Saturday, February 27, 2010

When Christian Friends Fall

Hi Girls,

Ever had a friend who grew up Christian, seemed focused on God and into following his word? Then as they grow up, they drift away from God and eventually just live a lifetsyle society approves of? Or maybe you thought everything was good with your friend and God and one day, they make a 'unchristian' decision and you suddenly realize that they are further from God than you original believed?

I've had friends like this and it is such a sad situation when you see a Christian girl (or guy) fall away from God and begin to make choices that you know don't please God. What do you do? Some people take offense to being told that they are not acting according to God's design for our lives and this causes breaks in the friendship. Others actually benefit from correction and your pointing out their mistake plants a seed that one day helps them to come around. I have to confess, I find this a terribly difficult situation and I have a hard time knowing what to do.

Just a side note here, we are talking about Christians only because non Christians did not make a promise to follow God. The Bible says in Matthew 18: 15-17 that “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector." This is pretty intense but the keywords here are 'sins against you'. If the offense is not personal, than this act  of confrontation and shunning because of unrepentance for sin, should not occur (although you always have to forgive them even if they don't repent). Anyway, back on topic. So when my friend made bad life choices- ex. moving in with boyfriend- what do I do?

Matthew 7:1-3 says "Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others.The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?" Okay, so this establishes that we should not sit in judgement about our friends. If my friend is lying, drinking (as in getting drunk), carrying on in other inappropriate ways- I shouldn't sit back and tell them what a horrible Christian and what a bad person they are. Hello! I make mistakes too! God views all sin equally so if I harshly judge my friends' mistakes, than God will harshly judge mine.

So what does this mean? Do I need to just sit back and watch my friends sin? I honestly don't believe that is right. I believe when we see our Christian friends making mistakes, it's important that they know we don't agree with them. For example, I have friends who are sleeping with their boyfriends and I think it's important that they know I don't agree with that lifestyle according to Biblical references but at the same time, it is not my place to criticize them for it. All I can do is point out what the Bible says. Overall, I think the best option is to pray for them because God will inspire repentance in their lives. I can't do that. I do not need to support them in their sin, just like they shouldn't give validation to the things I do wrong. It's the sin in my friends life that's wrong, not them personally. God can change people and I just have to pray that my friend will be willing, while at the same time, trying to live as pleasing to God as I can. And, we all have to try to be as humble and repentant as we can too.

I just hope all the girls out there will stay strong against the temptations to sin in the first place and that we will encourage each other not too. For example, ever had a Christian friend who moved in with their boyfriend and promised that they would still wait for marriage to have sex? Bet that didn't last too long- putting yourself in temptations way is not good at all. And we really need to help each other to stand strong against many temptations to sin (and not just with boys) or even temptations to practise harmful behaviours (like being overly critical of ourselves or even too bossy). This is all pretty difficult stuff to practise and deal with but it's important we're there for each other just like God is always there for us!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tidbits of Stuff

Hi all,
Back from Florida, from another long long drive and glad to see that there was snow on the ground when I got home. Oh, another note, I tried to put this quiz thing on my blog to see what kinda topics I should look into posting more often so if you could, check off your response on the quiz. Basically I usually try to post what I feel God leading me to and I hope that it encourages those who read it.

Anyway, I didn't really give this post today a topic because, well, I didn't have just one topic. I was thinking about my relationship with my husband and realized that we did things pretty different from-well, everyone I know. We met at the end of June two years ago and then started dating 2 weeks later in July, four months from then in Nov. we were engaged and then married 6 weeks later in early Jan. Pretty fast eh? Well, when you know, you know. When God confirms the relationship, I think it's best that we let him determine the pace of it. Both of us did not really enjoy dating. I don't understand how people can handle dating for long periods of time- four months was enough for us! We just wanted to be married and dating seemed like this formality, this step that we had to get through.

This is why I don't really believe in dating for long periods of time or being engaged for a long time either. It's understandable when two people are separated- long distance dating (which is what we were, I was in Ontario and he was in BC) . God does not want us to live in temptation with each other; he designed men and women to marry. So when God confirms a relationship, I think that we should just sit back and let him control the timing. I think many people date for too long, or get engaged for too long (yes, weddings take time to plan, but honestly, what's more important, the man or the ceremony?). Lots of people worry about having enough money to get married- you don't need money! God provides. Trust me, we married with basically nothing, I had some savings but we had no car, both of us were students, no jobs... you get the picture. Money should never stop you from doing what God wants you to do. He wants you to marry. He'll iron out the details. People would save themselves a lot of heartache if they didn't let money get in the way of their relationship.

There is another misconception out there about relationships. Some people seem to be under the impression that once you get married, all the problems you had while dating go away. Anyone who is married should tell you that isn't true. The problems you have when you're dating, you'll still have when your married. They'll just be different since you're situations changed. If there is a communication problem- you'll want to solve that asap because it will only get worse in marriage, or any other problem, which is why many people advocate marriage counselling. I believe some of us definately benefit from that. Although I can't comment on it because we were offered only one afternoon of it (I didn't want it honestly). We had a rather unusual circumstance in that because while dating long distance, we would talk almost everday, on the phone from 8 until 12 at night- that changed sometimes,- and we would talk on msn during the day. My husband calculated that our talking would amount to about 10 days of non stop conversation approximately! Crazy eh? We dealt with every single issue in those conversation (basically covered all the stuff in the marriage books we read). With that much yaking, we thought we knew each other pretty darn well. And we did but nothing prepared us for actually experiencing being married.

I often thought to myself that marriage changed everything and nothing at the same time. It's a odd sentiment and I can't really describe it. Somethings stayed the same but other things were completely different. We found out so much about each other and more as time went on. Sometimes it seems as if young couples, like engaged or newly married, act as if they have everything figured out. Do they have a surprise in store for them! Nothing can really prepare you for the challenges that marriage brings or the changes. It's something that you just have to experience. And these things don't happen all at once, as the years or months go by of being married, new challenges arise. Dating can be difficult, but marriage is probably harder. When you're bonded to someone for the rest of your life, everything that effects them, effects you and it's true what the Bible says in Mark 10:7-9  "This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife and the two are united into one. Since they are no longer two but one,  let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Being 'one' is more than just sexual and it's something that takes a long time to learn. It effects every decision, all choices, and even the way you treat the other person.

Falling in love and marrying someone is a great adventure. Yet in order for it to bring us joy and happiness, we have to let God be at the center of it, leading us. And we have to learn from God the skills and tools we need, such as forgiveness, selflessness, and honesty. It's terribly sad that people let their marriages end in divorce, giving up, taking control away from God. So for any of you girls out there experiencing this stuff, or thinking about your future, hopefully our example will encourage you in some way and that you will know God is with you every step of the way.