Friday, January 28, 2011

"On Fire": Good vs. Right. Make Believe & Coincidents.

"If all things are *possible* to him that believes, then all things are *probable* to him that knows."---Shellie R.Warren


Hey Ministers-in-Training...

No doubt about it. There's a lot of movin', shakin' and shiftin' going on and I'm trying to keep up! THAT SAID, I just wanted to provide a word of encouragement re: something that the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) has had on my heart to share with you all for a few days now.

I'm a Words of Affirmation kinda gal and so I'm sure you know, all too well by now, that I LOVE to read. And I especially enjoy reading quotes. Whenever I hear a good one, I jot it down. On my laptop. In a journal. On a Post-it note. On a napkin. Doesn't matter. Anyway, after checking out the movie, "A Good Woman", I penned the following: "Marriage takes your whole heart. Selfish people can't pull it off." In the independent urban film, "Premium", one of the characters said, "You cannot treat real people as if they're characters in a script and then expect a fairytale ending." Oh, and in an old school Spike Lee joint ("School Daze"), I just recently caught a line that I don't recall really noticing before: "One loves for that which one labors. And one labors for that which one loves."

Do you sense a cinematic theme? Yeah. Me too.

Philippians 2:3 (NKJV) instructs, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself." Selfishness is defined as "devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others". In life, our ambition, our "...earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment" should not be rooted in (solely) self.


Now, this certainly applies to all areas. Yet being that this blog has a certain theme, this is what I would encourage you to pray and ponder (Proverbs 4:26) over as it relates to the current season of your marital preparation journey. Do you desire marriage or are you about to get married...for selfish reasons? Meaning, is the focus (more) solely about YOUR interests, YOUR benefits and YOUR welfare (love this part) regardless of the other person: your future intended spouse? Have you spent so much time thinking about what *you need* that you haven't even really approached the Father (of you both) about if you are or are able to provide what your future Beloved needs as well? A spiritually mature woman is going to seek (Matthew 7:7-8) God about being more than just *good* to a man. She's going to inquire if she's also *right* for him. Yes, the Lord said it's not *good* for man to be alone, but what he immediately said after that was that he would make a helper that was *right* for man as well (Genesis 2:18). There's a lot of GOOD women out here who are not RIGHT for who they are currently dating. There's a lot of good men who, yes, "know a good woman when they see her" and also know that, "...she's just not the right fit."


Good for them. Flesh and blood does not reveal that. Godly wisdom does.


Not too long ago, I was telling someone that I released, in every form of communication, ALL of my exes. Not because some of them aren't good guys. Not even because I don't still care for some of them. But because when you betray someone (and causing them to sin is a form of betrayal), they need to be allowed time and space to really heal. To gain a new perspective. To purge the past so that they can get to who the Lord *truly* (John 8:32) intends for them to be with in their future. Indeed, there are a myriad of ways to be a stumbling block in someone's life (Romans 14:13). Sometimes, our selfishness lies in not making the sacrifice of letting someone go. Real talk? Just because we have "newfound liberty" in leaving the relationship alone doesn't mean that they are necessarily as strong as we are (I Corinthians 8:9). I have grieved a few people because *I* wanted them in my space on *my* terms. Healthy relationships don't operate that way. They are about balance and compromise. For the greater good. One does this by letting the LORD and he alone heal their broken heart (Psalm 147:3). It might also help to realize that some of y'all need to let your exes do *the exact same thing for you*. Embracing that? That is what's right.

So what does all of this have to do with today's message? Ultimately?


I once read that the way that we define a coincidence is not really how it should be perceived. A "coincidence" shouldn't be revered as some random accident but rather two incidents working together: co-incidents. And so, that said, especially being the (as my mother calls me) "signs and wonders child" that I am, I thought it was brilliantly divine that as the Lord was speaking to me about selfishness and spiritual maturity, about doing what's good and right by the men in my life, that I would hear R&B singer, Brandy say that she doesn't want to sing about anything that she doesn't want to experience. That intrigued me enough to watch the latest episode of her reality TV show on my laptop to get the full gist of her point. After all, everything is a co-incident, right?


On a part of the show, there was a song that she was working on tentatively entitled, "Make Believe". She was giving scenarios of what she was going to do while waiting for her next relationship. She was going to sleep on one side of the bed. She was going to act like someone is already in love with her. Basically, she was going to live in preparation for what she wants to come into her heart space. Her life (Proverbs 4:23). It's poetic. It's a metaphor. And yet, in some ways, I think she's onto something. If you want to remain single, act like it. If you desire to be a wife, prepare for it (Proverbs 31:10-31).


And then I thought the title of the song again: "Make Believe". The classic definition is "pretend" and yet, I couldn't help but wonder if that also is not defined at its maximum potential too. Christ himself, while on this earth said, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23-NKJV) OK, well "make" means "to produce; cause to exist or happen; bring about"; "to put in the proper condition or state, as for use; fix; prepare"; "to convert from one state, condition, category, etc., to another". In the spirit realm, when it comes to MAKE BELIEVE, and more specifically, when it comes to the purpose of the On Fire Fast Movement, is it about playing house? Pretending? Well, it's certainly not the founder's intention or the Holy Spirit's unction. But I do think this exists so that we *can* MAKE. BELIEVE.


So that we can *convert* (make) ourselves into having *confidence in the truth* (believe).


So that we can *put into proper condition* (make) our *convictions* (believe).


So that we can allow God to *bring about*  (make) all that we desire *although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so* (believe-Hebrews 11:1).


So that we can stop fighting the flesh and surrender to the Spirit (John 4:24)...so that we can receive things of the Spirit.


And then the final piece to this puzzle came today while I was doing some online window shopping:




That ring? It's a stainless steel ring that says "Woman of God" with "Prov. 31" on it. It's where I know the Lord is calling us to *and* I'm going to give it away to THE *FIRST* THREE "ON FIRE" WOMEN who complete the following three things:

1) You must refer three single women to become a follower of the "On Fire" blog (with the contingency that at least one of the women actually joins).

2) You must submit a 200-500 word covenant marital couple nomination to www.10again.us (if you've already submitted, yes, you can submit another couple and still be eligible).


3) You must have been abstinent for at least 12 months.

The first three women to complete this and contact me at missnosipho@gmail.com with their "ring finger" size, I will order this ring and have it shipped to you AND pre-order you a free "Purity Is The New Virginity" T-shirt.

It's time that we went beyond "good" to "right". It's time that we stop pretending and start truly living in MAKE BELIEVE. It's time that we start embracing all of our co-incidents.

I'm doing my best to assist you in the journey.

You're in my prayers. BIG TIME. In this time.

SRW

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An Ounce of Prevention: "Ribless"

“Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him.'

From the ground God formed every wild animal and every bird in the sky, and he brought them to the man so the man could name them. Whatever the man called each living thing, that became its name.  The man gave names to all the tame animals, to the birds in the sky, and to all the wild animals. But Adam did not find a helper that was right for himSo the Lord God caused the man to sleep very deeply, and while he was asleep, God removed one of the man's ribs. Then God closed up the man's skin at the place where he took the rib.  The Lord God used the rib from the man to make a woman, and then he brought the woman to the man.

And the man said, 'Now, this is someone whose bones came from my bones, whose body came from my body. I will call her 'woman,' because she was taken out of man.'

So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one body. The man and his wife were naked, but they were not ashamed.”---Genesis 2:18-25 (NCV)

“One of the best hearing aides a man can have is an attentive wife.”---Groucho Marx


Ooo, it's a labor of love this morning, ya'll.  A moment ago, as I was laying in my bed praying for the folks on my list, when the single men of the world came up, I found myself saying to God, “I mean, really. What is their deal, anyway?”

The response I received is what caused me to leap out of my bed, run down the stairs and hop onto this thing: “You try living your life without a rib.  It's not very comfortable.”

Did you get it?  LADIES, PLEASE TELL ME THAT YOU GOT IT!

A few months ago, God gave me a devotional message entitled, “The God Gossip Game”.  Long story short, it was basically about all of the things we've been taught to believe is biblically-based but either isn't, or is taken out of context.  One of my all-time favorites:

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.”---Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV)

Whew!  I mean an ENTIRE COURTSHIP MOVEMENT has been based on this one verse.  I've  shared before that when you look up the word “find”, you just might be surprised you what you see:

Find: to come upon by chance; meet with; to locate, attain, or obtain by search or effort; to locate or recover (something lost or misplaced); to discover or perceive after consideration; to gain or regain the use of; to become aware of

Is it just me or is that a whole lotta ways to find someone?  The fact that virtually every woman I know has come to the conclusion that this means (and only means) that a man must full on pursue her in order to have her is beyond me.  However, if you are one of those women, that's on you.  I just got free from being narrow-minded (“Living on the Corner of 'Self' and 'Me'”) and so I ain't tryin' to limit how God's gonna orchestrate the “perfect will mate for me” revelation.  Besides...he already showed me how, in his perfect will, he operates.  “Find” wasn't the operative word, either...”BROUGHT” was.

Brought: to cause to come to or toward oneself; attract; to cause to occur or exist; to cause to come into a particular position, state, or effect; to cause to appear or occur in the mind; evoke or recall

Genesis 2:22 says that after God used Adam's rib to make the Woman, he then BROUGHT her to Adam...caused her to come to...caused her to exist...caused her to come to a particular position...caused her to occur in the mind.  Adam didn't do that.  GOD DID.

Again, I got freed up from the whole “chase me down to get me” mentality quite some time ago.  No, what blew my mind tonight was what God said about Adam and his rib.

Several years ago, one of my favorite singers (shout out to Duawne Starling) and his cousin (shout out to Tiffany Palmer) recorded a song (co-written by Hallerin Hill) for their friend, Joey Kibble's wedding.  It was called, “Answered Prayer” and Duawne's verse said (forgive me if it's not verbatim):

So he placed me to sleep, then he reached inside me
He knew what I would need when he placed you beside me
And when I saw your face, glowing with God's grace
I knew that I had seen what Adam saw in Eve
You are my answered prayer
You're everything that was not there
You are my answered prayer

I mean, maybe I'm missing something, but that doesn't sound like any pursuing was going on.  That sounds more like a surgical procedure!  And here's where the “God loves us just this much to share something like this to his queens-in-training” revelation comes in. (I Peter 5:6-7)

If you go by the biblical account of the first woman, there are a couple of things that you must catch.  God first decided that it was not good for man to be alone and therefore purposed in his mind to make a helper who was RIGHT (not good, but RIGHT) for Adam.

Right: in accordance with what is good, proper, or just; in conformity with fact, reason, truth, or some standard or principle; correct; fitting or appropriate; suitable; in good order; in good health or spirits; sound, sane, or normal; socially approved, desirable, or influential; straight (ha!)

I won't even get into how many people have settled for “good” (permissive will) rather than right (perfect will).  Don't believe it happens?  Oh, the Bible is chocked full of 'em.  Just ask Jacob (Genesis 29)...King Xerxes (Esther 1)...King Solomon (I Kings 11)!  Moving on...

So yes, first God declared that it was time for Adam to have some help.  Then, as Adam was in his purpose, he realized something similar: that everyone had a companion who was RIGHT for them, but him.  OK, but no where does it say that he then asked God to make him a mate.  It just says that some time after he made a mental note, God put him to sleep...a very deep sleep.

Sleep: to take the rest afforded by a suspension of voluntary bodily functions and the natural suspension, complete or partial, of consciousness; cease being awake; to be dormant, quiescent, or inactive, as faculties; to be careless or unalert; allow one's alertness, vigilance, or attentiveness to lie dormant

OK...let's go deeper.

Genesis 2:21 says that while Adam was “completely or partially unconscious”...”dormant”...”inactive”...with his “alertness, vigilance and attentiveness lying in dormant” (hope you caught that) that GOD REMOVED ONE OF HIS RIBS.

Ribs: one of a series of curved bones that are articulated with the vertebrae and occur in pairs, 12 in humans, on each side of the vertebrate body, certain pairs being connected with the sternum and forming the thoracic wall; a part or piece similar to a rib and serving to shape or support

Let the fun begin!!!

Now, did you catch in the Scriptures that it never says which rib God took.  He knows the numbers of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:20), so he could have very easily said it...if he wanted to.  I have often heard the romantic spin that a rib was taken that covered Adam's heart...but the truth (John 8:32) is, how do we know that?  After a little recall of my high school anatomy class and a quick Internet check for back-up, I discovered that the rib cage covers all vital organs: the heart, the lungs, liver and spleen.  Also, the ribs support the spine. (Hmm, so spineless man may just be a ribless one, huh?) One article said that without the ribs, one would not be able to breathe properly or function with any real level of stability.  Oh, and I just loved this part:

“Your ribs form a protective cage that encloses many of your delicate internal organs. Your rib bones themselves are quite fragile and are easily broken in an accident or even by a violent sneeze. A fractured rib is very painfulA completely broken can be dangerous, as it could puncture the heart or lungs.”---BBC Science and Nature, Human Body and Mind, Skeleton Layer

(OK, so if there are married people, especially married men checking this out, I hope you caught all of that in bold.  No wonder the Word says, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:28)  Not taking care of “your rib” may not only prove to be painful for you, but could prove to be dangerous, too. [I'll leave that right there!])

God could have pulled a rib from around Adam's heart.  Yes, the heart is “the chambered muscular organ in vertebrates that pumps blood received from the veins into the arteries, thereby maintaining the flow of blood through the entire circulatory system”, but it is also “the vital center and source of one's being, emotions, and sensibilities”...”the repository of one's deepest and sincerest feelings and beliefs”...”the emotional constitution, basic disposition, or character” of a person.

On the other hand, God could have pulled a rib from around Adam's lungs.  The lungs are “either of two spongy organs in the chest of air-breathing vertebrate animals that serve as the organs of gas exchange. Blood flowing through the lungs picks up oxygen from inhaled air and releases carbon dioxide, which is exhaled. Air enters and leaves the lungs through the bronchial tubes”.  (Hmph, maybe the love songs are right.  Maybe some dudes can't breathe without their wives...metaphorically speaking, of course.)

Or, he could have pulled a rib from the area around Adam's liver and spleen.  The liver is “large and complicated reddish-brown glandular organ located in the upper right portion of the abdominal cavity; secretes bile and functions in metabolism of protein and carbohydrate and fat; synthesizes substances involved in the clotting of the blood; synthesizes vitamin A; detoxifies poisonous substances and breaks down worn-out erythrocytes”.  And the spleen?  Well...well...well.  It's “a highly vascular, glandular, ductless organ, situated in humans at the cardiac end of the stomach, serving chiefly in the formation of mature lymphocytes, in the destruction of worn-out red blood cells, and as a reservoir for blood” and “this organ conceived of as the seat of spirit and courage or of such emotions as mirth, ill humor, melancholy, etc.”

Bottom line, RIBS ARE VITALLY NECESSARY.  After reading all of this, I then did a quick study on what happens to someone when they break a rib (it was hard to find what happens when you are born without one so work with me a little here):

What happens when you break a rib?

Your ribs have two main jobs:
·       They protect the organs in your chest.
·       They help you breathe by keeping space open inside your chest while the muscles you use to breathe squeeze in, or contract. This leaves plenty of space for your lungs to fill up with air.
The muscles used for breathing pull on the ribs, so breathing may be very painful when you have a fractured rib.

What are the symptoms?

A fractured rib may cause:
·       Mild to severe pain in the injured area.
·       Pain when you breathe.
·       Pain around the fracture when someone pushes on your breastbone.
If you can't breathe normally because of pain or flail chest, you may:
·       Feel short of breath.
·       Feel anxious, restless, or scared.
·       Have a headache.
·       Feel dizzy, tired, or sleepy.

After sitting and processing a bit, you might be surprised by the emotion that came over me.  For years, for various reasons, I have found myself irritated, offended, disgusted, and/or down right fed up with single men wondering when they were going to get their act together for my sake and the sake of all sistahs desiring a mate worldwide.  But right now, at this very moment, I feel nothing but compassion.  If a man has been called to be single (Matthew 19 [Message], I Corinthians 7) that is one thing (I'm assuming there would be no “rib removal” for him).  But if it is a part of God's will (and his desire) to be married, there comes a time after he's begun operating in his purpose, God has made a declaration that he needs some help to get to the next level (cause you know wives are where at lot of favor comes from, fellas-Proverbs 18:22) and he has noticed that something is “not quite RIGHT”, that a change comes.

Now I've not heard of any recorded cases of God putting any other man into a state of physical sleep, removing a rib and making a woman, but I do believe that in the spirit realm, something very similar happens every time a *perfect will* relationship comes into fruition.  I do believe that God is a God of order (I Corinthians 14:40) and so a man will be given a purpose, first...God will decide it's not good for him to be alone, second...and man may start to take note of the fact that something doesn't seem quite right in his life, third.

But you know what?  I also believe that there will be a season when God puts him to sleep...has him in an unconscious state so that he is not focused on what God is doing in the spirit realm. (Some of you all are wanting a man to pursue you and guess what?  He's actually on his post...he's sleep!)  When someone is not conscious, it doesn't matter how fine, how sweet, how saved you are.  He doesn't see you, honey.  He's knocked out.  He's on a spiritual sedative that God prescribed.

But, because we are looking at this from a flesh and not spirit perspective (Galatians 5:16-17), it can be easy to miss that just because he is “unconscious” to what God is doing, that doesn't mean that God isn't doing something.  Right now, I believe that God has taken some ribs out of men.  However, we as women are so busy looking at things in the physical realm...walking by sight rather than faith (the exact opposite of what we're supposed to be doing---2 Corinthians 5:7), that we're not seeing a lot of actions for what they really are.  In other words, some men's emotional states seem out of whack...the oxygen level to their brains, to us may seem a little low...they seem to be lacking a level of spirit and courage that we desire, but it's not because it's not there...it's because they are vulnerable right now...THEY HAVE A RIB MISSING. 

Now God ain't gonna put his “kings-in-preparation” on blast.  Do you see in verse 21 how it says that after he took the rib, he closed up the man's skin?  Not everyone needs to see that he has a hole where something, his helpmate, needs to be.  But I'll tell you what, in the wee hours of this morning (Psalm 199:147), I believe that God spoke a special thing to me: that I didn't need to focus so much on “him”, but on which rib I am...where God took me from to fashion me into the helpmate that my “currently unconscious mate” needs; to “cover up” where he is vulnerable (Proverbs 10:12)...that I need to chill out and let God bring me...when he thinks the time is right. (Acts 1:7---Message)

Now, do you see how it never tells us what God did to make the woman?  It just says that he did.  I will take the liberty to believe that it wasn't just about creating lips, hips and fingertips (after all, God is a spirit [John 4:24] and so I'm sure flesh is like...icing on the cake to him), but explaining to her the role that she had, the needs of her mate, the purpose God had for them as one flesh (substance; reality).  I mean, you see that when God brought the Woman to Adam, there was no documentation of her doing any of the talking, right?

I remember when one of my friends got married.  She said that her husband was crying the entire ceremony, but she was just standing there smiling.  “What did I need to cry about?” she asked.  “God told me I was his wife years ago.  This did not come as a surprise to me.”  (LOVE IT!)

Hmm...now that I think about it, this may be another “God Gossip Game” that should be reevaluated.  Since God brought the Woman to Adam, that would give us the indication that she quite possibly knew her purpose before he did.  God obviously revealed it, but it would appear that she knew it.  (And what are a lot of us told? That the man will know, first? Umm...OK. If you say so.)

Now once she arrived, with God's assistance and blessing, it wasn't the Woman who made a declaration of her purpose.  IT WAS ADAM.  However, what I also love about this story is that at that time, Adam knew who she was.  WHEN GOD BROUGHT HER TO HIM, HE KNEW HER...HER ROLE...HER POSITION...HER PURPOSE...AND THE VOID THAT SHE FILLED IN HIS LIFE.  He knew she came from his bones...from his body...that she was a part of him.  It was only then that man was given the instruction to leave his father and mother, be united with this wife and become one body with his God-ordained companion (we'll have to get into it another time how she came from his body and yet sex is what made them one body).  It was only then that they were naked and not ashamed (Genesis 2:24-25).

I was recently reading that in the Jewish culture “an unmarried person is considered half a person, the wedding day is seen to be the beginning of a new life as a complete soul for both the bride (Kallah) and groom (Choson).”  Yes, I believe that you should be a whole person before marriage in the sense of being holistically healthy, but I believe the context in which they are referring is becoming complete.  What we are created for, it's in doing those things that we become complete.

What God has just revealed to me is that for far too long, I have been focused on the wrong things.  An “unconscious man” has nothing to do with me.  What can he do?  HE'S UNCONSCIOUS.  If I want to pray for anything, I need to pray to spiritually discern what tempts me to pre-judge.  I would never get angry with someone with a broken bone because something is missing.  Of course they wouldn't be acting like they are in perfect condition until the bone has healed.  In the spiritual sense, I realize this is what God has shared with me this morning.  That a lot of these men out here are not malicious, they are just ribless; that I should pray that they remain in God's will so that he can finish the “surgical procedure” of creating their companions ('cause you know some people do try to fight going under anesthesia!) and bringing their queens to them.   

And, as for me, that if “he” doesn't see me yet, it's because God still has work to do...and that when it is time, I will know...I will be brought to him. Then my “Adam” will know it and praise God for it, recognizing that I fill a part of him that's been missing...a place where he needs solid support...something he may not have even realized until he comes to a spiritually conscious state.

Ladies, this is not a time to “hate” on the brothas.  Let's love on them (not enable, but love).  What is it that I Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV) says?

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Marriage is a spiritual union.  It is spiritually discerned.  You wanna get a greater insight, get out of the physical (that would include your senses) and into the spirit realm. 

Don't worry about your Adam.  You just concern yourself with getting ready for him.

So that when you're brought...when he sees you, you will be worthy of the praise.  You will be just what he needs---the covering of the place where his rib, whatever and wherever that rib may be, was taken.
You will be just what THE DOCTOR (of all doctors) ordered to restore him to complete spiritual health.

YOU WILL RESTORE (Joel 2:25) HIS "MISSING" RIB.

©Shellie R. Warren/2008


An Ounce of Prevention: "Ready. Set. GO!"

“Be ready in season and out of season.”---2 Timothy 4:2 (NKJV)

“Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.”---Wayne Dyer



On your mark. Get ready. Get set. GO! 

On your mark: Be where you’re supposed to be.

Get ready: Be willing to do what’s needed.

Get set: Prepare to get into the proper position or condition.

THEN…GO!: “To move or proceed, esp. to or from something”.


Most of us have heard this at some point in our lives, either because we were running a race ourselves or because we have *been on the sidelines* (hope you caught that) watching other people participate in one. Lately, due to the happenings on the “On Fire” blog, the topic of “readiness”, especially as it relates to marital covenant, has been coming up a lot. “Am I ready? Am I not ready?” Or more arrogantly for some, “Oh, *I’m* ready. *He’s* the one who’s not.” Pride comes before the fall, indeed (Proverbs 16:18). I’ll speak for myself and say that because the Lord is the MASTER OF GOOD AND RIGHT TIMING (and seasons-Acts 1:7-Message), I venture to say that if two people are not joined together, it’s either because 1) they never were supposed to be or 2) *neither of them is totally ready…yet*. If one is truly discerning (Ecclesiastes 8:5-6), they will realize (and accept) that no one really waits on a person. Matter of fact, I wonder how many people, whether by commission or omission, have committed idolatry (I Corinthians 10:14) by believing otherwise. A true believer *waits on the Lord* so that he can empower them to be of good courage and strengthen their heart (Psalm 27:14). So that he can be their help and their shield (Psalm 33:20). And one of my personal all-time favorites: so that they can *rest* as they patiently wait for him to…be God (Psalm 37:7). When you get caught up in waiting on man, *caught up* is exactly what you become. Remember: God (John 1:1), often through the voice of biblical truth, is who *frees* you (John 8:32).


Are You Ready? Are You *Really*?

However, it wasn’t until I was in my self-defense class a couple of nights ago (love it!) that I saw “ready” from another perspective. And, I also venture to say that had I not followed the unction of the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) and signed up for the class (and showed up), it’s quite possible that I would have missed this gem of a lesson. All things work together. *All* things work *together* (Romans 8:28). Steps are ordered (Psalm 37:23), in order, for a reason. And a purpose (Ecclesiastes 3:1). With God, there are always both (a reason and a purpose). So yeah, if you’re really honest with yourself (and repentant-Amos 5:4), this may cause to you to realize that while you *think* you’re waiting, what you’re oftentimes really doing is procrastinating in what you’ve already been instructed to do (Proverbs 1:7). I love how Proverbs 4:13 (NKJV) says, “Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; Keep her, for she is your life.” The level of the quality of our lives depend, significantly, on the godly instructions that we follow. Or don’t.

Anyway, before we would do certain exercises in the class, we would be told to “Get ready” by getting into a certain position. We kept practicing it over and over (and over and over) because the police officers said that if we did it enough times, in time, it would become second nature to us. *Before doing anything, we had to be in a certain position. We showed that we were ready for what’s next by being in position.* Oh, what our lives would be like if we embraced “readiness” in this manner. The Amplified Version of Proverbs 31:25 speaks of the Virtuous Woman in this way: “Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; she rejoices over the future [the latter day or time to come, knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it]!” Hmph. Funny how proper positioning and readiness work together, right? Because her position, her “condition with reference to place; location; situation” was strong and secure, she could rejoice in her future. Come what may, she and her family were ready for it. Again, strength and security bring about this kind of readiness.

Another form of “slick idolatry” (Exodus 2:3) that a lot of us commit? We rely on *man* for strength rather than the Maker of mankind: “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2-NKJV) Cause really, if we all esteemed, daily, the Lord as our rock, fortress, deliverer, strength, shield, horn of salvation and stronghold, what could man do to us? Why would we worry so much? What would there be to fear? I mean…*really*? My confession (James 5:16) is that I have also come to accept that my emotional status often speaks to my spiritual positioning. Psalm 127:1 (NKJV) indeed states, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” And so yes, if you’re doing something on your own (and you know it), that could be the *major cause* of your anxiety (Proverbs 12:25, Philippians 4:6-7). However, there’s a good way to know for sure if that’s the case…or not. The Lord tells us that if we acknowledge him in ALL of our ways, he will direct us (Psalm 3:5-7). “All” is (whew!) A LOT yet if you are doing that, if you don’t make *one move* until you have consulted with your Abba Father, you can take comfort in what a wise man once said, “In the end, it’s going to be all right. If it’s not all right, it’s not the end.” I’m pretty sure that’s a remix to Jeremiah 29:11 (AMP): “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.”


Running the Race of Faith

And so, as I personally explored readiness more, the Comforter took me to the words, the famous phrases, the instructions that are often given at the start of a race. Cause after all, *aren’t we all in one?* The New King James Version of Hebrews 12:1-3 calls it “The Race of Faith”:

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I Corinthians 9:24 (NKJV) says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” There’s running and then there’s running skillfully. How we *start* the race tends to speak *volumes* on how it will *end*. OK, but here’s the tripped out part. The Word speaks of us running with endurance. The Word speaks of us running a race in a way that we will obtain the prize in the end. Yeah, but when’s the last time you’ve looked up the word, “race”? Honestly? My first time was just now. In the context of this message, the main definitions are as follows:

Race: a contest of speed, as in running, riding, driving, or sailing; any contest or competition, esp. to achieve superiority; urgent need, responsibility, effort, etc., as when time is short or a solution is imperative; onward movement; an onward or regular course; the course of time; the course of life or a part of life

I think a lot of us look at “race” Scriptures as some kind of poetic metaphor, yet based on the definitions above, does it not seem *quite literal*? I know that third one (the one in bold) threw me for a loop! “Run with endurance, the urgent need, responsibility, effort, etc., as when time is short or a solution is imperative, that is set before us looking unto [Christ], the author and finisher of our faith…”; Do you not know that those who run in an urgent need, responsibility, effort, etc., as when time is short or the solution is imperative, all run, but one receives the prize?” When it comes to having an urgent need met, when time appears to be short and/or a solution is imperative, *endurance is required*. We must be willing to develop the power to bear pain and hardship. We must acquire “the ability or strength to continue or last, esp. despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions”. *Spiritual stamina is a must.* These references are all definitions of “endurance”. Yeah, a lot of us love to quote, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7-NKJV) Yet sometimes, I can’t help but think that Elohim looks at us like, “Exactly. You have already been *given* the *ability* to endure. ENDURE.”


Endure. Don’t Quit.

A lot of blessings come to those who have spiritual stamina. Those who endure obtain salvation (2 Timothy 2:10). Those who endure with the Lord reign with him (2 Timothy 2:12). Those who endure develop what is needed to fulfill their ministry (2 Timothy 4:5). Those who endure chastening are considered *legitimate sons* of God (Hebrews 12:7-8). Those who endure temptation, *after approval*, receive the crown of life (James 1:12). And here’s the best thing about endurance: Psalm 9:7 tells us that the Lord endures forever and Psalm 89:36 says that his seed shall endure forever. Endurance is a character trait of godliness. HAVING THE STRENGTH TO LAST DESPITE STRESS, FATIGUE OR OTHER ADVERSE CONDITIONS IS A SIGN OF GODLINESS. We know this, without question, because Paul said that, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13-NKJV) Through Christ, you can endure, the “urgent need, responsibility, effort, etc., as when time is short or a solution is imperative” because you know that Christ, especially through his example while here on earth, gives us the strength…the “mental power, force, or vigor” and the “moral power, firmness, or courage” to do so.

Quitting? Let me qualify: Quitting something that the Lord has told you to do (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)? Well, here’s what the Message Version of Revelation 2:10 says, “Don't quit, even if it costs you your life. Stay there believing. I have a Life-Crown sized and ready for you.” This was in reference to the direct persecution that many will face in the last days. However, I believe that *anything* that would tempt you to break a commitment to the Father and/or compromise your spiritual integrity *is* a form of persecution (I Peter 3:13-16). Hmph. If you wanna quit anything, quit what’s instructed in these verses:

“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet.”

There is an African Proverb which says, “When a needle falls into a deep well, many people will look into the well, but few will be ready to go down after it.” Obtaining many things in this life require real work. REAL. WORK. Christ assures rest to those who *labor* (Matthew 11:28). I used to often say that being a Christian doesn’t necessarily change the problems; just the solutions. Well, being a disciple (John 8:31) doesn’t always mean that acquiring (or maintaining) the things that we desire (that are within God’s will for us-Psalm 37:4) will be easy; it just means that we will have the power that we need to endure the tests and trials that come with receiving (and keeping) them. Marriages wouldn’t last any other way. Healthy parenting wouldn’t happen any other way. Stable careers based on those of great character wouldn’t continue any other way. The New Century Version of Proverbs 4:25 instructs, “Keep your eyes focused on what is right, and look straight ahead to what is good.” Another definition of “race” is “onward movement”, right? What champion runners win because they are looking all around, distracted? Who wins running backwards? To *advance* in this life, one must move *forward*. To obtain a godly prize, one must look to what is *good*. What, to our human trinity (mind, body, spirit), is “morally excellent; virtuous; righteous”; “right; proper; fit”; “reliable; dependable; responsible”; “cheerful; optimistic; amiable” and “genuine; not counterfeit”.

This is insight into how to *win* the race. Now, what about how you are to *start*?


Before You Begin…

On your mark. How many people lose a race because they didn’t start well or right? They were not on “their mark” from the very beginning. Psalm 111:10 (NKJV) says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” Revelation 1:8 (NKJV) says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”  ALL THINGS SHOULD “COMMENCE”, ALL THINGS SHOULD “ARISE” AND “ORIGINATE”, FROM GOD. PERIOD. That is your “marker”. If you’re not sure if something is of him, the Word assures, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5-NKJV) Wisdom is “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action”. *Knowledge and good judgment are married.* Wisdom is also based in discernment, common sense, information, learning and (catch it) practicality. Another definition is a “sound mind”. Wisdom and a sound mind are synonymous. Wisdom is based in “balance”, “stability” and “understanding”. If you do some research on the Gift of Wisdom, many will say that it’s based upon thinking as the Holy Spirit does (which is one of the reasons why I love the Message Version of Acts 1:7 so much!). Before doing *anything*, there should be wisdom present. There should be some really thorough conversations with the Comforter for supernatural insight into the situation.

Get ready. How many people, upon contemplating marriage, consider worst case scenarios? I mean *worst case*. You have no idea how many couples I know got married to have kids only to find out that they can’t (at least right now). Children are a *manifestation* of a committed love but they should, by no means, be the sole basis for it. Infertility, impotence, financial setbacks, spiritual obstacles, deaths, health scares, innermost fears, previously unaddressed issues…these are all things that should be considered *before* jumping a broom. *Before starting a race*, you have to be ready and willing to complete it. I’m always wondering when “For better or for worse” came up in wedding vows, what the majority of couples who file for divorce (Malachi 2:16) were thinking “worse” was. That’s apart of the reason why I adore the lead verse so much. We must be ready in season (a period of the year when something is best or available) *and* out of season. If you’re not *willing*, you’re not *ready*.

Get set. Getting into position. I think this may be one of the most overlooked instructions when it comes to running a race. You want to take on a family and you don’t even have your own finances, as a single person, in order. You want to head up a church and you can’t even treat your own family members right. You want to mentor masses on balance and healthy living and you can’t even keep your own diet (lifestyle change) in check or house or car clean. You don’t take care of your own temple (I Corinthians 16:9). We want more responsibility while living irresponsibly and it doesn’t work that way. Not in God’s system of operation. The New Century Version of Galatians 6:5 tells us that, “Each person must be responsible for himself.” Another definition of “set” is being in the “proper condition”. The title in the New King James Version of Hebrews 4:11-13 is “The Word Discovers Our Condition”: “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  The Word, which is God, doesn’t just discern one’s thoughts but one’s intentions. I mentioned in the previous devotional (“Get to the ROOT of It”) that it’s a great gut-check when Jeremiah 17:9-10 (Message) says that the Lord doesn’t treat us how we pretend to be, but how we actually are. James 4:3 (NKJV) tells us, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” In other words, you want something and yet your intentions, your “purpose or attitude toward the effect of one's actions or conduct” is jacked up. Singles, especially ladies, how interesting that another definition of “intention” is “purpose or attitude with respect to marriage”. You ask and do not receive a covenant union (yet) because your purpose or *attitude* with respect to marriage is about *your pleasure* not God’s purpose. Position. Condition. INTENTION. This is what must be clarified before you can…

Go! Oh how so many try to run a race…in reverse. I’ve done it. A myriad of times. It’s so…counterproductive. Author and speaker, Jim Rohn once said, “Your philosophy determines whether you will go for the disciplines or continue the errors.” Discipline. Hmph. Amazing how right after “The Race of Faith” in the New King James Version of Hebrews 12:1-2 comes “The Discipline of God” (verses 3-11): “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11-NKJV) Chastening trains you to run your race. If you don’t want to be chastened, you are going to be ill-equipped to “achieve superiority”, to move onward, to get on with the next “part of your life”. *People who can’t hear about their natural selves are hindering their spiritual progress.* (I Corinthians 2:14) Henry David Thoreau once said, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.” If you spend some time in the Gospels, it’s quite enlightening what transpired while the disciples were out…fishing (John 21, for example). Sometimes we “go out” for one thing and “come back” with something entirely different…or at least more than what we expected (Ephesians 3:20). Nonetheless and either way, if you’re gonna go, make sure you are going with the full purpose of really getting somewhere. To “go” is “to move or proceed, esp. to or from something”. To “go” is “to leave a place; depart”. To “go” is “to continue in a certain state or condition; be habitually”. To “go” is to MAKE. PROGRESS. When I public speak, I use these verses of Scripture often: “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (I Timothy 4:14-16-NKJV) The Amplified Version of verse 16 states, “Look well to yourself [to your own personality] and to [your] teaching…” I love, love, LOVE that! As disciples, as spiritually-disciplined individuals, we know how this should first and foremost be applied: “’Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20-NKJV) Wherever we go, discipleship should be a result.

I know, right? All this from four simple phrases at the beginning of a race. Oh, but if we would only take heed, imagine how many races we would…win!

My prayer? Ecclesiastes 3:17 (NKJV) tells us that, “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” Most of us are *quite familiar* with Ecclesiastes 3: all of the things there is a time and season for. Oh, but again, what does the lead verse say? That for *each* season, the fruitful and the fruitless, we should be ready. We should be prepared. Every work that you do, *every single one*, prepares you either to be productive or…counterproductive. As we all run *our own races*, my desire is that we’ll all be properly conditioned; that we will allow Adonai to do and use whatever (and whomever) he will to prepare us…to endure. So that we *can*…win. Our prize. Actually, our prizes.

So many times in self-defense class, we had to start over because we were not ready. Knowing the moves didn’t matter if they weren’t used at the appropriate time. If we were not in the proper position. If we were not following our instructor’s directions. Knowing what to do is one thing. Knowing when, how, where and why is something else. Entirely.

WORDS TO LIVE…AND RUN BY.

Yep. Don’t *go*. Until you *start*.

©Shellie R. Warren/2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

"On Fire": In Deep SMIT(ten).

"Be the flame, not the moth."---"Casanova"


When I go to school next week, I'll have to apologize to one of the girls that I counsel. She suspected it might snow today and my attitude was a *total* "Yeah, right." And here we are in Nashville. In snow. Again.

Thing is, it's a trip how it all transpired. Yesterday evening, I was downstairs on my couch and "King of Queens" was *watching me* while I slept. When I went upstairs to get something, I looked outside of the window and saw my neighbors' house covered in a blanket of snow. In my mind, I thought, "When did *that* happen?" A lot can change when you're in a state of *rest*.

Yeah. I hope I threw that accurately enough for some of you to catch it. *wink, wink*

Anyway, as I thought about how much I'm sensing the atmosphere changing, for a lot of "On Fire" women, I thought about something a married woman that I *just met* and totally connected with this week said to me. She's been married only a few (literal few) years. They have a daughter who is a few months shy of 2 (her birth control, or lack thereof, recap was *hilarious*!). When they married, she was a virgin although she candidly admitted to me that she was a "Well, we did a lot of other stuff, we just didn't have intercourse" kind-of-one. One day I'm gonna write a piece on "vaginal virgins", especially after reading a news story a couple of weeks back about this chick who used a (huh?!?) hymen cam for people to view her losing her "vaginal virginity" online (cause she shared that other places have been...um...already occupied). Which reminds me. The newest "Perez Linen" T-shirt is in the final stages of design as we speak. Actually there are two versions of it but on both it says, "Purity Is The New Virginity" on one side with "Keep Yourselves Pure" (I Timothy 5:22) on the other. I'll post a couple of pics of them, prayerfully, by next week.

OK, so back to the point. Being that I do desire to be married when El Berith (the God of Covenant) thinks it's best, I have been opening myself up to more and more married women. Single women tend me to be single-minded (as they should be) and so the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) told me that I need some (additional) helpmeets (Genesis 2:18) to help me get (and keep) myself further prepared. And so, as this particular wife was sharing some of her *pure comedy yet quite profound* revelations on marriage (she's a marriage and family counselor as well), there was something she said that immediately stuck. She was talking about a guy prior to her husband that she was with for (whew!) eight years and she said, "I realized that I was in deep smit with him."

Deep smit. *IN DEEP SMIT.*

If that won't preach, I don't know what will! Cause here's the thing: have you ever looked up the word "smitten"? The definitions are quite vast. Yes, to be smitten means that you *could be* "very much in love". However, it could also mean that you are "grievously or disastrously stricken or afflicted" or that you have been "affect[ed] mentally or morally with a sudden pang". Either way, before it gets that far, when it comes to issues of the heart, another definition almost always transpires: "to impress favorably; charm; enamor".

So many women fall for the "Lucky Charms" tricks. I mean, what's up with that, anyway? The Bible clearly tells us that "charm is deceitful" (Proverbs 31:30)...that the "power of pleasing or attracting, as through personality or beauty" is *deceitful*. It's "misleading". It's "illusory". It's "tricky". It's (love this!) "hollow". It's "fraudulent". And yet people seem to fall for it, the okey-doke...*daily*.


When I asked her what was her "final blow" in that past relationship, she said that while the guy seemed to have ninety-eight percent of what she wanted, the two percent that he didn't proved to be HUGE for her. There were certain emotional needs that she had that he just wasn't able to meet and if she had conceded, she would've been miserable. I say it often: What a lot of married women go through? That is called "committed". When a single woman is going through that exact same thing? That is often called "settling". It seems to be the recurring theme on here right now, doesn't it? WHY. SETTLE? Especially when as a single, YOU. DON'T. HAVE. TO.


As I recalled all of the past times that I have be in deep smit, for some reason, Janet Jackson's jam (and it is *the jam!*), "That's The Way Love Goes" came to mind. You know how the intro says, "Like a moth to a flame burned by the fire. My love is blind can't you see my desire?" Slick subterfuge put to a smooth, melodic groove is what that is. LOVE IS NOT BLIND because when you're blind, you're in the dark. God is love (I John 4:8). Love is light (Psalm 18:28). Yet you know, after watching the movie "Casanova" (Heath Ledger) this week and hearing the lead quote in the dialogue, I couldn't help but smile about the other part of Janet's listed lyrics. She's like a moth to a flame. When Casanova was asked how he was able to beguile so many women, he said, "Be the flame, *not* the moth." Be what draws. Not what's drawn.


Now, I'm saying this in context of purity and holiness: this is the "ON FIRE" movement. The Word (John 1:1) tells us that ministers are a FLAME OF FIRE. In a biblical sense, godly fire is to *refine* (Psalm 66:10). It's "to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities". It's to "purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured". It's "to make fine distinctions in thought or language". We are ministers, helpmeets, Ezer Kenegdos-in-training. We are not to be *so smitten* that we get burned up with our desires. We are to be *so focused* that we are the flame that refines the impurities that are around us. 

I learned a long time ago that most of the possums that we see ran over in the road are male possums. What happens is that when the female one makes her mating call, he (of course-LOL) attempts to get to her, by any means necessary it would seem, and because they are so sensitive to light (which is why their ugly *fang-filled* selves prefer the night-*hmph*!) when they see headlights, they freeze up. A moth is similar. They are insects that are drawn to the light of a fire. By the time they realize that it's a *burning flame*, it's usually too late.


*Don't be like that moth.* You know what I mean: so drawn in by charm that you're destroyed by its deceitful ways before you even notice what's transpired, or trans-fired. Remember, that's the Liar's (John 8:44) job: to steal, kill and *destroy* (John 10:10). You know that wife was really onto something when she said that overlooking the "two-percent lie" can be what jacks you up. Ninety-eight percent of a person can be like the flame. That two percent you choose to overlook can be like that fire. The fire that lights your butt up! You have no idea how many wives I speak to that overlooked a porn fetish, a selfish attitude, a dirty habit, a credit issue, a family secret, an indiscretion, a temper, a questionable spirituality, an insecurity, an IMMATURITY only to be in complete misery at this very moment. While they were dating, instead of being the "refiner's fire flame", they were the moth. Instead of godly love being their *truth motivation* (cause remember, truth is to FREE you!), they found themselves in deep smit.


*It's not worth it.* A wedding day is just a day. Even the best of sex is what? A 45-minute round (give or take-LOL)?


What about the rest of your life?!?


Ask the Lord to, as my other girl, Anita Baker sings, "Lead Me Into Love". Don't you go out on the hunt. The Woman was *brought* (Genesis 2:22), remember? In some translations of the Word, she was *presented*. Either way, when Adonai is involved, there is no deception. The love will enlighten you. Not burn you.

It will light the way...


So that you'll be in real love. 

Not in deep smit.


GET FREE!!!


SRW

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"On Fire": Don't Settle. Expect Ready.

"Romance demands a hero's heart, yet it is often met with a cowardly narcissism."---"The Wedding Vows from Conversations with God"

So...

It's a bit of tough love today. ;-)

I just finished straight-up *jamming* to one of my brother's South African hits. I don't know who Lucy Lulaluc is, but I appreciate her posting this particular song on YouTube. If you're a settler-in-recovery (which needs to be *every single person on here!*), take a moment to check out Liquideep's joint, "Settle for Less" (for those who don't know Jonathan/Ziyon, he's the tall dude in all of the shots) and then, as one of my ex's mother's used to say all of the time, "Tell the Lord, 'Thank ya!'" (LOL) It's truly freeing. Freeing, indeed. If you can say what Jonathan is saying. Oh...*and mean it.*  There's one part of the first verse, in particular, that always catches my attention whenever I listen to the song:

You call me picky
Say what you want
At least I'm sayin' everything up front
No time for guessin'
No time for games
I will know it when I see it come my way
Til then I'm sayin'

(Chorus)

No I won't settle
Settle for less
And I don't want us
If we ain't the best
No I won't settle
Settle for less

And you wanna know something? This song is not based in fiction. My brother is *just like that*. And you know what else? So are most of the men that I know. They say what they expect up front. Sadly (*sigh*), there's very few (and I mean...*very few*) women that I know where I can unequivocally say the same. There's always some kind of cryptic decoding  drama that they either seem to send themselves, the object of their affection *or both* through.

A guy says, "Sure, I like you."

Why does a girl hear, "Oh, so you're ready to start dating me exclusively then?"

A guy says, "We have a lot in common. I feel very comfortable with you."

Why does a girl hear, "Oh, so you're saying I'm your soul mate?"

A guy says, "I want to get married someday."

Why does a girl hear, "To me? OK...when? Don't be playing around with me!"

Another freeing point? Something that my prayer partner and I were discussing just this week was something that a male friend told her: "This is how you know a guy wants to marry you: He'll say, 'Will you marry me?'"

And yes. It really is *just that simple*. And so why do we as women want to make it so difficult? Honestly, I'm still unpacking that but I think some of it is because being that a big part of our purpose is to be a helper to the male species (Genesis 2:18), we tend to be nurturers by trade. However, I'm not sure if we're as discerning as we need to be when it comes to what we "feed", what we "train", what we "educate" or "develop". We're not a man's mother. Sometimes, I think we think it's our job to "help a man along" when it comes to him coming to the realization/conclusion that 1) he is to be married and 2) we are to be his life partner. Hmph. Now that I'm actually reading that back to myself, HOW ARROGANT. And yes, pride indeed comes before the fall (Proverbs 16:18)!

Our job is to nurture a man to the altar? No. Not even close. Adonai was the One who put Adam to sleep and so therefore it is my belief that *only he could awaken him* (Genesis 2:18-25)...and it's that way for a specific reason...and purpose. It's a Buddhist quote but (gasp for some of you traditionalists-LOL) God made Buddha too and his quote is quite fitting here: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

WHEN THE MAN IS READY, THE LORD WILL PREPARE HIM...

And then...

WHEN THE MAN IS PREPARED, HIS WIFE WILL APPEAR.

Let me further clarify that:

WHEN THE MAN IS READY TO RECEIVE HIS WIFE, HE WILL TELL HER THAT HE KNOWS WHO SHE IS WHEN SHE APPEARS. BECAUSE GOD WILL TELL HIM SO. BECAUSE GODLY PREPARATION DOES THAT FOR A MAN.

Just as God did with Adam.

A couple of nights ago, I came upon an interview online via actor Vince Vaughn. In it, he was (catch it) *praising his wife.* This part caught my eye, especially: "I met the best girl in the world," The Dilemma star, 40, says on Friday's "The Ellen DeGeneres Show". "It gives you such a great purpose in your life. If I would've met her, I would've done it a long time ago so I'm very, very happy."

A wife gives him great purpose. If he would've met her before, he would have done it a long time ago. Hmph. Now, that first statement? That is sooooooo spot on. That second one? Well, to be honest with you, something (er, discernment) tells me that if he had met her 10 years ago, he probably still wouldn't have seen her as he does now because he wouldn't have been the man he is now *and* she wouldn't have been the woman that she is now. *Another key that women should hold on to but seem to not nearly as much as they should, I'm afraid.*

OK, and here's another excerpt: "Sometimes, in our industry, well, I speak for myself, maybe that's an excuse, but you don't mature always at the same time. So if I was very fortunate that when I got ready and was open to that, then that person came into my life," he says. "You have to be ready to receive that. No question."

Thanks Vince. You just helped to solidify the point. YOU HAVE TO BE *READY* TO RECEIVE THAT.

A ready person is "willing". A man has to be *willing* to one, be married and two, be married to you.

A ready person is "duly equipped, completed, adjusted, or arranged, as for an occasion or purpose". A man has to be *duly equipped and complete*, he has to be *spiritually adjusted to and arranged by God* to be married...and then...to be married...to you.


A ready person is "present". A man has to be in the "here and now", *in every way* when it comes to being married and being married to you.


A ready person is "prompt or quick in perceiving, comprehending, speaking, writing, etc." A MAN HAS TO BE PROMPT IN COMPREHENDING THAT HE IS READY TO BE MARRIED AND IN *SAYING*, IN HIS *OWN WORDS* (NOT YOUR GUIDING, DEMANDING OR INTERPRETATIONS) THAT HE IS READY TO BE MARRIED TO YOU.


A ready person is "immediately available for use". A man has to be immediately available not only for marriage but also when it comes to being married to you.


This is the indication of a ready person. If you don't see these signs, then he's not ready. Or at least, not ready for you. And you know what? That doesn't make him the bad guy or you the victim simply because *you* decided that *you* wanted it to go differently. I don't get mad at an unbaked cake. Eating it before it's *ready* wouldn't be a satisfying experience for me. Either I need to *wait*...or go for something else. 


Which brings me back to my brother's song. HE SAYS WHAT HE WANTS...UP. FRONT.


Ladies, if you desire to be married, why are you pining over men who, by looking at the tree (Matthew 12:33)---by evaluating his *character*...his *dating/sexual habits*...his *relationship (or lack thereof) with God*...his ability to *holistically* take care of himself---you *know* that he's not ready? In being consumed with if he has a "fear of commitment", on this side of healthy, from personal experience, I would encourage you to ask yourself if you have a bit of a god complex. YOU seem to know what's best for him. YOU seem to think that the issue is him and not you. YOU think the timing is best simply because it's when YOU want it.


YOU. YOU. YOU....YOU.


Marriage ain't just about YOU. It's about you, and "him" and El Berith, the God of Covenant and the order is that God comes first. Putting all of your preoccupation in a man is a form of emotional idolatry. GOD IS TO ALWAYS BE THE TOP PRIORITY. That's how you keep from settling. That's how you are led to the man, *your man* who is ready for you. A sign that you are caught up in emotional idolatry? How much do you talk about that man vs. God or how much do you talk to God about that man vs. to God about what he desires for your life...*exclusive of a man?* God never gives a gift if he thinks it will be/become a god. *Never* (Exodus 20:3)


All of that said...


I absolutely love the opening quote on this blog message. Romance demands a hero's heart. It's pretty bold,  it's pretty noble, it's pretty extreme to be the kind of chick that says, "Yes, I'm picky.";  "No, I don't play games (LADIES, PLEASE STOP PLAYING GAMES!!!).";  And yes, because wives don't *date* (some of y'all will catch that later!-Proverbs 18:22), "I am going to say upfront the kind of relationship I'm looking for. I can be your friend. But either we are going to stay platonic friends or in time, if there is a *mutual attraction*, explore the option of there being more. But I'm not looking to be someone's girlfriend. I'm waiting on the Lord to bring me to my husband. To be his wife. There's no middle ground with me. If you're not fine with that...that's fine. I. AM."


You know how many people are scared to talk like that?!? Whatever. That's how hearts end up going unguarded (Proverbs 4:23). The Word I read says that perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18)! This would include self-love. There are some people in times past who used to speak to me, almost as if they were offended, about how a guy would say that they're a "wife". OK, so he sees your purpose and he's not interested in either 1) tainting it or 2) being apart of it. Again, "Tell the Lord, 'Thank ya!'" When is it ever a compliment to be seen as a jump-off or a pass time? And if he doesn't want to be with you, *trust me*, there's a blessin' in rejection. Vanilla ice cream is good...to those who like vanilla. You are the ideal for the person you were created for. A man is to desire *his wife*; not just *wife material*.


And so my sistahs, this week, my prayer will be that you won't settle. That you will put your focus on your Creator rather than his creation. Check out Romans 1 to see what happens to a lot of people when they do otherwise. *Lusting after a husband is not godly.* LOVE IS PATIENT (I Corinthians 13:4). Don't be a cowardly narcissist: don't be someone who lacks courage to do things the unconventional way, the non-desperate way, GOD'S WAY. Don't be the kind of woman who is always consuming herself with...well...herself. With how great you are and how stupid you think he is for not noticing. With how much he's missing out on. With "What's wrong with him? Doesn't he see this good thing that's right before him?"


If it's not time AND/OR  if you are not *his one*, the answer would be a resounding "no" and that answer comes from up above. Again, this ain't about just you. This is about a covenant that is not only a blessing to the husband and wife but a witness and example to all who see it.


Don't you worry about how "not ready" someone else is. They're on the Lord's clock...*not yours*.


What you need to do is make sure that *you're ready*...


And take it from me, one of the best ways to prove that? 

In your words, actions and associations...*expect ready*...


DON'T SETTLE. FOR LESS.