Glad you found us! This site has one objective: to help you win the spiritual battle for purity, in every sense of the word. Society encourages us to throw away our virtue; the message sent out by the media is: "everyone's doing it!" We are here to prove that statement wrong! Come in, read some encouraging testimonies, chat with others who strive to remain pure, and reaffirm your belief that purity, sexual and otherwise, is not only possible, but totally worth it!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The College 411- part 1

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Here it is, at last!  The first part of what I hope will be a helpful and informative series.  In preparing for this topic, I discovered just how much information there is to share!  Because of this, I'll be posting several times on various aspects of the college experience, intermingled with the long-awaited interviews.

  Each person's college experience is unique and varied, even between people who attend the same university and major in the same fields.  That being said, there are some major life changes that are universal, and it's best to know what's coming ahead of time.  Today, we're going to discuss the "good news" and the "bad news" about the college experience. 

The good news is, you get a clean slate, a chance to re-establish who you are.  You'll be in an entirely new place with entirely new people; people who have not known you growing up.  The stereotypes that limited you in high school will fall away.  If you weren't the most popular kid in school, it doesn't matter!  If you weren't named Homecoming queen or most beautiful, it doesn't matter!  The status symbols which ruled your life in junior high and high school no longer hold any weight.  Life begins anew and what matters now is your personality, work ethic, and future achievements.  People are much more accepting of each other in college.  I remember feeling wary of the attention I received from guys who were upper classmen in college.  My scars of harassment as a high school freshman were on my mind, and I thought they were trying to make a fool of me.  I learned pretty quickly that, their attention was a compliment.  I was the cute new girl, and they saw girlfriend potential!

The bad news is, you get a clean slate, a chance to re-establish who you are.  Up to this point, you've had (hopefully) loving guidance from your parents, your teachers, your church leaders and other mentors in your life.  You have lived under lovingly-set limitations on your time and activities.  These limits helped you get up in the morning, go to bed at night, study for school, and avoid sinful activities.  These limits helped to mold the stereotype you received in high school, which for me, was the "good girl" stereotype.  Although that title can feel cramped, there was also safety in it.  The people who did drugs, drank and had sex probably didn't socialize with you, because it was known that you weren't "that kind of girl." 

This protection will be gone in college.  If that is the person you wish to remain, then you must re-establish your Godly reputation.  You will be offered opportunities to drink, do drugs, go to parties and bars.  Such things will be more abundant, and more readily available.  You will need to determine your own, personally set boundaries and understand that you, and you alone will be responsible for maintaining those boundaries.  I remember hearing God speak to my heart within the first two weeks of my freshman year in college.  He said to me:  It's all up to you now, April.  You can completely change who you are and what you do.  Not only will no one at home know about it, but no one here will care!   Not to frighten you, but that's the cold, hard truth.  No one will stop you from taking a drink, or shooting up.  No one is going to stop you from going too far with a guy.  They are focused on themselves and their future or living for the moment. 

The good news is, you get to "stretch your wings" and try out life on your own!  You decide when to get up, when to go to bed, when to study, when and what to eat, when to go to class and what to do with your free time.  If your personal learning style is different than the style imposed on you in high school, you can change it!  You get done what you want done, when you want it done, because YOU are completely in charge!  I remember finding, to my delight, that I could accomplish a lot of things in one day, living on my own.  I'm from a large family with many siblings, and much of my life involved waiting for everyone else.  I discovered that in college, I didn't have to wait for the laundry to be done my Mom's way, because I did it when I wanted it done.  If I needed to take care of things, they could be done as soon as I wanted them done, and that brought me great pleasure.  It's very satisfying to discover that you can make it on your own!

The bad news is, you get to "stretch your wings" and try out life on your own.  With all this freedom comes the ability to make tremendous mistakes.  No one will remind you to get up and go to class.  You must choose to wake up and attend that 8:00 Biology lab.  No one will tell you "Hey, it's getting late and you've got a test tomorrow."  If you want to pass, you must study, go to class and do your homework.  Professors in college are not like teachers in high school.  Your high school teachers are, to some degree, responsible for your mastery of a subject.  In college, you're paying to be there.  It's your responsibility to "get it."  If you don't understand, it's your job to do extra work, ask for extra help and do what it takes to pass.  The professor only lectures and tests.  Some professors, especially in the area of your major study, will care about your success; but even they cannot and will not make you learn, that responsibility is on your shoulders alone. 

No one will make you go to church.  Even if you go to school near to your home church, people know that you're in college and they won't expect to see you every Sunday.  At college, no one is going to stay on you about going to church.  If you choose to stay strong in your faith, you must take the steps to do so.  It's very easy to begin making excuses about church attendance.  It can begin with, "I have studying to do,"  then it leads to "I need to sleep in," and finally you forget to even make excuses.  A study by George Barna shows that 65% of high school students who attended church reguarly stop attending after they graduate.  You don't have to fall prey to this statistic, but it requires effort on your part.  When you begin your college career, make a point to find a church to attend, and get plugged in!  It will greatly help you keep your priorities straight.  This is life on your own, you determine the adult you are to become, and the habits you set in place now will mold the type of person you will grow to be.

We'll be getting into more specifics as the weeks go by.  Don't be discouraged, college is a very exciting time!  I remember that stage of life very fondly.  It is a unique experience, with lots of fun, and compared to the rest of your life, little responsibility.  Just be cautious and take your first steps on the other side with care.  Don't forget who you are, Whose you are, and realize that the rules God and your family have set in place are there for good reason, you might want to hang onto them!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The True Measure of a Man (or Woman!)

I Samuel 16:7     But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.  For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (NKJV)."

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I've been doing a lot of thinking about life and death lately.  One thought that occurred to me, was how much less grace I extend to people who are living, especially people I love, than I do to those who have passed away.  Has that ever occurred to you?  Think about it; if someone hurts us, annoys us, or inconveniences us, what is our initial reaction?  To be angry toward them.  We might express it, or we might not, but we harbor resentment.  This resentment can grow if such irritations continue, even to the point where we blow up at them.  Our thoughts toward that person begin with the offense.  It takes effort on our part to overcome the irritations, even when we know deep down that they love us and mean us no harm.

But when we consider those who have passed away, we look at the bigger picture.  We understand that any personality quirks or lack of understanding our feelings on their part were unintentional.  We grant them grace, and choose to see the best in them.  Why do we do this?  Why do we treat those we have with us so harshly?  We are all flawed beings, we all do things to irritate and hurt one another, intentionally or unintentionally.  We are all sinners, who cannot hope to be good enough in our own strength.  We need a Savior, not only to save our souls from death and hell, but to empower us with the ability to live honorably before the Lord and in harmony with one another.

My father passed away almost 15 years ago, and recently I was given a CD of his music.  I didn't know it existed, and was obviously overcome with emotion when I heard his voice for the first time in so long.  As I listened to my father, as a 19-year-old young man, singing and playing praises to God.  I heard the Lord whisper to my heart:  This is how I see your Daddy.  This is a glimpse of his heart.  It was so comforting to know that God sees the best in my Daddy, He sees the best in my Grandmother, and He sees the best in me. 

Ironically, this verse is an example of God rejecting someone.  God was not rejecting this person as His child, but was rejecting him as the future King of Israel.  Samuel had been sent by God to the home of Jesse, to anoint one of his sons as King.  When the oldest son was presented to him, Samuel thought, based on his appearance and stature, Surely the Lord's anointed is before Him!  But God saw differently.  One by one the sons of Jesse were rejected, until the youngest was brought from the fields, where he was tending sheep.  As soon as Samuel saw David, the Lord instructed him to Arise, anoint him; for this is the one! 

The world tells us that we aren't good enough if we don't look a certain way, wear a certain type of clothing and hang out with certain types of people.  We sometimes tell ourselves that we don't measure up for one reason or another, and at times, we allow the devil to speak words of rejection through us to others, especially those we love.  These words can be like chains to our soul.  They try to bind us, and prevent us from being all God created us to be.  How comforting to know that, if Jesus Christ is our Savior, the One opinion that truly matters is an opinion of love and grace!  He truly forgives and forgets our sin when we repent.  He doesn't look at our life as a series of mistakes and blunders, but instead He looks at the most noble desires of our heart and measures us. 

So, realize that if you're facing rejection from others, those chains have no power over you unless you allow them.  The opinion of people matters little.  God's opinion, if you are His child, is an opinion of acceptance and love which looks upon your heart.  If you don't know Jesus as Savior and Lord, He's waiting for you with open arms.  He has already accepted you, exactly as you are, and is only awaiting your response to Him to begin a relationship with you.  Also, take into consideration your treatment of others.  Enjoy those you love while they're with you, and extend to them the understanding you'd like extended to you.  One day, we'll live in complete peace and harmony.  Until that day, let's keep our eyes half closed to the irritations of life. 






Do you want to be more understanding?  Do you struggle with feelings of rejection?  Drop us a line or leave a comment and we'll gladly pray for you!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The College 411, An Unexpected Delay...

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Unfortunately, we are not able to begin The College 411 series today, as anticipated.  As you may know, my sweet grandmother passed away a few days ago.  We are still in the process of taking care of her affairs, and trying to heal as a family.  Your patience and prayers are greatly appreciated.  We should be able to begin this series next Wednesday.  Thanks again, and I'll see you soon!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Think on These Things: Gamma Nunice Went Home Today

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things (KJV).

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This week, it has been a challenge to find a "thing" to share with you for the weekend post of Armed and Virtuous.  Many ideas came to mind, but nothing seemed to fit.  My heart has been elsewhere this week, burdened with concern for a lovely little lady in my life.  Finally, I felt God leading me to make myself vulnerable to you and share my burdens.  Instead of showing you the latest item of interest out there, I'm going to tell you about my beloved Grandma Eunice, who went to be with Jesus today.

My grandmother, although a diminutive little lady, has been a tower of strength in my life.  She was there when I was born, took care of me in sickness, pulled my loose teeth, ( a skill which she did not pass to me, and I now wish she had!) and taught me the love of Jesus.  She always carried gum in her purse, made us "goblets" out of the shiny silver gum wrappers, taught us to play Rummy, and would often "cheat" to lose so her grandchildren could have success at the game.  She could be an "ornery" (and I say that with all the love in my heart) lady at times, so firm in her position of the way things are to be done that no other way was acceptable.  She faced great sorrow, living through the deaths of her mother, sister, husband and my own dear Daddy, while clinging to her Savior and giving of herself sacrificially whenever she saw a need.

Grandma Eunice, or as my daughter calls her, "Gamma Nunice," was a poet.  She has written several books of poetry, children's stories and songs.  This was one of her favorite means of expressing her love for Jesus.  She also loved to share them, which we sometimes laugh about as a family.  My sisters and I have memories of staying home from school with sickness at Grandma Eunice's house.  She would read every poem and sing every song to us.  (Don't get me wrong, they were great, but as a kid, you can only take so much poetry!)  When my mother came to pick us up at the end of the day, we were usually ready to return to school, sick or not :)

All this to say, my dear grandmother has been in a nursing home for the last several years, slowly losing more and more of her abilities.  A few days ago, she lost her ability to swallow and could not be given food or water.  We were beside ourselves, trying to do what was best for her, while knowing that any relief we would offer was only temporary, and would prolong a miserable, suffering existence.  The last time I saw her, on St. Patrick's Day, she made no attempt to talk, and hardly responded when the adults in the family spoke to her.  Then, when my little girl called "Gamma Nunice!" she struggled to open her eyes and give full attention to the great-grandchild who addressed her.  My son showed her his snaggle-toothed grin, and both kids covered her hospital gown with four-leaf clover stickers.  The last thing I remember saying to that frail, little lady was "I love you." 
Early this morning, I awoke, and unable to go back to sleep, I began praying for God to take my Grandma Eunice home.  It was the hardest thing to pray, but I knew it was best for her.  She needed to be free from her sickly body.  She needed to see the Savior who inspired all her expressions of creativity face to face; to walk the streets of gold, reside in her "mansion," and be reunited with those she loves that went before her.

This afternoon, I received a phone call from the nurse, telling us that Grandma went home.  I felt a mixture of sorrow and yet relief.  The family is making arrangements to gather and celebrate her homecoming; we'll probably even read a few poems in her honor.  We've been laughing and crying all day as memories come back, and we'll likely continue to do so for years to come.

There is a point to this beyond simply praising my wonderful grandmother.  If you have people in your life who have sacrificed for you and made you a better person, don't take them for granted.  Take the time to enjoy them, quirks and all.  Be thankful for their love and make the most of your time together, because that time is limited on this earth.  Realize also, that as painful as death can be, it is not the end when we are believers in Christ.  I will see my grandmother again, and we'll be together forever.  Your prayers are appreciated as my family walks through this valley.  We will fear no evil, because God is with us, just as He was and is with my Grandma Eunice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Announcing an Upcoming Series!

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Just wanted to let you know that we'll be starting a new series beginning next Wednesday called The College 411.  It's going to be lots of information about what life is like on the other side of high school!  We'll be discussing everything from how to get good scholarships and what to bring to college, to avoiding the pressure to drink, party and have sex. 

This is a subject that has been close to my heart ever since I was in college.  The first week will be a few tidbits from my own heart, and in the weeks following, you'll be hearing from some young ladies who are either currently in college, or who have recently graduated.  For the first time we will be experimenting with video blogs!  You will get to hear these people share their heart from their own voices, and see their lovely faces.    I received some excellent questions from my readers and we'll be posing those questions to our brave interviewees.  :)

Anyway, it's coming, so get ready, and bring a friend (or two or three!)  If you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment here, or email them to us at requests@armedandvirtuous.org.  I hope you find it helpful, encouraging and enjoyable.  See 'ya then!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Think on These Things: What's in the Bible, an Amazing DVD series!

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (NIV).

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My mom called the other day, asking if I'd heard about a new series from the creator of Veggie Tales.  She couldn't stop telling me how great it was, and asked if she could send it to me for my children.  Of course I said yes.  Well, it arrived a few days later, and took my entire household by storm!  I'm so excited about this week's "thing!"  It's definitely worth thinking about, and although it's geared for children, It's informative and entertaining for people of all ages!

Phil Vischer, (creator of Veggie Tales) has begun a new DVD series called What's in the Bible with Buck Denver.  His goal is to go beyond simply telling individual Bible stories, and explain the big picture of God and His "rescue plan".  Through these characters, he explains what makes the Bible significant, how it's compiled, and how each story works together to tell the story of "God and what He's done for us."

From the moment my kids first began watching it, they were enchanted!  I was amazed at the terms they were exposed to and how well they were explained.  In the first part of DVD 1, Phil defines the terms "testament", "inspired", "Apocrypha", and "Septuagint".  He discusses why some Bibles (the Catholic and Orthodox) have more books than others.  He even explains church history in simple, yet entertaining ways.  (They have a time line with Jesus at the beginning, and Billy Graham at the end!)

What impressed me most, though, was how this series does not shy away from difficult passages and tough subjects.  He takes them on, full force, and answers them completely, in simple, understandable terms.  The description of the fall of man is very well done, with an interesting personification of sin.  In the fourth video, when Israel is conquering the promised land, they tackle the subject of why it was okay for Israel to take the land and kill the people who lived there.

After watching the videos, my son said "Mommy, I can't wait until God makes a new heaven and a new earth!"  After overcoming my shock, I asked "Why?"  He answered:  "Because I get to be a prince!"

There are currently four DVD's available in this 13 DVD series.  I understand that video five will be available soon, and video six is currently being filmed.  The object is to go completely through the Bible, Genesis to Revelation, and explain not only the stories, but why they matter to us today.  If you have kids, this is a tremendous resource!  Even if you don't, it's really excellent at explaining tough subjects, making the Bible personal and filling in the "gaps." 

Here is the promotional trailer:



Here is the theme song:



This is the first few minutes of video 1: 



You can learn more about What's in the Bible by following this link.

A few of the comments found on youtube about these DVD's were: 

Yes, I am seventeen but I don't care. The Bible is cool and this is interesting. :D

This is more fun then American Idol!



If you're a teenager, you can always get these DVD's "as a gift" or bring them to watch while you babysit.  When Veggie Tales originally came out, my boyfriend (now husband) and I bought one for my young cousin.  We gave it to her, but said she had to watch it first with us :)

I hope you enjoy!



What other "things" would you like to see highlighted on our weekend posts?  Leave us a comment or send an email and we'll discuss the things that interest you!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Litmus Test for Love

John 14:21     "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him (NIV)."

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In our culture, love is one of the most abused words in our language.  We "love" chocolate chip cookies, we "love" the latest song on the radio,  and we "love" a certain brand of nail polish.  When it comes to people, we "love" our friends, we "love" our boyfriend, we "love" our family and we "love" God.  Are the feelings we have toward these people and things equal in intensity?  No.  Are our commitments to these people or things equal in intensity?  No.  Do you see how easy it is to create confusion? 

Let's take it a step further.  If love is such an easily misunderstood word, can people use that to their advantage?  Can they use it to get what they want at the expense of someone else?  Absolutely!  How many of your friends have sacrificed their purity, in part or in whole, because their boyfriend declared that he "loved" them?   How many of your friends have gotten involved in unhealthy activities to be "loved" by the crowd?  Words are cheap, and words can be deceptive.

We can fool people.  It happens every moment of every day.  But we cannot fool God.  He knows our heart, and He knows when our words are sincere and when they're not.  John 14:21 reveals the standard which separates true love from deception.  According to this verse, the one who truly loves God has His commands and obeys them.  Do we have His commands?  Yes, they're in the Bible.  Simply open the book and begin reading.  It's not enough just to read or know His commands, though.  We must obey them.  Obeying God's commands demonstrates respect and honor for who God is.  Lip service is a spiritual slap in the face and God completely rejects it. 

What is your natural reaction to a sincere demonstration of love?  Mine is to respond in love.  Well, guess what?  God does the same thing!  When we obey His commands, God reads that obedience as love.  When we love Him sincerely, He sincerely loves us back, as does Jesus Christ.  The final result?  Jesus reveals Himself to us!  A personal encounter with Jesus is a powerful, life-changing thing.  It's terribly exciting, and makes you long to spend even more intimate time in His presence.  Would you like to hear the voice of God?  Obey Him.  Would you like to experience the miraculous?  Love God sincerely, and honor Him by obeying His commands.  This is a promise He has made to us, and God always keeps His promises. 

Next, take a look at how you demonstrate love in your other relationships.  Do you honor the ones you declare to love, or do you use that word for selfish gain?  If you discover that you've been deceptive with your love, ask God's forgiveness and He'll help you make things right.  If you've been the victim of deceptive love, take that to God as well.  He cares deeply about what matters to you, and He'll help you to rightly respond to the situation.  This is not only a step toward sincerely loving people, but it's another step of obedience, which in turn demonstrates a sincere love for God. 



What do you think?  Do people throw around the word "love?"  Have you been hurt or hurt someone else with that word?  Leave us a comment and share your opinion! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Worthy Obsession

Philippians 3:10-12 …that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me (NKJV).

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As a teenager, I remember looking in the mirror and finding fault with my image. At times, those faults seemed to overshadow everything else about me. So, if something came along, promising to solve my perceived flaws, I was determined to get it. Whether it was a new hair product or a different style of jeans, I would find myself thinking If only I could have one of those, my problems would be over… I’d love the way I looked! Did it usually work out that way? No. I might be more satisfied for a while, but it was always so easy to look at other people and find another way that I didn’t measure up.

Have you ever wanted something so badly that nothing else seemed to matter? That desire likely became the focus of all your thoughts and free time. You might have gone without food or sleep to accomplish your goal. It may have been an image issue, like mine. It could have been a boyfriend, an award or any number of things, but once you finally obtained it, was it all you hoped it would be? Did the pleasure it promised hold true, or were you disappointed? This verse reveals the desperate cry of Paul, the apostle’s heart.

Above all else, Paul wanted to know Christ. He didn’t want to just know about Him, or to “pick His brain” to gain knowledge, Paul wanted to personally, intimately know Jesus Christ! He wanted to understand all about Jesus; to experience His power, and also to participate in His sufferings. Why? His desire to know about Jesus was so great, that he counted it a blessing to suffer on Christ’s behalf. In fact, he declares in this verse that he wished to be “conformed to His death.” In other words, He wanted to die to his fleshly self, by whatever means necessary, if it meant he became more in character like Jesus.

What makes Paul’s obsession more worthy than ours? His was selfless. He wanted to become like Christ at the expense of human popularity, earthly comfort, or anything else. We generally want things to help us gain popularity or comfort. Our obsessions take our eyes off Christ. His obsession was Christ! Did Paul claim to have reached his goal? No, but he was constantly working toward it. He kept pushing ever closer to Christ, and laying down even more earthly treasures as he went.

Here’s the best part about a Godly obsession, God shares that same obsession for us! He loves us so much that He sacrificed His most precious treasure; His only Son, to pay our sin debt. When we allow God to obtain us by accepting Him as our Savior and Lord, we receive so much more in return, that any sacrifices we make seem like nothing in comparison.  Do you want to experience a powerful, intimate walk with God? Expect to encounter trials, but embrace the difficulties, knowing that they are working in your life to make you look even more like the One your heart truly desires.