Women who had plans for abortions left the conference with changed hearts and a child to nurture. Women who carried the guilt or embarrassment of previous situations of abuse left with freedom. Women who had no hope when they walked into that building left with a future in Christ. At the end of the day, I was in tears just thinking about how much God cares about us and how all it takes is one moment of submission to have your life changed forever.

Jesse

Recently we have been challenging our church body to reach out to our city. Blush came to Columbus and not only ministered to our people but  invited and picked up women all around the city of Columbus.  Blush showed us the needs of not only our church, but the city. They went above and beyond venturing out in the snow storm to give transportation to the women in shelters and rehabs. We were extremely blessed to host the Blush Network and would do it again and again.

Life Church Gahanna

“Through events like the Freedom Found conference, Miles reminds women of what she herself was reminded of by God: His love and grace are sufficient to cover all unrighteousness.” To Read more of the story from Liberty University click here.

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Autumn Miles’ life is evidence of a God who redeems and a Truth that will set people free.

Harmony DustFounder of Treasures and Author of Scars and Stilettos
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hiking22

Each Punch, Each Stride, Each Step

So, I’ve been solidly single for ten years.

Oh, sure, I’ve dated a few guys and been on a few dates here and there, but I am still solidly single. Such a prolonged single season has really rocked my faith in God and my sense of worth so that I’ve had to practice self-control.

Self-control is one of those concepts that I know is a fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, etc., etc. and SELF-CONTROL.  But, I always thought of self-control as being more of a theory than a practical virtue to be practiced and maintained until I needed self-control in my singleness desperately.  At some point in my late 20s, I realized my thoughts were being controlled by fear and disbelief instead of faith.  My sense of worth was crippled because I thought I was less than because I wasn’t married, so that negative thought pattern determined my belief about myself.  Here’s the thing:  God doesn’t say that everyone is going to be married at 21, so it takes self-control to not surrender to disbelief, doubting that God has a plan during the period of waiting.  And He does have a plan.

Self-control is mandatory if we are going to live lives that are pleasing to our God.  Paul said in I Corinthians 9:24-27 that everyone who competes in athletic and spiritual competitions exercises SELF-CONTROL in ALL THINGS.  The athletes he referenced were Greeks who trained their mind and bodyfor ten months to concentrate on winning their unique competition.  He compares our individual, God-given destiny to running a race or boxing with aim, so that each punch, each stride, each step of your life is focused at a the target of God’s purpose.  Paul disciplined his body so that he would not be disqualified because he relented to immorality, sensuality, anger, jealousy, strife, etc.   I’ve almost been prey to letting the same “deeds of the flesh” disqualify ME from my God-ordained destiny, until I realized that “it was for freedom that Christ set us free” so I didn’t have to clothe myself daily in my old sins, habits, and thought patterns – I was and am free because of Jesus.

Sexual sin, lust, and negativity may be what our culture permits and even encourages in singleness, but we cannot live effective lives for the glory of God if we let our bodily passions and minds run the show.

Keep your mind strong in the power of GodPractice self-control. He has set a race before you that only you, in whatever relational season of life, can run with boldness and courage.

 

QUITE YOUR SOUL — Worship Song:  “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan and Melissa Helser.

“I’m no longer a slave to fear – I am a child of God.”

BE ENCOURAGED — Read these Scriptures:

I Corinthians 9:24-27–“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Galtians 5:1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

DIG DEEPER — Life Evaluating Questions: 

  1. Evaluate your mind. Do you control your thoughts or do they control you?  What thought patterns have you allowed to dictate your worth?
  2. Identify areas in your life over which you need to control yourself. Pray over these weaknesses, allowing God to strengthen you in His power and truth
  3. Pray over yourself and for your God-given, unique purpose. What does God want YOU to accomplish with your talents and gifts for the kingdom of God, regardless of your relationship season?

 

-Heather Carey

worried-girl-413690_1280

I shall not be rendered ineffective!

I won’t be ineffective; I can’t and I won’t be rendered ineffective… 

I don’t want to miss out on blessings or God given opportunities because I was “too lazy” to exercise my faith, trust, and boldness spiritual muscles, only to be labeled a lazy Christian because I CHOSE ‘Easy Rd.’. I don’t have to be strapped down and held back by labels or tags against me.

The ONLY name I wish to possess is: DAUGHTER OF THE MOST HIGH KING!!

But – I know I am only human; I will stumble so I just pray His grace will abound.

“But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen, repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place…” (Rev. 2:4-5, HCSB) “So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16, HCSB)

In case you’re in shock too, these verses ARE IN THE BIBLE so please so kindly lift your lip off the ground and listen up: I’ve read these and heard these verses before and I would think, “WOW Lord! How stinking harsh. I’m totally confused: didn’t you say you would fulfill your purpose in me (Psalm 138:8, HCSB)? Didn’t you say you had all these great plans for me to do even greater things in your name Lord (John 14:12, ESV)? So what’s with all the harsh antics?” I know sometimes I lean more on the idea of being inactive because of “dry spells” or “self-induced inactivity comas” because of complacency. How can I fight against that and make my wandering heart stay steady and attuned to God, His heart, and plans for me?

Dry spells in my faith are the most painful. See, this thing called complacency isn’t a place or a word that should be in the life of believers – EVER; but sometimes it happens. To be completely vulnerable and honest, I ALLOW it to happen. I know I shouldn’t grow stagnant or still and I shouldn’t allow these dry spells to creep up on me. I’ve heard a new term recently by my pastor (shout out to Community Church of Chesapeake, VA) that could most likely label me well when a dry spell ensues; his word was – ‘staytheist’. Weird isn’t it?! It’s like he fused “stay” and “atheist” together; it is strange but I promise it fits in what I am going to say, so keep in step my friend. A ‘staytheist’ is someone who stays where they are in their faith for fear of what’s next, the unknown, or afraid of possible steps needed to take to walk through necessary doors into a God sized opportunity. To me, a ‘staytheist’ is a doubter, disbeliever, and person gripped and crippled by fear.

I can be a stayeist who doubts, disbelieves, and fears the unknown future or what’s next to see my own God sized doors of opportunity. When this fear, disbelief, and doubt occur, I induce a dry spell; but what gets me out – what breaks up and humbles me, is HIS GRACE! The scales of disbelief fall, my heart of doubt breaks, and my once fear-filled voice returns in gusto, full of life while my self-induced chains of bondage to my spot of staytheism, becomes a place of upheaved rubble in the presence of the Almighty. The very person who could have calmed me and soothed me into peace; I had distance myself. Somehow, I expected that by my very human claim to stay put, would satisfy my momentary state of doubt, disbelief  and fear and could be a match for the tidal wave of unfailing love, grace, and mercy that I needed from my Abba! Through my running, I am still pursued by a mighty warrior – yes, He disciplines me accordingly– but lovingly sets me back on the path of the calling He fashioned for me. It is through His perfect love that all my doubts, disbeliefs, and fears are driven out and put to shame (1 John 4:18, HCSB).

So to all my Complacent Christians or Staytheists out there: Arise sons and daughters! Drop those hole-filled shoes! Cease your striving and turn to grace; allow it to shower you with the love for which you’re desperately searching, feel the acceptance you’ve always wanted, and embrace HIS GRACE. For if we wish to be effective vessels for the Kingdom, we must always thirst for His righteousness (Matthew 5:6, ESV), pursue the things of His heart (Philippians 4:8-9, HCSB), and be steadfast as to be worthy of our callings (Colossians 1:10, HCSB) and worthy of carrying the Gospel (Philippians 1:27, HCSB). It is by His grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV) and by Him and His grace, my dear friends, we are sustained (Isaiah 46:4, NIV). His grace clears the stains of our sin, doubt, shame, disbelief, and fear, to tattoo – inscribe on us a high calling; His grace shows us our purpose (Ephesians 2:10, HCSB) and keeps us on our journey. The peace of walking in His grace is obtained by a life fully surrendered to Christ through the receiving of salvation by His atoning blood on the Cross. By entering into this relationship with our Abba Father, we have everything we need to live.

Complacent living and staytheism can seep in, but even if, His grace abounds all the more!

-Vickee

SURRENDERING

There’s beauty in the SURRENDER…

There is beauty in the surrender; becoming a whole new person in Christ is an experience you will never forget. You sense it from your initial conversion and sometimes you have the privilege of witnessing it in your everyday life, via the always-occurring sanctification process. When Holy Spirit takes over every area of your life and changes you – something beautiful and mesmerizing takes place. You can’t take your eyes off what’s happening, nor turn your gaze away from the One who is changing you. This gaze and transformation process isn’t something someone can witness from the outside, it’s only felt in the quiet recesses of your heart and soul; and unless someone has spiritual eyes, they wouldn’t know what was happening.

There is something enchanting about this Christian faith because we see the impossible happen time and time again. But the mystery and the mesmerizing fashion in which the impossible takes place can seem to be marked by a road of pain, hard spots, and suffering. How do I know?! I’m walking that road every single day. Most days I can find joy in it, but other times, I’m just shy of a cheerful spirit and I sit in silence, counting the hours to my new morning, so I can hit that infamous and invisible “DO OVER” button.

Matthew 16:24-25 (HCSB) says, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.”

I don’t think I have lived a hard life but I have experienced a certain level of heartache, disappointment, and I have committed some sins but because of His resurrection, I can enjoy this life He has given me. But if I want to walk in the life He has chosen for me with Him, I HAVE TO deny myself – my comfort, my plans, my desires – and pick up my cross to follow Him; no turning back, no retreat.

He promises when we walk with Him, we would have a life – a life in abundance.[1] Yet He never promised that the abundant life to gain, would be trouble free. In fact, He says, “…you will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world!”[2] Well, that’s a little more comforting to know right? I might be struggling but He’s already given me victory, I just have to get there. In obedience to Him and His Word, I have thrown those things that “easily entangle me”[3] to the wayside by His strength, I have dodged a temptation or two thanks to Holy Spirit prompting me to flee, and I have experienced the joy of forgiveness in Him healing me from my past mistakes. How?

I surrendered everything to Him.

I ceased my striving to be “perfect” to “save myself” and rested in the simple fact:

 Jesus was the perfect spotless Lamb.

He was beaten, ridiculed, and tormented to the point of death, but when His blood was shed on the Cross on Golgatha’s Hill, He was the sacrifice that I – that you – needed to be restored in a right relationship with my – your – Creator God. So when I confessed with my mouth that Jesus was Lord believing He was raised from the dead[4], that I was a sinner in need of a Savior, and asked for forgiveness of my sins: He washed me brand new, sealed me with Holy Spirit, and nos identifies me as His child[5]. So as He died, my sins died, but as He was raised to life, so I was raised to walk in the newness of life[6] given to me by the Son of God – the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

“…and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:9b-11, ESV)

So I surrendered my life initially and received salvation and now, He continues to renew and transform me to look more like Him, but this process – the sanctification process, is only known and experienced as I surrender. As I yield to Him being Lord of my life, I give Him the access He deserves and needs to keep removing my heart of stone, replacing it with one of flesh,and continue to give me His Spirit to follow His will, His way.[7] As I continue to walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit with whom I’m sealed, I can fully proclaim, “my goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings”[8] because in that, I have the privilege to see and experience Him “revealing the path of life to me”[9] and know “in His presence is abundant joy and in His right hand the eternal pleasures.”[10] I will walk in the life He had for me all along, and when I pick up my Cross, in full surrender, I will find joy in this life; and all it took was SURRENDER!

There’s beauty in surrender because it is there you find unexplainable joy… in Christ!

-Vickee

[1] John 10:10b, HCSB [2] John 16:33, HCSB

[3] Hebrews 12:1, HCSB[4] Romans 10:9, HCSB

[5] Ephesians 1:13, Amplified [6] Romans 6:4, HCSB

[7] Ezekiel 36:26-27, HCSB [8] Philippians 3:10, HCSB

[9] Psalm 16:11, HCSB [10] Psalm 16:11, HCSB

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