The Meaning of Purity

Purity is more than abstaining from Premarital sex. – Shantel Gross

Growing up, I thought I knew what it meant to be pure. I knew that when people asked if I was still pure, they were trying to see if I was still a virgin. I honored my decision to walk in purity but did not know in depth what it meant to live a pure life.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 ESV

In my pursuit of purity, revelation came like raindrops from the sky. I studied workshops, speakers, videos, scripture, and articles on the topic.

Holy Spirit began showing me that purity is beyond not having premarital sex. It is a mindset, a heart condition, and a way of life.

In Psalm 51:10, David asks of God “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” He cried out to God after having had slept with a married woman by the name of Bathsheba. Not only did he sleep with but after finding out that she was pregnant, he had her husband Uriah purposefully killed while at war.

I can only imagine the agony and stress that the adultery caused the kingdom. But King David remembered one thing. To call on the name of the Lord.

Pure

  • not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material.
  • without any extraneous and unnecessary elements.
  • free of any contamination.

Our intentions must be pure just as well as our actions. We must strive for purity in all encounters of our lives, more importantly within our hearts.

Living a pure life requires surrender. Every wound, every desire, every lust has to be surrendered to the One who can carry it all. Our Heavenly Father.

Although not always easy, we must guard our hearts so that how we live is a reflection of Christ, who is Love. We must love unconditionally and this is only achievable through the Holy Spirit.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NLT

It’s okay if you don’t have it all together or all figured out. Trust me, I am the same way. It is not merely in our ability to accomplish things on our own but our trust in God. Allow Him to lead you. Be encouraged my friends!

PRAYER:
Father, Help me to live a pure life. As your Word says, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. I surrender my will to you and give you permission to expose and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. I need you. Thank you for loving me and hearing my prayer. Amen.


Check out my latest Facebook live about living a pure life here!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Praying that you and your family are enjoying this holiday season. Let’s embrace the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ! What a glorious day it must have been when Jesus entered the world. Angels burst into singing, wise men travel from afar to bring gifts to the baby King, and Joseph & Mary marvel at the wonderful signs.

I’m grateful to spend time with my family, receive gifts, watch my nephews open theirs, be kind to others, and sing songs. Embrace the beautiful spirit of Christmas. Share the story. It can include these but it’s much more than just presents under a tree.

It’s a Great Day!

Just like any other day, today is a great day.

I woke up the other morning feeling blessed. Thankful for the cool breeze and 70 degree weather. It was another beautiful day. With warm colored leaves all around. This was the day they called Halloween.

I grew up celebrating Halloween with my family. Mom dressed me up as a black cat one year using a pair of black tights for my cat ears! We’d go around the neighborhood, all 5 of us plus cousins and an Aunt, like the Brady Bunch knocking on doors. I don’t think I cared too much about it, I just knew that I liked the free candy!

As I got older and discovered the origin of Halloween, things started to change. I realized that it was a pagan holiday and the costume wearing originated from the concept of people attempting to ward of ghosts. On Halloween, it was believed that the boundaries between the worlds of the living and dead became blurred.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

I realized that although most festivities are done in fun, I must uphold a standard.

We must pray and ask God for guidance. After all, we are made in His likeness and image. We must choose to be the light no matter what day, hour, or age.

Royalty is my identity. Servanthood is my assignment. Intimacy with God is my life source.

Bill Johnson

As we all embrace this fall season, I commission you friends to find ways to show gratitude.

Photo courtesy of Aquila Evans Photography

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Meditate.
  • Spend initial time with family, friends, and those God has placed in your circle.
  • Start reading a devotional.
  • Laugh. Don’t be so serious!
  • Thank God for something new every morning. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22‭-‬23 KJV
  • Appreciate nature. All around us are beautiful things to admire.
  • Get a planner and plan out your day. Don’t be afraid of making changes or playing it by ear sometimes.

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Freedom.

So ever since the great news and success of the Promise Ceremony, I’ve felt like I’ve been rushing.

Rushing to stay busy and keep the momentum of everything going. But my body, on the other hand, has been like “Nah, Shantel. You need to slow down and rest.”

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV

Being newly engaged, there’s a lot that goes into it but I’m grateful for God’s Word and a partner who equally understands the importance of balance. My body has been through the ringer and I’ve felt the effects of all the commotion.

To give you a recap:

  • I hosted and directed the Promise Ceremony on 09/15.
  • Lead on the worship team at church and taught children’s church (voluntarily) on 09/16. Attended a workshop on kingdom wealth that evening.
  • Taught children throughout the week. (I’m a teacher.)
  • Went to my grandmother’s viewing on 09/21.
  • Attended and sang with family at my grandmother’s funeral on 09/22.
  • Had rehearsal the following day after service with my group.
  • The list goes on…

It’s safe to say that September has been jampacked and that’s not including the beginning of the month. But I’ve sensed God’s peace and have been reminded to trust Him throughout every season.

If God told the children of Israel to rest from their toil while in the wilderness and even rested Himself on the 7th day, who am I to try to be the Energizer bunny? There is an importance in resting and we can miss out on precious moments if we don’t choose to be still.

I took a walk yesterday with my love and we rested in that moment. Here are some pics of me sitting on a tree!

It’s okay to not have everything under control, but trust the One who does. He sees and He knows what’s best!

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters.He restores my soul. Psalm 23:1-3

If you would like more insight on resting, take a look at this awesome article.

The Love Encounter

I learned to love from a distance. As long as you didn’t get too close to me, I was fine. As long as you didn’t invade my space we were perfectly fine. But you were different.

You told me that you loved me and I felt something. As much as I tried to hide, you sought me all the more. I was afraid to let you in. I thought you’d see something that’d make you turn away. My heart had suffered enough damage.

It ached and dripped with bruises and scars from the past. You smiled softly, looking intently into my eyes. Placing your hand over mine, you held my heart with me. It was the one thing I felt that I had left. The one thing that I attempted to shield.

I felt warmth coming from your palms and fingers as I slowly released my grip. I finally decided to let you in. The flood gates opened and the poison began to drain. You said “I am life” and my heart began to heal. I could not have done this without you. I’ve needed you ever since. And you’re constantly, readily, and deeply available to me.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

Journey to Rest

Despite my busy schedule as a teacher, musician, worship leader, and blogger, I’ve felt a higher calling upon me. A calling to rest. If God rested on the seventh day what makes me think that I’m too dignified to do so?

So I’ve decided to take a step back and enjoy the beauty that can so easily be ignored. In this moment, no longer was I Shantel the teacher, Shantel the minister, or even Shantel the adult. I became Shantel the explorer. As I started my journey, I got to fill my love tank with the wonders of Baltimore.

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. Walter Hagen

Take time to reflect on God’s goodness and embrace the wonders around you. There’s beauty all around.

Never forget that you are a work of art.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it. Psalm 139:14 NLT

Til next time.


To check out more amazing artwork, visit the Walter’s Art Museum in Baltimore, Md. Sites featured: Walter’s Art Museum, Peabody Institute, and the George Washington Monument.

No More Worrying

It’s when you are lost that you find the need of a Savior. – Shantel Gross

Worrying seemed to have always been a habit of mine. It was like a natural instinct. I had lots to worry about growing up – friends, bills, houses, recital performances, and more. I’d even create things to worry about in my mind that weren’t tangible at the time. Like owning a house (mind you, I was around 17), having a family, finding my wedding dress, and the proposal from my future husband. Remember, I’ve always been a hopeful romantic.

I remember one day balling my eyes out. I had got into a frenzy about something that wasn’t turning out my way. Heavy breathing, tears, and a sense of defeat. Those were my ingredients for this chaotic mess. I eventually sought out therapy and meditated on this scripture.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 NLT

Because I always wanted to know the answer to everything, it stopped me from enjoying what was right in front of me.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Stop and smell the roses.

You can lose sight of your present treasures worrying about the past and future. It’s not about you finding out what comes next, it’s about embracing the journey. We are sailors and our hearts long to sail. So by faith, I challenge you to take that next step in trusting God.

Ways To Stop Worrying

Do something spontaneous! Live, Dance, Get Your Party On!

Address your issues. Sometimes we need to get it out of our heads and onto paper. Choose someone who is wise and mature to talk to, if need be.

Meditate. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul. (I sometimes listen to worship music while meditating.) Check some out here.

Count your blessings! Gratefulness is never the wrong option. Begin thanking God for what He has done. Praise Jesus!

Spend quality time with those you love. Friendship and companionship can help ease your mind. Being alone sometimes gives opportunity for the enemy or your thoughts to give way.

Keep that heart pumping! Exercise, workout, jog, or run. Your body will thank you later or eventually 😉.


To learn more about meditation and its benefit, check out this article!

It’s our Anniversary!

Hey! It’s a celebration! Life to Your Soul turns 4 today!

We started this blog with the hopes of inspiring others in their walk with Christ and sharing personal stories. We are pleased to say that God and your support have exceeded our expectations. Because of your support we have hosted two events in Baltimore City, mentored hundreds of youth & young adults and partnered with other organizations. From the bottom of our hearts we thank you all! The best is yet to come!

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6 NLT

I Wish

I wish I could block their eyes from seeing it. I’d shield them all. 

I wish I could cover their ears and protect them from the lies that spread like wildfire. I’d shield them from the darkness of this world. 

I’d cover them with my arms and serenade them with words of life, comfort, and healing. 

I’d help every child live a pure, youthful, innocent life. Their eyes would be bold and their roar striking. Their smiles forever vibrant. Their laughter’d echo in the airwaves filling the atmosphere with joy. They’d live a prosperous life.

Ooohhh…. but I find ways.

To be the home for the child that feels homeless. The shelter for the girl who innocence was robbed. The mother to a son who became a man too soon. For the jokester who laughs to cover his open wounds. The voice for the one too afraid to speak.

I am their peace while they are in my possession. For in that moment, they are mine. 

They are my children with no limits. My offspring with bright and glorious futures. They shine like the sun. Gleaming like the sun. And smile like the Son. This is Paradise.

Look at life with the eyes of a child. Kathe Kollwitz

This poem is inspired by my desire and efforts to end the exposure of children to pornography and sexual immorality.

To learn more about ending human trafficking, click here.