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We need “More Than Conquerors”!

More Than ConquerYou’re a month or two into the school year, depending on which high school, academy or university you’re attending and you’re already over it. Some of you have senioritis and you’re only sophomores! Ha!

For some of you it’s even worse. You wanted things to be different this year, to keep your grades up, to be more popular, to shed your insecurities, to not give in to peer pressure, to keep your spiritual life strong despite the demands that your studies and all those extracurricular things pile on. Even if you started the battle of getting through a new school year feeling strong, you might be finding yourself growing weary today. This weariness might make you want to: flirt with sexual overtones to get a guys’ attention…even if he’s not even good for you! You might want to skip your devotional in the morning and sleep in, start drama with a girl who’s getting on your nerves, study less and be tempted to cheat on a test, or criticize and complain about all your teachers.

School is tough, I remember, and the list of things you may be tempted to get distracted by goes on forever! But remember this, my warriors of the cross…every day you have the chance to be a witness for God—to do things well and show people how Christians are MORE THAN CONQUERORS: to show them how God promises something better and how we have faith that He’ll deliver!.Of course, Satan is doing his best every day to make your life miserable and to destroy our testimony for Christ. The Bible says in John 10:10 that Satan wakes up every morning aiming to steal your joy and your eternal life.

If you’ve felt overwhelmed lately, you’re not alone! But please my  darlingest of  girls, don’t give up! There are many who will look to your leadership and example. Your school needs you desperately to set the standard high! Your school needs more than conquerors to lead them.

Here are a few practical ways you can fight the enemy and beat off temptation this school year.

  1. Stay plugged in to God’s Word on the daily

If you’re reading the Bible, you’re actually hanging out with Jesus. He calls himself the living Word…which means that the same power He had…you have access to through the word. This is how it can influence our minds for good!  Ask God to give you wisdom, power and mold your will to His as you read.

How can you incorporate God’s Word into your morning routine this school year?

  1. Memorize battle verses

Every temptation begins as a thought, so arm yourself with weapons of truth to combat satan’ lies as those thoughts come into your head!

Remember, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). There is nothing too big in your life that Christ cannot help you overcome, but you need to put on your armor!

  1. Pray with friends

Ask your parents, mature Christian friends, or a wise woman at church to hold you accountable for your areas of temptation and struggle. The more often your bring your struggles before God, and the more people who are fighting along side you…the more power you’ll have to overcome! PS…not everyone is trustworthy, so don’t give all your secrets away to someone who hasn’t proven themselves to you!

That’s all folks, post your prayer request on the Greater Than Rubies facebook page or email me at Amie@greaterthanrubies.org if you need special prayer for any situation. We need more conquerors like you!

 

How to talk about rainbow facebook profiles (with your Christian teen)

rainbowpro

You may have noticed that a few, or maybe a that a few thousand of your friends’ Facebook profile pictures are now covered with a transparent layer of rainbow joy in celebration of the Supreme Court decision last week to make same-sex marriage a right nationwide.

Regardless of where you stand on the court decision, or even on the act of rainbowing a Facebook picture, this is a huge opportunity to discuss some important issues with the teens in your sphere of influence.  After all, with over 26 million people participating in this social media phenomenon, you’ve got a lot of leverage to start a conversation.

Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the many celebrities changing their facebook profiles to celebrate the supreme court decision.

Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the many celebrities changing their Facebook profiles to celebrate the supreme court decision.

The teens who share your genes or show up at your church are undoubtedly taking notice of all this social media activity. In fact, according to the Media Insight Project, 88 percent of Millennials (young adults aged 18-34) get news from Facebook regularly, and over half of them do so on the daily. So, how can you use the rainbow connection to start a dialogue?

Here are 4 ideas that you might be able to use…and remember, this is a self-proclaimed Christian liberdependant republicrat talking. I don’t really know what I think on many issues. I’m still figuring that stuff out myself.

1. Unicorns

Before you get into the heavy stuff, consider bringing up Unicorns, Hello Kitty or  late 70’s Houston Astros’ uniforms to provide a great segue into rainbow discussions.

2. Love-speech

Surprise your teens with overwhelming love-speech for your LGBTQX community. If you don’t have any love, you might need to pause and reflect on that.  (By the way, if you’re not used to seeing the Q and X, the Q stands for “queer”, as in gender and/or sexual fluidity or in a reluctance to label oneself. The X stands for all other undefined possibilities.

Anecdotally, the 7 adults I know seem to be mostly talking about morality and social norms, constitutional implications and other topics that come up on the Mark Levin Show (that’s some guy on talk radio who yells a lot). Now, there’s no problem with talking about these issues, but what I would LOVE to hear from my Christian friends is more concern for the individual people excluded from things like retirement, healthcare, visitation, housing services and YES that did and does happen even with civil union benefits in place.

Let’s fight for and care for all our brothers, sisters, and those who don’t feel like they’re in either category. Let’s demonstrate our concern verbally and tangibly. This is the spirit of Christ. Once our teens see the right spirit in us, they might actually care what the Bible says about the subject. They will be driven to try to reconcile how or why a loving God would seem to disallow homosexuality. As it stands right now, many teens’ “B.S. meters” are going off because our stated beliefs in other-centered love and our actions aren’t matching up.  As if we only reserve our love for those who fall into the “approved lifestyle” category.

Also, let’s talk less about the“gay agenda”. Yes, there probably is one. Chances are that there are a few people who see a way to get fame or wealth from the situation—and those people will drive an agenda. However, anecdotally again, the five gay people I know really just want to be able to live their lives without fear of getting evicted from their apartments, or shamed publicly. That’s their agenda. They want to be treated like humans. Yay for humans!

3. Single-minded duality

Do you realize how amazing a Christ-follower is? Christians have a single-minded duality that sets us apart and allows us to act differently. What I mean is that we have a high standard—a single-minded centeredness on Jesus and the righteousness that will follow from knowing Him. We also have a duality of mind allows us to interpret something like homosexuality as a sin, but still absolutely love the person who may be committing that sin.

You’ve heard that phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”, right? This duality makes sense to us. (Though I must give a shout-out to the author of this article for rejecting the categorization of “sinners” as a cop-out). We can realize that we are convicted of and called to a certain standard, without being hateful to someone for not subscribing to that same standard.

What’s interesting is how foreign that concept is to some non-believers. Awhile back I attended a talk by some friends at By Beholding His Love, a ministry that shares about God’s love and power to overcome. This talk was about homosexuality and a young man in the audience spoke up during the Q & A time.

This guy just could not reconcile how anyone could find an act of homosexuality an abomination, according to their faith, but still actually love the homosexual person. He said that we just naturally hate the people who do things that we disapprove of, so it must just be an act, a cover-up at least and mere tolerance at best. All I could think was “yes, I guess that’s not natural.” I believe that the ability to see deeper into a person’s heart and truly love them, despite any actions that we might find abhorrent or against what we choose for ourselves is a duality that is sustained by understanding God’s love and grace toward us in our states of sin.

4. God’s Design for Marriage

Use this opportunity to have a discussion with your teens about what God designed marriage to be and do. You probably think you know where I’m going here, but I might just have a trick up my Hello Kitty trademarked sleeve!  Sure, you’ll probably talk about the one woman/ one man concept from Genesis, but please don’t let the discussion flounder in the shallows. The truth is that we who claim to believe in the sanctity of Biblically-defined marriage need to rediscover and educate our own people on what God wants for marriage. It’s not just a sex and stability benefit program. It’s a “one-flesh” physical, spiritual, emotional, sexual, mental and economic union.

Let’s talk with our teens more about the real point. I love how John Piper puts it in This Momentary Marriage, saying “The meaning of marriage is the display of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his people.” Wow. Our unions are supposed to be a living testimony of God’s relationship to his people!

It’s living out this covenant that would have protected the definition of marriage as many Christians interpret it. Think about it: would this discussion even be happening if marriages inside the church were happily holding together at a rate of 98 percent while “the world” struggled at 50 percent? Doubtful. It would be obvious to others that the Biblical method worked. People would be asking Christians what the secret was to get a blessed, forever-union. They’d be grabbing onto your robes like the guys from Zech. 8:23 to ask for advice. Let’s put our marriages where our mouths are! Wait, is that weird?

In closing, I’m praying today that the words coming out of our mouths will be full of grace and genuine longing for those who don’t know or don’t care what the Bible teaches yet.  Additionally, I’m hoping we can use these rainbow profiles to engage our teens and get them thinking for themselves—shopping in the marketplace of ideas and asking questions that will ultimately help them see the beautiful character of God.

What about you? What interesting and non-expected discussions have you gotten into with your teens because of the explosion of rainbows?

See you soon!

Amie

 

Other helpful/interesting links:

By Beholding His Love

A Christian View of Civil Marriage

Magical Facts About Unicorns

 

Reclaiming Weird: It’s not really a put-down!

“Amie, you are so WEIRD!”

I can’t tell you how many times I heard that phrase, or a meaner variation of it during my growing up years. Anytime I made the choice to bring my meat-analog (veggie burgers) to a cook-out, or wear a victorian-era ruffle shirt to a choir concert, or to talk about my semi-precious stone collection in grade-school, someone had to pipe up and call me weird.

And it kind of wears on you after the 337th time. I tried not to care, but especially when I was already a religious minority in my Utah middle school or my Arkansas High School–it was tough!

Maybe you know what I’m talking about? Maybe you’re weird too. The pain may have deadened now that you’re older and wiser, but for those who are living with accursed label of weird, it’s really uncomfortable to live on the outside of what society collectively dictates as “normal”.

For those of you with different religious convictions (or no religious convictions) it can be especially tough because the things about your lifestyle or beliefs are often misunderstood and misrepresented. For you, I want to offer some words of comfort: weird is actually wonderful! We need weird–look at what “normal” society values–especially for teens and 20-somethings! It’s like a bunch of autobots making poor decisions and trying to get you to join them. Ugh. The only hope…is to be weird. And it’s not really a put-down: it’s a revelation of the other person’s ignorance.

I made a video about being weird and a little lonely as a teen.

I’m hoping you can use this to start some discussion with your teen girls. Ask them some of the following questions!

When and why have you been labeled as weird?

What does the word weird mean to the people who label you that?

What does it mean to you?

When you read 1 Peter 2:9, what do you think weird/peculiar means to God?

How can you reclaim the word mentally, so that being called “weird” doesn’t still as much?

 

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know if this discussion resonates with your peeps.

 

7 Non-Negotiables For Your Girl’s Future Husband

I had a harrowing conversation with one of my girls the other day! We were talking about her “I want” list for her perfect guy.

High on the list were things like being cute, and loving her forever.  Silent reflection on the depth here….but, I mean, she did mention commitment…right?

At the time I didn’t know how to respond, but I do now! Let’s help our girls raise the bar! I’m providing you a worksheet you so can do just that with the girls you love.

non-negotiables worksheet (It’s a word document)

Here’s the video I did on the topic as well, if you would prefer to watch your info!

They’re already dreamin’ about him. Might as well make sure they get their dreams straight! 😉

Helping Our Girls Get What They Want

How many times have you been shopping at Wal-mart (I’m currently an Arkansan, don’t judge me–oh thou who have access to Whole Foods and such) or whichever local store, only to have your isle-wanderings interrupted by the over-zealous beggar child behind you.

“Please Mommy?”

“No”

“Pleeeeeeease Mommy?”

“I said NO, Taylor Marie Higginsbottom! Now put them Lucky Charms back before Bubba wakes up.”

Okay, so not every person is named Bubba in Arkansas, but there are an astounding number where I shop, apparently.

Anyway, the point is that wherever I go I’m aware of kids and teens who do everything from beg and cry to pout and eye-roll to try to get what they want out of their parents.

There’s nothing worse than seeing a lovely little girl’s face all twisted and pouty because she’s not getting her way–unless it’s her mom’s tired and permissive face giving in to it.

When you give in to that kind of behavior, everyone looses, because your daughter learns that all she has to do to get what she wants is embarass you. That’s messed up! Respect doesn’t exist in that realm, and your daughter will eventually get a REALLY hard wake-up call.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could teach our girls a way to go about getting what they want that would improve relationships and still yield results? Wouldn’t it be cool if they could learn some techniques that are not based on fit-throwing or manipulation but would help them get a YES more often? I know you want your girl to develop some solid principles for successful communication, so…

Ahem. [Cue the ta-dahs and applause!!!!]

Here’s the principle. I call it “TRAPP” and it represents the important components in asking in a truly persuasive way. I explain it in my video here, which I would LOVE for you to share with a young lady in your life.

The best part of all this: it really is tied in with a Biblical principle–you’ll see in the video!

I also have a worksheet to go along with the video so that your girl can practice her chops! TRAPPhandout

By the way, I teach tons of others success tips like this in my online success course called Rock Your Life. Learn more at https://www.udemy.com/rock-your-life/?dtcode=sJYN1l92ljhv

 

Stop Protecting Our Girls: Prepare Them

A couple years ago I took my newly arrived foster boys to Johnston’s Pumpkin Farm for a hayride and some seasonal magic. What I got was a surprise insight into “motherhood”.

Pumpkin Farm

The hayride was over and Randy, 3 at the time, was exploring the sandbox in the play area when a bigger boy who was there on a school field trip came over and yanked the pail he was playing with out of his grip.

Randy stood, stunned. His face clouded up as he looked to me to administer justice. I turned into a raging mama bear. I felt my soul standing tall and roaring before the attack. I was about to cross the 10 feet between us and clock the kid but something (I can only assume was the intervention of the holy spirit) held me back.

The pint-sized jerk ran off with the pail, and Randy and I dealt with the pain together. We talked about how what the other boy did “not ok” and how it made us feel “really sad”.  We went looking for new toys.

I had to acknowledge that something very strange had happened to me too. I was overcome with a need to protect Randy from hurting again and I sized up every potential threat that toddled toward the sandbox.

I’m guessing that if you’re a parent, a guardian, or if you’ve ever loved a child you’ve felt exactly the same way. I’m also guessing that that feeling didn’t stop as your baby got older. In fact, it must have only intensified as the number of threats to your darling one’s future increased.

Even now, the full and happy future of your baby is being challenged by crazy drivers, disloyal friends, power-hungry professors, poor economics, corrupting media influences, selfish significant-others and protective parents.

WHAT?

You may need to read that last sentence again. Yep, I said it. Your kid’s future (and that includes the kids at your church or school, not just your biological child) is being seriously limited by your protection. Allow me to explain before you start chucking those rotten vegetables that you keep on hand for such occasions.

Lately, since I’ve been more involved in young womens’ ministry in the last year and a half, I’ve noticed a pretty scary trend. Many of the sponsors, parents and denominational workers I’ve talked to that work with Jr. high and Highschool girls are hyper-focused on protecting our girls. I mean, they TALK about preparing our young ladies for college, careers and healthy relationships and all that, but their truest motivators are revealed more subtly in their comments. For example:

“We voted not to allow the purchase of XYZ book for the teen girls’ small groups because the book contains a section on masturbation.” (Really? Because they have probably figured out that they have girl parts with lots of sensitive nerve endings and have likely heard myths that need some Biblical context.)

“We don’t allow our girls to watch anything rated PG-13.” (Interesting. Those guidelines are pretty fickle.)

“My daughter will not be going to your workshop. We don’t like them being exposed to non-Christian resources.” (Because you have to have it stamped “Made in Church” for it to be good advice?)

Sometimes I am overcome with frustration when I hear statements like those! I want to shout—What are you thinking?!!! Why are you putting all your energy into protecting our girls when they need desperately to be PREPARED. Some of them are already making poor decisions that have huge repercussions, but we’re still cranking out G-rated only discussions. By the way, have you noticed that the Bible itself is not G-rated, friends?

This “protective bubble” mentality continually drives girls away from us, and as quoted in a Barna study all the way back in 2011–it actually drives them away from the church.

We need a broader vision and WE (parents, teachers and youth leaders) need to be trusted sources of information as these girls navigate life’s tough decisions. We do NOT need to be the far-removed “church ladies” who spit out a few well-rehearsed and applicable Bible verses while being fully removed from these girl’s very pervasive context of culture. PS, please don’t get upset when I talk to your girl about sex before you do. If she’s 14 and you haven’t discussed these things…you’re late. You may be late at 10 in some parts of the country.

Here’s my view and my guiding methodology as a speaker and youth worker: PROTECT your daughters, YES! But only until you have the opportunity to PREPARE them.

Protect vs. Prepare your daughter

What this means is that as your girl gets older, you become less and less focused on protection and more on preparation until, around age 17, you’ve got a fully capable adult who still lives at home for 1 year while she’s testing out independence.

I know families where the parent (and sometimes the boarding school) makes all their teen’s hard choices for them, even through the first year of college! That’s just laziness masquerading as guidance. Real guidance is putting in the time to help your child figure out her own values and choices. The sooner a girl makes her own framework for decision making, the less rebellious she’ll be, and the more ready for conquering real life.

My point: please stop hovering–especially over our high school girls! Instead of screening every piece of literature, every song or every show, please help your girl develop the framework for making her own decisions.

So how does this process develop? Here’s how it went down for me:

  1. My parents helped me see that the God of the Bible wanted GOOD for me

This is absolutely necessary! If I didn’t understand that God’s actions are repeatedly for me and not against me, I would have never been interested in doing anything His way.

Study: Genesis 1& 2—God’s original plan of eternal perfection and bliss and communion with us. 1 John 3:1, Jer. 29:11

  1. This GOOD God has boundaries and frameworks set to keep me happy

Again, absolutely necessary to understand at a young age, especially when the message from popular culture paints any form of abstinence as if a young person is missing out. This is satan’s oldest trick in the book, as he used it with Eve. Unfortunately, it’s still working!

Study: Genesis 3—How God loved us so much that he wanted to provide choice, but that he also warned about the consequences of not choosing to follow his ways. Deut. 5:33, Ex 20—have discussions about how following each commandment would protect you and your family. Eph. 2:1-5.

  1. I was encouraged to study and apply Biblical principles on my own!

Sometimes we get caught in the trap of banning everything that isn’t produced by our church, or even our denomination because we’re so afraid for our kids. Give them a little credit! Give the Holy Spirit a little credit! Don’t disallow something just because of its origin. Teach kids to judge it based on merit! Give them increasing freedom and responsibility as they show they get these concepts. In the marketplace of ideas, the good ones eventually prove themselves.

Study: Rom. 8:1-17—how Jesus alone is cure for me wanting to go against these principles. Eph. 4:17-24, 1 Thess. 5:21, Phil.4:8, 1Tim 4:12-16

  1. My parents, teachers and Godly friends were not to talk me into decision, but were trustworthy counsel when I had questions.

I had to learn to seek counsel from those who had the kinds of life I wanted-happy, successful Christians who were blessed by God. Everyone is willing to offer advice, but there are usually only a few qualified to give it. For example, you wouldn’t ask a baker the best way to make money from the stock market because the baker is not qualified. In the realm of Godly advice, we need to teach our young ones to consider the source of advice before taking action on it.

Study: 1Kings 12:1-19—how Rehoboam was unwise to take advice from his friends. Prov. 15:22, Rom. 12:1-2, Prov. 3:21-26, Ecc. 9:13-18

  1. My parents let me face the full weight of my decisions.

I talked a lot with my mom (and still do) about major decisions. I only had to feel a few painful disappointments early on to start realizing how true and helpful Biblical wisdom really is! My parents didn’t try to protect me from my poor decisions, but definitely used them as teaching moments.

One of the key priorities to helping our young girls develop this personal framework is to have many one-on-one discussions (check out Deut. 6:7). They best way to start these discussions is by asking a lot of questions and listening to a lot of answers. This way, you’ll get the credibility of being the adult that cares enough to understand them instead of controlling them. This is how you will help prepare them for the life of adventure that God has in store.

I’m curious about how your parenting or teaching style supports or contradicts these points. Also, would love to collect your tips on when to protect and when to prepare—leave me a comment below!

Thanks for stopping by! If you want to read an excellent article on developing a framework around media and entertainment decisions, check out this one I found over at Focus on the Family.

You can also check out my YouTube channel for devotional thoughts and random advice bits for girls!

 

 

 

 

Who were you made to be?

I’ve been perusing the web to see what kind of videos are out there for discovering your purpose…it’s not good! While there are many decent and several super-corny approaches, there seems to be a lack of good strategy for Christians.

In fact, you might have heard me say this before, but a January 2014 study by Barna Group revealed that 60% of Christians have NO IDEA what their calling is.  That’s a rough statistic! Instead of purpose driving lives, some of us (shhhhh, don’t tell on me) feel like big balls of frantic energy, just trying to make a living.

If we’re Christians, made in the image of God, knit together in our mother’s womb, fearfully and wonderfully made and all that jazz– but we’re just living day to day with no guidance from God, then we’re not ultimately going to be fulfilled.

Are you living fulfilled? What tips do you have for the rest of us?

I’ve got a few comments on this here video 🙂 I’ve also got a FREE webinar scheduled and will take you through the simple 3-step process of discovering your purpose and getting started living God’s will for your life.  It’ll add some clarity, promise!  See you later, tater!