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pink-power-donne-che-aiutano-le-donne-9I have been given a life of freedom in the name of Jesus Christ. I have been called and empowered to live a life of abundant goodness and love. I am an adopted daughter of the King of kings and creator of the universe, and His Holy Spirit lives in me and shapes me to do His work and bring His kingdom to earth. I am young, I don’t know what my future holds, and I am flawed from the inside out, but I know that I have been called to a destiny for the glory of God.

Somehow, when I simply bash sinful films and literature, and warn everyone not to participate in the sin-fest, I don’t quite feel like I am living up to the life of abundant love I have been called to.

I admit, I have not read a single blog post on 50 Shades of Grey, though there are many (and great, I’m sure). I also admit that I am naïve to the story line of 50 Shades of Grey but know enough to say to my sisters in Christ, don’t mess with it.

BUT as a follower of Jesus, may I never be known simply for the things I am against but for the things I am for. So, when I say no to 50 Shades of Grey, what do I say yes to?

Human trafficking and sexual slavery is a reality for so many people. Not people far away, people in our own country and cities. Not people who are different or weird or somehow unhuman, but people just like me and you.

I live in an area of Nashville where human trafficking is an issue and when women on my own street are slaves to this “life”, I cannot imagine going to see a film about sexual bondage as sensual entertainment. I wonder if a survivor of sex trafficking would want to see 50 Shades of Grey? Hm.

As a believer, rather than just saying no to destructive entertainment to protect my own freedom, Christ has given me the ability to say yes to the freedom of others. He has called me, and all believers, to fight for the justice and freedom of His people.

Rather than saving 10 dollars from a movie you choose not to see, what if you donated 10 dollars in an effort to end human trafficking? We know 50 Shades of Grey will makes millions at the box office, but how beautiful would it be if the Church donated millions to end sexual slavery? What if instead of bashing the things that don’t fit into our moral agenda via Facebook, we were known for fighting for freedom?

There have been so many blogs about why we shouldn’t see 50 Shades of Grey and that is not my intention with this post. Let’s stop talking about something and start doing something. Let’s be known for living for the lives of others. If you have an extra 10 dollars because you aren’t seeing 50 Shades of Grey, donate it.

I discovered a non-profit a few years ago called A21 and I really champion everything they do. If you don’t have a local non-profit in mind to donate to I highly recommend you check out A21’s website and make a onetime donation.

   Let’s fight for freedom from sexual slavery and run far, far from entertaining ourselves with it.

   Visit A21’s website at A21.org

photo 1 (1)Do you laugh at your own jokes? Do you love the Lord? Are you great? If so, you are most likely a funny Christian girl who can identify with these 8 dilemmas:

1. You can’t retweet cuss words

No matter how funny the tweet is, even if a low-grade cuss word is involved, you can’t favorite or retweet it. If you do, you might not be able to lead Oceans at church the following Sunday.

2. You are single

All of us. Single. Maybe you’ve been told you’re intimidating, or maybe that God has someone extra extra special for you. Whatever it is, something about being hilarious and fun-loving doesn’t scream “Proverbs 31 woman” to attractive men of God. Maybe you’re a funny lady and you’re the exception to this. In that case, please email me (macishingletonblog@gmail.com) Please note: any useful tips and advice will be forwarded to several single girls.

3. You have to pretend you don’t think Christian movies are cheesy

Fireproof, Courageous, you name it. Sure they pack a spiritual punch, but at times they can be a little silly. I once made the mistake of seeing God’s Not Dead with my parents. I pointed out a few too many cheesy acting moments and ended up being lectured by my mother in the middle of a matinée showing. You’re right, mom, God can use even those who aren’t the best of actors and the Newsboys still rock. #GodsNotDead

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4. Tina Fey is not Beth Moore

Apparently, reading Bossypants is not the same as diving deep into an Old Testament study led by Beth Moore. I have multiple women crushes and their books seem to be on completely opposite sides of the bookstore. I’m still waiting for the day Christine Caine and Mindy Kaling collide. Best case scenario, Amy Poehler writes a devotional.

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5. Jackass vs. the Disciples

(Mom and Dad, the word “jackass” used here is also used in the Holy Scriptures) While your Sunday school teachers taught you of Matthew, John, and James… your big brother introduced you to Johnny Knoxville, Steve-o, and Bam Margera. It’s not unusual for me to spend quiet time with the Lord and be brainstorming about a new stunt video with the ladies an hour later.

6. You are still single

7. You are extra tired on Sunday morning because you have to stay up late for Saturday Night Live

8. Your worship leader won’t let you rap during the worship set

Okay, just me?

As a funny girl, you may often feel misunderstood and like you’re too much for people, but God has a purpose to love so big through you. Although we may seem a bit too goofy at times, I fully believe the grace of Jesus is all around funny girls. I think sarcastic people have the ability to see certain things for how they really are and that can tempt us to be bitter towards the church OR provide us an opportunity to love where love is deeply needed. Funny girls, like all girls, have been molded so uniquely to love people. God knew exactly what he was doing when he created you. Use every ounce of your quirky self for his kingdom.

I’m Not Happy

photo (17)   Last weekend was one of the greatest weekends of my life. Two of my life long dreams came true. One being that I got to see Jimmy Fallon and two being that I got to go see Saturday Night Live. I stayed in a friend’s NYC apartment and had a magical adventure with my sweet pal, Kaylon. I have been on a complete happy-high. Honestly, as good as it all was, it’s only a matter of time before the giddiness wears out.

I have a confession to make; my entire life I have dealt with some pretty serious feelings of being bummed out. I feel capable of experiencing the fullest of utter joy and ultimate blues.

During the seasons of my life that I have struggled with being so down, the most frustrating part is that there is no one thing I can point to that actually causes it. My life rocks. I have an amazing family, friends, great opportunities, and an immeasurable amount of Instagram-able moments. Even with all of that, there have been so many times in life when I still don’t feel happy. Even when I have it all. I still feel like I need more.

One of my favorite quotes is a quote from C.S. Lewis that says, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

There was a time in my life when I felt so wrong for wanting and desiring so much but the truth is, I wasn’t wanting enough of the right things. I wasn’t made for this world. I was made for my Creator. How could anything satisfy me on this earth?

God is a good Father and gives us such good blessings and gifts (like Jimmy Fallon and SNL tickets), but I’m left empty when I try and satisfy myself with the gifts and not the God.

There are certain points of life that are just so good. People can have happy-highs with or without Jesus. But only with Christ is there true and deep and eternal joy. Jesus is goodness. He is the only thing worth holding onto.

I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” – Psalm 16:2

   I heard John Piper speak at Passion a couple of years ago and he said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Since then, I have read this quote in his books and I hold onto it. God created us to deeply desire and Christ is more than enough to completely satisfy.

In the seasons you feel depressed and worn out, hold on. Trust that Jesus is fighting for you even if you can’t see that he is. Love the people around you. Continue in obedience to Christ. Rest in grace. Joy is coming!

Christian girls have a unique moral dilemma on Halloween. While many of our girlfriends dress as sexy pirates, sexy zombies, and sexy inanimate objects, Christian women often feel the need to remain modest at costume parties. However, we still want to have fun. We still want to dress up and celebrate! Unless you’re one of those Christians who believe it’s wrong to participate in any Halloween activities… in that case, happy Reformation Day!

For the ladies who need a few last minute, faith-based costume ideas, here are a few options:

proverbsA Proverbs 31 Woman

Can you laugh at the days to come? Do you have wisdom and faithful instruction on your tongue? Do you love making casseroles? This may be the costume for you. All you need to do is clothe yourself in fine linen, strength, and dignity.

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Hillsong “Oceans”

It’s been the worship hit this year and if you’re a Christian girl, you probably already have the lyrics tattooed or hanging on your wall. You might as well dress up as the popular song for Halloween. This one is also a great ministry tool. When someone asks what you are, you can cleverly trap them into a “deep” conversation about how the song has worked on your heart. If you choose this costume, your feet will not fail.

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John Calvin

Ladies, just because you’re a Christian and trying not to make men lust doesn’t mean you can’t have a sexy Halloween costume. Want to dress up as something the Christian boys can’t shut up about? Want to be constantly on their mind? The center of their conversations? The thought they are always obsessing over? Go as John Calvin. If you are single and trying to attract a good Christian man, this is your ticket. He won’t be able to take his mind off of you.

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Victoria Osteen

The scariest costume of all. Find a good blonde wig, lots of make-up, and some real’ lame theology.

charlie-brown-ghost-costume

The Holy Ghost

Super simple. Incredibly necessary to the faith.

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Pizza

Because every Christian that grew up in a youth group knows how meaningful pizza is to a person’s spiritual well-being.

photo (10)Ebola, homosexuality, Isis, singleness, suicide, what do you guys want me to write about? Give me the controversial topics and I’ll tackle it. With the help of my strong Christian beliefs, my mediocre writing skills, and my golden opinions, I am prepared to give you a Christian worldview to adopt. It is obvious that a lot is going on in the world. Lucky for you, there is a team full of Matt Walshes and Christian college student bloggers, such as myself, ready to get you through it.

BULL.

Facebook has become an endless feed of blogs being shared. Nothing is wrong with that, but the opposing and loud and never ending opinions stress me out.

I am burdened by how often I hear believers say to one another, “I read this blog about such and such that was so powerful” or “There’s this blog you should read, I’ll send it to you” and how much less I hear believers encouraging one another with scripture. Using blogs as an encouragement tool is awesome and many believers continue to encourage the people around them with scripture, but lately, in my surroundings, I’m hearing more of one than the other.

Blogs are good if they lead you to Jesus. Words are good if they lead you to God’s words. If blogs were the most powerful form of inspiration and motivation for believers, Jesus would write one. Since He doesn’t, I assume God thinks the words in scripture are still very holy and very alive.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. (Hebrews 4:12)

Blogs and books and good Christian theological articles are useful, but they are never meant to replace the word of God.

I had the opportunity to chat with an incredible writer several months ago and I told her about my dilemma to write anything when endless useless everythings are being written. She told me that because so many people now have an outlet to write whatever they want, there is a greater need for people to write things that actually matter. That has been my only conviction to write when I feel God leading me to do so.

The Holy Spirit speaks not only in scripture, but powerfully through his people. While some of those people may be bloggers, their words can never replace the majesty and mystery and strength of the word of God. If you read more Christian blogs than you do scripture, you may be on a dangerous path. Let the word of God shape and mold not only your ideas and opinions but your heart and being.

Be encouraged by Jesus through His people and learn to know what is from Him by daily listening to His voice.

Jesus can do so much more for you than I, or any blogger ever could. Really. If you haven’t heard the voice of Jesus in a while, stop reading my blog.

e2d75660dc9c45305c8d51bdb91ee6ae   This has not been the best week of my life. It has not been a week from hell either. (Is saying hell like that considered cussing, mom?) I cried once this week but laughed too. The last several weeks have been full of busy and mundane and it’s starting to cave in. Where is Jesus when life is just life? How am I supposed to hear God’s voice and walk in His love when I am exhausted and in need of much grace and even more coffee? I haven’t hit rock bottom, but I’m not on a spiritual high. How do I meet with Jesus here?

   Be Strong – No matter how tired I am. No matter how busy I am. I have to seek to be aware of the presence of Jesus. I have to respond to Him in intentional prayer. I have to read His word. I have to remain near the people of God. Often when I’m tired, I try to shut off any extra emotions and avoid accepting the love Jesus pursues me with. Fight against the feelings and stay in communion with the Father.

   Get Over Yourself – This week I felt like things would be so much better if I would just get one of those texts from someone who wanted to randomly encourage me. You know, the classic, “God just laid it on my heart to tell you how awesome you are” text messages. I really wanted that. All while wishing I was being encouraged, God reminded me of all of the “you’re awesome” texts I could be sending. Who have I overlooked this week because my mind is so stuck on my own circumstances? Where have I been so caught up in self that I have denied being like Christ? Where are the areas I have been so obsessed with my own little world that I missed the world of brokenness around me? There are many.

Trust that God is Good and Working – Between the everyday and mundane tasks, God is orchestrating our lives into something that will bring us joy and Himself ultimate glory. God is at work. He doesn’t step away from our lives for even the smallest amount of time. He makes all things purposeful. God is good. He is a loving Father who we can trust completely. Even when we are blinded and consumed by our humanness, our Father remains loving and faithful and merciful.

In the times we feel like “God moments” aren’t happening, we have to choose to trust in Jesus. We will see His goodness and His love.

“I am still confident of this. I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” – Psalm 27:13-14

photo (7)   I remember sitting in small group during high school at summer camp. We had just had an incredible evening worship service and everyone was speechless. The girls were quietly wiping tears away and even the guys were trying to hold it together. The leaders weren’t really sure what to say. It was as if the presence of God was physical throughout worship that night. Or so I heard… I didn’t feel much of anything. I didn’t even cry. I meant the words that I sang and I believed the words that were spoken, but it was as if I was missing the big “God moment” everyone else in the auditorium was in on. Was I doing something wrong? Was there a reason God wasn’t revealing himself to me? Why couldn’t I feel God like I had always before?

   I battled with this feeling all week. Every night during worship I would pray that God would reveal himself to me. Then I would feel nothing. Then I would stand up, sing worship songs, mean every word I sang and prayed, and still not be flooded with the feeling of God’s presence I so longed for.

   I made a deal with Jesus that week that I would follow him regardless of what feelings it brought me in return. Even when it was a struggle, He would be Lord. God began to teach me a beautiful and hard lesson in faith that week and He continues to do so. God’s presence in your life isn’t a feeling, it’s a fact.

   I wish so badly that my human emotions could properly respond to the greatness of God’s presence daily but they can’t. Sometimes I’m just too tired or too distracted (usually just hungry). All the more I am thankful for and in need of the presence of God’s grace that constantly surrounds me.

   The love Jesus showed toward Thomas in scripture impacted me greatly throughout this journey. In John 20:24-31 we read the story of “Doubting Thomas” and how he couldn’t believe Jesus was alive until he saw him with his own eyes. When he finally saw Jesus, Jesus wasn’t angry with Thomas, but met him in peace and love and said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

   Often, our faith in Christ deepens the most when we feel like He is far away. If God seems to be quiet in your life right now, He very well may be lovingly strengthening your faith and preparing you for something great. No matter how you feel, trust that Jesus is present. He is with you. Continue to seek and honor him even when it is challenging. Stay in the word. Believe even when you can’t see.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8