Thursday, November 26, 2015

"Oh give thanks to the Lord..."

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" ~ Psalm 107:9

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Worshipful Thanksgiving ~ by Amy Vest

I love Thanksgiving.
I love reflecting on the blessings I've been given.
Most of all, I love worshipping the Giver of the blessings.

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord
to sing praises to your name, O Most High
." (Psalm 92:1)

This is amazing. 
While the gifts are good, the point us to the Giver.
While the gifts can make us happy for a little while, the Giver gives us joy forever in Himself.
Gifts cannot truly satisfy, but the Giver satisfies the deepest needs of our hearts for eternity.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:17)

This, my friend, is the secret to the best Thanksgiving ever - thanks for blessings that turns into worship of the Giver.

Whether you have a cozy time surrounded by people you love, or are facing deep pain, you see that the physical gifts can change, but the Giver is ever yours.

" content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”'
(Hebrews 13:5)

Yes, gifts may come and go, but the Giver - Jesus - is forever ours and forever by our side!

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" (Psalm 107:1)

This has been so sweet and powerful for me - and I pray it is for you, too. 

The simple act of counting blessings with Jesus can turn into a sweet worship of Him - the Giver.

Let your
thanksgiving for blessings
become gratitude to the Giver
turn into worship of the One Whose heart we see in His gifts.

This leads us to a life of worshipful thanksgiving.

So, for example:
1) "I'm thankful to be redeemed."
2) "Thank You, Jesus, for redeeming me from my sins and bringing me into a relationship with You!"
3) "I worship You, Jesus, that You are my loving, gracious Redeemer."

Do you see how beautiful this can be?

He is worthy of all our worship - and oh, in it, He is glorified and our hearts find deep joy!

We have so much to be thankful for in Jesus, friend!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving giving thanks and worshipping the Giver!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

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?"!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I Am So Glad You Are Here!

Sweet Friends,

This is just a little note to say - You are so loved and I love having you here on the blog!  I am so grateful for this sweet place on the internet to gather and share encouragement in knowing, loving, and living for our Jesus!  What a gift!

Wherever you are today, may you know that you are loved by Jesus, His plans for you are beautiful, and nothing compares to a life lived in Him!

This is a cyber-hug that I wish I could give you in person.  (((HUG)))

Have a beautiful day soaking in Jesus' love for you.

I am so glad we get to love Him together!

Will you take a moment and say "Hi" in the comments below?  I'd love to "see" you today!

Cheering for you!

With so much love for you in Jesus,

Amy Vest

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

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 -

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Post coming soon + a video to watch in the meantime!

Sweet Friends,

I am sitting here with the coming blog post... It is a post my heart wants to spend a little longer on before I post.  I'd love to have it to you tonight - I am so sorry for the delay! 

This video would be a perfect companion to the coming post:

Loving the Lord Videocast #2 - A Relationship of Love with Jesus from Loving the Lord Ministries on Vimeo.

Tonight I pray that you are resting well in His beautiful love and you have a beautiful day of worship tomorrow.

Please come back and visit the blog soon for the new post!

I am loving this verse tonight, "Yes, he loved his people, all his holy ones were in his hand..." (Deuteronomy 33:3)

You are loved by Jesus and me,


Monday, November 2, 2015

~ Final Videos Announcement ~

For our final videos in November and December, we will be posting some mini videos that Amy recorded spontaneously on her phone over the past few years.  We are excited to share them with you!  We hope they are a sweet encouragement to you as you daily walk with Jesus!