Deb’s Books Blast/Deb’s Ministry Blog

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Deb’s Ministry Blog shares articles of interest to people in a small church, missions, or writing ministry. These are practical and encouraging articles that may be shared freely.

Again, you’ll receive occasional emails. You may unsubscribe at any time. Your privacy will be respected. Your name and address will not be given to anyone else for any other purpose.

Going Against the Flow: Straight Talk about Purity for Girls

In America 40% of all babies are born outside wedlock. In New Zealand it’s nearly 50%. Today childbearing women of all ages tend to have fluid relationships, sometimes moving in and out of relationships and dragging their kids with them. So for teenage girls in our churches, purity goes against the flow. Friends, teachers, and media all around them tell them virgins are losers and no one waits for marriage anymore.

In recent years I felt a definite nudge from the Lord to address the issue in our mission church. Maybe you’re thinking about holding some classes in your youth group or having a purity weekend. Today I’m going to share the main ideas I covered with my girls in four weekly sessions.

Knowing my Heart: Who am I in Christ?

Some of the first girls to lose their virginity are girls with very low self-esteem. Also, Christian girls who have already lost their virginity may feel that they have ruined God’s plan for their life. They may feel like trash. So I felt this was a good place to start talking about purity.

A close look at 2 Timothy 2:20-22 tells us that a wealthy house has all kinds of containers. Some, like a tin can, hold trash. Others, like a crystal goblet, are used for honored guests. All are useful, but some hold a position of honor. If we keep ourselves pure we can be one of God’s treasured vessels. The way we dress, the movies we watch, the things we thinks about, our relationship with guys, can determine what kind of vessel we are for God.

God made me special and has a special plan for my life (Psalm 139:13-16). God loves me so much he sent Jesus to die for my sins (Romans 5:8). He wants me to live a pure life. I need to build my relationship with Christ day by day. This will help me keep my purity and keep me from desperately grasping for any guy who will be my boyfriend.

Sharing my Heart: Different Ways to Date

When I was a teenager, Christian leaders basically said, “You should date a lot so you can figure out what kind of person you want to marry.” I was not really in a position to date because there weren’t many Christian guys in my circles. Even in Bible college a lot of the guys all decided to date a few popular girls. If you never dated you felt like a real loser.

Today Christian young people and singles have more choices. We talked about marriages in the Bible (Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, common biblical marriage patterns). Then we talked about contemporary dating: common dating, Christian dating, arranged marriages, courtship, and making up your dating model.

Then we talked about some good principles with whatever model you choose.

  • Build your relationship with Christ first.
  • Bring wise counsellors into your relationship.
  • Don’t start too young or get too serious or too physical too fast.
  • Start by becoming good friends. Don’t confuse love with hormones.

Guarding My Heart: Tips to Protecting Your Purity

Sometimes Christian teens want to remain pure, but it seems nearly impossible. We began with some of the lies Satan tells:

  • God is keeping something good from you. (Really he’s protecting us from hurting our relationship with him, getting STD’s, having our hearts broken from someone who isn’t committed to us, from pregnancy and abortion.)
  • Virgins are losers who can’t get a guy to like them.
  • As long as you don’t “go all the way” you can do whatever you want before marriage.
  • Saving yourself for marriage worked long ago, but no one does it today.
  • Today it’s impossible to save yourself for marriage.

While it can be hard to keep yourself pure, these tips make it much easier.

  • Make a promise to God to keep yourself pure and live for him.
  • Replace wrong thinking with right thinking. Keep your mind pure.
  • Dress modestly.
  • In a relationship with a guy, stay public, stay vertical, decide how far you will go in advance. (This comes from And the Bride Wore White by Dannah Gresh.)
  • Build your relationship with Christ.
  • Make yourself accountable to someone you trust.

Giving My Heart Away: Looking Ahead

Love is blind. When we’re in love, we feel like we are thinking clearly. The media says: Follow your heart. Sounds good, but what this usually means is: Follow your hormones. Rely on your emotions. Gary Chapman calls this period the “in-love obsession” and says it lasts about two years.

Young girls need to look ahead and think about what they really want in the one they want to marry. Some things, like being athletic or good looking, may be whims or preferences. But they need to think about the things that are most important to them. They should avoid dating anyone who doesn’t have these things. Once they start dating and that guy makes them feel special, it will be hard to think objectively about him. We’ll talk about the qualities of a guy who will be a loving spiritual leader.

I found my girls eager to talk about these things and agreeable to what I said. But I sense they need to talk about these things, with a Christian teacher as well as Christian peers. I believe it helps them to voice the desire and necessity for purity with others who will support them in that decision. It’s not easy to go against the flow every day. We need to challenge unbelievers and support Christian teens. Do the guys need this too? Certainly, but this time I’m working with girls.

Resources:

Dannah Gresh’s book

Free printable Vows of Purity for guys and girls

Purity jewelry

My Art Spotlight Mysteries shows a fictional example of a couple dating carefully, with an eye on purity. There are some careful kisses before marriage and a mention of “thinking like a married man” that points to the marriage being consummated. Purity, different methods of dating, and relationships are clearly mentioned in the second and third book. In book one they just get to know each other.

 

 

 

Instant winner!

Being a subscriber to Deb’s Book Blast automatically qualifies you to be in the draw to win the Kindle version of one of these books with a cross cultural theme.

Know You More is a multi-racial Christian romance by Jan Thompson.

3D Gospel is non-fiction and discusses various cultures and their emphasis on guilt, shame, or fear by Jayson Georges.

End of the Spear is the true story of a Steve Saint whose father was martyred by Auca Indians. Many years later Steve and his family go back to live with the tribe after many have been converted.

I’ll announce the winner of the draw at the end of this Book Blast.

Take a quick glance at my books and you’ll notice a strong cross cultural theme.

  • Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World, my first published book, is a pre-teen book about Amy, an American girl who goes to live in Taiwan with her missionary parents.
  • Two Sides to Everything is a pre-teen book about Josh, an American city boy who goes to live with his relatives in rural New Zealand.
  • Broken Windows, a cozy mystery about Jordan, shows his adjustment to adult life in the US after growing up as a missionary’s kid in Taiwan. (See great deals below for more than 50% off on the box set.)
  • Déjà Who? continues Jordan’s story as he and his girlfriend work with international students in the US. (See great deals below.)
  • I Scream shines the spotlight on child prodigy Destiny, who has an American dad and a Chinese mom. Jordan communicates with her mom in Chinese. (See great deals below.)

Why do I make cross cultural issues such a strong theme in my writing?

Cross cultural ministry is who I am and what I know.

I grew up in the home of Ray Allen, a pastor of small churches in Colorado. I married a guy who was headed for Taiwan as a missionary. Art and I and our two daughters spent 16 years living and ministering in central Taiwan. The Lord then led us to New Zealand where Art has been the missionary pastor of a small church for 21 years.

New Zealand has a Western culture that is similar in many ways to culture in the US. After getting to know the New Zealand culture pretty well, God began to bring people from around the world to us. For years we had two South African families, one black and one white. At the same time many Asians came to our city and church. Filipinos came to work on dairy farms. Southern Institute of Technology drew many Indonesians. Koreans came for work and education.

Since we had lived in the US, Taiwan, and New Zealand for many years, we helped some of these Asians bridge the gap between an Asian and a Western culture. We’ve needed to affirm different ways of doing dishes in the church kitchen. We had to address muddy footprints on the seat of the ladies’ toilets. We’ve explained the differences in values between Asian cultures which prize education very highly and the New Zealand culture which values a do-it-yourself, sports and physical labor mentality. All cultural issues.

Building cross cultural relationships is an important part to reaching the world with the gospel and including different cultures in ministry.

On this earth we will never completely shed our prejudices and biases toward other cultures, but we must continue to work toward understanding if we are going to minister effectively. And ministry … isn’t that what the Christian life is all about? Serving Christ as we serve others should be our highest goal. So it seems to me that ministry ought to be a common theme in Christian fiction. You will find a ministry thread through every book I write.

Great Deals on Box Sets of Christian Fiction

Now that I’ve got your mouth watering for Christian fiction, here’s a great buy on 30 different Christian fiction box sets for $4.99 or less. You’ll find my Art Spotlight Mysteries among them. This promotion only lasts from November 3-9 so don’t miss out. These are great deals and a great way to find a new author to love. In my case, my Kindle box set is over 50% off the cost of buying the ebooks separately.

Now for the free drawing.

I have randomly picked a winner from my subscribers list to receive the Kindle version of a book with a cross cultural theme.

And the winner is … R. Y. She is an English teacher in the Middle East. She found my website while searching for ESL Bible lessons. I wrote these lessons long ago during our ministry in Taiwan. Now these lessons, written for people who use English as a second language, are used to share the gospel in many countries around the world.

She has chosen 3D Gospel.

 

 

Making a Positive Impact on Others


Did you ever leave church or a social gathering more discouraged than when you came? Maybe the majority of your conversations were largely negative. Sometimes our conversations just get in a negative rut and it’s hard to reverse and go in a better direction.

What can you do? Everyone has problems and needs a listening ear. You want to show concern, even when you can’t solve their problems. There’s a time to weep with those who weep. But we also want to make most of our conversations uplifting.

Today’s world is a desert thirsty for encouragement. If you are in ministry you have a constant need to connect with people, sometimes the same one over and over. We often talk about the weather, which may not be pleasant at the time, or ask how the person is, which may not be pleasant either. Then how can we steer the conversation in a positive direction?

Negative Subjects

The biggest enemy of positive conversation is negative subjects. Yes, we need to take a stand against the evils of the world, but sometimes these negative subjects dominate our conversations. It’s hard to have uplifting conversation about abortion, gun control, political leaders we don’t like, immorality in the world today, unemployment, or high prices. We may need to talk about these things sometimes, but we need to balance them with the positive aspects of life if we want to encourage ourselves and others.

Preparing Yourself for Positive Impact

Matthew 15:18 says, “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart.” (NKJV) So if I have a positive heart, I will say positive words that will encourage everyone around me. What positive things can I think and talk about to balance out all the negatives of life? Here are some ideas:

1. What new thing can I thank God for today?

2. What small success can I celebrate in my life or the lives of others?

3. What everyday thing have I been overlooking that could bring me joy?

4. Have I found something in a book or blog recently that has encouraged me?

5. What nice things have other people done for me recently?

6. What advantages do I have that make my life easier than life 30 years ago?

7. Who could I call that I haven’t talked to for a while?

8. Was I expecting some bad thing to happen that turned out better than I thought?

9. What’s one nice memory I haven’t thought about for a while?

10. What ordinary people do I have in my life who bring me joy every day?

As we think about answers to these questions this week, we can become positive people who are ready to make a positive impact on a negative world.

 

God’s Invisible Work

Are you feeling discouraged in your ministry today? Maybe you’ve been working hard, but you see few results for your labor. You’ve analysed your ministry to see if you could makes changes to be more effective, yet you don’t feel the Lord’s leading you to make changes. You’ve poured yourself into the lives of people who are making bad choices. It looks like you are accomplishing very little. You’re trying to be faithful, but if what you’re doing isn’t working, why not quit?

Wouldn’t you like God to speak to you today and give you words of comfort? He has. “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” (Hebrews 6:10 NKJV)

God sees your work. If you are following his leading and serving him to the best of your ability out of a heart of love, he is pleased, even if you can’t feel it. God often works beneath the surface.  He may be doing his greatest work at a time when it looks like nothing is happening.

A friend recently told me, “Satan is really working. I’ve told all these friends about Jesus and they just aren’t responding.” Within days of hearing that I read these verses in my devotions. “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:7-8, NKJV)

Most people don’t respond to the gospel the first time they hear it. Many times it takes years of exposure to the gospel before they are ready to believe. Over the years they meet various Christians who show an attractive picture of who Christ is and plant gospel seeds. The unbelievers remember bits and pieces of things they hear, but mostly they resist the message.  All these things seem to do no good. Then one day someone witnesses to them and “suddenly” they get it. They’re ready to be saved. But actually the decision wasn’t sudden. All the words by Christians that they seemingly ignored were actually helping to prepare them for the sudden decision.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58, NKJV)

God hasn’t forgotten your work. He is working in hearts. Your labor is not in vain. May you experience his joy in your ministry today.

Ups and Downs of Ministry

Remember when you started your ministry? Fresh from Bible college your dreams were high and your goals were worthy. You had notebooks full of ideas. You were a fountain of enthusiasm. You were going to pour your  life into the lives of others and, with God’s help, you were going to make a difference!

You knew your ministry might be small at first, but it would grow a little each year. You would be faithful. God would bless. Slowly your work would build to a peak and then you would retire or perhaps just move on to build another ministry.

After years of ministry, however, you found your work didn’t resemble the steady rise of a mountain as much as it did a roller coaster with continual ups and downs. The novelty wore off and you wondered why you were such a failure. In the dark of night, when you’re trying to sleep Satan whispered, “Why doesn’t God bless your ministry?”  Maybe you even wanted to give up.

It’s possible that who you are and what you are doing is causing your ministry to fail. You may need to change. But so often ups and downs are just part of ministry. We all see the high profile churches that are bursting their seams and we want to know their secrets. Comparison can rob us of our confidence and our joy.  The truth is, around the world we see some mission fields that seem to be wildly productive. Others seem to struggle no matter how faithfully the missionary serves.

Maynard Belt tells of a mission society who, in 1853, discussed closing a station in Ongole, India, because only ten people had been won to Christ in fifteen years. “At that time more than 167 languages were spoken in that area.  This area had been called the “Lone Star” church of India.  Only two men on the mission board pleaded not to abandon the continued support of this work.” But in time the others changed their minds. “The men voted unanimously to continue the ministry and because of this decision God worked and hundreds of people in India became believers.  Thirty years later the Ongole church had grown to 15,000 members.  The Lord had another plan for the “Lone Star” church and marvelously rewarded the efforts of all who had patiently labored in the region.”

Pastor Belt ends his article with these words: Are you discouraged because you may not be experiencing fruit in your God-appointed vineyard? Have you thought about resigning your ministry because nothing seems to be happening? Have you quit casting a vision before your people because no one seems to care?  Have you lost the excitement that you first had when called to your particular ministry? Yes, God does use such circumstances at times to nudge us on to different ministries, but sometimes it is just the devil discouraging us to the point where we just want to give up. Over the years I have learned that with God something is always happening, even if we do not see it. Maybe we need to pray more?  Trust more? Work more? For sure we need to wait more! While living in a “Hurry Up World” we must be careful not to forget that the Lord is patiently working out HIS plan. (2 Peter 3:8-9) The great believers have been unwearied waiters! There is no time wasted in waiting IF you are waiting on the will of God!

May these words encourage and challenge you today as you wait on the Lord.

*Maynard Belt is a retired pastor who writes articles of encouragement to people in ministry at: www.BarnabasFile.com