Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Set-Apart Life

Once again, I have read an inspiring Ludy book and want to write about it. In fact, you may be reading many of these Ludy posts in the near future, as I'm currently working my way through many of their books. This past week, I completed Authentic Beauty: The Shaping of a Set-Apart Young Woman by Leslie Ludy.

One of Eric and Leslie's main themes is living a set-apart life. That is, a life primarily set-apart for God, and also for your future spouse. They offer no form of casual, comfortable, or compromising Christianity because truly the Christian life has much more substance than that. What they offer is far from easy, but if you search Scripture, you will see that it is nothing short of what Christ Himself put forth.

What does it mean to live a life that is set-apart? I don't think there's a short, one sentence answer for this question, and to be quite honest, I'm not sure exactly how to accurately define it. It's a life all about truly knowing your Prince, not just knowing about Him. It's about cultivating a deep and intimate relationship with the Lover of your soul. It's not about fitting Jesus into your life, but building your entire life around Him, where He is at the very core of every aspect of your life. It's about creating an inner sanctuary for Him and protecting it. It's about a lifestyle that is lily white.

Creating that inner sanctuary, that place for intimacy with your Prince, can be a painful cleansing process. It means taking out a lot of trash and removing anything and everything that hinders that deep relationship with God. And sometimes, you may find it has to be done on a regular basis. All sinful habits and activities have to go. Anything that demands our time, love and attention above God and takes our focus off of Christ must be rooted out. This is part of what it means to live a life set-apart for God.

Yes, cultivating a more intimate relationship with our Prince can be difficult and it takes time (I'm speaking from experience), but it is so worth it. Take adequate time on a daily basis to spend in the Word and in prayer. Take delight in Him by maintaining a quiet heart and a spirit of worship, communing with God even while accomplishing your everyday tasks. You don't have to limit your relationship with God to your quiet time in the morning.

This life is also about being set apart for your future husband. As young women, it is so easy to be consumed with being noticed by the opposite sex and it's easy to strive for that attention we long for. But God has a much greater plan for our lives, and if we give Him the pen, He will write a love story far beyond what we could ever dream.

Part of His amazing plan for our lives is keeping ourselves for our future spouse and that means so much more than the simple "save-sex-for-marriage" mentality that many Christians put forth. It means keeping our hearts, minds, emotions, and body for the man you marry. It means living a life that honours him, even if you haven't even met him yet. And yes, this is often very hard to do, but it will save us a lot of pain and heartache and make it so much more beautiful in the end.

For me, one of the most difficult aspects of this is maintaining pure thoughts. It's so easy to allow ourselves to entertain fantasies that may seem perfectly harmless, especially since nobody has to know that they're there. (I'm also almost certain that if there was one aspect of your life that you were most afraid of being exposed, it would be your thought life.) It's easy to leave unchecked, but it is something we must strive to keep pure. When temptations or impure thoughts come to mind, we must choose to shut them out immediately. Even in this, we can do a lot to honour our future spouses.

Even if you haven't kept yourself pure, or maybe you have suffered from sexual abuse, know that God is forgiving and can bring healing to your life. He can take your broken life, your shattered heart and create something beautiful out of it. He can give you a fresh, lily white start and you too can experience a beautiful God-written love story.

If you haven't read Authentic Beauty, I would strongly encourage you to do so. I would however, advise caution with younger girls (as Leslie also does in her introduction) because of a lot of mature content and details. I have the updated and expanded edition, which is really great because it includes a "Studying Manhood" portion by Eric where he talks about the making of Warrior Poets and it is fantastic! I would also recommend Leslie's book Set-Apart Femininity, which I have previously read.

My desire is that you too would be challenged to be a set-apart young woman and live for the glory of the Lord.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Cultivating Your Prayer Life

So I'm finally here to put up a real post, if you can call it that. My life has been a little bittersweet lately, filled with many joys, but it has also been laced with sorrows and difficulties. But even so, I can say it has certainly been strengthening my prayer life. I'm going to attempt to put some of my recent thoughts into something coherent.

Strengthening your prayer life is one of those things that just isn't easy. But then again a lot of things really worth having aren't easy to get. Sometimes the best things in life require the most fighting and prayer is one of them. It often takes time and a lot of effort; there is no easy formula to a stronger prayer life. I discovered this when I read Eric and Leslie Ludy's book Wrestling Prayer: A Passionate Communion with God. There is no easy 5 step formula. It takes work but it's something worth fighting for.

There are times in life when there are things on my heart that I can't bring to anybody else. There are griefs and burdens that I can't handle on my own and I can only turn to God in prayer. He knows and even when words cannot express what I'm feeling, He's listening. In the past, whenever difficulty would come my way, I would first turn to a friend. In trials, I always wanted to confide in my friends often before I even went before God. Now I don't do that easily anymore, but have rather pleaded with God in prayer and have found Him to be faithful all the time. No matter what happens, I can trust Him and be completely honest with Him.

As I recently read through the Gospels, one of the things I noticed was how Jesus went up to the mountain to pray. It's interesting to see that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, spent so much time in prayer. Often at the end of a long day serving and teaching others, He would go up to the mountain to pray. Why the mountain? Was it simply because there was nowhere else to go? Was that the only place where people would leave Him alone? (If you have any thoughts on this, please share them with me.) Whatever the case was, He spent an incredible amount of time communing with the Father and I have a feeling there were many nights where He got little to no sleep. Even the last night of His life before He was crucified He spent agonizing in prayer.

Another aspect of prayer that I have been learning is boldness. Hebrews 4:16 tells us to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Philippians 4:6 says "in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." The scary part though about exercising boldness is that God answers and sometimes I'm not ready when He does.

Prayer is also often difficult because sometimes when God answers it hurts. This is especially true if you pray for God's cleansing in your life. His goal is to make us more like Christ and the purification process can often get very painful.

But overall, I have come to discover that prayer and a passionate communion with God is something worth fighting for. What compels a man to do anything to win the heart of and be with the woman he loves? What compels a man to sell everything he has to purchase one pearl of great price? What compelled Christ to come and suffer and die for mankind? Because in the end, each man knows that the price is more than worth it.

God bless!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Cadia Magazine

This isn't a real post, but some awesome info. Cadia Magazine is releasing their first issue in a few weeks and I'm excited about it. If you haven't heard of Cadia, it's an online magazine for Christian girls put together by Christian girls, sent directly to your email. It will be featuring some great stuff, including a Leslie Ludy interview in the May/June issue. I encourage all you girls to check it out and subscribe. It will be a blessing to your Christian life.

(I know my blogging has been lagging behind again. Please bear with me.)