Wednesday, August 2, 2017
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. "---Ecclesiastes 3:11(NKJV)
"He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”---Acts 1:7-8(Message)
At the end of this post, I'll share a video that I checked out this morning from a spoken word artist that some of you might be familiar with. The entire message is about him being a single man who's getting ready to go to a wedding while helping people deal with wondering when their time will come *and* understanding that marriage is not ultimately for or even about them. It's about bringing glory to God. And since it's about him, *he knows what's best*. All the way around. Selah and amen!
I really like how he paralleled Christ performing his *first* miracle at a wedding (John 2), initially being asked to turn water into wine and his first response being that (catch it) *it wasn't his time*. Clearly his mom had some influence over and a lot of faith in him because he performed the miracle anyway.
However, the gist of the message is that when it comes to having the desire to get married and not having it (yet) happen, to many of us, God is also saying "It's not yet your time."
It's not that it won't happen...
It's that it's not the right/best time. YET.
That got me to thinking about something that a pastor by the name of Bishop Joseph Walker once preached about here in Nashville: "It's your time, it's just not your turn." Yeah, that's another way to look at it. However, here's the thing I really want you to consider. And then pray about.
Proverbs 16:3(NKJV) states "Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established." This is not a suggestion; it is a biblical instruction. Before *any of us* can enter into a marital covenant (Malachi 2:14-16, Matthew 19:1-12, I Corinthians 7:10-11) with another human being, we first must *commit ourselves to the Lord*. The choices and decisions that you make today will play a direct role in the outcome up the road. We reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-8) and one of my favorite heads up Scriptures is something that was once said to Jerusalem...*as a consequence and a warning*: "Her uncleanness is in her skirts; she did not consider her destiny; therefore her collapse was awesome; she had no comforter." (Lamentations 1:9--NKJV)
Our destiny is what God already has planned for our life...
YET those things don't *just happen*...
We need to HONOR HIS WILL and HIS DIRECTIVES.
This *wholeheartedly includes* trusting his timing...
When it comes to timing, a word that I really like is "kairos":
The word kairos was an ancient Greek word meaning “opportunity,” “season,” or “fitting time.” Another Greek word for “time” was chronos. A sequence of moments was expressed as chronos, emphasizing the duration of the time; an appointed time was expressed as kairos, with no regard for the length of the time. Thus, chronos was more linear and quantitative, and kairos was more nonlinear and qualitative...
The Bible warns that we should take full advantage of the opportunities God gives us.
Although I know what some women reading this struggle with whether or not they'll be married...
I know that *far more* take issue with WHEN it will happen.
My mother used to always say "The right thing at the wrong time *is* the wrong thing." So true, so true! Remember what God said when it was *time* for Adam to be joined to his Woman was this: "Now the Lord God said, 'It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him'." (Genesis 2:18--AMPC) And what is kairos time? It's not just about seizing opportunities; it's also about being in the right season and the fitting time. (Fruit picked before it's ripe is still fruit...it's not as good, though, right?)
At the fitting time and in the right season...
A suitable, adapted and complementary woman is brought to a man...
By God himself.
The *kind* of wife a man has...
Comes at the *kairos* time.
This means that not only should we be praying about whether or not marriage is God's will for us *and* if we're mature enough for marriage (Matthew 19:11-12--Message), we also need to ask him to make peace with *his timing* and trust that by *committing to him*, he is leading and guiding us, *through the power of the Holy Spirit*, to the right man and the right time!
Hopefully, that is a word that will bring some comfort to some of you.
Get out of YOUR TIMING of things...
Settle into KAIROS.
Then watch how much calmer you become (Proverbs 17:27)...
How much you'll be willing to obey God's every command!
That's some good stuff right there!
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
Sunday, July 23, 2017
"Look! Listen! There’s my lover! Do you see him coming? Vaulting the mountains, leaping the hills. My lover is like a gazelle, graceful; like a young stag, virile. Look at him there, on tiptoe at the gate, all ears, all eyes—ready! My lover has arrived and he’s speaking to me!"---Song of Solomon 2:8-10(Message)
I've been talking to more and more virgins. Yep. Don't let the media LIE to you. There are still *quite a few* women AND men who are saving it until marriage. *Just like the Bible says we're supposed to do*.
For instance, look at how Rebekah is described in the Bible *before* being joined to Isaac:
"Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up."---Genesis 24:16(NKJV)
Or the the criteria of what Esther's future husband was looking for in his queen:
"Then the king’s servants who attended him said: 'Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king; and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women’s quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them."---Esther 2:2-3(NKJV)
"The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti."---Esther 2:17(NKJV)
Here's another great reference to virginity:
"For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you."
Christ was conceived in the womb of a virgin:
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, 'God with us.'"---Matthew 1:23(NKJV)
(This one alone is enough of a reason to get why Satan HATES virginity; our Savior came to this world through one!)
Both the wise and foolish bridesmaids in Matthew 25 were virgins:
"Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps."---Matthew 25:7(NKJV)
According to this verse, it is to be an "assumed standard" that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN is a virgin prior to marriage. *This* is how it was supposed to be for all of us:
"There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world---how she may please her husband."---I Corinthians 7:34(NKJV)
In fact, check out this 24-year-old male virgin who said my favorite thing last week:
"I may not be catching bodies, but I'm out here catching souls!" PREACH!!!
*Who cares* what the world---the place that the Bible says is filled with *nothing* but lust and pride (I John 2:16)---has to say about virgins?! The Bible ADORES them!
Matter of fact, if you are one, hit me up at email@example.com. I recently looked up what the Hebrew word for it is: "bethulah". I'm gonna figure out a way for you to sport your sacred sexual status in a way that's subtle but still a conversational piece (if you're down!).
In the meantime, as you can tell from the title of this message, this isn't just for virgins nor is it only about virginity---although I will say "I salute you!" to all of the virgins who are *so pure* that they've never even been kissed before.
Yeah, virgins who are the I-do-everything-but-penetrate-and-still-brag-about-being-untouched women don't impress me. Not one bit. God isn't impressed either. Being a virgin is about more than just not being penetrated. It's about living your life like you really and truly know that you've been bought with a price (I Corinthians 6:16-20--Message) and that ONLY once you are MARRIED does a man get special privileges to..."unwrap your gift" (James 1:17, I Corinthians 7:1-5).
So back to kissing...
There is an article that I checked out that confirms what I've been saying quite a bit on this long as of late. The title will give it away: "Does Dating Prepare Us for Marriage---or Divorce?" Here's an excerpt:
The common trends in dating today are more likely to prepare you to get divorced than to enjoy and persevere in marriage.
Dating is an intentional pursuit of marriage, not casual preparation for it. Unfortunately, many of us are being told we must date early and often if we ever want to be ready for marriage. For instance, one popular Christian dating book reads, “Dating is an incubator time of discovering the opposite sex, one’s own sexual feelings, moral limits, one’s need for relationship skills, and one’s tastes for people.” Sounds practical and reasonable on the surface. Until you think about putting yourself (or your daughter) into someone else’s “incubator” for a few months, or years, while he or she tries out their “sexual feelings” and “moral limits.” We put too much of ourselves at risk in dating to donate our hearts to someone’s romantic experiment.
The truth is we have given dating far too much credit, and far too much power in our pursuit of marriage. And because we misunderstand and misuse dating, we end up making more and greater mistakes in our search for love.
Wait to Date?
Wait to date until you can marry. That’s my advice for the not-yet-married, reflecting on my personal experience (and failures) in dating and on years of walking with others falling in love (and often falling harder out of love). In short, if we are dating in order to marry, we need to be ready to marry before we begin dating.
Yeah, some of y'all will call this take "old-fashioned". Me? I call it "SAFE"...
It' also a great way to connect the whole kissing thing.
There's a married couple I'm working with right now who dated (and had sex off and on) *for years* and now? While they claim that they still love each other, they act like they can't stand each other. What I've worked to get them to recognize and admit (James 5:16) is that they were so busy trying to be "boyfriend and girlfriend" (which for them included having sex) that they never focused on cultivating a real *friendship*.
The Bible says NOTHING about having a boyfriend.
It says A LOT about the value of true friendship, though.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Proverbs 17:17, John 15:13)
And if you're more focused on friendship...
How sacred is not only protecting your body...
But your mouth too?
What prompted most of this was that over the weekend I was having a conversation with a 30-something never-been-kissed-before virgin (when she launches her FB fan page about her platform, I'll let you know!). She's going to be speaking to some youth soon about purity and she was asking me how far is too far in my personal opinion. She also wanted to know if it's the woman's job to tell the guy what the limit was.
My response to the second question was basically...
A man who doesn't want to be accused of rape is going to want to woman to set the limit...
A godly man is going to have some preset boundaries out the gate. #realtalk
The first question? I shared with her an article about what is *really going on* during a kiss:
As people kiss, oxytocin, which is a hormone made in the hypothalamus and released from the pituitary gland near the base of the brain, also increases. Among many other functions, oxytocin is thought to reduce stress and increase feelings of connectedness. Along with the endorphins, it is thought to influence feelings of happiness and attachment found in committed, loving relationships. Pheromones, which are chemical messages sent between members of the same species, may also play a part in human attraction. The vomeronasal organ, located between the nose and mouth, usually detects others’ pheromones. Although it is still unclear how they work, pheromones are thought to signal sexual arousal and increase attraction towards appropriate partners. You feel fantastic; the warmth and appeal for your date grows beyond your imagination and leaves you feeling closer than ever.
He squeezes you tightly one last time before you begin to back away, neither of you aware of the internal changes and reactions that have just occurred in your bodies. You barely remember the keys in your hand, as you thank him for a wonderful time. He smiles at you happily, already daydreaming about the few moments before. You unlock the door and slip inside, thinking, “There’s nothing like a first kiss.”
That's why I included the lead quote. I wanted it to look/seem/feel mega-intense because a kiss---and you know what I mean: *a real kiss*---is just that: INTENSE. There should be *nothing* casual about it!
Taking it further, peep what oxytocin is---and does (excerpts):
One of the hormones that these neurotransmitters send from the Deep Limbic System of the brain is oxytocin. Oxytocin promotes bonding and attachment and if all the hormones had an opportunity to vote for the “most popular” award in the hormone yearbook, its peers would vote for it every time because it makes others feel good and close when it is active.
For the Psychology student, here is the scientific description: “Oxytocin is produced mainly in the hypothalamus [which is in the Deep Limbic System part of the brain], where it is either released into blood via the pituitary gland, or to other parts of the brain and spinal cord, where it binds to oxytocin receptors to influence behavior and physiology.” (DeAngelis)
Oxytocin has been dubbed the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone” because it does simply that. It creates bonds, trust, and generosity in us. (DeAngelis) In fact whenever you feel comfort or security, oxytocin is involved. It is involved in every form of human bonding. (Horstman, 23)...
Oxytocin not only promotes bonding during birth and breast-feeding; it also increases trust and empathy. (Bartz) It is also released during a hug and kiss of a loved one. (DeAngelis) This hormone does it all. I could go on and on about this hormone but it is time to turn to oxytocin and sex.
Oxytocin and Sex
The other crucial time oxytocin is released is during sex. During sex this chemical is being produced in both individuals, creating a bond between them both. Released in the brain, this hormone is creating an emotional bond between the partners.
One of the prominent figures in neuropsychology is Dr. Daniel Amen. Dr. Amen does cutting edge research in neuropsychology and has helped millions of people have healthier brains, which translates to healthier lives. Dr. Daniel Amen writes in his book, Change Your Brain Change Your Life, page 41:
“Whenever a person is sexually involved with another person, neurochemical changes occur in both their brains that encourage limbic, emotional bonding. Yet limbic bonding is the reason casual sex doesn’t really work for most people on a whole mind and body level. Two people may decide to have sex ‘just for the fun of it,’ yet something is occurring on another level they might not have decided on at all: sex is enhancing an emotional bond between them whether they want it or not. One person, often the woman, is bound to form an attachment and will be hurt when a casual affair ends. One reason it is usually the women who is hurt most is that the female limbic system is larger than the male’s.”
Does this resonate with you? Have you ever felt the hurt and pain after a one night stand or breakup? Do you find yourself repeatedly playing the scenario in your mind, maybe even thinking of different outcomes? Chances are you are doing these things because of the attachment that was created between you and your partner when you were sexually involved. The emotional attachment that is created during sex (the glue) brings two people together.
IN MARRIAGE, oxytocin makes a *ton* of sense because there is to be NO "starting and stopping" in intimacy. A husband and wife can go all the way because sex is especially *for* them.
SINGLES? Shoot, I can only imagine how many people are more caught up in someone than they should be because they are on an oxytocin high! **sigh** And, as you can see from the first article, oxytocin kicks in with kissing...not just with sex.
In fact, it helps me understand why some of the men in my world (they get side-eye, but still) consider kissing to be MAD INTIMATE. Some of them even think it's more intimate that sexual activity. If they *kiss* you, they *really like* you. They feel very connected during the act.
And listen. Y'all may need to refresh my memory because it's been a while since I've kissed anyone and, real talk? Even longer since I've kissed someone and it didn't lead to *something somewhere* coming off. As...amazing as a *good kiss* can make you feel, if you're at least *halfway* trying to take the Bible seriously (God don't like "lukewarm" y'all--Revelation 3:14-16), can't it be a bit of a roller coaster ride too? A mad frustrating one?
Here you are, in the throes of passion, with the man of your dreams and he's a *great kisser*. HOWEVER, you know that sex before marriage is wrong (DEAD WRONG---I Corinthians 6:9-10, 18, Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 10:7-8, Revelation 21:8) and so you end up...multi-tasking. You know: trying to enjoy the kiss while also wondering where to put your hands, if his are in an "appropriate" place, how far is too far...stuff that married folks *never* have to consider.
Sex, especially sexual intercourse, is the *ultimate* form of physical intimacy...
Yet don't for a moment underestimate the power of a kiss.
Case in point: who wants to have sex *without* kissing?!
So Shellie, what are you saying? That kissing is wrong?
Nope. I'm not saying that. Not saying that at all.
What I *am* saying, though, is that your *entire body* was created for a purpose and your mouth is not exempt. Also, when you kiss someone, your body is expecting A LOT from the experience. Not only that but the mouth is the dirtiest part of the body (I mean, it's true), more and more STDs are "popping up" via saliva. Plus, your mouth is precious. So is his. And if both of you are trying to see where things are going, the less oxytocin...the better.
To confirm these points...
Let's close out with some videos about couples who took their kissing seriously.
I have a girlfriend who was a virgin when she got married. Her husband was one too. They started off kissing but then stopped and didn't kiss for three years...until their wedding day. They've been married (wow) 14 years now. Look how geeked she is!
Everything about you is special.
You're the temple of the Holy Spirit after all.
Whether you're wondering when your first kiss is coming...
Or who is worthy of your next one...
Even kissing serves a sweet, profound and very relevant purpose.
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
Saturday, July 15, 2017
"Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established."---Proverbs 16:3(NKJV)
I honestly did not think that when I penned the piece on whether or not God would tell you someone is your husband that it would get *so many* responses. Although I do make it a point to personally reply, there are some patterns I'm seeing that led me to discern that this will probably be more like a series than just a couple of posts on the issue.
For starters, I want to encourage everyone who has questions in this area to read (or reread) a post from November of 2015 entitled "So, About Hearing from God About Your Husband..." It's got some foundational points to keep in mind because if you don't know God's Word (John 1:1-3, 2 Timothy 3:16-17) on various topics, there's no way you can be sure that God is saying something or not. Because one thing he NEVER does is contradict his commandments, standards or instructions. NOT. EVER.
Next up. There is a collection of married couple stories that I penned several years ago. I turned it into a blog and it's called "So, How Did You Know?" Husbands and wives share stories of how they got together, what they love about each other (mind, body and spirit) and they also provide advice for single men and women. Take out some time to check it out. You might get some of the clarity that you seek there. Indeed, confirmations come in all forms...and during some of the most unexpected times too.
Third is this:
Something that really concerns me is how some of the emails I'm getting come with a tone of desperation and anxiety. The Word tells us to be ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING (Philippians 4:6-7). Not only that but if basically your entire focus is on when you'll be joined to your husband, whether you realize it or not, you're setting him up to be an idol in your world (Exodus 20:3).
LIFE DOES NOT BEGIN WHEN WE GET A HUSBAND...
MARRIAGE SIMPLY MAGNIFIES WHO AND WHAT WE ARE ONCE WE DO.
As a single woman, the BIGGEST FOCUSES we should have right now is pleasing God and fulfilling our purpose (Psalm 20:4)---not wondering the who/what/where/why/how of our husband.
That's why I like verses in Scripture like what Boaz said to Ruth right here:
"And he said, 'Blessed be you of the Lord, my daughter. For you have made this last loving-kindness greater than the former, for you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, fear not. I will do for you all you require, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of strength (worth, bravery, capability)."---Ruth 3:10-11(AMPC)
Ruth was focused.
Boaz was watching.
She wasn't out here hopping from guy to guy (or bed to bed).
She was handling her business. Period.
We should follow her example.
You never know who's watching YOU.
Then there's this:
"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints."---I Corinthians 14:33(NKJV)
"Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men."---Romans 14:16-18(NKJV)
We're all flesh and the Word tells us that we can struggle sometimes because of it (Galatians 5:16-17). Yet what you've got to remember is that *marriage is a gift* and so is a *godly husband* (James 1:17). What God is involved in? It's not going to come with confusion:
Confusion: disorder; upheaval; tumult; chaos; lack of clearness or distinctness;
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...