ What life you are called to live - Receive from Jesus the life He has called you to live. 
Let's look at 3 different aspects:
1. The life all Christians are called to in His Word - as you read His Word, the Bible, you discover this call!
2. Your call as a young woman - there is incredible freedom in understanding Biblical womanhood and the beauty of femininity for God's glory and your blessing!  I encourage you to study and live this with joy.
3. God's individual call for you - this is always in line with the first two and is the specific way He is calling you to walk with Him and share Him with the world.  As you follow Him in obedient surrender, He will unfold His vision for your life and lead you into His beautiful call.

Live fully where He has you right now.  Love and walk with Jesus, love and serve people He has in your life, encourage all sisters and brothers in Jesus, live the life He has called you to - right where He has you today.

"Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him." (1 Cor. 7:17)

~ Working with Jesus on growth - Jesus calls us to growth.  We will never be perfect this side of Heaven, but Jesus is working to grow us more into depth with Him, His likeness, and effectiveness for His use.
1. Our walk with Him - is a relationship that He longs for us to deepen every day of our lives as we respond to His pursuing our hearts by loving Him in return, spending time with Him, learning from Him, sharing our hearts with Him, and so much more!
2. Our heart condition - He is committed to working in our heart to transform us into the likeness of Jesus - for our good, His glory, and the blessing of those around us!  It is so powerful to welcome His work and pursue the heart of Jesus being formed in us.  Then increasingly people will see Jesus in us!
3. Our skills and habits - these are areas of our life to be cultivated that can help us in more effectively walking with, living for, and sharing Jesus.  This can include life skills and habits like hospitality, organization, cooking, wise use of money, scheduling, etc. - and relationship skills like communication, thoughtfulness, humility, etc.

We are all in the process of growth and will be all of our lives.  Staying teachable, humble, and growing are beautiful things!  Our blessing is Jesus working in our hearts and lives to grow us to be more like Him and live more fully the life He created us to live in Him.

" is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Phil. 2:13)

I encourage you to pause and talk with Jesus about each of these areas, friend.  Let Him lovingly speak to you, pour His grace on you, and lead you as you respond and follow Him in the life He has created you for and called you to in Him.

As you live as Christ's, walking closely with Him, secure and satisfied in His love, growing in Him, shining His light and building His family, living the life He has called you to, and following Him in faith, you are fulfilling your deepest purpose.

You experience incredible joy, God is glorified, and people are blessed in a way that ripples through eternity.
In God's time and way, He can attract a godly guy to you who you both to realize shares the same love for Him, vision for life, and passion to follow and glorify Jesus - and you can continue the journey together!

And whether or not His plan includes marriage, you are living fully the breathtaking life in Him you were created to live!

Does your heart echo this desire with mine?
“I want to walk closely with My Jesus, grow in Him, follow His call, and shine His light right where He calls me – and trust Him to bring someone to do this with, if and when He sees best!”


It is God who works in you...

" is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." 

~Philippians 2:13

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Should You Say "I Do?" - Considering a Potential Marriage Relationship ~ by Amy Vest

"Can I get to know you?"

So you are looking to Jesus for your deepest fulfillment and purpose, you know why you want to get married, and now there is a guy interested in pursuing a relationship with you considering marriage.

What NOT to do: freak out, start planning wedding colors, and ask your friends to be bridesmaids.

{Take a deep breath}

Let's back up a little bit.

Yes, there is a lot that will likely take place between you knowing your "why" for marriage and having a guy pursue you.
In the past, we have talked a lot about purity, wholesome guy relationships, pointing all guys to Jesus, how to handle various situations, trusting God to bring the right guy, and more (including frogs) in video sessions.  I encourage you to watch them! (Links are at the end of this post!)

In this post we are going to be addressing once a guy who is truly a potential marriage partner comes into your life and is pursuing you with the intention of marriage.

It is serious, sacred, sweet stuff right here.

Let's just make sure we are on the same page:
~ God created marriage - and said it is good.
~ Marriage is a big deal - the most serious decision you will make next to surrendering your life to Jesus.
~ God has a perfect plan for you that He will work out as you follow Him - and you can be excited.

So let's look at considering marriage.
The Goal = To approach a relationship considering marriage in a way that glorifies and honors Jesus, honors and encourages one another in Jesus, and helps you determine if the Lord intends your relationship to end in marriage.  

(Stop and read that one more time.)

The goal is to make much of Jesus in every aspect of this process!

Every situation is different and the biggest goal is to look to Jesus, His Word, and His ways.  There are countless books on relationships and marriage.  There is so much more that could be said.  In this post, my desire is to give you some rock solid pillars and heart thoughts as you navigate these waters.

Taking steps in considering marriage is a beautiful opportunity in seeking to honor Christ and point one another – and everyone watching - to Him in a way that displays Jesus.

1) Follow Jesus.
God is love, the Author of love, and the Source of love.  Friends, we want HIM at the steering wheel of our love life.  He knows what is best for us, His glory, and the blessing of others.

He can lead you into a relationship, in a relationship, and out of a relationship.  You want to be where He leads you.

He can be trusted with your heart.  He alone has the answers.  He will lead you in His way.  While there are helpful tools in considering a relationship, founded on those, there are a million variables that we desperately need to look to Him to lead us on - and He will.

Jesus cares more about your love life than you do.

Pray, pray, pray.  Keep so close to His heart.  Look to Him every step.  Do it all for His glory. 

(As a sweet little note - You can fall in love for His glory!)

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

2) Your heart attitude is crucial - Your heart condition is so crucial in this process.  When your heart is to honor, love, and obey Jesus and help the guy toward Him, it will influence your part in the relationship the most.  It is essential to keep lifting our heart to Jesus in this process and letting Him work.  We are dedicating a special post to this next week! 

"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." (Proverbs 4:23)

3) Gifts of grace in considering a relationship - It is so powerful, protecting, and freeing to look at the gifts of our personal walk with Him, His Word, community, counsel, boundaries and accountability, serving and getting to know one another in a variety of settings. 
~ Protection - You are a treasure and you deserve to be protected!  It is wise, and so freeing, to have your dad - or a godly person who can fill that role, if you don't have a dad - act as your protector in a solid, wholesome, and gracious way.  Sending guys to him first for permission, an initial screening, and establishing a relationship is a freeing protection.
~ Basic boundaries - It is powerful to personally place boundaries that will enable you to honor and obey Jesus, protect and honor one another, and allow you to either enter marriage or part ways in a way that brings maximum glory to God, joy to you, and blessing to others.  Sweet friend, get them from Jesus and His Word - and own them for yourself!  This will lead you to embrace them when it is only you and Jesus - or if the whole world is watching!  Remember that He calls us to do things for our good and deepest joy in the long run.
This will involve determining boundaries for time spent together, where you go, what you do, physical contact, etc.  and then having a people who hold you accountable (more below).
Can I say a little word on the physical contact side?  A very basic concept that has helped me so much is, "When I am his, I am his.  When I am not his, I am not his."  Any guy who will not respect and protect your heart and purity is not a guy you want to marry - but rather flee from! 
Boundaries when received from Jesus and His Word are for your blessing - and establish freedom, trust, and blessing in the relationship.
~ Counsel - Just like in any other area of life, we need to be smart enough to realize that we are not smart enough to navigate this enormous decision on our own – especially if our head may be in the clouds a little.  Having a few wise, safe, trusted people who walk with God, love you, and want your best is essential in this process.  I cannot tell you the powerful gift this has been to me!
~ Community - It is so powerful to consider your relationship in a community people who know you, can witness your relationship, and can share feedback (support, caution, etc.).  We can be somewhat blind on our own.
~ Accountability - Wise people know they cannot go this journey alone - and especially in this situation that can be filled with blessing, but also temptation.  Staying accountable a mentor couple in the process will be powerful beyond words as you seek to honor the Lord and each other!

There is more on this area and more specifics in considering a marriage relationship in this VIDEO.

Remember the goal of all this is to honor Jesus, each other, and your future spouses - so that whether it ends in marriage or not, Jesus is glorified and we are pushed closer to Him!

"Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety." (Prov. 11:14)

4) Getting to know the real person.  Coming soon we will have a post specifically helping you to look at the guy you are considering to help determine if he is who God is calling you to marry.  Here are a few basics in considering the relationship:
~ Ask important questions - What is their walk with Jesus, vision for life, calling, past, perspective on marriage, roles, children, raising and schooling children, church, finances, etc.?  It is SO critical to talk these through and make sure they are on the same page BEFORE marriage vs. hardship after marriage.  Do NOT even consider a relationship with someone who doesn't know Jesus - you don't share the very purpose in life!  "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?"  (2 Cor. 6:15)
See each other in different settings - serving, with family, playing sports, stressed, etc. vs. only when dressed up and sitting down to talk. So much more is revealed about them - and you - in these times!  Remember most of your married life will be spent in the daily moments.
~ Giving the relationship time and walking through different seasons together - There are things you learn as a relationship grows over time and you walk through different seasons and situations with them.  For example, you learn a lot about someone when you walk through suffering with them.  Give a relationship time - it is a life-long decision! Your job may change – lots of things in life will change – but this life-long covenant you make before God “til death us do part” is a BIG DEAL!  Think it through. Pray it through. Take as much time as you need to know if it is God’s will for you.
~ Be yourself - Be the real you, instead of who you think the guy wants you to be.  As you are who God created you to be, the guy can get to know you as you really are - and the same with him.

Remember you will be two imperfect people pursuing Jesus together - but, your key is looking at their heart, the path they are on, and the fruit in their life - and if Jesus is calling you to join your lives together on the same path after Him.

5) Trust how the Lord leads you is for the best.
As you look to Jesus, He will make it clear - and you can know that is for your very best. 

If He leads you to marry the guy you are considering, you can embrace seeking to glorify Him in marriage with all of your heart.
If He leads you away from the relationship, whether you see the reason now or not, you can trust. 

I have seen over and over again the perfection of His ways, protection of His hand, and trustworthiness of His heart in my own experience and the experience of others!

(Please remember this - just because a guy is the first one to pursue you, does not mean that he is the one God is calling you to marry - or that no one else will ever come!  Trust Him, leave it in His hands, and follow!)

I just love the quote, "God gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him."

Friends, there is a lot more that could be said.  I wanted to give you some more solid heart grounding advice.  You can read the Word, Christ-centered relationship books, listen to messages, and ask godly counsel for more.  Pray through this.  Talk it through with your parents and godly mentors.  Receive from the Lord the approach He is showing you to take for His glory and your good.  I am praying for Him to guide you.

It ultimately boils down to these questions:
Could we effectively love, seek, grow in, and serve Jesus together?
Is Jesus calling us to love, seek, grow in, and serve Him together?
Is this the man Jesus is calling me to love and to give my life for for the rest of my life?

In every step, it takes much prayer, staying close to Jesus, being in His Word, listening to good counsel, and seeking to follow and glorify Jesus in every step you take.

As you follow the One who is Love, as you consider human love, He will lead you in His perfect plan for you.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."  (Proverbs 3:5-6)


If you want some more thoughts on relating to guys in a pure way before marriage and considering a relationship, you can watch this video! ~ Power of a Pure Heart and Single Focus

Do all to the glory of God...

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 

~1 Corinthians 10:31

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why Do You Want to Get Married? ~ by Amy Vest

“Why, why, why, why, why???”

I want to play the toddler for you in this post - You know, the stage where they ask "Why?" about everything?  I want to keep asking "Why?" and help you to ask "Why?" as you consider marriage!

In this post, we are going to cover the “Why?” of marriage.

When your life is lived in, from, and for the greatest Love Story (Jesus and the Gospel), your mission in life and decisions should increasingly flow from that, also.

When we think about marriage, we need to ask, “Why do I want to get married?”
  We need to know the “why” before we consider the “who”, “when”, and “how”.  When you have prayed and thought this through with Jesus and your perspective and goals are in place, then you are in a better frame of mind to be considering who the Lord might have you marry.

Ask yourself:
"Why do I want to get married?" 
Stop and think about that for a moment.

Why do you really want to get married?  What is your goal in a relationship and marriage?

Let's take it a step deeper:

"What is my "Why?" in life?"

You were created for your life to be about Jesus, our relationship with Him, growing in His likeness, and sharing Him with the world.

Let your “Why” in life determine your “Why” in marriage.

When your goal in marriage is to know, become like, and serve Jesus more together, it brings purpose and stability as you consider a relationship.

Let's look at why (Yes, another "Why"!):

If your ULTIMATE goal is:
"He makes me happy" - he may make you happy today - but, he is a sinner who some days will make you sad (and you will do the same for him), no matter how much he loves you.
"He is cute" - try going to a nursing home and see what will matter in 50 years - if he was cute, or if he was like Jesus.
"I will be satisfied" - marriage can bring so much joy to your life, but only Jesus will satisfy you.
~ "_____________" - You fill in the blank.

But, WHY?
~ Why lay down your life for the other person?
~ Why serve one another?
~ Why be faithful in sickness and health?
~ Why?

It has to be about something bigger than you.

It must be about Jesus and His glory.  In this you are the most deeply satisfied, He is glorified, and others are blessed.  These three things always go hand-in-hand.

When the days are sunshiny and happy, or when the going gets tough - you are united around something deeper.

If you are united around this deeper purpose, it brings a solid foundation to your marriage - and draws you deeper in your relationship with one another as you grow closer to God.

The deepest, most joyful marriages have this as their uniting factor - a desire for Jesus and His glory.

Fairytales paint it as – “Happily ever after.” If your goal is only personal happiness, you will not always find it.  Marriage is about something SO MUCH MORE than our personal happiness! It is about Jesus and His glory - in our lives, potential marriage, and the world.  This comes in marriage as we point one another to Jesus, encourage each other towards growth in Him, extend grace and forgive when the other makes a mistake, serve and support one another, and join as a team to declare the Jesus we love most to the world hungry for Him.

Marriage is going to help make you holy, as well as happy.  To give you a way to minister, as well as receive a meaningful relationship.  To advance His glory, as well as receive His love through a person.

God designed marriage to bless you, sanctify you, and use you as a team for the Kingdom.

This question of "Why?" has been so powerful to me.  As I have pondered this with Jesus, it has brought such clarity in thinking about and considering relationships.
My "Why" for marriage is: Companionship with someone with whom I can seek Jesus, love Him more, grow in Him, and pour out our lives to make Him known.  My theme verse for my “Why” is this: "Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!” (Psalm 34:3)

I want Jesus, His will, and His glory more than anything - whether it means marriage or singleness.  I trust that if Jesus has marriage for me, He will bring it and He will make it clear!

He will make it clear to you, too, friend.  Know your "Why?".  If He has someone for you, you can trust Him to bring your lives together for the purpose of loving, following, seeking, and serving Jesus more together than apart.  (More on these topics in the coming posts!

I pray you are excited as you look at this vision of what life and marriage are about.

So I close as your toddler friend asking, "Why?, why?, why?"!

I strongly encourage you to really think about your “Why” for desiring marriage.  This will bring powerful clarity as you live life and consider a relationship. 

We will look at some practical ideas for considering marriage next week!

Have a wonderful week finding fulfillment in Jesus and looking with Him at your “Why?"!

Let us exalt His name...

"Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!”

~Psalm 34:3

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Relationship of Love with Jesus ~ Amy Vest

"God is love." (1 John 4:8)

There is no greater love in all the world.

The One who IS Love, Who showed us what love is, and invites us into the greatest Love Story of all time - Jesus.

"By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us."
 (1 John 3:16)

The greatest Love Story of all time begins, thrives, and ends with Jesus.

And He is inviting you into this Love Story.

Jesus died a cruel death on the cross to save you from the sins that separated you from God, and He offers you forgiveness and a new life in Him.  When you trust Him to save you, turn from your sins, and give your life to follow Him - He washes you from your sin and makes you His own, His Bride.

At that point, you enter into His Love Story - the story of God drawing man to Himself.  From this place, He beckons you to embrace a deep relationship with Him.

Only in Jesus you will discover the deepest longings of your heart satisfied.  There is nowhere else you can find this fulfillment.  God created you with these longings and only He can fill them.  No human - or success, money, etc. - can ever satisfy these deepest longings.  Only Jesus can.

"He satisfies the longing soul..."  (Psalm 107:9)

Jesus calls you to know Him, to receive His love, and to walk in true satisfaction in Him.

If you will open your heart to Him and His love, you will know the fulfillment for which you were created and life will become an adventure of love with Jesus.

Jesus becomes your very purpose. He becomes the reason you live, breathe, get up in the morning, love, work, and dream.

He is calling you to this - will you answer?

From this place of satisfaction, joy, and purpose in Jesus, you will be in a much better place to consider marriage, if that is what the Lord has for you!

He is the Love we were created for – and that all other God-given loves flow from and are a 
picture of this Love.

Start with Jesus. If you are not satisfied in Him, you will never be truly satisfied with what you think you want in a relationship, marriage, or anything else.

When you get to know Jesus, He captures your heart and you can't help but love Him and want more!  It is hard to love someone you don't know, right?

Listen to just a glimpse of Who He Is:
He keeps drawing you to Himself - relentlessly pursues your heart.
He is the love that will never let you go.
He is the perfect Love and He loves you.
He gave His life for you. "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."  (John 15:13)
He is always with you.
He will never leave you. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
He can comfort you like no human can.
He will love us forever. "I have loved you with an everlasting love..." (Jeremiah 31:3)

He is so amazing!  Knowing Jesus more will absolutely transform your life and love for Him will come naturally.  I can say this from personal experience.  He both satisfies you and makes you thirsty for more of Him!

How can you get to know Him more?

Here are a few ways that you can cultivate that love relationship with Jesus:
(There are so many more by clicking HERE.)
~ Keeping Him first priority in your heart, thoughts, actions, and time.
~ Walk through the day with Him.
~ Share your heart with Him in prayer and listen for His voice
~ Read His love letter to you - the Bible.
~ Get to know Him - Keep a journal of Who He is as you grow to know Him in His Word.
~ Soak in and live secure in His love.  He loves you!
~ Love Him in return - in your heart and obedience.
~ See all of life as an opportunity to know Him more.

~ Have reminders of Him - You know how couples or close friends have special reminders of their relationship?  As I was getting closer to Jesus, I wanted something to remind me of Him, His love, and my relationship with Him.  He gave me heart shaped things as a reminder.  This has been such a powerful reminder of His love - often He will send something heart shaped just when I need it!  Just yesterday I was walking into an appointment and looked down to see a heart shaped leaf.  Remembering Jesus, His love, and my relationship with Him changes everything!

This is a love relationship that deepens and matures through the years - just like any beautiful relationship - and it lasts forever.  A relationship is always 2 sided.  Jesus is pursuing you - you just must respond and walk with Him!

This is a reality - Jesus and His love are the only love that will never fail you, always be there - in every season of life!

This love relationship with Jesus being your purpose, satisfaction, and identity - results in security, fulfillment, and joy.

From this Love, you can embrace the other lesser human loves - including a spouse. You will find that they have more meaning, stability, and true love, because they are founded on Jesus.

I just love how in the 1st and 2nd Commandments the Lord calls us to first love Him and then love others next.  As we receive His love and love Him in return, we are then able to love others with the love we've received from Jesus!

"' shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself...’"  (Mark 12:30-31)

When you are fulfilled in Jesus, you don't need to look desperately anywhere for love.

Friend, it is so crucial to see this - Only Jesus can satisfy the deepest need for love in your life. He placed it in you to drive you to Him. No human possibly could.

When you look to a human for fulfillment only Jesus can give, it makes them an idol, places unrealistic expectations on them, and sets you up for disappointment and relationship issues. 

When you are satisfied in His love, you are able to share His love from a place of fulfillment - in all the joys, mistakes, and trials of life.  In this place you can receive another person's love receive love from them with gratitude, but not be dependent on it.  This places you in a secure place to consider marriage - and then pour out love in your spouse in marriage, if that is where the Lord leads.

"We love because he first loved us."

As in all of life, Jesus is first.

You are called to the greatest Love Story, friend.

Run to Jesus today for the love you so desperately need.

May you find your deepest joy walking in this relationship of love with Jesus - soaking in His love, fulfilled in Him, and loving Him. 

As you do, you will discover that He satisfies the deepest needs of your heart - and that there is no safer place for your heart to be than in His nail pierced hands of love.


A note:
There is so much more that could be said about Jesus and our relationship of love with Him!  Below are some video sessions on this topic, if you are aching for more:

~ Jesus is Your Best Friend -
~ A Relationship of Love with Jesus -

Jesus satisfies...

"He satisfies the longing soul..."  

~Psalm 107:9

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Love Story for His Glory ~ Amy Vest

A Love Story for His glory.  We were all made for this.

Everyone loves a good love story.  As a little girl, I loved the fairytale love stories I would read in children’s books.  Those things have an attraction to us, because we were created for something like this – a beautifully deeper story that transforms every other part of our story.
In this post, I am going to give you an overview heartbeat of the material – and in the coming posts, we will look more specifically at certain points! 

The Big Love Story –
There is a bigger story than our earthly love story.  This story is the purpose of our lives and is the Love Story you are called to no matter what your earthly love story looks like.  All of your life and relationships will flow from where you stand in this Love Story.

The Biggest Love Story – The Gospel - God created people to be in fellowship with Him, bringing joy to man and glory to God.  But people sinned and broke our relationship with God.  God showed His powerful love by sending His perfect Son Jesus to earth to die on the cross for people’s sins and rise victorious – offering forgiveness of sin, a restored relationship with God, and eternal life in Jesus.  When we trust in Jesus to save us and give our lives to Him as our Lord, we become His - the Bride of Christ – forever.

This is the most beautiful Love Story of all time.  All of life and human love stories point to this.  Only when we grasp this Love Story will we be fulfilled, and be able to have the right approach to a human love story - lived in, from, and for this Love Story.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Love Relationship with Jesus - Our Love Story begins and ends with Jesus.  We were created to find our total satisfaction in a personal relationship of love with Jesus.  He is the only place we find total satisfaction - It is simply not possible for a human, no matter how wonderful they are, to meet the needs God created that only He can meet.

I can tell you from personal experience that Jesus will fully satisfy the deepest longings of your heart.  Those deep longings that nothing else can fill were meant to draw you to Him.  When you find your satisfaction in Jesus, you realize that you have everything you truly need!

When we are fulfilled in Jesus and whole in Him, we are in a much better place for life and to enter a relationship pursuing marriage (and any other relationship!), if that is what the Lord has for us!

“He satisfies the longing soul…” (Psalm 107:9)

Relationship and Marriage – the why and the how -
When your life is lived in, from, and for the greatest Love Story (Jesus and the Gospel), your mission in life, decisions, and actions will flow from that – as well as the way you consider a relationship.

When we think about marriage, we need to ask, “Why do I want to get married?”  We need to know the “why” before we consider the “who”, “when”, and “how”.  When you have gotten before Jesus about this and your perspective and goals are in place, you are in a better frame of mind to be considering who the Lord might have you marry.

Taking steps in considering marriage is a beautiful opportunity in seeking to honor Christ and point one another – and everyone watching - to Him in a way that displays Jesus.

It is so powerful, protecting, and freeing to look at the gifts of our personal walk with Him, His Word, community, counsel, boundaries and accountability, serving and walking through hard places together.

In every step, it takes much prayer, staying close to Jesus, being in His Word, listening to good counsel, and seeking to follow and glorify Jesus in every step you take.

“Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!” (Psalm 34:3)

You and Your Life -
Look at you before you consider a guy – get before Jesus and know whose you are – His, who you are – both your identity in Christ and who He has created you to be, and where He has called you – your purpose in life.  This is so essential to know as you consider who you will commit to spend your life with!

As you walk in love with Jesus and live in these realities, the right kinds of guy will be attracted to the Jesus in the real you.

And remember  - The single you will be the married you.  (Character, habits, relationship patterns, etc.)

The Guy You Consider -
Once you know your purpose in life, who you are, and why you would marry, then you are in a much better place to consider who you will marry.  
As you do, it is important to look at the key things in a guy you know God would have you consider – What are his walk with Jesus, his character, his beliefs, his mission in life, his goals for marriage and family?
Knowing both of these things helps you keep a more level head when considering guys who pursue you.

One of the best pieces of marriage advice I’ve ever received was this, “Marry someone who loves Jesus more than you - Then he will love you well.” 

The Story for His Glory -
Let us keep in mind our purpose in living, singleness, relationships, and marriage – to know Jesus and to make Him known.  You can – and must - do this at every stage. 

God is the Author of the most beautiful Love Story of all time and can be fully trusted with your life and the area of your human love story.  Let God write every part - what He does is always best.

You are called to take part in the greatest Love Story of all time.  Whether it involves a human love story or not, you are called to be fully loved, satisfied, and filled with purpose as you embrace Jesus and His love every day you live.

As you walk closely with Jesus, embracing life with His love wherever He calls you, with the goal of making much of Him - it will be a Love Story for His Glory.

And you will have a happily ever after.