Saturday, September 20, 2014

Musings on the Month of September

This has been a difficult month, our church has been embroiled in controversy, and my husband (Brian) and I have been getting ready to move, possibly out of state. Brian's Grandfather died last week, and we have been mourning his loss. And I have been struggling with feelings of tiredness, grief, and weariness. Today, I sat in my kitchen trying desperately to move, and I couldn't understand why I was having such a hard time getting going. In the midst of all that is going on, I just want to sit still. Why did I feel like this? And then, I remembered, that this month marks ten years since my friend and I were victims of attempted assault, and all the feelings of fear and hurt welled up in me. And I remembered those moments as vividly as if they were yesterday.

We were walking down Headley Way from a friend's dorm room late one night, during "Fresher's Week." When a man was indecent, tried to stop us, and behaved in a threatening and intimidating way that left us both shaken and confused. Thankfully, we were together. As someone who had experienced abuse when I was much younger, this experience was deeply traumatizing, beginning a process of bringing up memories and hurts from the past that I had not ever remembered before. Seeking for assurance and safety, I clung to those that I felt most secure with, knowing that my only true comfort was God, I simultaneously felt betrayed by him and as though I could not turn to him. Deeply wounded and hurt, yearning for safety and security to the point of worship, I found myself sinking into blackness. I was 11 years into a 12 year cycle of depression, and as the year progressed I fell deeper and deeper into the darkness, until the only way that I could survive was if God did a miracle in me. Thankfully, he did.

First I found myself waking up in the mornings, paralyzed with emotional exhaustion, but remembering and speaking to myself the character and nature of God. Remembering that he is a good, just, loving, righteous, kind, generous, faithful, all-knowing, all-powerful, amazing and wonderful God. And I found myself living, in spite of all the pain the filled and overwhelmed me. Then, through godly people at my church, many of whom were fellow students, he showed me Jesus. He gave me his word, and I felt so driven to read it, that I could not have resisted even if I had wanted to. He showed me that I was seeking in others what I would only find in him. Over the following Summer he partially removed, a friendship that I had begun to idolize, and showed me how much more fitting for the pedestal He was than the person that I had raised up. He helped me see that

Healing began, and the next September I realized that the depression had begun to lift, and I was free of it for more than five years. Five years of freedom from something that had been my reality for half my life until that point. Even though the depression would return, I look back and see those years, with all their difficulties and struggles, as an amazing gift. And I realize that through everything, every hardship, every hurt, every hope and every joy, God has proven himself true over and over again, in so many different and amazing ways. He really is an amazing and great God, far bigger than any of my circumstances. And he reminded me of this truth tonight. He has always loved me, in so many ways. And he has been healing me through so many different means, including through the church that I am now a part of, which is now struggling so heartbreakingly.

Tonight, I went out by myself after dark. I walked through the parking lot, alone, and did my grocery shopping among strangers. And I didn't feel fear. I wasn't afraid when a man spoke to me. I wasn't terrified when I was making trips to and from my car in the dark, to bring the groceries into my house. Because even though I feel sadness and grieve over the wrongs that I have experienced in my life, they are not the power that controls me. The power that controls me is the Spirit of God within me. So I may grieve, and struggle through inaction for a short time, while I am trying to process all that has passed. But those things do not control my life, Jesus does. In Colossians 1:11 Paul prays that the Colossians will be "...strengthened with all power according to his [Jesus] glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy..." and he reminds them that, "He [Jesus] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

I still walk through the darkness of this world, but I am in the domain of Christ. I still sit here in this world, but I am free from this world because of Jesus. For, as it says later in Colossians 1, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." (Colossians 1:15-20)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Life is Not My Own

I'm 32 years old today. That means it's been 17 years since my freshman year of high school, 13 years since I finished high school, 10 years since beginning my bachelor's degree (at least the one that I completed), 7 years since I completed my degree, and 5 years since my husband and I got married. Lying in bed this morning and looking back at my past, I felt like I was looking down a tunnel...a tunnel of memories. (Cheesy I know.) And I know it's not really that long a one, and one day (if God wills) it will probably be much longer, but it seems really long.

I was laughing at myself this morning, at all the plans that I've made, dreams I've had, and things that I've decided that I would do...most of which have never happened. And then I smiled, and realized how thankful I am that my plans for this life have not worked out, because if they had I would not be married to the man that I am married to today. I would not have the children that I have, and I would be living somewhere completely different, going to a different church, and living an entirely different life...and it would not be nearly as good as the one I am living right now. The truth is, this life is not mine, it's God's. And I don't have to do anything special, or be anything special for that to be simply is the truth...whether I choose to acknowledge it or not. Because God, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, died so that I could live...and today I am living still because of Him.

And now, I'm getting all choked up, thinking of the goodness and love of God, of which I am so entirely ill-deserving. It's not something I earned, it's something HE gave. It's not something I chose to accept, it's something He chose to give. I am not mine, I am HIS. And the wonder and glory of this is so amazing and undeniable and awesome, that I can't decide whether to laugh or cry, because it's so beautifully overwhelming that I could easily do both. Why is this so wonderful and glorious? Because God is so incredibly good. Incredibly, indescribably good. He gives me grace and love that I couldn't possibly earn, and showers me with blessings that I couldn't possibly gain, ones that I would never know that I needed if it were not for him. Because some of the biggest blessings have been born from the greatest pain, and some of the things that were a curse have been transformed by blessings innumerable... simply by the loving work of my gracious life-giving heavenly Father.

And I realize, at the same time, that I am tired. Tired of trying to figure my life out, tired of trying to plan my life around me. Because I have seen how much better God's plan is, and always has been, for my life. I want to look up at Him, rather than inward at myself. I want to ask Him to show me what it is He is calling me to, each and every day, rather than trying to do what it is that I want and figure out what I "need" to do for myself. I want to live my life intentionally in light of Him, because He's showed me all along that His work is better, that His plan is greater, and that His love is deeper, than anything I could ever come up with on my own. And I amazed by Him and by the undeserved love and favor that He has poured out on me through all the years when I thought I was living "for" Him, but in reality was really just living BECAUSE of him.

Father, Father God,

Thank you for all the years of love and care that you have poured out on me. Years when I thought I was living For you when I was really living for myself, and yet you loved me with that "Never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love." Your love is a love that I could never earn or deserve. And I am amazed and astounded by it. It's such a gift and often I don't understand or comprehend it, but I am thankful for it. I know that all the work that you've done in my life has been a gift, one that I could never have earned or deserved or created on my own. 

I want my life to be centered on you, because you are the center of all things. Because you are my loving Father God. And I am astonished and amazed and awed by you, and how you have continually showed and poured out your love for me all these years, over and and over again. I want each and every day to be intentionally devoted to you, because you are my everything and you make everything in my life a blessing. From the hardest and most painful days, to the easiest and most pain free days. All of them are a wonderful gift because of you.

Show me what it is that you are calling me to, and help me and strengthen me to follow your calling each and every day. Make my life a testimony to you. And show me how and where I can best serve you, in my home, in my marriage, in my church and in my friendships. I'm all-in. There is no other way that I want to live. Make me like Jesus more every day, and show me your truth in every way. 

In the name of my wonderful Savior Jesus I pray, in the power and light of the Spirit...Amen.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Under Grace

Today, after some prayer and contemplation, I decided that I needed to change the name of this blog to The Miraculous Grace of Jesus. I feel convicted that Understanding Purity was a title that kept me too bound to one subject too much and came more from a place of pride, than a focus on Christ. My desire was to bless people, but it was to bless people through MY ministry, rather than to be a part of Christ's ministry. What do I mean? It can be a subtle thing, but it is connected more to wanting to share what I know, rather than a desire to minister the grace of God and record the grace that God has given me. This isn't true of everyone who has a specific ministry, but for me it was. And I think that was why God allowed me to be hindered so much in my writing. Because, by the love and grace that he has for me, it is about him and his glory, rather than about me and what I know...even if that knowledge is from him.

 My Father God is amazing, wonderful and incredible. He has given me so much, far more than I ever could have earned or known or asked on my own, and I want to share that amazing, incredible grace with others. Sometimes that might mean writing about purity, but I think, really, it's just going to be about the love of God, poured out through the saving blood and resurrection of Jesus, by the work of the Holy Spirit. I don't know what it's going to look like, how often I'm going to write, or when I'm going to have time to record what God is doing in my life. But I don't think those things are important. What is important, is that I have the unearned, undeserved, unasked for privilege of knowing and being known, loving and being loved by a God who is infinitely more amazing and wonderful than I could ever understand. And because of how amazing it is to know Jesus, I MUST write about it. I cannot keep from writing about it. Because he is wonderful and he deserves to be made much of.

More and more, as God grows me in the knowledge and love of Jesus, I feel drawn to one set of verses in the Bible that entice me and challenge me and speak to my heart deeply. They are found in Romans 11:33-36, which says: "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen." 

There are tears of awe and joy threatening to well up in my eyes as write, because the amazing wonder and grace of God has been so great in my life, I can barely comprehend even a tiny portion of what it all means. But I know that all the "wisdom" and "knowledge" and all the hopes and dreams that I have had up till now, no matter how right and godly they may have seemed at the time, have all been stripped away and the only thing that matters any more is God. I am sure that this is a place that I will have to be returned to again and again throughout my life. But right now, he is all that I want. And in wanting only him, somehow my love for my husband and my children and my brothers and sisters in Christ and my family are grown more than anything else ever could grow them. In wanting only him, I want my husband more, I want to serve my children more patiently, and I want to work more fruitfully in my home and love others more effectively. It may seem like a contradiction, but somehow it is not it is not a work that I am doing in my own life, it is a work that Christ is doing in me and I am in awe at the greatness of his love and power. 

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o'er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o'er them from the throne!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
'Tis an ocean vast of blessing, 'tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, 'tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee! ~ Samuel Trevor Francis

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Amazing Love of Jesus

I can't believe that it's been over a year since I posted my last blog. More than that, it's been 18 months. So, where have I been? I have been experiencing the amazing love of Jesus and the incredible refining grace of God. But to tell you the full story, I have to go back before I started this blog, to 2010, when I had a beautiful little daughter, she is our first child and she is an incredible gift and blessing from God. But, like many new mothers, I experienced a lot of emotional complications that resulted in a downward spiral into postpartum depression. It crept up slowly. Some days I couldn't get up, some days I just felt listless and worn out, other days I just felt angry and didn't know why. By God's grace I was able to take care of my daughter, but it was really hard. Then, not long after, I became pregnant with our second daughter. Also beautiful, fiery and full of life.

Both girls are treasures, beautiful, wonderful blessings from God. But there were days when it was so hard to see that. At times the depression lessened and almost went away, only to come back worse. And I began to feel guilty, thinking that maybe there was something that I was doing wrong. But I still didn't tell anyone, or open up about what I was dealing with. It just seemed too hard and I was so afraid of what other people would think of me. I had a that all-to-common stigma of depression, thinking that it was something that really good, godly, true Christians didn't get. So I hid it. And I hid it pretty well. The only indication was the constant messiness of my house, that I could never seem to find the energy to conquer. But, generally, people see a messy house and they wonder why the person doesn't just get up off their chair and do something about it. They don't think that this is a struggle that isn't just rooted in laziness. Not that being depressed makes it okay not to keep your house well, because housekeeping is always something I've struggled with, but as I longed to do better in this area, the depression often overwhelmed me leaving me numb and exhausted from fighting making it that much harder to overcome an already overwhelming struggle. So guilt piled on top of the depression, and I was terrified that someone would find out my secret and some unknown "bad" thing would happen. And really, all of that was just a lie, and in my heart of hearts I knew it was...I just couldn't get rid of the fear because I was looking inward rather than upward.

You see, it wasn't the first time that I'd dealt with depression, the first time began when I was 12 years old, and didn't lift until I was 24. That time, as well, I didn't talk to anyone about it for a very, very long time. It wasn't until the spring after I was 24 that I finally really, truly, opened up to someone about what I was struggling with. And when I did, it was like a breath of fresh air and I realized, for the first time, that God didn't judge me for being depressed, that it was a very common illness that many people struggled with and that he loved me through it. The realization came at a church meeting, when two of the ladies at the church did a presentation on depression, what it looks like, and how common it is among Christians. I think I got half-way through the checklist before tears started streaming down my face. I ticked the box on nearly every single symptom, and it was okay. It wasn't my fault that I was struggling with this, and I knew that God loved me in it. Not many months later, God revealed to me some root sins in my heart that I needed to give up to him, and as I turned to him for hope, instead of looking to others, He just lifted the depression right off of me. One day I woke up and realized that God had worked a miracle. I was no longer depressed.

So, what happened, 5 years later, when I began to struggle with depression once again, in perfectly natural circumstances following the birth of my daughter? I thought that I was being selfless, I thought that I was being helpful, and I thought that I was doing what was right...but really, I was just being selfish and deceived. Because the reality was that I had built a reputation for myself, mostly in my own mind, on being the girl that God had miraculously healed from depression. I was that amazing miracle of God. Which was totally the case, but what I'd done was make that an identity for myself instead of finding my sole identity in Christ. As the struggle continued God led us to a new church at the beginning of 2012 and a rapid succession of life changes that left me reeling and sent me further and further into a depressed state...until the suicidal thoughts that before had caused me merely a momentary shudder, became an hours and sometimes day-long battle to keep moving forward with life. The pain was excruciating.

So one night, when my husband and I were having a rare but difficult argument, I suddenly found myself crying out loud that I just wanted to die. And the whole thing came out. And for a moment, I felt absolutely terrified that my husband, who had always been loving and kind to me, would reject me. Because this seemed like something that was just too bad for me even to admit. But, instead, he looked at me with eyes full of the love of Jesus, and told me that he felt closer to me in that moment, than he had in the past 2 years of our marriage. And I realized how selfish I had been, and how much I had hurt my family by my silence, and I repented and asked my husband to forgive me. Because even though I'd thought I was being helpful and being strong for my family, I'd really just been trying to protect myself. And I also began to see clearly how much God had been loving me all along, all through the dark days of depression and shame and fear.

It was during those days of silence that I had started this blog, I think in the hopes that focussing on a topic that was close to my heart would draw me out of my depression and I just couldn't keep up with it. I had been putting so many things above God in my hopes and dreams. And, in that, I was living a different kind of impurity in my life. I was giving way to the idols of this world: achievement, self-preservation, fear, strength, and security. And letting the world control me, rather than Christ. In the past year, God has been slowly and surely stripping all those things away, little by little. It's a process that I know I will be going through for the rest of my life, as one idol after another rears it's ugly head to tempt me, but it is wonderful because it is being done by God, not by my own power. And seeing God work is really wonderful. More awe-inspiring than any sunset, more amazing than any grand and glorious mountain, more incredible than any musical performance or piece of artwork or work of literature. It is wonderful because God is wonderful and amazing and incredible. My glorious God full of grace and truth and kindness and mercy.

And I began a long process of soul-searching and healing, which is still continuing today. A day or two later it was Sunday, and my amazing husband took me forward for prayer. A godly man from our church talked and prayed with us, and, for the first time I began to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Many dark and troublesome days followed. But I was so surrounded by the prodigious love of Jesus, and the amazing love of godly Christian community, that even in the darkest times and deepest struggles, I felt as though I was protected by a warm and tender covering. And as I put my hand in the hand of God, and reached out to the wonderful community of faith that he put me in,  I began to see small changes here and there that grew into massive changes, and I began to feel like I was a spectator in my own life. Just standing back and looking on in awe at what Christ was beginning to achieve. And As I was being prayed for, time and time again, I heard God's voice saying to me that I am his daughter and that he loves me. It was the first time that I really, truly felt that that was the case.

In a couple months it will have been a year since I told Brian what was going on with the depression that I was experiencing. I have been ministered to in so many incredible ways, by incredible people, and loved by God in so many wonderful ways...more ways than I can even count. This is such a bare summary of what has happened over the past year, but the long and the short of it is that God is amazing and wonderful and he has showered me with blessing upon blessing. The greatest blessing of all, is now being in a place where I can begin to be a blessing to others and minister to them. Because a few years ago, that was something I was barely capable of. The struggle is not over yet. There are still days when I feel down and feel sad and oppressed. But in reality, those are the moments when the light of Christ shines the brightest into my life, and even in the midst of the storm I know his peace. Not because of anything I have done or will do, but because he loves me and he has already done it all.

You can read more about my struggle with depression in a poem I wrote called Redemption.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happiness and Purity

My husband and I recently began attending Mars Hill Church in Portland. It was good timing, because the Driscoll's had just launched their new New York Times bestseller Real Marriage, and the church is currently finishing up a topical sermon series based on the book (though, as always, Christ and the Bible are still centric to the series). This has been really great for us, God is working through everything we are learning to refine us and to improve the overall health of our marriage. It has also been very enlightening for me to watch the various interviews that the Driscolls, have had on television and see the reactions of the people who interview him.

One interview that has received a great deal of comment, is the one they had on The View. The reaction of the women on that show to the idea that sex is created by God as a gift for marriage alone, was very interesting and while not overtly hostile, they did have quite a negative reaction to the idea. I realized something that, as a married woman, I had momentarily forgotten. The world interprets sex as being an "ultimate thing" as though there is no real experience of love and affection outside of a sexual relationship. In our western society, we also tend to have our own, personal, happiness as our greatest goal. These two idols clash together to become the focus of our lives. Sexual relationship has now become viewed an ultimate activity that is necessary in order to pursue what we have established as our final goal, personal happiness.

The Bible, however, has very different and somewhat surprising things to say about what our ultimate goal is and what we need to do in order to achieve it. Biblically, our ultimate goal for this life is not personal happiness, but a relationship with God in Christ. The Bible does not even promise that we will be happy, what it does promise is that as we trust and serve our God we will find joy in Christ. It also promises suffering and persecution for those who desire to live a godly life. II Timothy 3:12 says "Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..." Matthew 5:11-12 goes even farther, saying that persecution that comes because of Christ is a sign of blessing and should bring us joy: "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven..." Persecution will come, suffering will come, and joy is promised. What is not promised is happiness.

Additionally, the Bible shows sex to be a gift from God to those who are married, as an important part of married life (evident in creation and in the book of Song of Solomon). It does not say that sex will bring happiness in marriage, just that it is a gift to be enjoyed within marriage. And it definitely does not say that sex is necessary in order to obtain fulfillment. Ultimately, true fulfillment is only found in Christ alone, not in sex or relationships. This can be seen throughout the Bible in the lives of Paul and of Christ. No one can say that Christ did not live a full life and was not fulfilled while he was on earth, and yet he never married, he never had sex, and he was persecuted to the point of severe, traumatic, horrific death on the Cross. No one can say that Paul was not fulfilled, and yet he also suffered terribly, never married, and was not sexually active. 

I use these examples because it is very easy to write-off what I, as a married woman, have to say on this subject. But, let me assure you, that I have found it to be very true in my own life. I did not marry until right before I turned 27, and I only had one boyfriend (apart from the man I married) during my time as a single woman. There were times when I felt lonely, frightened, scared, tired and unloved, and though I never actual had sex, I did make some mistakes in my physical relationship with guys during that time. But ultimately God did show me how I was fulfilled in him. I found that sex was not necessary to fulfillment as a Christian, Christ and Christ alone (solo Christo), was and is necessary. As a married woman, I find that, despite being married to a wonderful man of God who truly loves me, there are times that I feel lonely, tired, fearful, and even unloved. During those times if I try to find my fulfillment in my husband, I find no fulfillment. But, when I turn to Christ and seek fulfillment in Him, fulfillment and peace are found. My husband and I are more fulfilled and and more at rest and peace with each other when we both do this than we are when we look to each other and our relationship.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Monday, It's all about God: Our God is Pure

The purity of God is generally something that is assumed, and not generally something that is discussed at great length. But I though that it was only appropriate to discuss this topic considering that this blog is all about purity and striving to understand it. The dictionary definition of purity is: "Freedom from adulteration or contamination." To adulterate something is to cause it to become poorer in quality based on what is added to it. Because God is God, far above and beyond anything we could ever fully understand, anything that caused him to change, especially anything that came from us, would take away from his purity. To contaminate, means to "make something impure by exposure to or addition of a poisonous or polluting substance."

While the term purity is not one that is used very often of God in the Bible, we know that God is pure based on other things that are said of Him in his word. Numerous places in the Bible speak of God as being both "eternal" and "unchangeable".

Hebrews 6:17-18 says "In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his purpose, interposed an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us."

And Deuteronomy 33:2a says "The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms..."

These are just two of the passages that deal with these two parts of the nature of God that show his purity. No one has ever added to God. No one has ever contributed something to him that he was lacking. God has always been who he is, and he will always be who he is. He is not corrupted or changed and he  cannot be corrupted or changed because that is who he is. This is a part of what the name of "I Am" means, which is the name he gave himself when he first began his plan to rescue the people of Israel. God is. He is God, he is divine, he is holy, he is complete.

Note: All definitions on this blog are from The New Oxford American Dictionary, unless otherwise noted. 

Guard Your Heart, Day 4: Disciplines of the Mind, Part 3

Today I am finally finishing up the passage we have been looking at, in Proverbs. Proverbs 4:26-27 says: "Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil." These verses could simply be talking about keeping in mind the things of God and considering carefully where you are going in a broader, more general sense; but they could also be talking about planning where you will take your next step. Considering that the Proverbs tend to be both deeply spiritual and highly practical in nature, I am inclined to believe that both are the case here. With careful planning of where you are going and what you are desiring to do, and subsequently presenting and committing your plans to the Lord, you are much more focused on your goals and therefore less likely to fall into temptation and sin. This needs some explaining, so I will begin with an illustration from my own life.

Before we met, my husband and I made a lot of mistakes and poor decisions in our dating relationships with others. But God was gracious and forgiving, and as we repented of our pasts he forgave us and replaced our foolishness with wisdom. When we met we were both determined to be wise and to honor God in our relationship. For us this meant that we started our relationship with planning. We were very clear with each other that dating, was solely in order to discover if we were meant to get married and we agreed that if, at any point, either of us thought that we might be a good match for a God-honoring marriage, then we would break up. We wanted to be pure towards each other and before God. So as we were in the planning and discussion stage of our relationship we decided that we would in everything, and at all times, strive to have a relationship that would not keep us from being friends if we ever broke up.

This meant there were certain things that we did not do because they caused us to become too emotionally invested too early on. One of these things was holding hands, not that holding hands is bad, but for us, personally, this caused too close of an emotional connection. For me, personally, it meant that I strove very hard not to allow myself to think too specifically about a future with Brian. The whole time we were dating, until we became engaged, I never allowed myself to imagine our wedding or think about having a certain number of children with Brian. Let me stress that these things were personal applications of our desire and determination to be pure towards each other and not a prescription for how everyone can be pure in their relationships. I am merely using this as an illustration on how this passage can be applied in a practical manner so as to be pure in one area of life.

Additionally, I would like to stress that we must always be alert to grace. There are practical things we can do that will help us to remain pure, but we must never substitute these things in our minds for the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and the atoning work of Christ on the Cross*. In planning, we plan our time carefully in order to help us not to fall into sin, but this does not mean that if our plans fail, or do not work out properly that we have no means of remaining pure. True purity is found in Christ alone, and while there are practical applications of the state that we are in, that of being saved by grace through faith in Christ, nothing can fill in for the work that Christ has already done on our behalf. The Bible, practical planning, and self-discipline, are all means to help us in living out what we already have and already are in Christ.

*For those not as familiar with Christian terminology here are some definitions for you: 
1. To sanctify means to be set apart as holy. 2. Holy means to be dedicated or consecrated to God. 3. Consecrate means to be sacred; devoted to God for His purposes. 4. To atone means to make amends or reparation. Sanctification is generally considered an ongoing process that is accomplished by the Holy Spirit living within us. Atonment is the work that Christ did on the cross, and was completed when he rose from death to live forever. That our sin is atoned for does not mean that we are done with sin once we become a Christian. Christ died not only for the sins we committed before we were saved, but also for the sins we commit after we are saved. It is as though Christ gives us a clean page that only the good things we do are written on, and even our sinful motives in doing those good things are taken away in him.