The Unappreciated Gift

by returning guest author Brea Burelle

Have you ever received a gift you didn’t want?

You know, the ones you want to return or just stick in your closet and never use.

I have. My unappreciated gift was a car. I received it in 1985 when I was 17 years old. It was a 1967 Brown Mustard Plymouth Duster. That’s right, my grandparents gave me an 18-year-old car when I was 17 years old. They had planned this big surprise. They had stored the car in their basement, backing it in so when they opened the door I could see the car with the custom-made license plate with my name on the front. They were so excited to provide this gift to me and thought they had done so well in picking it out. Well I was so unimpressed that I looked right pass the car trying to figure out what the big deal was about. Plymouth Duster Car2.jpegThe car looked nothing like anything I would want. It was not the right style or color and definitely not like what my friends were driving. How could I be seen driving this Mustard Yellow car? Who were the kidding? I am positive that I must have hurt their feelings, but at 17 years old I could not pull it together to fake my appreciation. It was not until I had to start paying a car payment on a car I bought years later that I fully appreciated the gift of being handed a car free and clear, with no strings attached. In my mind all I could think about was that I wanted what everyone else had. All these years later I look back on this event in my life and wonder how I could have been so unappreciative of the gift I was given.

Just like this car how many gifts have I been given by God that I take for granted and don’t full appreciate the sacrifice made on my behalf. Gifts like: His Love, the Gift of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and the gift of My Salvation. God has also provided me with Spiritual pexels-photo-264793gifts to be used for his kingdom along with more gifts than I can name. He says in His Word in Matthew 7:11 (NET) “If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” God’s is the giver of good gifts.

Then the other day as I was preparing to lead a prayer group and was looking for Scriptures to give other woman dealing with Singleness. I was listening to a sermon on Singleness and the text was 1 Corinthians 7:7 (NLT) “I wish everyone could get along without marrying, just as I do. But we are not all the same. God gives some the gift of marriage, and to others he gives the gift of singleness.”

Wait did you catch that? Wow! God’s Words says singleness is a gift from God. The word gift in Greek is charisma which means “a gift of God’s grace” (charis). So Singleness is not just any gift, but a gift of God’s grace.  Now what am I going to do with this new piece of information. Who wants to hear that Singleness is a gift? Most of us singles ladies consider singleness as a holding pattern until we get married. Our Singleness is supposed to be just for a Season. Why would God consider singleness a gift? No woman I know wants to open a gift that contains the gift of singleness. We surely don’t get excited about being single. We get excited about getting married. Our society puts our focus on marriage. We expect to receive flowers and gifts from the guy we are dating. The excitement of receiving a ring. Then comes the parties, tea and wedding gifts, and the wedding itself. Single people don’t get these things. So, this got me thinking. What is so special about Singleness that God would consider it a gift?

I am sure there are many answers, but this is the one that pricked my heart. As a single woman, I can have a life more devoted to Him. God can have my undivided attention if I am willing to give it to Him. In 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (NLT) Paul say:

I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. 33 But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. 34 His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

God’s Word says I am to use my gift of Singleness, “to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.”  Paul tells us that a married woman has earthly responsibilities and are pulled in many different directions. They have to worry about their husbands and children and how any other ministry they take on will affect them.   As a single, I don’t have to worry about family members being neglected. I don’t have to work my schedule around others. When God calls me to a ministry I can devote my time to it. I can travel and do mission work when needed and called. I can be involved in several different ministries and not worry about family members feeling left out and abandoned. I don’t have to work my quiet time around distractions in my home. pexels-photo-478541I can spend extra time with the Lord and not have to worry about the clock or what is not getting done. If I am willing to give it, the Lord can have all my devotion as I serve him with all my ability.

Singleness may not be the gift I would choose for myself or that any woman would willingly choose, but we do not get to choose our gifts, remember? God does. I have to remember that God is a good Father who loves me and wants the best for me. God does not give bad gifts. But the choice is mine of how I look at my gift of singleness: I can choose to be bitter and unappreciative of God’s gift or I can choose to be excited and joyful about this gift. It is all up to me. If I choose the former, I miss out on all the wonderful things God has planned for my life during this Season or Seasons. If I choose the latter I get more than the gift of Singleness, I get the Gift of God Himself. If I am willing to stay devoted to him and follow his path, God’s Word promises in Psalm 16:11 “You lead me in the path of life; I experience absolute joy in your presence; you always give me sheer delight.” As I continue to serve the Lord and He continues to open doors may I experience absolute joy and sheer delight in being able to be in his presence and know that by walking this path of Singleness, I am walking the path he designed just for me. May I fully appreciate and be excited about this gift that has been given to me.

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Warts and All!

by Guest writer: Lauren Stovall

This is not a blog about warts. But it is. So nurses: lean in, and weak-stomached ladies: scroll away.

When I was younger, I had a wart on the heel of my foot. At first, it just blended in with my calluses and swirly footprint. (Who looks at the heel of their foot anyway?) Slowly it grew until it was obvious and even uncomfortable. Eventually it got so bad that I had a limp. I tenderly tried to live my life tip-toeing around the painful pressure in my foot. By the time I realized it was not going away, it was the size of a quarter.

You may not notice the symbolism of all this, or you may be a better person than I am and simply not handle your sin this way. But for all the weak humans here: you may notice that what I have just described is exactly how we deal with sin. We do not even notice that we have sin growing in our life. Temptation gradually spreads in our life until it seems impossible to get rid of it. Satan is a conniving genius. And I do not say that to give him fame, but to give you a flashing warning! As Christians, we often forget that Satan’s mission is to steal everything precious, kill our souls, and destroy every positive part of God’s Kingdom. The joy of this statement is that he can’t! It makes me want to laugh out loud as I sit at Cup’s coffeehouse. Satan so badly wants to tear down our lives, but ultimately he. will. fail. [For more on spiritual warfare, I recommend the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer.]

As Christians, we often forget that Satan’s mission is to steal everything precious, kill our souls, and destroy every positive part of God’s Kingdom. The joy of this statement is that he can’t!

I mention Satan to remind us that the temptation we face is not going to be obvious at first. Sin creeps into your life slowly, leaving you completely unaware like a slow-growing wart hidden on your heel. For me, it was old British romances. At first, there was no shame in reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen or watching a classic movie like a red-love-heart-oldremake of Jane Eyre. It was subtle. It was sneaky. It was Satan. These innocent actions, though not sin at first, evolved.

As I type, my heart beats faster. Satan whispers, “You don’t need to admit this. You confessed this to God.” How tricky is that beast! Of course I have confessed my sin to God. Of course God has forgiven me! He cannot go against His own nature. God IS forgiveness, mercy, love, peace, redemption. Here it is though. Here is my sickening confession: I loved the romance books and movies so much that they became an addiction. I watched The Office to get to the kissing scene. I read cheesy Christian romance novels to get to the finale where the cowboy roped the girl and they had a dramatic kiss under the moon. It may seem innocent and harmless, but Honey-child, my heart was far away from innocent. Sin had spread so that I was accommodating my sin like limping with a wart on my heel.

For years, I allowed my dreams of love and romance to become an idol. This obsession festered uncontrolled and unconfessed. Every now and then my guilt would overcome me. I would ask God to forgive me, and swear off all romance “for the last time.” However, Satan always lured me back. The root of my wart was still there. I could not get rid of it on my own. I had no accountability and no motivation to air my dirty laundry so that it could be washed clean. I held the secret of my sin inside and let it contaminate my mind with dissatisfaction at the singleness God had given me, jealousy of different couples’ love, and lust for feelings or relationships that were not for me. I hope you are understanding the depth of my problem. I had sin: obsession that turned to idolization and lust.

Back to the wart: my mom, obviously concerned for my health, found out a dermatologist was the person to handle my problem. She scheduled an appointment. With much uneasy anticipation, we went to the doctor. I was fearful of going to someone who would probably hurt me while trying to help. However, I finally realized that I had to rid myself of the problem. So I went to the doctor. I decided that I really wanted to be healed. For good. Forever.

Full disclosure: It’s about to get gross. I was laid on the crinkly-papered doctor table on my stomach with the wart-infected heel sticking up in the air. Mom stood by with a grimace on her face. When you get a wart removed, they spray some cold, numbing chemical on your skin before putting the actual medicine in your foot. Frozen-skin spray on my heel. Then the needle. I hate needles. I only looked at it once, and that was too many times. The doctor began to repeatedly stab the needle into my still quarter-sized wart. The spray does not work. I can tell you, frozen heel or not, I felt those stabs. I did not count how many times the needle went in my heel, but afterward I had at least twenty visible needle-holes.

The process hurt. It was not easy. I did not enjoy the wart extraction, but it was necessary.

medic-hospital-laboratory-medical-40559Our sin must be handled the same. Once God has pointed out where the sin is and that it needs to go, we must submit to His Doctor hands. He is the One who pokes at our flaw and finds how far into our flesh the darkness reaches. He is the One who pries our hands loose from our sin. Because if I am being honest, I still do not WANT to be free from my sin. It is tough to let go of addictions. Their sinuous hold makes us believe that they are a part of us and our life will not be as happy or complete without them.

I could never take a needle and stab my own foot. It goes against human nature to attack part of your flesh. But it goes against spiritual nature to allow sin to coexist with our saved soul. As all Christians know, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24 NIV). Although this verse is talking about serving God or money, I believe the same logic applies to all sin. I cannot allow any idol to be in the same heart as God. Mostly due to the fact that God cannot be chill with sin.

One last medical bit: the wart did not magically evaporate that day. The medicine slowly killed the wart over a period of several weeks. Every now and then more of the wart would let go of my heel. I am no theologian, but I do not think God magically whisks away all our sin. We may have to pray for forgiveness and healing multiple times. Do not think for one moment that is because God is not big enough to remove your sin or even that you are too weak to really give up your sin. Instead, see this as a beautiful process. God is drawing you back to Him over and over again. Let Him hold your hand in the pain. Let Him hear your voice continually. Let yourself lean into His warm love. My eyes tear up at the thought.

As a fellow sister in Christ, I challenge you. Yes, you. Dear you, please let go of your sin. Stop trying to heal yourself with wart Band-Aids and self-help books that only patch the problem for an hour or a week. Go sobbing to God. Let Him take out your warty sin. Let Christ bleed all over your mess. Let the Holy Spirit drag your soul to God’s feet.

Praise Him. He IS healing. He WILL forgive you. He IS stronger than your sin. He IS a new life. He IS freedom from your addiction. He IS love.

I know this. I speak from experience. It may hurt. It may take time. You may go back to the Doctor for weeks and months. Oh Child, it is not easy to nod yes to a big needle of truth and separation from sin. But Honey-child: it. is. worth. it.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.” James 1:14-16

Singleness & Praying for That Hoped for Husband

by Guest Writer: Brea Burelle

I am Single. Never been married. Never had that special guy in my life. Been on only one date. Yes, I am weird, but loved by God. Did I want to get married, go on dates and live my life with that special guy? YES!!!! Of course, I did.

house-car-vintage-oldI remember as a teenager and young adult dreaming about the guy I was going to marry. Like everyone I had my life all planned out. I could tell you all about my dream wedding: the dress, the colors, the receptions. What style of house we would live in. (You know the one – white picket fence.) I even had a list of possible names for my children. Life was going to be grand. Just perfect. Everything I had ever dreamed about. Except the Lord never brought the guy into the picture.

In my 20’s I knew about God, but didn’t have a solid relationship with him. Church was a place to have fun with my friends and look for my future husband. In the meantime, I was going on with my life. I had a job and purchased my first home, still with no husband in the picture. When are you going to send that guy, Lord? People would talk about praying for my future husband, but without a good Biblical foundation I had no idea what they were talking about or how to start. The Lord knows what I want, why should I pray for my future husband. I know God’s plan for my life includes marriage.

As I grew older, my relationship with the Lord grew. I was learning about God and his Word. Bible study became important to me. But still no husband. The years went by and I reached the milestone birthdays of 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 and all the while I am questioning God: God, I thought we had this all planned out. Where’s my one true love? Why didn’t you fulfill my dream? Why am I not married? All my friends are married. Lord, my friends are having children. I want my own children Lord! Why am I not even dating? Am I supposed to stay single forever? Is there something wrong with me? Am I too picky? Lord, have I missed him? Did you ask me to do something and I didn’t obey you? Are you punishing me? But Lord, I have standards. I want a Godly man. I want a man who will take leadership of our household, a man that wants to study your Word. I don’t want to live as the world lives, I want to be set apart. I want my life to be based on your Word and your standards Lord.

pexels-photo1As my relationship with the Lord grew, I just took it that I was supposed to be Single. Okay, singleness is the path you have for me Lord. If that is your will I will accept it. I will enjoy life. I have friends: married and single. I can go on Mission trips and travel with friends. I’m happy. I am content. I am serving the Lord. Lord I know that you are my husband and I am your bride. Even though the Lord has provided for my needs I occasionally still long for that special guy. You know the one. He thinks you are special, opens the car door for you, handles the problems when things breakdown in the house. Lord, I might be single, but I would like someone to grow old with here on earth. Okay, maybe children aren’t in the picture anymore, but there are other options: Foster care, Adoption, maybe he’ll come with children and grandchildren. Lord, what is your plan? I know that God tells me in his Word that he had a plan for my life before I was even born. What I have had to learn is that it is HIS plan; it is not my plan. God called each of us here for a purpose. Each one of us has a different path to walk. Some walk the path of marriage, others a single life. Each of us have things that God needs to teach us and he has planned for us to accomplish.

pexels-photo-27633So let me ask you unmarried ladies a question: Did you pray for your future husband? Every once in a while you hear people talking about praying for their future spouse, but have you? I can’t say that I ever did. At least not any real serious praying. Mine was more like: “Lord, I want a husband, or Lord be with my future husband.” So you ladies that really prayed for your husbands and God answered your prayer, stand up and give your testimonies. Are we even teaching our young girls and single ladies about how to pray for their future husbands? What if God doesn’t bring that special mate? Are we teaching them to still follow the path God has for them, that God still loves them, that being Single is not the end of the world, to never give up, to not to let their desire for a husband keep them from doing all that God has planned for them, that God still answers prayers? Sometimes we have to be patient.

Just recently, I felt the Lord pressing upon me to begin pray for my future husband and future husbands of my friends. You see, I look out into our churches and wonder, “Where are all of godly, single men seeking the Lord?” I know that there are some single ones out there, but it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. The godly men I see are married. They are the ones I want my future husband and the future husband of my friends to learn from. I want someone who is already seeking the Lord. Maybe this is the singleness thinking in me, but how can I learn to pray with him if I have not already been praying for him.

Okay Lord, I will begin praying. But I didn’t know where to start. As I have grown closer to the Lord, I know that my prayers need to be more specific. So off to the Internet I go. I needed a list of things to pray for. During my search I came across the list below on a blog post by Cheryl Mackay and these are also in her book Finally the Bride, Finding Hope While Waiting. I have not read the book so I can’t give a recommendation. In fact, I know nothing about Cheryl Mackay, but when I read her list I knew that these are some things I would girl-praying-hands-eyelashes-41942want in a future husband. Who knows if I will ever receive a “Yes” to my prayer, but for the time being I will obey the Lord. I will pray for my future husband and the future husband of my friends that are seeking. You married ladies might want to pray some of these items for your husbands or you may want to share these with someone who is single. Pray them for your sons that will one day be seeking a young lady. Pray for the single men out there that they will turn to the Lord and become the Godly Leaders us single ladies are looking for.

  1. Pray for his walk with God, that he continues to grow spiritually and is prepped to be the spiritual head of a household, and that he makes God the top priority in his life.
  2. Pray for his ability to hear God’s voice, for his ear to be in tune to hear all of God’s instructions.
  3. Pray for his will to be bendable toward whatever God wants for his life.
  4. Pray for his emotional health—that any past wounds be dealt with and healed. Pray for restoration in all areas.
  5. Pray for his physical health.
  6. Pray that he break free of any unhealthy addictions, if needed.
  7. Pray for his career, his life’s work, that he be established in the field where God wants to use him and that he be wise with his resources.
  8. Pray for his ministry—that he be sensitive to God’s call on his life when it comes to ministering to and serving others. Also, pray for God to prepare both of you for the ways you will minister together.
  9. Pray for his preparation—that he yields to all that God’s potter’s hands would like to accomplish in him.
  10. Pray for God to send any trials necessary into his life that will allow the preparation process to be complete. I realize that may be a bit controversial. Knowing how much God has accomplished in my life through trials, I would expect nothing less of my husband’s journey toward me.
  11. Pray for God to prepare him to be a father, if the two of you will ultimately raise a family together.
  12. Pray for God to help him be responsible with his finances and prepare him to be a significant contributor and provider to the household.
  13. Pray for his identity as a man, his masculinity and self-esteem, that he grows into the man God wants him to be.
  14. Pray for him to not be distracted by any counterfeits—especially other women that God doesn’t intend to use for his growth.
  15. Pray for God to allow this man to see you the way God wants you to be seen, with God’s heart toward you.
  16. Pray for God to show you how to pray for your husband. Be open to whatever His Spirit may whisper to you, to cover your husband’s needs. If you feel God gives you something specific, write it down and date it. Save it for later.