Motives Matter

Motives Matter

Timothy Keller tells this fable:

Once upon a time there was a gardener who grew an enormous carrot. So he took it to his king and said, “My lord, this is the greatest carrot I’ve grown or ever will grow. Therefore I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.” The king was touched and discerned the man’s heart, so as he turned to go the king said, “Wait! You are clearly a good steward of the earth. I own a plot of land right next to yours. I want to give it to you freely as a gift so you can garden it all.” And the gardener was amazed and delighted and went home rejoicing. But there was a nobleman at the king’s court who overheard all this.

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What I Want vs. What God Wants

What I Want vs. What God Wants

Over the last few days and weeks, I've debated on what I should write, how I should write it, and if I should share it. Today the culmination of those answers come to fruition in a blog titled, "What I Want/What God Wants." Every church and ministry comes with its own set of problems, culture, dynamics which in turn makes each congregation unique. Every youth group is uniquely different based up on the students and families that are involved (or not that involved). So, what I want to share with you is what I would like to see in a Youth Ministry (no matter where I'm located) and the compare it to what God wants to see in us. 

I want a Youth Ministry that:

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Faith through Suffering

Faith through Suffering

Dating advice from a young, unmarried, 19 year-old college student. 

He’s funny. He’s smart. He says he is a Christian. He’s attractive. He’s popular. He likes you. You’re practically in love with him. You begin dating him. He’s sarcastic. He doesn’t respect his parents. He’s rude. He’s cocky. He says things that are hurtful to your self-esteem. You see yourself going down a dark path while dating him. He believes you should change yourself for him. Your friends say that he is toxic for you. Your family begs you to be done with him. Deep down you know that they are all right. But, you think you love him. You think your life will be over without him, and he makes you think the same thing. You’ve lost your sense of purpose. You feel unimportant. You feel worthless. You’re farther from God than ever. Yet you still stay with him. It is going to take a lot of strength and faith in God in order to get away from this type of relationship. You begin the process of what seems to be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. You finally break away from him, and you are heartbroken. He seems to hate you and you want to take him back again and again. Finally, you are able to move on with your life and begin a healthier, happier lifestyle that you were unable to have while dating him. Your relationship with God has strengthened. You are loved by the King, and you deserve a love that makes you feel like a queen.

Ladies, take it from me. It can be difficult to find a good, Christian guy to begin a relationship with

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Leggings Are Not Pants

Leggings, short shorts, low cuts… oh my!

“What you put on your body talks, and everyone who sees you hears what you’re saying.” Oh leggings… How I wish those comfortable things had never been created. I love leggings because they make certain articles of clothing warmer in the cold months, and they make a dress that that is too short decent. LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS. Let me repeat… LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS. Nothing irritates me more than girls walking around in leggings with nothing over them except a normal length t-shirt. Leggings are very revealing, and very immodest if not worn properly.

Short shorts, cut offs, mid riff tops, low cut tops, bikinis, etc. seem to be the fad in the summertime. Girls wear short shorts that barely cover their bottom. Just because it is hot outside that is not an excuse to run around in public with barely anything on. Girls claim it is for comfort, but should we subject men to immodest thoughts just for comfort? Is that really the reason girls, or are we drawing the wrong kind of attention to ourselves either consciously or unconsciously?

Adam and Eve became ashamed because they were naked in the Garden of Eden, and today it seems that most have no shame at all for their choice of undress in public.

Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Ladies are supposed to “adorn themselves in modest apparel” (1 Timothy 2:9)

We’ve all heard the argument, “well if he thinks I look immodest, that’s his fault,” “his mind is in the wrong place if he thinks my shirt is too low cut, my pants are too tight, or my shorts aren’t long enough.” If you cause a person to have lustful thoughts; you have led them astray and in doing so you have both sinned.

Matthew 18:6 But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Christian men aren’t supposed to be looking because of their relationship with God. As women of God; why are we tempting our men to sin? Immodesty not only threatens a woman spiritually, but also the man.

Matthew 5:27-28 You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Christian women by keeping their dress modest will not only help them in their walk with God, it likewise will keep our Christian men Godly.

I read a wonderful article. “Proverbs31wannabe.com “ I want to share with you about a checklist for ladies to use as a “Modesty Heart Check.”

  • What statement do my clothes make about my heart?
  • In choosing what clothes to wear today, whose attention do I desire and whose approval do I crave? Am I seeking to please God or impress others?
  • Is what I wear consistent with biblical values of modesty, self control and respectable apparel, or does my dress reveal an inordinate identification and fascination with sinful cultural values?
  • Who am I trying to identify with through my dress? Is the word of God my standard or is the latest fashion?
  • Have I asked other godly individuals to evaluate my wardrobe?
  • Does my clothing reveal an allegiance to the gospel or is there any contradiction between my profession of faith and my practice of Godliness?

As Christian women, we should love Christian men. Modesty is just one of the many ways to express that love.


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Rachel Garrison is a sophomore at Freed-Hardeman University majoring in Special Education. She attends Atwood church of Christ. Rachel volunteers with the Special Olympics organizations in West Tennessee. She loves blogging, going home to see her dog (and family), and binge watching Netflix instead of doing her homework.

Follow Rachel on Instagram and Twitter. 

Promisin' and Hopin'

Promisin' and Hopin'

As a college student, I have two homes. I have my original home that has my family, pets, my own room, a home cooked meal and memories that last forever. I have a home at Freed-Hardeman as well. This home is considered my home away from home. I stay there about nine months out of the year, and it is the home that has my closest friends, a place to learn, a decent cafeteria, a roommate that is also a best friend, and memories that are still in the making. I am blessed to have two different homes that both mean so much to me. Of course, I’m only discussing my two homes here on earth.  We only have a temporary home while we are here, and that seems to be all that we focus on. 

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” –Matthew 6:19-21

Heaven is a place that we cannot even seem to imagine. It is a place of happiness, beauty and peace that will never end. Heaven is a place of no sorrow or sin or pain or suffering. There will be no crying, disappointments, and we will never do anything to displease God. 

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Til The Storm Passes By

Til The Storm Passes By

Our lives are full of storms. We always ask, “Why God?” We blame Him, we get angry with Him, and we go to Him out of anger and not out of love. We don’t understand how things in life work. We lose someone close to us, we get into accidents, we fight our closest friends, or something can be as little as just failing a test. Things happen. We go through storms. They’re inevitable.

Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. Job endured just about every terrible thing imaginable. John the Baptist was beheaded. Paul killed Christians. Stephen was stoned. Peter denied Christ three times. Jesus died on the cross. The Bible is full of people who face storms. 

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. Psalm 34:17

God has a purpose for storms. 

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"Thank You For Talking To Me About Jesus"

"Thank You For Talking To Me About Jesus"

The other day I was sitting in the automotive shop waiting to have the oil changed in my car. As I was sitting there, a mother comes inside with her three daughters. The two older girls sat down in the chairs beside me and began flipping through the magazines and looking at different pictures. The younger of the two sisters picked up the Bible sitting on the table and began telling me how she could pick out different words and read them to me. I began talking with her and watching her joy as she found another set of words that she knew. I asked her if she wanted to hear a story, and she eagerly said yes. She and I talked about Jesus feeding the 5,000. She began asking questions and wanting to hear more. We talked a little more before she had to leave, and as she left she gave me a hug goodbye and said this, “Thank you for talking to me about Jesus.” Let me tell you, her words left me feeling as happy as a kid in a candy shop with an unlimited amount of money to feed their want for a sugar rush. It felt GREAT to tell someone about Jesus.

What does the Bible say about opportunities?

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Gossip Girls or God's Girls?

Gossip Girls or God's Girls?

For many years, women have been labeled as chatter boxes. It has been said, “God made man before He made woman because He wanted to have a little talk with him without interruption.” Usually, women express themselves more often through words and are more verbal with their feelings than men. Someone once said that the average woman talks 50 percent more than her husband or significant other listens. Let’s face it—women like to talk. 

The Bible contains multiple examples of people whose tongues brought trouble for themselves or other people. Deceived by Satan’s lie, Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden and sin came into the world. (Genesis 3). With a cunning lie, Jacob  took the blessing that belonged to his brother, Esau. (Genesis 27). Ananias and Sapphira’s lie about their gift of money to the church brought them sudden death. (Acts 5:1-11).

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Trusting God - All the Time

Trusting God - All the Time

Almost seven months ago, as you may know, I lost my mother suddenly and unexpectedly to death. One thing that we can expect in life is death, but we don't always know when it will occur or how (Romans 5:12). The events surrounding death and the days/years after can be a somewhat confusing time. It can be a detrimental time for people who especially are lacking in their faith.

It has not been an easy time, in particular, for myself. I struggle with questions that I will never get an answer to, the phone calls and texts that I can't make, the holidays that will forever be different, moments and new memories that won't be shared together, and I could go on and on.

Many people write blogs, lessons and sermons on what they learned through grief, so I naturally assumed I would have one of these, as well. I tried to force myself to write one a month or so after the funeral, to no avail. It wasn't until a few months ago that things began clicking. The next morning I sat reading different things and I came across an Instagram post with Psalm 55:22, "Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you..." Wow! What a powerful thought. As I think back, that was exactly what was happening. (I don't say this to boast) Despite my struggles with the mundane things of life and worldly desires, I have never questioned God as to why my mother had to leave this life.

TRUST GOD!

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Planting Your Roots

Planting Your Roots

As I look at who I am today, I realize that I have some strong roots planted in my life. I’m halfway through my sophomore year of college. I am blessed with exceptional friends, family, and church family. My roots are deep in the dirt down home on our family farm where we spend a lot of time fishing, caring for livestock, attempting to have a halfway decent garden, and memories that will stick with me forever.  Throughout school I stuck my roots in many activities where I gained much knowledge in a ton of different subject areas, I learned how to give speeches, be a leader and a follower, and lend a helping hand whenever one was needed. Although my physical roots are a blessing, one day they will all be of no use to me. I may not always be able to be in a position where I speak in front of a thousand or more people, or use duct tape to build some bendy straw bridge, or even help someone clean up their yard when they are unable. As Christians, we are meant to plant our roots deep in something that actually matters, something that doesn’t end, and something that is eternal. 

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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

As little girls, we would be playing outside with our friends when we would grab flowers and play a little game. We’d name different boys: schoolmates, actors, athletes, different celebrities, and any guy we thought we just loved so much. We’d take our flowers and begin pulling the petals off saying the same things over and over, “he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not…” and so on in hopes of landing with the last petal saying “he loves me.” Fast forward a few years and we find ourselves dating and in relationships. Now we have our close knit group of girl friends that we can discuss guys with. We all want to love and be loved. Some of us have found that, some are working on it, and some are still pulling the “he loves me not” petal every time. 

Love… there are tons of songs dedicated to it, along with books, movies, paintings, and even clothing items. There’s even a whole holiday dedicated to relationships and loving someone. Everyone loves to be loved and loves to love someone, including myself. Ladies (and guys too) deserve a special kind of love.

God’s love is a divine love that never ends. 

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Gaze at God, Glance at Life

Gaze at God, Glance at Life

It’s homecoming week here at Freed Hardeman and life on campus gets a little stressful. Every single day this week, we have something to do.  Although we started the week with a bonfire devotional to put our focus on things above, throughout the week we seem to choose to put our social clubs over everything else. We are so invested in our clubs; we scarcely sleep as we compete with other clubs.  We seem to always forget to read our Bibles, or just have a talk with God. But, homecoming week isn’t the only time we forget to talk to God.  We are constantly putting anything and everything ahead of God. 

God’s throne is not a loveseat. 

What I mean by this is that we can’t idolize something else and still have God first.  God is a jealous God, He doesn’t share.  Worldly things such as: technology, social media, jobs, friends, relationships, social clubs, shopping, all seem to rule our lives. We’re always gazing at life and only glancing at God when we need Him. 

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The Storms of Life

The Storms of Life

As I sit in my office and listen to the rain drops on the window and the roof, I am flooded with imagery and songs. All over the Southeast, storms have swirled around communities. Some of the storms have produced damage, some have produced flooding, and some of the storms have just been rain. As I think about the varying degrees of storms that people have experienced over the last several hours, I can't help but to think of the storms that we face in our lives.

Different songs flood my mind that use the word storm that we sing in our worship services often...

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God Teaches Me

God Teaches Me

When I was in the eighth grade, something happened to me at school that changed who I was as a person until my junior year of high school. I was sitting in my Literature class, and as I was waiting for class to begin, I was reading my Bible. Once class began, I set my Bible on the corner of my desk and left it there until I had a chance to read it again. A boy that sat a couple of seats back on my row had gotten up to throw something away, and on his way back by he knocked my Bible on the floor. At first, I thought it was an accident until I saw him pick up his foot and intentionally step on my Bible. He then bent over to pick it up, handed it to me, and said ‘Sorry, Jesus Freak.” Then, for about a month or two afterwards, he and his friends began to call me names that bashed my faith and my self-esteem. 

Today, if you asked me to defend my faith I would do it in a heartbeat. God teaches me to not be afraid, because He is with us. 

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Christianity: A 24/7 Lifestyle

Christianity: A 24/7 Lifestyle

In response to the Umpqua Community College shooting, a new movement has begun. #IAmAChristian is a new trend going about various social media sites, and while I believe there are good intentions behind the movement, I find issues with it. As many already know, a cowardly man shot and killed nine people and injured more. Why kill those few? Because they said they were Christians. Powerful. Humbling. Martyrs. It takes a tragedy for people to come together and decide to stand together and stand with God. Why?

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Lessons in Whitewater Rafting

Lessons in Whitewater Rafting

I've rafted several times on the Ocoee River without ever falling out of the raft. I pride myself in being able to stay in the raft and cruise the river safely through the rapids. However, a little over a year ago, I took a trip down the white water course on the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, GA and I fell out of the raft... (I forgot to knock on wood)

Here's a little backstory:

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What's Your Treasure?

What's Your Treasure?

My favorite time of the year begins on Thursday. The grass will be freshly cut. Lines will be painted. Logos will stretch across the 50 yard line and the name of you favorite team will be on display in each end-zone. Can you smell it? The smell of tailgating fills the air along with the sounds of fans as they gather to support their respective teams. It's time! Time for the marching band to play the fight song, cheerleaders to run with their team's flag, and for two teams to enter the coveted gridiron that we know as college football (Roll Tide)!

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Fulfilling Your Spiritual Hunger

Fulfilling Your Spiritual Hunger

This summer I had the privilege to travel to the country of Zimbabwe with 9 others from our congregation, Rose Hill Church of Christ. We had the opportunity to teach, feed orphans, plant seeds (literally and metaphorically), host a youth devotional, tour the new medical clinic, as well as, walk the land where a new school will be built. Led by Dorian and Cheri Flynn, Partners 4 Africa is doing some wonderful things in the name of Christ for the people in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. We were able to see just a small portion of the great works being done. 

We go on mission trips, often times, to be a blessing to others. However, I am the one usually be blessed by the people that I meet. This was certainly the case in Zimbabwe. These were people truly hungry and thirsty for God's word. 

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"We're talking about PRACTICE!"

"We're talking about PRACTICE!"

A few years ago a NBA basketball player, Allen Iverson, went on a rant at a press conference. He didn’t appreciate sports reporters questioning his attendance of his team’s practices. Iverson responded to reporters “I’m supposed to be the franchise player and we’re in here talking about PRACTICE! Not a game! Not a game but PRACTICE!” His response is now looked upon with humor but the message it conveys is dangerous. Sometimes we Christians don’t value practice like we should, too.

 

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