Monday, February 20, 2017
"Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]."---James 5:16(AMPC)
There's an entertainment personality named Terrence J who some of you might be familiar with. He used to host BET's 106 & Park. Then he was a host on E! News Live. He's produced a couple of films. He's acted in them too (Think Like a Man and the sequel, for example).
Anyway, last week, he posted something about his girlfriend that helped to inspire this post: "I'm so genuinely happy. Man, can't believe God hooked me up with Jas. I hit the jackpot."
Sweet. Very. Mostly because life has taught me that when a man is at a point of PUBLICLY PRAISING a woman, he's emotionally on another level concerning her. And his intentions for her.
Clearly, it's in a man's spiritual DNA to praise a man---a woman he loves:
"And Adam gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the air and to every [wild] beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs or a part of his side and closed up the [place with] flesh. And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
Then Adam said, 'This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man.'
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence."---Genesis 2:20-25(AMPC)
Whenever I hear people talk about what a woman should expect in a relationship from a man, a guy pursuing them is what usually tops the list. If y'all have been reading this blog even a little bit, then you know that I'm over here instead: "And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man." (Genesis 2:22--AMPC)
You don't have to *pursue* what's been *brought* to you...
Yeah, personally, I'm more focused on the fact that Adam acknowledged the Woman as being *his Woman*. To me, this is what we need to be listening for more than anything else...a man who sees a woman and "calls her out" in the best way possible. A man who says, "she's a part of me!"
And a godly man?
The best way for him to come to that conclusion is through prayer.
A statement that someone posted last week reminded me of this very fact:
"Imagine a boy praying to God that he marries you..."
How many women look/pray for a man who's a praying man?!
I mean, I know in theory we say that, but when you're on a date with someone or you allow things to get to the point of being in a relationship, do you listen for the phrase "I was praying this morning" or "I prayed about you" or "I prayed for you" or "I've been talking to God about our relationship"?
Because here's the thing about prayer...
As one author stated:
“Ask, and you will receive…” (John 16:24). We complain before God, and sometimes we are apologetic or indifferent to Him, but we actually ask Him for very few things. Yet a child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask! Our Lord said, “…unless you…become as little children…” (Matthew 18:3). Ask and God will do. Give Jesus Christ the opportunity and the room to work. The problem is that no one will ever do this until he is at his wits’ end. When a person is at his wits’ end, it no longer seems to be a cowardly thing to pray; in fact, it is the only way he can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. Be yourself before God and present Him with your problems— the very things that have brought you to your wits’ end. But as long as you think you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.
To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.
As single women who desire marriage, is it important to pray for our future husband and our future marriage? *Of course it is* (read more about that here, here and here). And, as you're praying, you know what's equally as important? *Praying that your future husband is praying for you*.
I mean, praying about it *regularly* too, for a couple of reasons...
1) As you pray for this, it will change him to be more like God, change you to be more like God and help both of you to recognize the godliness in one another.
2) It will help you to see what kind of woman a godly wife really and truly is. Because as you *serve in prayer* in this way, it will spiritually reveal (I Corinthians 2:14) what God knows you *and* your future husband deserve in a spouse. And in a marriage.
When it comes to praying in general, a particular article recommends praying---not only these things for him, but that he's praying these things for you:
I believe that a relationship with God is the only way you can be fully human---fully yourself. This is the ultimate prayer for your future spouse: that they would become fully formed followers of Jesus.
Wisdom means “learning to live right,” so pray that your future spouse will make wise decisions on a daily basis.
I worked as a youth pastor for a number of years. It was disturbing how many guys wanted to marry a good Christian virgin, but didn’t see the hypocrisy that goes along with sleeping around or looking at porn. It’s such an ugly double standard...Pray that your future spouse chooses purity in their other relationships.
What you need to do: Evaluate what you want versus what you’re doing. By choosing impurity now, you’re stealing from someone else’s spouse and you’re cheating on your own future marriage. Choose purity.
Selflessness is the most underrated value of our generation, and to me, it’s the most attractive virtue. This isn’t about being less selfish---it’s about thinking about ourselves less. Pray that your future spouse will develop an others-focused mentality.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the 5 Love Languages---quality time, acts of service, gift-giving, words of encouragement, beard-stroking. And many many more, of course. Pray that your future spouse will love others the way they need to be loved. Pray that your future spouse will learn to navigate relationships in a spirit of understanding, grace, and love.
It’s pretty obvious at this point: The American dream is the world’s nightmare. It’s also a detriment to our spiritual walk- we cannot serve both God and money.
Scripture is very clear. In fact, the Bible talks more about money than heaven and hell combined. It’s so easy to settle into a 9-5, collect a paycheck, manicure the lawn, walk the dog, juggle the payments, and live in air-conditioned luxury.
Pray that your future spouse will never buy into that house of cards. Pray that they’ll never believe the lie that stuff will bring them fulfillment.
While most people settle for a career, Christ invites us into a higher calling – a vocation where our life speaks of who we are. Pray that your future spouse will enter the fullness of their calling – to do all they were created to do, and be all they were created to be.
What you need to do: Discover your giftings and strengths and spiritual gifts, and put them into action for a mission and purpose that extends far beyond your lifetime.
Chills. Can you sense how praying this for your future husband *and* praying that he's praying this about you can already make you esteem marriage, honor biblical standards and feel closer to him in the spirit realm (I Corinthians 2:14)?
Just think about it:
"God, please inspire my husband to pray for my purity tonight. I'm really tempted."
"God, please wake my husband to pray for my calling. I want ours to complement each other's."
"God, please ask my husband to praise for how selfish I can be. I want to do better."
We have to remember a promise that God has given us concerning prayer; something that Christ himself once said: " “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:19-21--NKJV) Marriage is spiritual. MARRIAGE. IS. SPIRITUAL. It's doing the relationship a *huge* disservice to think that you have to, or should, wait until you're united with someone physically in order for the union to hold value. Prayer can unite the two of you---even now.
Another awesome thing that happens?
In the article "How to Pray for Your Future Wife", the author shares this point:
“But wait,” you may say. “I don’t know who she is.”
But God does. He knows her name. He knows how you will meet her. He knows the moment you will propose. He knows the exact look (or how many tears) you’ll get in your eyes when you see her walk down the aisle. He knows every marital struggle you will face. He knows how, through marriage, you will learn to depend upon His grace even more. He knows precisely what He has in store for you and your wife.
Unfortunately, all too often, the average guy does not start thinking seriously about his future alongside one of God’s daughters until he actually meets her.
That is sad, both for the guy…and his future wife...
If you are growing in your love for Him, then you’ll want what He wants, and He wants certain things for your future wife even now. So why would you not go before Him now to ask Him to give her those things?
So ask Him, men.
Ask in His name (John 14:13).
Ask according to His will (1 John 5:14).
Ask (Matthew 7:7), and keep asking (Luke 18:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Let me assure you of one thing: if you start praying passionately for your future wife (or for anything else), all the powers of Hell will try to stop you. You will be tempted to distraction, discouragement or disappointment. The Enemy does not want you to pray. He wants you to remain silent, and he wants her, and you, to remain unchanged.
Don’t stop praying.
This is the woman who will share life with you, the one you’ll promise, before God, to love and honor until the end, and the woman with whom you will become one. God tells us to cherish our wives “just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:29). The word “cherish” means literally “to keep warm” (like a mother hen keeps her chicks safe and warm under her wings). You are called to reflect Jesus to your wife and treat her as a precious gift of God. One of the ways that Christ cherished the church was by praying for her (John 17:20-26).
You don’t have to wait until you know who she is to begin cherishing your wife. (And you don’t have to wait to ask her Heavenly Daddy for her hand.)
If you have the desire to be honorable, masculine, Christ-like and, yes, romantic…then be the leader, man up, go before Him, get on your knees and fight for her in prayer even now.
That’s what women want.
How do I know?
I asked them.
Again. Chills. Only a spiritually broken woman who doesn't understand the true value of marriage is a woman who would want a man who does not have a relationship with God. "Want" (because we all can be, and probably have been, tempted---I Corinthians 10:13) in these sense of seriously contemplating marriage with a person who is not in communication with the Lord *and* honors the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (I John 5:8). For one thing, it goes directly against biblical instruction because we are told to not unequally yoke ourselves with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:11-18). Secondly, spiritually whole women want to be with a spiritually whole man. And, one example of that kind of individual is a man who prays.
So, that's my prayerful recommendation...
That as you're going to God about marriage...
You'll pray that your future husband prays for you.
On surprising levels, it will bring peace and clarity to your spirit...
I promise you that!
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
"Do not give that which is holy (the sacred thing) to the dogs, and do not throw your pearls before hogs, lest they trample upon them with their feet and turn and tear you in pieces. Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened. "---Matthew 7:6-8(AMPC)
There was a time when I once struggled with this Scripture. Not the New King James Version, but this one: the Classic Amplified one. Only because it says to *keep* asking, seeking and knocking. I mean, since the Word tells us that God knows what we need, even before we ask him just a few verses down from all of this (verse 11, to be exact), why do we need to *keep* doing something?
Then it hit me. Asking, seeking and knocking often involves questioning, and as a wise man once said, wisdom lies in the questions more than the answers.
We're not to question God in the sense of questioning his authority....
We're to question God in the sense of seeking his wisdom and will on matters.
(James 1:5, I John 5:14-15).
And since his thoughts and ways are not our own...
That requires surrendering to a state of always seeking what he desires for us to know--as he reveals it to us based on his discernment of when we're ready to hear it.
(Isaiah 55:8-11, Proverbs 3:4-6)
And so, as I was thinking about this, I thought about two articles I've bookmarked...
And one that the Lord helped me to put together, just this morning.
If you are in a relationship and BOTH OF YOU are contemplating marriage, check out:
276 Questions to Ask Before You Marry
50 Conversations To Have Before You Get Married
I appreciate both of these pieces because trust me, I've sat in sessions with couples who found out stuff they knew *nothing about* prior to those questions. For instance, one couple had been together almost *15 years* before the husband knew his wife had been engaged before. Deceptive on her part? Kinda. Bigger than that, not asking the right questions can hinder you from not receiving the right answers. Things you most certainly need to know!
For instance, here are some questions from the first article that tend to go overlooked:
Are you working on your chosen field?
How many hours a week do you work?
Which (if any holidays do you believe are the most important to celebrate?
Do you enjoy traveling, or are you a homebody?
Have you ever felt deeply insecure in a relationship? Were you able to name your fear?
When was the first time you felt that you were in love with another person? What happened in that relationship, and how have you come to terms with it?
What is the longest relationship you have ever had prior to this one? Why did it end, and what lesson did you learn?
What sexual activities do you enjoy the most? Are there specific sexual acts that make you uncomfortable? Be specific! This is no time to hedge.
Do you feel comfortable initiating sex? If yes, why? If no, why?
What do you need in order to be in the mood for sex?
Have you ever been sexually abused or assaulted?
Do you believe it is a sacred responsibility to take care of yourself? Do you believe that taking care of your physical and mental health is a part of honoring your marriage vows?
Are there genetic diseases in your family or a history of cancer, heart disease, or chronic illness?
Do you have health insurance? Dental insurance?
Have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease?
Have you ever been treated for a mental disorder?
How important is it that you always look your best?
How important is your spouse's appearance? Do you have strong preferences about being with a particular physical type?
Would you feel unfulfilled if you were unable to have children?
Who is responsible for birth control? What would you do if there were an accidental pregnancy before you planned to have children?
What is your view of fertility treatments? Adoption? Would you adopt if you were unable to have a child naturally?
What is your view of abortion? Should a husband have an equal say in whether his wife has an abortion? Have you ever had an abortion?
Have you ever given birth to a child or fathered a child who was put up for adoption?
Do you have a difficult time setting limits with family?
Do you have a best friend?
Do you see a close friend or friends at least once a week? Do you speak to any of your friends on the phone every day?
Do you belong to a political party? Are you actively involved?
Is it important for you to be involved in your local community?
Which kind of charities do you like to support? How much of your annual income do you donate to charity?
Have you ever committed a crime? If yes, what was it?
Do you seek out media with diverse perspectives on the news?
Does your religion impose any behavioral restrictions (dietary, social, familial, sexual) that would affect your partner?
Does popular culture have an important impact on your life?
Whew! And I think that's only 35 of 'em.
The other piece? These kinds of questions are also *super important*:
How do you tend to try to hurt others when you feel hurt?
[When we feel cornered, we tend to aim to hurt others in the way that we would be most hurt by. Those who are most hurt by harsh criticism will be highly critical of others. Those who are most hurt by abandonment will try to make others feel abandoned. Those who are most threatened by being controlled will become very controlling. It's helpful to know what your partner's tendency is in this area so that you can recognize it when it arises, thus giving you more understanding into their mindset and giving you the opportunity to address their hurt. This is a habit your partner may not recognize in themselves offhand; you might find this out by observation, later.]
How do you deal with boundaries?
Do you have trouble saying “no” to certain (or all) people? Are you passive aggressive instead of direct? How do you react when people try to control you? Do you try to control others? Do you manipulate others? Do you let others say “no” to you without guilt or intimidation?
[Whether your partner lets others cross his or her boundaries, or he or she crosses others' boundaries, you should be aware of how they relate to boundaries in general. The boundaries they set for others and accept from others will give you a look at how they will set and accept them in your relationship. Again, this may something your partner is unaware of, unless they have already reflected on it.]
What can you not tolerate in other people?
What bothers you about people? What puts you past your limit? What do you think are bad traits to have?
[Just as it's important to know what your partner admires, it's also important to know what traits he or she disapproves of, so that you can again see where their values lie.]
How do you respond to stress?
Do you become angry? Perfectionistic? Withdrawn? Impulsive? Critical? Irresponsible? What kinds of things do you do or say?
[It's important to be able to recognize when your partner is acting under stress, so that you can be helpful and not hurtful to them.]
What makes you feel loved by others?
What things do people do that make you feel most appreciated or loved? What is the most loving thing someone has ever done for you? How do you know someone cares about you?
[Understanding your partner's "love language" will not only help you to keep your connection strong and help them feel loved, but it will also help you solve problems down the road when you may not be "speaking their language."]
What emotionally recharges you?
When you are mentally exhausted, what gives you energy again? Brainstorming new ideas? Making lists? Going to coffee with a friend? Doing something physical? What makes you feel like “yourself” again?
[It's so helpful to know how to help your partner recharge- especially if their way of recharging does not match up with yours.]
What emotionally drains you?
What wears you out fastest? Social events? Too many plans? Dealing with someone else’s emotions? Being alone for too long?
[If you know what will drain your partner, you can be sensitive to those situations and anticipate them needing some time to recharge afterwards.]
While people are out here trying to plan dates that mimic The Bachelor, what really needs to be happening is meeting in quiet spots where conversations featuring these questions can be taking place. NO JOKE.
And if you're not in a relationship, there are some questions that are well worth your time to ask God and yourself. Take yourself on a date, or at least go shopping to pick up a fresh journal:
25 Questions to Ask Yourself
Why do I want to get married?
What is God’s purpose for marriage?
Am I called to marriage?
What would make me a good wife?
What has my past relationships taught me?
How long have I been abstinent?
What did my parents’ marriage (or non-marriage) teach me?
Have I forgiven the men of my past?
Do I have healthy marriage mentors?
How often do I sow seeds into the marriages around me?
What part of the Love Chapter (I Corinthians 13:4-8) do I need to work on?
What parts of me are whole?
What parts of me are broken?
What can a husband do for me that I can’t do for myself?
How much time each week, in prayer, do I devote to my future marriage?
What do I know about submission?
Do I have healthy platonic male friendships?
What are my greatest attributes?
What are my greatest flaws?
Does my church have healthy marriages and a strong marriage ministry?
Am I spiritually mature?
Do I understand how spirituality and sexuality go hand-in-hand?
Do I have a wife mentor in my life?
Have I done everything that I can’t compromise in my marriage?
Am I at peace with God and myself?
The cool thing about asking questions is it's a *preventative measure*:
Question: a problem for discussion or under discussion; a matter for investigation; a matter of some uncertainty or difficulty; problem
Where you feel uncertain or you're struggling, don't worry (Matthew 6:25-34)...
ASK GOD QUESTIONS..
The more answers you have on the front end...
The healthier you and your marriage will be on the back end.
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
"Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]."---I Corinthians 13:4-8(AMPC)
It's been a minute. There's a lot happening this season. Gonna post a few things today, though.
As I was praying for the "On Fire" women this morning, the title of this post is what came to my spirit. Some of you will probably get why off the rip. For those who aren't clear, here's what I discern the Father wants us to keep in mind.
Since last week was Valentine's Day and I do quite a bit of writing on relationships, I saw a few people talk about being single and also being ready for love. Something that hit me about that, though, is what people are usually saying, perhaps without even knowing it, is they believe they are ready for a RELATIONSHIP. If they literally meant that they were ready for LOVE, they could be in that now. Right now.
For one thing, God is love (I John 4:8&16) and he's *always* available and ready to teach us what we need to know about the love experience (Mark 12:30-31, Proverbs 3:5&6). Yet it goes even deeper than that.
As a marriage life coach, something that I see far too often are couples who didn't prepare themselves for love---they just wanted to get married. What I mean by that is they were so consumed with being with someone or having a spouse (or is it just "having biblically-legal sex"?!) that they didn't stop and think "Wait. Am I growing in the areas of love?"
How patient are you? With God, yourself and others?
How kind are you? Towards God, yourself and others?
Do you have jealousy issues or an ego problem?
Are you a control freak?
Do you surrender your path to God or are you always trying to steer him in your direction?
Are you selfish?
Do you have issues with forgiveness (resentful people tend to)?
Do you pursue truth or have a tendency to live in lies?
Do you quit things easily? *Love never fails*
If you really and truly believe that you're ready for love, that has very little to do with a man...
Being in a relationship is *evidence* and a *manifestation* of being ready for love, yet it is not love itself. Love is God. The Word tells us what his bar for love is. So, if you're really and truly "ready for love", then you spend consistent time in the Love Chapter so that God can teach you what love is about. 'Cause listen: Most of the couples who come at me talking about doing what God hates (which is divorce--Malachi 2:16), they do it because they know every little about the "first ingredient" in love. Patience. PATIENCE.
As singles, they didn't know how to be patient with themselves...
So, as spouses, they don't know how to be patient with one another.
God loves us *far too much* to put us in the position where we say "I love you" and "I'll stick with you until death parts us" when we don't even have a clue what we're really talking about. Patience alone is a doozy: "the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like".
If you can't wait *for* a man, how can you wait *on* a man? "On" in the sense of helping him (Genesis 2:18)? You don't think a man who needs your help is not a man who requires your patience?
Soul singer India.Arie sang about being ready for love many years ago...
If this is where you're at in your journey, I encourage you to alter your way of thinking....
Instead of saying "I'm ready for love. Where's my husband at?"
Instead say "I'm ready for love. Father, teach me what I need to learn about love today."
You'll be flat-out amazed by how much you'll learn (James 1:5)...
And your future husband will be THRILLED by how prepared you were for him. BEFOREHAND.
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
Thursday, January 26, 2017
"May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose."---Psalm 20:4(NKJV)
I have all kinds of love for The Little House on the Prairie. For so many reasons, but two of the main ones is that Michael Landon, as Charles Ingalls, is BEYOND FINE *and* he and his wife Caroline are such a wonderful BIBLICAL EXAMPLE of what it means to remain in the BIBLICAL ROLES to create MARITAL ONENESS.
Anyway, I've probably seen just about every episode close to a dozen times at this point. One that I'm watching right now is entitled "Doctor's Lady" and I'm being led to share it because well...if you've never seen it before, I don't want to give everything away but the gist is this: It's such a wonderful reminder that TRUE LOVE IS SELFLESS. Meaning, when you really love someone, that means that their purpose, their needs and their future are strongly taken into account and consideration. It also means that you're not so selfish (Philippians 2:3, I Corinthians 13:5--NCV) that you'll stand in their way of progress if life reveals that while the two of you may care about each other, *but you don't truly complement one another*, that you'll love them enough to...let them go (and vice versa). After all, the Word doesn't say that God gave Adam someone to love; it says he created someone who "I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him." (Genesis 2:18--AMPC)
For instance, I know a couple who love one another, but the guy desperately desires children (to conceive and birth his own children) while the girl wants any and everything BUT kids. He's determined to change her mind and she's like "I mean...I *guess* I can give you ONE. Maybe." She's not doing that because of her desire for kids. She's doing it to keep a man. No child deserves to be some relationship's...glue.
Another example is from my own life. When my first and I were on our "Let's really get this resolved, one way or another" tour, I so respect how he was like "Shellie, I'm always going to love you but you deserve more than I can give you." He's right. Praise the Lord that my self-esteem has gotten to a place where I agreed with him and didn't think "I mean, we love each other. I'm willing to go without...a lot just to have you."
See where I'm going with this?
Sometimes, there's not only protection in rejection but God's blessing too.
Anyway, when you get a roughly an hour or so, check this episode out...
Little House on the Prairie - S01E17 - Doctors... by LittleHouseonthePrairie
If you're currently seeing someone, pray about whether or not you're loving them unselfishly...
And either way, ask God to reveal to you what your purpose is and who will TRULY COMPLEMENT IT.
I've shared this quote before. It's one of my favorites because there is SO MUCH TRUE to it:
REAL LOVE IS CONTINUAL BECOMING...
Pray for God to bring someone into your life who will help you to become ALL that he wants you to be. And, that you'll do the same for him. Also, pray for the strength that if you're not that for someone you care about, that you'll let them go. True love requires sacrifice. Just ask God. And Christ. (John 3:16)
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
"And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him."---I John 5:14-15(AMPC)
I checked out an article entitled "'Missionary Dating' Isn't Just Unbiblical, It's Selfish". It caught my attention because I'm not a fan of *traditional* (bookmark that) missionary dating either. Plus, the writer shouted out one of my favorite books of all time---The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis. It's a classic.
Anyway, the gist of the piece is that we need to be really careful about dating someone who already doesn't have a relationship with God. One, because the Bible warns us about unequally yoking ourselves (2 Corinthians 6:11-18). And really, that should be enough. Whether we choose to see it this way or not, we're already committing a "low grade form of idolatry" (kind of like having a low grade fever---I Corinthians 10:14) when we'll do ANYTHING that the Word speaks against, even if we claim that our motive is good (Proverbs 21:2&8--Message).
Another problem with missionary dating is that, no matter what pop culture may tell you, God is clear that a wife is supposed to SUBMIT to her husband (Colossians 3:18). Why would you want someone to lead you when you started out the relationship *leading* him? It's usually just a set up for him to be resentful and you possibly being pretty bossy. Kinda like when a couple gets married and the husband moves into the wife's home. You have *NO IDEA* how many times I've seen that blow up, pretty much for the same reason. They get in a fight and all of a sudden the wife is on the "Get out of MY house" tip.
However, I do want to present something to think about *and* pray over concerning this topic...
If there's one thing the Bible shows us, it's that there are all sorts of ways to become a couple. Moses and Zipporah's story is nothing like Isaac and Rebekah's and theirs is nothing like Boaz and Ruth or Joseph and Mary. My point? Although there are certain things NONE OF US are supposed to do (like have sex outside of marriage---I Corinthians 6) because the Word speaks against it (with NO exceptions), because the Bible also tells us that our hearts are fashioned individually (Psalm 33:15), why wouldn't our journeys be as well?
The reason why I am personally such a fan of Adam and the Woman is because the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1-2) shows us EXACTLY what life was supposed to be like before sin entered into the world. So, if there's any guideline that we should follow, it would be that.
Adam had a relationship with God.
Adam had an assigned purpose from God.
GOD DECIDED that it was time for Adam to have a divine helper.
GOD BROUGHT the Woman to Adam.
Over and out.
So yeah, even the "Genesis formula" shows us that a man should have a relationship with God BEFORE being in a relationship with a woman.
Yet there is one thing that I want to encourage every woman reading this to consider...
It's the actual definition of missionary.
Missionary: a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work; a person strongly in favor of a program, set of principles, etc., who attempts to persuade or convert others; a person who is sent on a mission
Mission: a group or committee of persons sent to a foreign country to conduct negotiations, establish relations, provide scientific and technical assistance, or the like; the business with which such a group is charged; any important task or duty that is assigned, allotted, or self-imposed; an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction; a calling or vocation; a sending or being sent for some duty or purpose; those sent
Being that I am big on words and their definitions, when you look at what being a missionary really and truly means, can we say across the board that missionary dating is wrong? Dating someone who doesn't have a biblically-based (if you claim to be a bible follower) relationship with God is wrong/unhealthy/counterproductive. However, what happens when you DON'T self-impose a spiritual assignment but God actually does calls you to it? What happens when you're sent, by God, for the purpose of cultivating a relationship with someone? What happens when that is your calling and mission?
Look, before you get all excited and aggressive (LOL), two points:
1) God will not call you to do ANYTHING that contradicts his Word.
2) I'm not implying that God is calling you to "save a man" and then make him your husband.
What I'm saying is that there are so many articles out here that talk about "missionary dating" while leaving out one very important point. That a definition of missionary is *seeing what God is assigning, purposing and calling you to do* in ALL of your relationships.
See, the mistake that far too many of us make is we see something (or one) that we like (or want), go after it *AND THEN* ask God to bless what we're doing. Yet based on the definition of missionary, that's not what being a true missionary is about.
If you're going to be on ANY KIND OF GODLY MISSION (and marriage should be revered as *nothing* short of that that), you need to WAIT UPON THE LORD (Psalm 27:14 & 37:34, Isaiah 40:31) to do what a missionary does.
Wait on God to assign you.
Wait on God to call you.
Wait on God to send you.
Because what you can be sure of is what God assigns, calls and sends---it's a part of his will and what's a part of his will, it will honor his Word, it will bring him glory and it will not cause you to compromise your value as his daughter or a woman in order for it to manifest.
This takes the pressure out of traditional missionary dating because the problem with it is that usually the person is the one trying to do the "saving" rather than allowing God to do it. It also removes the drama because the focus is not about trying to get someone to "be yours"; the focus is being used by God to bring forth whatever he desires.
If it's witnessing, so be it.
If it's friendship, so be it.
And if it is marriage, God will do the work---not you.
So, traditional missionary dating? Nope. I'm not a fan. At all really.
However, going to God about what his will is FIRST and then following through with what he calls?
Yeah, I'm all about it.
Dating or otherwise.
Pray openly, y'all.
Seek HIS WILL over your own.
Including when it comes to your heart (Psalm 4:23).
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
Saturday, January 14, 2017
"And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You."---Psalm 39:7(NKJV)
This quote kind of says it all (LOL). I adore it and can sooooo relate to it. But just in case things need to be made a little bit clearer...let's hit it.
Desiring God really has some to be one of my favorite resources. In the article "Wait to Date Until You Can Marry" (which will already preach!), the author shares these points:
Why Should Anyone Date?
The spiritual war for our hearts is real, and the stakes are high, so it’s critical to ask why we think we should date in the first place. Why did I have a girlfriend when I was twelve (and thirteen, and fourteen, and even eighteen)?
For many of us, we just want to be happy, to belong, to be valued. We imagine our deepest needs being met in the intimacy of being with a special young man or woman.
We all want our hearts to soar for someone or something. The romance and mystery of marriage seems to hold the highest earthly peaks of pleasure and friendship. We long to be known and loved, to belong with someone, in someone else’s story. We also want someone to join us in ours. And we all want our lives to count for something. We want to contribute something significant to a meaningful cause. We want to make a difference. We don’t want to waste our lives.
What Would I Do Differently?
If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have dated in the tenth grade (or the twelfth, or even my first couple years in college). I would have waited to date until I could marry.
The breakthrough came for me in beginning to understand the major differences between dating and marriage. A dating couple may feel married at times, but a dating couple is never a married couple. Understanding the distinctions between the relationships will protect us from all kinds of pain and failure in dating.
“Life is never mainly about love and marriage. God has so much more in store for you than any relationship can offer.”
The greatest prize in any life, regardless of our relationship status, is to know Christ and be known by him, to love him and be loved by him. The great prize in marriage is Christ-centered intimacy with a spouse — knowing and being known, loving and being loved by a husband or wife. The great prize in dating is Christ-centered clarity about marriage (or toward marriage). Romantic intimacy is safest in the context of marriage, and marriage is safest in the context of clarity. If we want to have and enjoy that kind of Christ-centered intimacy, we need to get married. And if we want to get married, we need to pursue clarity about whom to marry...
Many of us date because we’re trying to fill those needs in love. If you asked us, we might say we’re “pursuing marriage,” but a lot of us aren’t even close to marriage — in age, finances, maturity, education, stage of life. We’re really in pursuit of the happiness, belonging, and significance we think we’ll find in romance.
Wait to date until you can marry each other. My advice — take it or leave it — is wait until you can reasonably marry him or her in the next eighteen months. It doesn’t mean you have to marry that quickly. The important part is that you could, if God made it clear this was his will and his timing for you. You won’t find eighteen months anywhere in the Bible, and so you should not treat it as God’s law. But you can test — with the Lord, your parents, and close Christian friends — whether that seems wise and safe for you and your heart.
Counter-cultural? Yep. Just what we are supposed to be (I Peter 2:9-10).
Personally, I discern (Proverbs 2) that this writer is spot-on. It's a new perspective on what we're biblically-instructed to do: GUARD OUR HEARTS (Proverbs 4:23). I have witnessed so many women be just as reckless with their heart as others are with their bodies. *Both are to be reserved for their husband*. Being a virgin or abstinent and still all "emotionally caught up like you're already someone's wife" in a man is still being irresponsible. Adding to that, why be in ANY kind of dating situation where you're going to be giving more of your time, effort and energy into someone if you BOTH are not 1) desiring marriage; 2) pursuing God about who to marry and 3) prayerful about marriage?
See, what a lot of women do is treat dating like a crap shoot. I have no better way to describe it really. They see a man that they like/want and immediately they go into "Could this be my husband?", and if they spend any kind of time with him, then it moves into "Lord, I want him to be my husband." And since they have already put their heart out there (please remember that the heart has the tendency to deceive--Jeremiah 17:9), then all of the focus goes into thinking he's the one, treating him like he's the one and expecting him to reciprocate.
ALL OF THAT DRAMA...
Written and produced by oneself!
And so, they think that just because he talks to them, maybe even spends time with them, that it's a "sign" that there's a future. When, as a wise man once said, "Some people are so far gone when it comes to the art of politeness than they mistake it for flirtation." Because so many women want a man, they mistake that MANY men come into their lives to be *nothing more than a friend*. As a result, they not only become disillusioned, but they end up missing out on a good friend too.
All because they are waiting on a man...
A man THEY DECIDED was the one...
Rather than waiting on God...waiting on God to tell them who the one REALLY is.
And what does this have to do with the lead quote?
Yeah...some guys are selfish jerks.
They just keep women emotionally hanging.
HOWEVER...more fall into this category...
We as ladies need to accept that if we were putting our focus in the right place, we would know that when GOD DECIDES if/when someone is right for us and we need to get married. Therefore, we wouldn't find ourselves feeling like some book on some guy's nightstand.
Case in point...
Remember a couple of years ago when I shared that I went on my "Get Your Heart Pieces Back Tour"? Something that my "first love" used to *literally* keep on his nightstand was my first book Inside of Me. Yet no matter how many conversations we had about marriage, he was always on some "I love you. I'm always going to love you. But marriage...?"
For years---literally 21 of them---I waited on him. Sure, I saw other people. Even slept with other folks. But a part of me still thought we'd end up back together (virgins...KEEP YOUR VIRGINITY!). I wasn't looking to God about if my ex was his will so much as I was waiting on my ex to "get his act together and see the light".
And so, I manipulated *my own self* into thinking that he was treating me like some book on his nightstand when really, I was the one who put---and kept---myself up there. And no, he wasn't reading it. Why? Because he wasn't interested. Why? Because...if I was really honest with myself, God wasn't telling him to be. I have enough faith in my ex that if he really knew he was "missing out on a good thing" to the point of me being his actual wife...he would've done something about it.
See, that's what a lot of single woman don't want to face...
That if a man is in relationship with God, God is talking to "him" just as much as, if not more than, he is talking to them. A man doesn't need your help to get him to realize who you are. The Woman didn't wake up Adam in the Garden of Eden. GOD DID (Genesis 2). Your husband won't need you to wake him up either. GOD WILL.
So does that mean that every man immediately sees who his wife is? NO. However, the research I've done and stories I've heard of men who "took awhile to get it" still have things in common:
A connection---one that's beyond friendship even if it's not time to "take it there"
And when a woman who is emotionally healthy and stable is involved in this kind of scenario, the focus doesn't go on the guy. *It goes on God*. She waits on God to reveal to "him" what she's feeling AND (please catch it) she's open to the fact that it might not ever happen. She accepts that God may have someone else in mind. Because his ways are not her own (Isaiah 55:8-11).
That keeps the disillusionment, heartache and yes, drama down...
Because her hope was not placed in the guy...
It was placed in the Creator of her and the guy---GOD.
So, if you have your sights set on someone in particular...
Am I waiting on "him"?
Or am I waiting on God to bring his best "him" for me my way? Even if it's NOT "him"?
The answer to that question will reveal a lot...
And I'm willing to bet some money that it's time for more-than-a-few women...
To get off of some guy's nightstand...
HOPING he'll read their "book" someday.
Put your hope in God, not man...
Then watch...just you watch (I Corinthians 2:9-10)!
"All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning."---Romans 8:22-29(Message)
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...