Andrew Murray on Surrendering to God

7 03 2008

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“May believers think that when they receive Jesus, He saves them and then helps them in times of trouble. Then they all but deny Him as their Master!  They think they have a right to have their own will and their own way in a thousand different things… they are their own masters and would never dream of saying, ‘Jesus, I forsake all to follow You.’”

– Andrew Murray, From Absolute Surrender

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Book Review: The Purity Principle by Randy Alcorn

4 03 2008

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Copyright 2008 Kelsey Hough.  All Rights Reserved.

When it comes to Christian purity books, there seem to be two categories: The impure “purity” books, and the fluffy purity books.

Since the first group believes “knowledge is power,” the aim is to inform the reader in great detail about every kind of impurity on the market. Rather than being equipped to deal with living in our sex-saturated culture, though, the reader only comes away with step-by-step instructions of what not to do. It’s about as affective as an anti-drug campaign that teaches kids how to make homemade narcotics.

On the other side of the purity books scale, the goal is to show how romantic purity can be, rather than how painful, devastating and destructive impurity always is. They promise their readers a “happily ever after” if they’ll just follow God’s plan for their love life and relationships. Purity then, sadly, becomes a means to an end – a happy marriage and romantic bliss – rather than the pursuit of God Himself … a life of holiness.

To my surprise and delight, Randy Alcorn’s book The Purity Principle: God’s Safeguards for Life’s Dangerous Trails falls into neither of these two common categories.

The Purity Principle is a small book, but it packs a punch. Chock full of Bible verses, real-life examples, and sound biblical advice, it answers questions like, “What exactly is purity?” and “Why does it even matter?” This is a wonderful book for older teens and adults of any age, and any relational status, who would like to gain a better understanding of what biblical purity is, and why it’s important.

Much like the book of Proverbs, instead of giving you the lowdown on what not to do, or painting an overly romanticized, fluffy picture of purity, Randy Alcorn removes the glimmer of sexual immorality by sharing the real-life stories of men and women who fell into sin by slowly choosing to walk down the wrong road – one small, fatal step at a time.

The Purity Principle shows how the fear of God and the consequences of disobeying His holy law should be what “drives the sense into us” rather than out. And how this fear of God should be what makes us alert, diligent, watchful and drastic when it comes to protecting our own purity and making sure we don’t allow even a hint of sexual immorality into our own lives.

Because The Purity Principle doesn’t take a let-me-tell-you-what-not-to-do approach to purity, and it’s biblically solid, it could be a helpful book for someone who’s currently struggling with issues of morality, while still being an excellent choice for someone who wants to learn how to safeguard their life so they don’t find themselves needing to do an about-face later.

Recommended Age: 16+

PracticalPurity@gmail.com Drop me a note if you’d like reprint permission.





The Teen Sexuality Crisis

18 02 2008

Copyright 2008 Kelsey Hough.  All rights reserved.

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“How could someone possibly be so stupid?” exclaimed the critical voice of one mother as she rolled her eyes in disgust. “What on earth was she thinking? I mean, for crying out loud, kids look up to her! Even my twelve-year-old daughter watches her show every day after school.”

“Yes, so does my daughter.” Her friend chimed in. “But my daughter’s smart.” she said proudly. “She’s a good student. She knows right from wrong. She’d never make that kind of mistake.”

Like many parents with young preteen girls, these two mothers were bent out of shape over the most recent celebrity gossip to hit the newsstands – one of the celebrity starlets, adored by preteens, was pregnant.

In their minds, the young starlet had fallen from her pedestal, and these self-righteous mothers blamed it almost entirely on her lack of intellect – she wasn’t smart like their daughters. But brain power really had nothing to do with the latest teen celebrity pregnancy, what I’m sure was missing in this starlet’s life – like many other teens who find themselves in similar situations – wasn’t brain cells, but guidance.

The Cultural Storm

You don’t have to live on the Vegas Strip to be aware of the fact that purity isn’t exactly “in.” Our culture idolizes celebrities whose daily lives resemble an ongoing frat party, even clothing in the preteen departments seems to be screaming, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!,” and words like virgin, pure and modest — that in previous generations were regarded as something of value — have become synonymous with prude, sheltered and even socially inept.

Not only has our culture’s moral compass gone right out the window, but in a culture that promotes “it’s good to be bad,” even our very ideas of right and wrong have been stood on end.

Our culture not only doesn’t have a biblical view of purity, it also seems to be entering into a new relational paradigm – The Fast-Food Relationship.

As a culture, we often approach relationships the same as we chose which fast-food restaurant to stop at – “Where can I get what I want in the shortest amount of time?” And sadly, because of this fast-food approach to romantic relationships, committed, meaningful relationships seem to have taken a backseat to casual hookups and one night stands, especially in the media. And at the rate our culture’s relational paradigm is shifting, it seems relationships themselves are in danger of becoming extinct.

Regaining a Christian Worldview

It shouldn’t surprise us then when teens living in the very heart of this cultural storm seem to have no sense of morality or respect for virtue, because culture – mainly through the media – has completely redefined reality for them, even right and wrong. They’re not short on brain cells, they’re simply putting this worldview that “it’s good to be bad” and “do whatever makes you happy” into action.

Because of this, when I look at my peers, what I believe Christian teens and young adults are in need of today is to be presented with a practical Christian worldview. We need to understand what purity is (not just what it isn’t), how God views the covenant of marriage, how every aspect of our lives is to bring glory to God, and how Christianity itself is very practical even in our fast paced, twenty-first century world.

The pursuit of purity – the set-apart Christian life – is very practical, but sadly too often when people give “purity talks,” the focus is on what we shouldn’t do in relationships and in life, not what we should do. In our fast-food, hookup culture, though, what’s needed isn’t a list of don’ts, but a practical Christian worldview that provides us with a destination – holiness – and a practical map to show us the way.

PracticalPurity@gmail.com Drop me a note if you’d like reprint permission.





A Little Gossip Goes a Long Way

24 01 2008

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Copyright 2008 Kelsey Hough.  All Rights Reserved.

I’d only been home for two days, but my answering machine was already cluttered with messages of “Call me back ASAP” from Jen.  Since her voice sounded more like a giggly girl at a slumber party than someone in the middle of a crisis, I wrote “Call Jen” on a sticky note and continued with my unpacking.  I’d call her after I’d run a load of whites.

Apparently, she just couldn’t wait for me to dig my smelly socks out of the blue duffle bag and track down a bottle of bleach, because before the rinse cycle was underway, the phone rang.  She asked a few pleasantries — if the airplane food was as gross as normal, whether I’d enjoyed the conference — before cutting to the chase.

“So?” said the enthusiastic voice on the other end of the line. “Tell me about him!”

I mentally flipped through files of friends and acquaintances trying to decipher who the elusive him was before finally just asking what on earth she was talking about.

“Oh, you know who I mean, Kelsey.” She obviously thought I was being coy.

I wondered if she’d confused my life with someone else’s, perhaps someone from one of those soap operas I pride myself on never watching.  Or maybe it was a side effect from a Pride and Prejudice overdose.  Who knows?

“There isn’t any guy to tell you about,” I said.

The last him of any interest whatsoever had been a fellow I’d met briefly while at the conference, who I’d never mentioned to Jen because it wasn’t worth mentioning.  After all, we hadn’t even swapped MySpaces, let alone phone numbers.

The Grapevine in Action

While I’d been gone, I’d briefly mentioned chatting with Conference Dude in a short email to a friend of mine who had happed to mention it to one of our mutual friends.  This gal then, I later discovered, told Jen I was dating someone I’d only just met.  And Jen immediately stretched the story in her own mind from dating to matrimony.  By the time I got home and was attempting to do my laundry in peace, the story had grown so much you’d have thought they’d drenched it with Miracle Grow; it wasn’t even recognizable as my life.

Jen — disappointed to discover there wasn’t going to be a summer wedding (or spring, fall or winter for that matter) — said with a sigh, “Oh, and I was looking forward to the wedding.”

It’s Not a Game

Gossip spreads like wildfire; even something as mundane as, “I talked with an interesting guy over coffee,” can easily turn into, “I’m getting married this summer to someone I only just met, and didn’t bother to tell you.”  As fast as the gossip chain I encountered moved, hurtful gossip moves at light speed in comparison.

With a single sentence a person’s entire reputation can be ripped to shreds beyond possible repair.  Because of this, the fact that the only temporary modification my own reputation underwent was that a few gossipy ladies, who didn’t have their facts straight, thought I bordered on being a bit reckless when it came to romance, it seems like I got off easy.

Thanks to the gossip chain, I almost ended up with a few extra toasters.  But usually gossip does a lot more damage than that.  Without anyone even intending any harm, gossip easily destroys lives, friendships and reputations, and at the very least, gossip confuses people and shares intimate details of other people’s lives without their permission.

“If anyone considers himself religious,” James says in his epistle, “and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)  Controlling our tongues and choosing not to gossip are not simply good manners, they’re even evidence our faith is genuine because we’re putting it into action.

 
Repeating gossip in any form is like messing around with a loaded gun aimed at someone else’s reputation, and it’s not something we should ever play around with.  It might tickle a child’s fancy to play with a loaded gun, but even if he never meant to hurt anyone, the simple act of playing with it can do unthinkable damage.

In the same way, if you play with gossip, someone else and their reputation will get hurt.

PracticalPurity@gmail.com Drop me a note if you’d like reprint permission.





Charles Spurgeon on Our Reasonable Service

20 09 2007

 

“A man who is really saved by grace does not need to be told that he is under solemn obligations to serve Christ. The new life within him tells him that. Instead of regarding it as a burden, he gladly surrenders himself–body, soul, and spirit–to the Lord who has redeemed him, reckoning this to be his reasonable service.” ~Charles Spurgeon





Hannah Hurnard on Suffering

3 09 2007

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“As Christians we know, in theory at least, that in the life of a child of God there are no second causes, that even the most unjust and cruel things, as well as all seemingly pointless and undeserved sufferings, have been permitted by God as a glorious opportunity for us to react to them in such a way that our Lord and Savior is able to produce in us, little by little, his own lovely character.”

~Hannah Hurnard, from Hinds’ Feet on High Places





Photoshop Makeover: A Distortion of Beauty

27 08 2007

Dove Photoshop Effect

This video, which is put out by the folks at Dove(r), is an eye opening look at what a photoshop makeover is truly capable of. It’s enlightening as well as disturbing, because it shows how skewed our culture’s perception of beauty has become and the lengths even people with a personal hair and makeup team have to go through in order to live up to it.