10 July 2016

The Greatest Commandment

There have been so many thoughts in my mind lately it's crazy. I keep churning inside my brain trying to pick and choose what it is I have to write for you. Tonight I come back to this drafted post about God's greatest commandment.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus states the greatest commandment...

Matthew 22:36-40New International Version (NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Out of everything God outlined for us he chose this as the most important. What do you think was his reasoning behind this? I would argue that it was solidarity. Meaning that loving God is the most important because if we love God we obey him; thus obeying all the other commands out of our desire to honor him. If we love God with everything we are he is our first priority, our focus, our solidarity in a world with grey areas, our peace in the chaos. God knows that if we love him we are best off.  

Matthew 11:29-30New International Version (NIV)

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Philippians 4:6-7New International Version (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I remember being at an all staff meeting for my job quite a few months back. There was this point in the meeting with open microphones where we were allowed the opportunity to discuss openly and freely about the social problems in our city and think about what we could do to solve them. I remember in the midst of this exercise one person coming up to the mic and asking an open question "what really can we do about all of these issues?" this person seeking a tangible, "perfect social program" answer. As this went on you could hear people all over the room discussing ideas with one another. As this is happening I sit in my chair thinking to myself, the answer is Jesus. Only Jesus can fix this, because it's not about social programs, it's about hearts. Then, to my surprise the next person to speak said it. They stated, in my own paraphrase,"Now if no one else will get up here and say it I will, I have the answer. It's God. This is a heart problem. Only God can fix hearts." I was SO surprised but glad that this man had the courage to stand up in a room of diverse people and declare God's hope. I sat there thinking that I hoped I could be as brave as that guy. 

In the midst of the violence and chaos happening in the United States right now, I wanted to remind my sisters and brothers that Jesus is the answer. If we are obedient to him, we are doing and being exactly what He needs us to; we are doing exactly what we need to do to build the kingdom of Heaven and speak the truth of God's love and hope to a very lost world. 

Romans 12:17-19New International Version (NIV)

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

I also want to take the time here to urge you to pray. Pray about everything, but especially pray for our country. Pray for peace, revival, mercy. Cry out to God to protect people and prevent more violence. Pray that he would provide a leader for us after his own heart. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18New International Version (NIV)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Blessings,
Hillary
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07 July 2016

21 Myths (Even Good) Girls Believe About Sex: Pursuing love with passion + Purity by Jennifer Strickland

Today on the blog I want to take some time to share with you my thoughts on reading "21 Myths (Even Good) Girls Believe About Sex: Pursuing love with passion + purity" by Jennifer Strickland. But first, here is a little about the book and it's author...

About 21 Myths and Jennifer Strickland

For 15 years, Jennifer Strickland lived in the world of the elite, modeling throughout Europe and the United States. Glamour, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen. She walked the runway for Georgio Armani and even appeared as Barbie for the 35th anniversary of the doll in Europe. But at the height of her career, her heart hit rock bottom, and she found a relationship with God, leaving behind a business that degraded women’s worth. Today she shares around the country about the pain women experience when their life is based on outward appearance, and points them towards a relationship with God which gives them the power to overcome any life circumstance.
In 21 Myths, she exposes the lies our culture teaches about marriage, relationships, shame, love, and the power of sex. While the book is geared towards older teens and young women, it’s message reaches many. Whether your readers are moms of teen daughters, youth leaders, women’s ministry leaders (brave ones only!), Bible study teachers (the Joshua types—strong and courageous), counselors, volunteers at pregnancy resource centers, high school teachers (private AND public – God’s not dead!), or just women in need of an encouraging word on relationships, they’ll all take something away from Jennifer’s no-holds-barred, biblically-based teaching.

A Book About Sex Love

I didn't know what to expect when I decided to review this book, but I had high hopes that over everything Jesus would be the answer. These hopes were definitely met. This book drips truth at its seams, and it is a truly beautiful thing to behold. This book speaks truth with the abundance of God's love. It gently and confidently proclaims what God intended for love and sex. It is the kind of truth I want every women to have in their hands and hearts. This book addresses hard topics well and doesn't dance around the truth. 
One of the things I really like about this book is that it addresses Satan's lies directly and juxtaposes them with God's truth found in scripture.
In comparison to many other books I have read I was very glad to find scripture used within context, and a language of reading that did not condemn the reader but offered the opportunity for their freedom. I also found this book easy to read and I think that teens will find that too. 
Sisters, I definitely recommend this book to you if you...
  • want to know more about God's view on sex
  • struggle with a desire to be loved
  • have been hurt by someone
  • struggle with sex related sin or temptation
This book is very insightful and has offered me a deeper perspective on life, love, sex, and Jesus. I hope that some of you will read it too and come back to offer your thoughts in the comments! 
It is my prayer that the truth in these pages lands on receptive hearts and that the Lord would bring healing and hope to many women through these words. 
I truly believe this book enters the world for "such a time as this". Thank you Jennifer Strickland for having such a compassionate heart for women and for braving to tell the truth about sex. 

Buy 21 Myths Here! :D

A Special Address to Parents
I am not a parent, though I bet if your reading this your wondering if this is a good book for your daughter. I would recommend, since this book is an important topic, and since it is short anyways, that you read it first to make that decision. However, I will say - as a tenderhearted women who once was a young teen, I feel that this book is a safe read for most teens. I feel that this book addresses the topic of sex in a safe manor and reveals only the information needed and no more. This book does address Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Abortion, Miscarriage, Homosexual, Bisexual, Transexual, Prostitutes, Strippers, Pornography, Abuse, and other things. Thus, it's probably a good idea for you to read it first. But I think if you and your daughter read it, it would be a great opportunity for open communication regarding sex and love. Perhaps an opportunity to affirm your daughter and show her her worth in Jesus is great and that she deserves to be loved and respected. 
Blessings,
Hillary
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13 May 2016

Healing: A Testimony

In  December of 2013 I found myself attending an all night prayer meeting to support a friend. I thought I was just going to go, support my friend and see the guy I liked at the time. It turns out God had MUCH bigger plans for my heart that night. We arrived the all night prayer meeting around 11pm and entered a very beautifully filled sanctuary. I had the opportunity to pray for others and witness the healing power of Jesus. Little did I know that a few hours into that meeting the Lord would move my heart to full surrender. You see sisters I had been struggling for years with sin and bondage. I was so stuck I didn't even know it was possible not to be stuck. But that night I lifted my shortcomings to the Lord and asked him for freedom and forgiveness. The Lord was faithful to that prayer and set me free. For the first time I experienced the depth of Gods love and grace. He healed me from the mess I was in and made my life and heart more fruitful. It is a moment I will never forget. I want you to know that God loves you enough to do the same thing in your heart. Sister you are unimaginably loved. There IS hope and healing for you in Jesus. Let him in. 

Ephesians 2:1-10 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

1 John 4:9-10 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.