Thursday, June 27, 2013

Embracing Purity! ~ by Tara

Hello to all of you blessed young ladies! What a huge resource you have with Loving the Lord Ministries! I have been greatly blessed myself by knowing Amy! She is truly a woman after God’s own heart and has been an inspiration to me time and time again! Please don’t take Amy, her website, books, articles, etc… for granted. They are packed full of wisdom and encouragement. I want to publicly thank Amy for following hard after the Lord and for living a consistent life before others.

Purity…why is purity so important? 

The Bible talks quite a bit about purity therefore it seems to be something the Lord cares about greatly. If God is concerned about this area of our lives and has instructed and commanded us in His word to be pure, then we better read and learn what God has to say and obey it with all of our hearts!

Please read the following passages:
Phil. 1:10, Phil. 4:8, 1 Tim. 1:5, 1 Tim. 5:22, 2. Tim. 2:22, Titus 2:5, Jam. 1:27, 1 Pet. 1:22, 1 Pet. 3:2.

Who can live a life that is pure and walk purely before their God?

Let me ask you a few questions:
a.      What’s your attitude towards purity?
b.      Do you even HAVE a desire to be pure?
c.       Are you truly born again?

To live a pure life, one must be born again. A young lady who is not born again does not have the power of God at work in her spirit, soul and body. Instead, she is dead in sins; she follows the course of this world and carries out the desires of her body and mind.  Eph. 2:1 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

Like all fruit in the Christian life, purity is not something that we can just decide to do!
“I’m going to be pure!” NO, purity has to be a work of God in our totally depraved and sinful hearts. We have to first be made pure and righteous by our Lord’s work on the cross and then and only then can we know and experience true and lasting purity.

Let’s look at 2 Tim. 2:22 together!
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a PURE heart.” (Emphasis added)

Matthew Henry says: “Paul here exhorts Timothy to beware of youthful lusts. Though he was a holy good man, very much mortified to the world, yet Paul thought it necessary to caution him against youthful lusts: ‘Flee them, take all possible care and pains to keep thyself pure from them.’ The lusts of the flesh are youthful lusts, which young people must carefully watch against, and the best must not be secure. He prescribes an excellent remedy against youthful lusts: Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, etc... Youthful lusts are very dangerous, for which reason even hopeful young people should be warned of them, for they war against the soul.”

Girls, there are so many things that want to steal our purity and pollute us. Let’s look at some of these:
a.      The Fashion Industry
b.      Movies
c.       Magazines
d.      Wrong Friends
e.      Books
f.        “Girl Talks” (yes, even seemingly innocent ones too!)

I would like to share with you a glimpse into my journey of purity as it concerns waiting for my husband.  It is not a perfect one, but one that is filled with sin, temptation, repentance, victory and abundant blessing!  I pray that God will use this snippet of my testimony to encourage, strengthen and spur you on to greater purity. My desire in sharing my testimony is not necessarily to share my struggles and victories in detail, but to give you some things to ponder and think about as you are either walking the path of purity or are in limbo as to what you should do.

God did a saving work in my life at an early age.  He filled me with his powerful spirit and gave me the desire to love him and live for him in every area of life. 

Growing up, my parents were very careful about the kinds of influences, entertainment and friends I had. They realized that although “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps. 51:5) there were certain things they had been commanded by God to teach to their children.  At age 13 I can remember giving my dad a gold key and heart necklace set. He kept the key and I wore the heart. (My heart said, “He who holds the key can unlock my heart.”) I wanted to be pure at that time, but was starting to struggle.

When I was 16 years old my father and mother took me out for a special evening together at Macaroni Grille! I remember that significant night as if it were yesterday.  After a delicious dinner, my mother and father presented me with a beautiful gold, heart-shaped ring with a shiny diamond in the center of it. (This ring was a replica of the ring that my dad gave to my mom years before.)

He said, “Tara, will you give me your heart? Will you keep yourself pure and trust the Lord to use your mother and I to help you find and marry the right young man some day? It was that night that my parents formally called me to the walk of purity that they had been directing me along from the time I was born. They were challenging me to stand for and walk in the path of purity.  At that moment I had the opportunity to submit and respond to what my parents had so caringly put before me and live a life experiencing God’s protection and blessing, or say no, sever the God given protection on my life and live a life of impurity and regret. I am so glad to be able to share with you today, I said YES with all of my heart! Little did I know it would be 7 long years before I would meet my prince and another 2 years before I would say “I do.”

The years following my 16
th birthday were filled with ups and downs, struggles and victories, joys and pains. It seemed like I would live victoriously pure for several days and then BAM utter discouragement and lies would creep their horrid way into my heart and I would start day dreaming or entertaining impure thoughts. Each time this happened, the undeserving forgiveness and unconditional love of the Lord was there to meet me!

Following are a few areas in my life where I had the opportunity to cultivate purity by the grace of God. I used questions like these as accountability and as a purity thermometer to regularly take my temperature.

I pray they will be of help to you.

a.      Purity of Body – What kind of clothing do I choose to wear every day? Do they shout out that I am a pure, daughter of the most high King?
b.      Purity of Mind - What kind of thoughts do I allow to fill my mind throughout the day?
c.       Purity of Emotions - Do I daily keep my emotions in check and submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?
d.      Purity of Heart - When I’m all alone what kinds of things do I look at, read or dream about?
e.      Purity of Conscience – Is my conscience pure and clean or am I hiding anything from my authorities that God has placed in my life as a protection from the enemy? Am I sharing the struggles and victories with them on a regular basis?
f.        Purity of Speech – What kinds of words go out of my mouth? Are they pure and lovely?
g.      Purity of Sight – Are the things that I choose to set before my eyes pure, lovely and of good report?
h.      Purity of Appetite – Do I crave wholesome and pure entertainment?
i.        Purity of Countenance- What does my countenance tell the watching world? “She radiates purity?”
God also used my parents, siblings, and godly friends as great accountability!

Girls, the world tells us that the way of impurity is exciting, thrilling and fulfilling. But God says in Prov. 14:12, There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”  Matt. 7:11 says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.”

God gives good gifts to his children (in many shapes and forms as He knows what is best for us) and it is a joy to share with you that I am experiencing good gifts!  I am happily married to the man of my dreams and have been blessed with 2 precious children! The Lord has been faithful and we are continuing to experience the blessings of God on our lives!

So if I were to restate the principles that I have been sharing in my testimony, it would look like this: God saved me and gave me a new heart, my parents called me to a life of purity and directed me along its path, I submitted and responded with a willing and yielding heart, there were various methods of accountability in my life, and all of this lead to abundant blessing and reward!

Let’s look at 2 Tim. 2:22 again together! “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a PURE heart.”
According to God’s word we are to FLEE youthful passions and PURSUE what? RIGHTEOUSNESS…FAITH…LOVE…PEACE, along with those who call on the Lord from a PURE heart.

I will tell you there are days that will be very hard and the struggle will be intense, but it is worth it all for the sake of Christ! Phil. 3:14 says, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” It’s a hard, bumpy road to travel if you want to be pure. It’s definitely NOT for sissies! Most everything and everyone around you will try to trip you up and ensnare you. Prov. 4:27 says, “Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” Remember, the journey of purity does not end the day you say I do. In your marriage you will daily have to decide to let God continue to cultivate purity in your life and in your marriage!

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Purity is being attacked on all sides, even from the church. It’s time to take a stand, live in obedience to Christ and be a witness to the watching world!
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 1:24-25

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Eph. 3:20-21

I would like to dedicate this article to Steve and Cherie (my loving parents) and to my devoted and WONDERFUL husband…Stephen!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Young Women's Conferences in Romania!

The Lord has done an amazing work in opening up the door to share young women's conferences in Romania this autumn!  We are in awe of His amazing hand.  We can't wait to share more details in the days to come!  If you are in Romania, we would love to have you join us as we seek Jesus, His transforming Truth, and the joy of the life He created you to live!

The picture above is at the time of the filming the promotional video for the Romania conferences with a precious Romanian sister in Jesus!  (Video coming soon!)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Blessings of Purity ~ Mandy's Testimony

"Above all else, guard your heart,  for it is the wellspring of life" ~ Proverbs 4:23

As Christian young ladies, we are called to a high moral standard.  Very often, this call means choosing the Lord's standards in stark defiance of those held by the world. In particular, God has called us to be pure  for His glory (Matthew 5:8). In my own life, the Lord is graciously teaching me what it means to be pure before Him. 
Through the Lord's leading, I first made a commitment to purity at the age of 12. During this time, my father and I went through a Bible study on purity together.  One verse that particularly impacted me at this point was Song of Solomon 8:4 which says, "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,  that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases." In other words, it is crucial that Christian young ladies wait on the Lord's will and not pursue romance before His perfect timing. As a result of this study on purity, I made a commitment to wait on the Lord's timing should it be His will for me to be married someday. Also, I submitted my heart to my parents and asked them to help me guard my heart. 

The next year, at age 13, the Lord opened my eyes to make a deeper commitment to purity. At this time, the He used various books and Christian role models to teach me  the practical aspects of a pure life. For example, I was wisely advised that any romantic relationship should be marriage-minded. Also, I was counseled to wait until marriage for my first kiss and to avoid flirtation and forming crushes. The goal of these standards is not perfection, but to live with a pure heart devoted to God.

Rather than a list of legalistic rules, these standards allowed me to live my teenage years fully for the Lord without the pressure of having to attract guys. Indeed, I truly enjoyed the freedom that a single focus on the Lord provided. While other girls around me experienced pain and heartbreak, I was able to grow with less distraction in my relationship with Christ.
However, I sometimes grew discontent because of some of my standards. For example, it is difficult to guard one's heart when so many other girls seem to be throwing their hearts around. Indeed, our society seems to "glorify" the teenage dating culture. However, my parents and other godly influences guided me to maintain a commitment to waiting on the Lord with regard to relationships.
Interestingly, I found that the battle for a pure and undistracted heart grew more difficult as I grew older. For example, with each year I wondered if I would simply remain single my whole life. (It must be noted, however, that lifelong singleness is in itself a noble calling). 

At no point did I experience as much discontent in my singleness as I did during spring 2012. During this time, it seemed that so many girls I knew were caught up in talking about crushes and potential boyfriends. However, the Lord reminded me of His perfect love and I remained steadfast in my commitment to purity, even if it meant lifelong singleness.

By early summer 2012, I was probably closer to and more content in the Lord than I had ever been in my life. Amazingly, it was at this time that He brought a wonderful young man into my life.

While I still made an effort to guard my heart, the Lord soon made it clear that it was His perfect plan for me to enter into a relationship. It is such a blessing to start a marriage-minded courtship without the pain of past regrets! However, I certainly recognize that I only made the decisions that I did through the undeserved grace of the Lord. 

I have been so blessed by what the Lord has taught me regarding purity. In fact, I encourage each girl reading this to make a God-honoring commitment to purity. If anyone has a painful past of mistakes in this area, it's not too late!! God in his marvelous grace is so willing to grant a fresh start. Purity is our calling as Christian young ladies, and it is to be taken both seriously and joyfully. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Blessing of an Accountability Partner ~ by Amy Vest

Today I connected with my accountability partner... I am so grateful for the gift of fellowship and spurring on in our relationship with Jesus!  We had such a sweet time of quoting our verses to one another, sharing prayer requests and accountability topics, and praying together!  My heart was strengthened, encouraged, and refreshed.

In the Bible, we have the beautiful example of David and Jonathan's friendship and how Jonathan "...strengthened his (David's) hand in God." 1 Samuel 23:16  The Lord has given us the beautiful privilege of strengthening one another in God, by His grace!

This is a sweet opportunity we have to share the Lord's goodness, be held accountable for areas in which we want to grow, and hold one another up in prayer! 

We often have the tendency on our own to drift or get relaxed in the things that the Lord can use to draw us closer to Him - reading the Word, prayer, obedience to Him, etc.  Accountability is gift that will help guard against this and will push us towards a deeper walk with Christ - which is what we want most of all!

I am so excited as I think of each of you taking part in the Summer Devotions Pursuit and your times with your accountability partners of "strengthening their hand in God" as you point one another to Jesus and the Word!  From experience, I have found that this is a powerful tool that the Lord can use to aid in deepening our walk with Him - and that is the goal of our life!

May the Lord bless you as you strengthen one another's hand in God!

"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." Proverbs 17:17

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Releasing Session 5 ~ "The Power of a Pure Heart" ~ The "Beautiful to God" Conference!

BTG Conference Session 5 ~ The Power of a Pure Heart from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.

Dear Friends,

"God created you to live a life of transforming purity in Jesus that results in freedom, fulfillment, and fruitfulness
.  It is a purity that is beautiful, satisfying, exciting, and that impacts not only your life, but the lives and world around you.

God has called us to this purity that transforms us and allows us to fulfill and experience the purpose for which we were created.

It is crucial that you understand - Your level of purity affects your relationship with God, your life, your relationship with others, and how mightily God is able to use you for His glory... 

"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."  (Matthew 5:8) 
What does it say will happen if you are pure in heart?  You will see God.  That is the purpose that we are alive – to see, know, enjoy, and glorify God!  This alone is where we will be truly satisfied...  You want to be pure so that you can SEE GOD - then your life will be transformed!"
  (Excerpt from "A Call to Transforming Purity" by Amy Vest)

Please join us for this life-changing video as we look at the power of a pure heart and single focus in Jesus!
Longing to see Him with you,

Amy Vest
for Loving the Lord Ministries, Inc.

June Memory Verse ~ Matthew 5:8

June Memory Verse:
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."  

~ Matthew 5:8

~ Announcing the June Giveaway! ~

The giveaway this month is:
A Beautiful to God T-shirt (Size S or M)

There are 4 ways to enter:
1. Memorize our memory verse for the month and quote it to someone.
(June's is: Matthew 5:8
2. Watch the video and comment on our blog ( beneath the video post, sharing one thing the Lord is teaching you about purity.
Spend 15 minutes of personal devotions with the Lord in Bible reading, prayer, etc.
4. Share the Session 5 video on Facebook, your blog, or by email, encouraging your friends to join us.
You can do all of the above!
Email and tell us your number of entries by June 27th to be entered for the giveaway drawing. (You can enter a total of 5 times each month with the above opportunities)! We will announce the winner on the blog on July 1st!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Encouragement as you do your devotions this summer…

Loving the Lord Videocast #5 - Having Devotions that Change Your Life from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.

This video contains encouragement on how to have a devotional time that has the potential to change your life!  We have such a treasure in the privilege of meeting with the Lord!  Every moment invested in meeting with Him is so worth it!  May He richly bless you as you seek Him!

"Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
  his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” ~ Hosea 6:3

Friday, June 7, 2013

So Excited About All of You Doing the Summer Devotions Pursuit!

Dear Friends,

Excitement and joy flood my heart as I think of, hear from, and pray for those of you who are doing the Summer Devotions Pursuit and seeking Jesus this summer!

Nothing in the world is like knowing Jesus.  It is worth every minute you spend seeking Him!  As you seek Him and He opens your eyes more and more to Who He is, you will never be the same!

Today as I met with Him, I was deeply blessed as He spoke to me through His Word and prayer and as I was able to journal what He is teaching me… I am so needy of Jesus and His Truth every day – and He is always so sufficient!  The more I know Him, the more I want to know Him even more!

This verse blessed me so much today, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name.”
  (Psalm 119:132) 

I’d love to have you comment below and share what the Lord is doing and teaching you as you meet with Him!

May the Lord bless you so richly as you continue to meet with Him!  Nothing is more important, exciting, or life-changing!

Love in Jesus,