Monday, November 15, 2010

The Girl-Effect

Last weekend I took a girl from the youth group and her friend to a girls retreat called "Girl Effect". I am posting my notes from the main conference teacher specifically for all the other girls in the youth group who couldn't go, but also for anyone else who would like to read it. It's called the girl effect because it was a teen girls retreat, but the truths apply for anyone; boy, girl, old, or young.

1. The Christ Effect – According to John 1 and Colossians 1, we were created by Jesus, who is The Word. We were created for His glory. Before we can begin the “girl-effect” we must first make sure that we have be affected by Christ for salvation and then for sanctification. Have you come to a point in your life when you have turned from your sin, confessed that sin to God, and trusted in the shed blood of Jesus, and that alone, to save you from your sin? If you have accepted His gift of salvation, are you allowing Him priority in your life? God is in the business of changing lives, and if you let Him, He will change you and shape you into exactly who He wants you to be. When God wants to get ahold of your life He will. If you are serving the Lord actively, my question to you is who are you doing it for? Are you serving Him to look like a good Christian, or are you serving Him in following His leading in your life in order to give all the glory to God? Ephesians 6:5-9 tells us that the things we do should not be in order to please men, but they should be done from the heart to do the will of God. This passage is talking to the “bondservant/master” relationship, such as an employee to a boss, but I believe that the principle also applies to anything we do. Make sure that your service to the Lord is of the Lord and for the Lord.

2. The Word Effect – It is 100% necessary for you to allow the Word of God and your prayer life (both together make up our communication with our Lord) to take root in your everyday life. The Word of God is profitable to us. It is in our life for doctrine (belief system), reproof, correction, instruction. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Verse 17 tells us that the Word of God COMPLETES US! Have you been saved for a long time but you still feel empty? Do you wonder why you still feel like there’s a hole there, something missing? If so, the first thing I would ask you is how often do you read you’re Bible? How often do you pray? You must cling to the Word of God as if your life depends on it. Read it constantly, memorize it, and keep it in front of you everywhere you go. The Word of God lasts forever, we need to know it, and it will equip us for life. Without it, we are incomplete, ignorant, and ill-equipped to do ANY good for the Lord. Outside of the Word of God and Prayer our works are only for ourselves. Let the Word of God engulf you! (Hebrews 4:11-16; Psalm 19:7-11)

3. The Greenhouse Effect – 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 is just one passage of scripture that shows us the calling of people within a church. A church is supposed to nurture and take care of each other the way a greenhouse nurtures plants through any season. The outside may have storms, freezing hail, or intense heat but the inside should be constant, nurturing, and caring. I would not be where I am today were it not for the vast number of people in the church who took the time to invest into my life. We HAVE to do life together and share our lives with others in order to follow God’s call of making disciples. Just as you must not neglect the Word of God and your prayer life, you must also not forsake assembling with other Christians. (Hebrews 10:25) Get plugged into a church and start sharing your life with people.

4. The Soul Saving Effect – God commands every Christian to go out and make disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20) God has given all of us special gifts and talents that He expects us to use to bring others to Him. We have been given the best gift of all in our salvation, and we should be sharing that with every single person God allows us to. If you allow the first 3 effects to take root in your life, then this one will come very naturally to you. When you eat, sleep, and breathe the Word of God it will seep out of you along with the love of God that is essential in reaching a lost and dying world. God may be calling you to go to the other side of the world to bring people to Jesus, or He may be calling you to the other side of your cafeteria at school to talk to a fellow student. This is the effect, that we would reach one person at a time and help equip them to reach one person at a time. It doesn’t matter what age you are either. I Timothy 4:12-16 says don’t let anyone despise your youth, but be an example to the believers. God LOVES using teenagers (or younger) to start revolutions. I firmly believe that teenagers hold the required amount of tenacity and boldness to get things done. Take a stand in your youth group to start a revolution. Get in the Word of God as if your life depends on it. Pray with boldness. Let other Christians in the church into your life and invest your life into other people. Then take a stand! If you can’t stand in your own youth group or church among other Christians, then you will never be able to stand under pressure out in the World. When you feel God leading you to talk to somebody, just do it. Let God worry about the results, you just stand up and do what He’s called you to do. One girl, reaching one girl, reaching one girl all over the world. This is the girl effect!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why Are Girls So Mean?

I recently read an article in a magazine about a teenage girl who committed suicide. She was a beautiful, intelligent, and loving girl who always enjoyed life. The article depicted something that I see in a lot of teenage girls; a completely unwarranted mean streak. This girl had moved here from another country and, because of what could only be construed as pure jealousy, the “popular” kids in school tore this girl down almost from day one. The horrible words that were spoken to her and the cruelty that was demonstrated to her through gossip, backbiting, and other verbal abuse drove this happy, beautiful girl to take her own life. By the time I finished reading the article I was completely in tears. What really had me so upset was the fact that I see this kind of ruthless behavior in so many teen’s lives that it’s not even close to funny. This leads me to my question, why are girls so mean? I used to ask my mom this question when I came home from school as a kid. For some reason I always felt like the odd ball. I was always picked last for teams, I was very often made fun of, and if I wasn’t being point blank made fun of then I was being tormented in some way by fellow students. Her answer was the same as any mom’s would have been; they’re just jealous, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s probably just your imagination, I’m sure they like you. Well, regardless of the reasons behind teenage girls behaving like vipers, I for one am fed up with hearing it happen. How many more girls are out there who are being verbally and emotionally abused every single day from these girls?! You want to know the real kicker about my experience with this? Shhhhh… I went to a CHRISTIAN School! That’s right, surrounded on every side by other Christians, most of whom had parents who were very active in their church, I was still treated like the kid nobody wanted. I’ve seen girls in the various youth groups I’ve worked with exhibit these same despicable qualities and it is absolutely appalling to me! If you are a girl who is getting picked on ruthlessly, I beg you to talk to your parents, your youth leader, or another Christian leader who you respect. Find someone who will help you find your identity in Christ, because that is all that matters! God made you so special, and there can only ever be one of you! Please, please, please do not allow these horrible girls to tear down your spirit. Stay in the Word of God every day, memorize it, and draw close to God so He can guard your heart. Satan wants nothing more than to use these girls to devastate you so that all you can think about is how hurt you are instead of how you can reach others with the Gospel of Christ. Don’t let him win! Practice what the Bible teaches about returning good for evil. Put all of your energy into being kind to the very ones who are hurting you and see what God does. He loves you and has an incredible plan for your life. If you happen to be a girl that spends her time tearing other girls down just so you can feel superior, SHAME ON YOU! God didn’t create you any better than her, He has a specific plan for how He made you just like He does for her. If you were truly secure in your identity in Jesus Christ, then you would have absolutely no need to tear anyone else down. God tells us in His Word to love our neighbor as ourselves and to be kind to one another. Gossiping (either talking or listening), slander, backstabbing, malicious words, hateful talk; all of this is sin and it is time that Christian girls stand up in their faith and put all of these behaviors far away from them. If you truly believe that Jesus died for the world because He loves the whole world, then you should be looking at everyone with the same love that Jesus has. Why on earth would you treat anyone in such a hateful way, when Jesus loves them the same as He loves you? It is time for a “come-to-Jesus” moment girls! Examine your hearts and be brutally honest with yourself and with God. Are you someone who’s always tearing people down, especially those you don’t like? Or, are you an encourager, always building people up and being a good friend. Confess your sin today and go make things right with the people you’ve hurt. The bottom line: Show me a girl who constantly tears others down with her words and actions and I will show you a girl who does not know who she is or what she's here for. Learn who you are in Christ, and you will learn how to build others up instead of tearing them down. Learn who you are in Christ, and you won't be bothered by the hatefulness of others.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Lately, I have been hearing a lot of God-fearing Christians ask the question “why do bad things have to happen to good people?” I myself, have been guilty of beginning the line of thinking that certain things shouldn’t be happening to someone who is doing everything the way their supposed to. The problem is, this is faulty thinking. This one question is a ploy that Satan uses time after time after time among Christians in an attempt to thwart the work of Christ. If Satan can come in and destroy the life of a good Christian family, and in the process lead other Christians to blame God for it, then he can successfully stop our attempts at reaching a lost world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. So, what about our question? First, we have to go to scripture for a definition of a “good person” and see who we are actually referring to here. Romans 3:10-12 says “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is non who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” Romans 3:23 says that “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus says in Matthew 19:17 that “no one is good but One, that is, God.” The first problem with this question is that the Bible makes it clear that there is no one who is “good” except for God. We are all sinners, and those of us who have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our only way to God are saved by grace. So let’s re-define the question to make it more relevant now that we know there are no “good” people. Someone is a follower of Jesus Christ, they are active in their church, they witness to everyone they meet, they are the most generous people in the world, and then at a pretty young age they are diagnosed with a serious illness that will likely take their life leaving behind a young family to pick up the pieces. In a situation like this it is very human to wonder why God would let this happen. Some people would even turn away from their faith because they figure, why try if it will still end up that way. I have a big problem with that thinking! First of all, we need to realize that we live in a sinful world. When sin entered the world, so did death, pain, and suffering. No where in the Bible do I see God promising a perfect life if we obey. I do see that He promises to never leave us. I do see that He promises an abundant life. I also see that He promises that if we love Him and are called to HIS PURPOSES, then all things will work out for HIS good. Do you see the key there? He has a purpose in even the darkest, most painful situations in our lives. Secondly, who are we to take all the blessings and accept all the joy and peace that God gives us in our lives, and then turn our nose up at Him when hardships come into our lives? The other side of the coin is true for some people; they ignore God when things are good and only cry out to Him during the bad times. I think it’s time to stop blaming God every time something doesn’t go the way we think it should. We need to accept the fact that we could spend our entire lives devoted to serving God in every area of our life, and we still might die from cancer at the age of 35, or in a car crash in our 20’s, or a heart attack before we hit 50. I have seen a lot of death in my life, including a 3 year old that we were very close to (one of the most difficult funerals in my life by the way). I’ve been through a lot of other heartache in my life as well. I would be lying if I told you that I’ve never had these kinds of thoughts before, because I have. I have had to learn that God is God, and I am not. It is not fair for me to assume I know why He’s doing what He’s doing. It is not right to blame Him for the “bad” that happens in the world as a result of sin that man brought into the world. I am only 30 years old and I could give you a huge list of “bad” things that have happened in and around my world during those years. I can promise you that my list will grow exponentially as I get older. And I can promise you that my God will be there with me every step of the way. He will never leave me or forsake me. He will give me the strength I need to get through any circumstance. I don’t have to ask the question of “why do bad things happen to good people” because I know that all things happen for a reason. Nothing is random, nothing surprises God, and the sooner we understand that and start trusting Him in everything, the sooner we can experience the full, almighty power of God in our lives. It is unlike anything in this world, and if we harbor these thoughts of “why” we will miss it altogether. The real question should be, “how can I reach people for Christ through this circumstance?”

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's Not Easy Being a Teen!

Though I have not yet reared my own teenagers (my children are 6, 7, and 9 at this point), I have been working closely with teenagers for the past 13 years. One thing that I have learned along the way is that the teen years are some of the most difficult times in a person’s life! I mean, just think about it for a minute. First of all, everything is changing at lightening speed. You are suddenly attending a larger school, having more homework with less help. You are held more accountable for your own decisions. Your hormones are raging and your body is going through changes that you really would rather not talk about. All around you people are telling you that you’re becoming an adult and have to start acting like one, but in the same breath they hold you back because you’re still just a kid. Your emotions are out of control and you haven’t learned to rein them in yet, which causes you to lash out at people you love and you end up with hurting relationships (usually one or both of your parents). In the midst of all of this that’s going on, you still have to work hard at school, get good grades, and figure out what you’re going to do with your life after high school. If you are allowed to date (that’s an entirely different discussion) then you have a whole other realm of problems. Am I saying that we should just accept all this as an excuse for a bad attitude? Should you, as a teen make people put up with you just because it’s a difficult time in your life? Absolutely not! I do, however, think that it is vitally important that parents acknowledge these issues and treat them with the care they deserve. What if we took principles from scripture such as showing grace and mercy, patience, and being slow to anger and applied those principles to our relationships between parent and teen? As a parent, I don’t believe that we can allow disrespect and disobedience from our children. It’s our job to instill the right character traits into our teens, and teach them through scriptures how to grow into God-fearing men and women. However, I do believe that if we would loosen up our parental hold just a tad as they move into their teenage years and then more and more as they go through them, then by the time they are out of high school and headed for college they will be more secure in their independence. We cannot expect them to grow into adulthood overnight, but if we treat them like children until the day they move out of our house then that is exactly what we expect. Children should be guided into adulthood through their teen years, and that means allowing them the independence to make their own choices. It means giving them a loving environment where they can make wrong choices, knowing that they will be loved and picked back up. It is so much better to let them make mistakes when they are home, then to control them for 18 years and let them make the mistakes when they’re out on their own with no one to pick them back up. The flip side of my observation is true as well. It’s not easy being a parent of a teen. I always encourage the teenagers that I work with to be understanding of their parents. I remind them that they are commanded by God to honor and obey their parents, even if they feel that they are being unfair. I try to explain to them how difficult it is to be a parent, especially of a teenager. Your parents love you and only want what’s best for you. Seemingly overnight they went from having a happy bundle of joy to having this moody, usually unpleasant, tyrant slumming around the house. Where you used to talk to your parents about everything under the sun, now they are lucky to get a few grunts from you. Again, I go back to principles in scripture. Love one another as you love yourself, honor your mother and father, be long-suffering, always forgiving, showing kindness to each other. If we applied these things to our parent/teen relationships just think of how much peace there would be in the home! If you are a teen or a parent of a teen, and things at home seem to be unbearable then stop everything you are doing and sit down with your teen to straighten things out. Talk to each other with mutual respect, as two adults, and work out your differences. Show forgiveness to one another, accept each other in understanding of where you are at, and allow some independence with clear boundaries. Guide your teen into adulthood and see how things at home change. Just don’t expect them to always make the right choice. If they fall, lay out clear disciplines, reality discipline works best, and then move on from it giving the same independence as before. I believe with all my heart that this makes a difference. I am not naive enough to think that everything will be pie in the sky, but I am positive that life at home will at least be a little more peaceful.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Teach the Children

I used to come down so hard on the Israelites for their fair-weather faith.  Here they are, God's chosen people, witnessing all these miracles and experiencing God's deliverance, and yet they still constantly disobeyed. I don't mean a little screw up now and then, I mean worshipping other god's kind of rebellion! Then, as I got older I started to realize that we all do the same thing. I know I have gone through many times of putting other things above God. Things like my family, my insecurities and fears, sometimes even church as strange as that sounds.

 So, that's all well and good but what I never caught before was a little verse in Judges 2 that kind of pinpoints the downfall of the new generation. Now, this is after Egypt, after the miracles God did to get them out of Egypt and on toward the promised land, after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, after entering the promised land, after fighting all the cities there and defeating most of them, and after Joshua and all of that generation had died. So, we are in a brand new generation of people who weren't there to see the 10 plagues, or the parting of the Sea, or water come from a rock, or to witness the conquest of taking over the promised land. The first thing I noticed is Judges 2:10. It says,

 "When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel." 

 Did you catch that like I did? My first question when I read that was "Why on earth didn't they know?" I mean, I know what happened and it was thousands of years ago and I'm not Jewish, so how on earth did one generation completely miss it!? So that led me to a few verses that I have memorized and instantly came to mind and I found a few others that I want to share as well. First is Deuteronomy 6:5-9 which says,

 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

 Deuteronomy 4:9 says "Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren."

 and again Deuteronomy 11:19-20 it says "You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

 Are you starting to get the picture? I am convinced that this next generation of Israel didn't know, because the previous generation quit telling them! How else would they have not known about God and all He did for them? Here's a few more passages for you to look up.... Proverbs 3:3, Proverbs 6:20-23, Proverbs 7:1-3, and 2 Corinthians 3:3.

 Going back to the Judges 2 passage the very next verse (vs 11) says "Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals." This is hitting me pretty hard here as I hope it is with you. It is so very important for us to pass our faith on to our children. I know we can't pass our salvation to them, they have to accept that on their own accord, but if my children grow up to be a generation who does evil in the sight of God I do not want it to be because I didn't keep God's word in front of them. These verses say to keep it in our hearts (memorize!), and in our souls, and to write it on our doorposts, teach it to our children when we sit, walk, lay down, and rise up! That's all the time! What that says to me is that God needs to be the first priority in my life so that my life reflects what I'm teaching my children. One of my biggest fears is that I will mess up in rearing my children and that they'll walk away from God because of it. I am taking this message to heart and am going to just step it up a notch in keeping God in front of my kids all the time. I don't want them to just know about God.... I want them to KNOW God. I want them to see the miracles He does in our lives every day and how He works. I want them to develop a close, personal walk with Him now so that it can never be said of them: "who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for the (Goepfrich family.)"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Flash-Back Poem

This is a flash-back post: meaning it's something I wrote or experienced in the past, i.e. flashback :) On September 22, 2005 my step-father suffered a major heart attack and passed away from this life in an instant. I never got to say goodbye which still is just so hard to deal with even 5 years later. He was one of the most important people in my life and I still struggle with grief from time to time. But just as the scripture says, I do not grieve as those who have no hope. I know that I will see him again and I wait anxiously for that day while I finish what God has called me to do here in this world. I wrote this poem shortly after he died as a way to attempt to express my grief. I have never shared it with anyone, and it's not really that good, but it is from my heart and if it encourages someone else who may be dealing with grief than it's worth sharing. :o)

You left without saying a word
It turned my life upside down
You didn’t even say goodbye
You just left me here to drown

I’m trudging through life’s agony
With a gaping hole deep within
Looking for something, anything
That can bring the slightest grin

How do I go on with my life
Now that your not here
In an instant, brief and harsh
I realized my greatest fear.

And yet, I must go on.
Life doesn’t stop for my grief.
So, I seek an answer
In the source of all relief.

Jesus is my ROCK,
His strength just won’t retreat.
He holds me when I’m weak
He doesn’t know defeat.

When emotion overwhelms me,
And I’m lost without a light,
I fall in Jesus’ loving arms
And hold on with all His might.

It’s not my strength that holds me up;
I cannot stand alone.
It’s the Peace and Hope that Jesus gives,
And I claim it for my own.

Life has ended here on Earth
For my dear father, taken from me.
But I know without a doubt
That his face again I’ll see.

We’ll walk down those golden streets
Together arm in arm
And catch up on all that’s happened
Since that fatal day of harm.

We’ll laugh and cry and make some jokes,
Just like we used to do.
Except this time it will be forever,
Beyond the bright, bright blue.

Paul A. Belmarez
2/6/60 - 9/22/05

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Last week in my Bible reading I came across some very familiar passages in Joshua, such as the battle at Jericho and the sin of Achan. Chapter 9 however held an account that I don't ever remember learning. God was leading the Israelites in conquering all these lands, and somewhere along the way the Gibeonites heard what was happening and that God was delivering all these cities into the hands of the Israelites and they were all being wiped out. So they devised this plan to make it look like they had traveled from very far away so that Israel wouldn't suspect they were in one of the nearby lands that they were supposed to attack. The people of Gibeon put on really old clothes, took moldy bread, torn and patched wineskins, and wore old worn sandals. Then, they went to the men of Israel saying they've been traveling for a very long time and asked for Israel to make a contract with them to allow them to be their servants and spare their lives.

 Verse 14 is what stands out to me the most. It shows the downfall of the choice made by the Israelites in this instance and it is something I know I'm guilty of all too often. It says, "Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord." WOW - After everything they had been through and being given the promised land and conquering all these cities, they didn't seek God's counsel!

 So what happens next? They make the contract with the Gibeonites assuming they were telling the truth!! So after 3 days goes by they find out that these were actually the people of Gibeon who were part of this land that God was having them anhialate!! So now they're stuck in this covenant with the Gibeonites and have to allow them to live among them as their servants (water carriers and woodcutters). When asked why they lied, the Gibeonites say they were afraid for their lives because they heard that God had said He would give the Israelites all the land and that they would destroy all the inhabitants of the land. I find it funny, and incredibly saddened that the Gibeonites obviously believed in the mighty power of God, yet Israel forgot to ask counsel of the Lord. I wonder how that affected God's original plan for the Israelites. I wonder what kind of future problems there were because the men of Israel didn't ask consel of the Lord or what kind of blessings they missed out on. I wonder what kind of blessings we miss out on because we simply do not ask counsel of the Lord.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Doing IS NOT Living

Do you ever feel like you're so busy "doing" the Christian life that it is becoming overwhelming?

Many times over the years I have felt this weariness, the feeling that I'm doing too much and it's dragging me down. But how can it drag me down when it's all good things and I'm doing them for the Lord? Or am I? I have recently found myself yet again feeling the weight of ministry and spiritualism. I am drowning in Bible Studies, running from one church activity to the next, trying to minister along the way to anyone God brings in my path. My heart is in the right place, in that I desperately want everyone to experience the awesome power of God in their lives. I want to make sure each person I know has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ so I pour myself into trying to reach everyone I can. The problem is that in the midst of all the busyness of doing the Christian life, I have somehow lost the personal fellowship with my Lord.

 What's the difference, you ask? The difference is all the other GOOD stuff that needs to be done, is not the same as spending one on one time with the God of the universe. It is not the same as my daily time talking to God through prayer and listening to Him through the reading of His Word. It doesn't matter how much preaching I listen to, how many Bible Studies I attend, how many people I counsel, how many lives God allows me to minister to.... none of that matters if I neglect the most important relationship in my life! Over the course of the last 6-12 months I have been on a journey to re-discover that personal one-on-one relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I have such a deep hunger for the Word and a desire to learn everything I can from the Bible. For the first time in my life I am over halfway through reading the entire scriptures! My journey is by no means over, it won't be until I reach my home in Heaven. And I won't quit all the other "stuff" that I'm doing unless God tells me to. I believe that I am involved right where He is calling me to be. However, I don't ever want to lose the fellowship with my Lord again. If that is lacking then I am doing all the other things in my own strength and not His, and I will be completely ineffective for the cause of Christ.

 I pray that God works through me when and how He see's fit in all the areas of my life. As a wife, a mother, a church leader, and whatever else God calls me to. Psalm 40:1-3 say "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth-Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord."

 May I never forget what God has brought me out of and may I always praise Him with a new song!