Thursday, February 24, 2011

"On Fire": Renee''s Beloved

"Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been BORN AGAIN, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because 'All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.'  Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you."---I Peter 1:22-25 (NKJV)


Today (meaning this blog) is a very special one for me because while I have developed a "sweet soul tie" with many of the "On Fire" sistahs, this one, in particular, I especially hold dear. Renee' is like a little sister of mine in so many ways and being that my middle name is her first, I have always seen her through...intimate eyes. Since knowing her, I have watched her do what "Renee'" means (reborn) on several levels. There's a man by the name of Maxwell Maltz who once said that, "Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on." Hmph. He's right. It's hard to accept the things of God without recognizing that you are the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-28). In the area of relationships, an email that I recently received from Renee', shows me, once again, that God is real, prayer is effective and that Renee' is now "coasting" in the matters of the heart in ways that are truly miraculous. So much so, that I asked her permission to share a bit of her love story.

As for the lead verses for this message, it may seem like an odd "marriage blessing", yet it is *exactly* where the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) led me. Cause here's the thing: to really be prepared for marital covenant, one's soul *must* be purified through the TRUTH of the Spirit. This is the *only* way that *sincere love* can manifest. I was just telling someone recently that so many of us do things out of fear in relationships, especially romantic relationships, because we don't really take/make the time to see how much of GOD is really involved. Most of us are more than familiar with I John 4:18 ("There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."-NKJV), yet I wonder how many of us actually use this as our "love gage". Meaning, if God is in your relationship...if he's *really* in your relationship...come what may, "What is there to fear?" God doesn't give us a spirit of fear, right? Therefore, real love, godly love, covenant love should EMPOWER you. It should only bring MORE LOVE into your human trinity (mind, body, spirit). It should encourage you to operate from a SOUND MIND (2 Timothy 1:7). Anything else? Anything less? It's counterfeit. It's an imposter. It's a pretender. It's a lie (John 8:44).

Another wise man, he once said that, "The best love story...is your own." Being that the Word (John 1:1) tells us that Adonai fashions our hearts *individually*, that he considers *all of our works* (Psalm 33:15), *I totally agree* and so this included testimony is not to serve as a script for you to follow so much as it is a testament that doing things God's way is *always* the best way. This is not the time for compromise, my sistahs. This is the time for *total obedience* and *full surrender* to ALL of Adonai's instructions in your life. Including your love life. He is a rewarder of those who *diligently* seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Amen. And amen.

Renee''s Beloved

We originally met about five years ago (2006). He pursued me then, but I wasn't at a point of relational status. About 2 1/2 years later (mid 2008), we saw each other at Kroger's and began our friendship. At that time, I was fresh out of a relationship (around the time I first met you) and healing from a STRONG emotional soul tie. I continued to hold onto the hope that one day, my ex and I would be together. I spent countless hours praying for us. I put an extreme amount of time and energy into something/someone God had been trying to release me from. All the while, William was there to SHOW (because love is a verb) his love for me while I was healing. He expressed it time after time just through being present and having a shoulder for me to cry on. After much fasting and praying, I was delivered from a connection that had a hold on my life.

William (this is Shellie interjecting here: his name means "will", "desire", "helmet of protection" and "DETERMINED GUARDIAN") is different than my previous relationships mainly because he sought God before pursuing me. Though we could have jumped into a relationship right after one ended, we chose not to. He chose to allow God to rebuild and mold me back into the woman he ORIGINALLY called me
to be...FIRST
.  

For years, I had called him my friend, and on February 12, 2011, I chose the affirmative as my future husband asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. That night we shared many first moments.  We shared our first kiss. It was the first night I told him I loved him. The first time I had ever experienced such peace, joy, and happiness. And most of all, [it was] the first day of the rest of our lives.
Many of my close friends and loved ones wonder how I waited so long to kiss him. He and I both knew that there was something special happening. I was fighting fear. Fear of being hurt again and fear of it not working. And while I was fearful, he was praying. He had heard from God years ago concerning me being his wife, he just had to be patient and allow God to continue his work in me

Nonetheless, the kiss was the MOST amazing experience of my life. I call it an experience because it was more than a physical connection. That kiss represented all we had fought for and the ministry we both desire to exude. It represented the bond we share and the fight it took to bring us to this point. I am blessed to have experienced such a gift. Love truly is patient.

This. This right here. THIS is what this blog is all about. Preparing us for more than marriage. But a covenant. Thank you, Renee'. My heart overfloweth for both the "Reborn" and the "Determined Guardian" of her (your) heart.

Love to each and every one of you. One that is without fear. One that will keep you in your right mind (LOL)...in the meantime.

Until the right time (Acts 1:7-Message), 

SRW

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"On Fire": (What We Can Learn from) Zelophehad's Daughters

"'This the Lord's command to Zelophehad's daughters: You may marry anyone you wish, as long as the person is from your own tribe. In this way the Israelites' land will not pass from tribe to tribe, and each Israelite will keep the land in the tribe that belonged to his ancestors. A woman who inherits her father's land may marry, but she must marry someone from her own tribe. In this way every Israelite will keep the land that belonged to his ancestors. The land must not pass from tribe to tribe, and each Israelite tribe will keep the land it received from its ancestors.' Zelophehad's daughters obeyed the Lord's command to Moses."---Numbers 36:5-10 (NCV)



While traveling over the weekend, I picked up a magazine. Only one, which kind of surprised me. However, only one piqued my interest. It was People's Magazine and this week's issue has a picture of actress, Christina Applegate and her daughter, Sadie Grace on it.

I've been aware of Ms. Applegate since...since..."Love and marriage, love and marriage" ("Married with Children"'s theme song") and so when you grow up with someone on your tube, even when you have to sneak and watch them like I did (LOL), there tends to be a unique affinity that develops (which is why people *really need to watch* what their children watch!). So when she developed breast cancer in 2008, my heart went out to her. And last year, when she announced that she was pregnant, it did again. Differently.

Let's stop here for a moment. If the Lord wants you to be pregnant...deeper yet, if there is a plan for the child that you would carry...a master (and Master's) plan that is bigger than you, THEN YOU WILL BE PREGNANT. All of y'all in the "time clock crew", CHILL. OUT. At 39, in spite of not just her age, but Ms. Applegate's *breast cancer*, Sadie Grace...Sadie GRACE (2 Corinthians 12:9) is here. God doesn't just look at what *we want*, but how what we want fits into *his purpose* in this life.

It's a good tie-in for this week's message. Also while on the plane, I took the lovingkindness book that I am currently reading, well, studying right now ("The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice" by Rabbi Rami Shapiro) and, among other things, the Bible. I'm glad I did, because in the book, Rabbi Shapiro referenced the title of today's message. A story that I don't recall hearing or reading for myself before. For the sake of time and space, I'm going to encourage you to make some time to read Numbers 27:1-11. Basically, it's about some of Joseph's fifth-great (I think I counted that right) granddaughters whose father, Zelophehad, had passed without any sons and so they approached Moses about getting his land. *Their inheritance*:

"'Our father's name will die out because he had no sons. Give us property among our father's relatives.'

So Moses brought their case to the Lord, and the Lord said to him, 'The daughters of Zelophehad are right; they should certainly get what their father owned. Give them property among their father's relatives.'"---Numbers 27:4-5 (NCV)

Oh, how I would *love* to get into a liner that's not even in this part of the story. A part about how their father didn't die because of any "outward circumstances" but *his own sin* (check Numbers 27:3-NCV). I'll let the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) lead you to that as he will. Anyway, there are two things that jumped out at me here. One, these women were industrious. They weren't pinning away over some man or a time clock. They were focused on getting some land. *Their land*. And two, although *tradition* said one thing, they fought for what they believed was *rightfully* theirs. Not just what they wanted, but what they believed was their *right*. Their *birthright*.

I'm not talking to everyone, but I know this is a "spiritual shout out" for more than one. It has been said over and over again: GOD DOES THINGS DECENTLY AND IN ORDER (I Corinthians 14:40). One of my love brothers (thanks RR) sent me an email earlier last week that while he really and truly believed that I would marry before him, "Your marriage, 'this' marriage could quite possibly be with you being married to God's will right now in this season. It's like, would you be doing what you're doing right now if  your 'He' was here (not saying that he's not but you get what I'm saying)??? I still feel like it's all part of the preparation for what he has in store for you. It's scary, actually because I know sometimes we can't see the oil on ourselves, but it's on YOU!!! I'm excited for what God is doing with you and through you. I pray your continued strength."

At the time that my love brother said that, I was in another head space. Oh, but words are seeds and just like those lilies that you all got this past week (RIGHT?!?-LOL), things bloom (a flourishing, healthy condition; the time or period of greatest beauty, artistry, etc.) right at the time (Acts 1:7-Message) that they should. The "ding, ding, ding!" that went off in my head while (re)reading Numbers this morning is that the Lord is using this time, even in my life, not just to serve other single (and married) women in a way that only a woman with a "single schedule" could (I Corinthians 7:34) BUT to also restore (Joel 2:23-25) to me some of my own "land"...some of my own spiritual inheritance. Another book that I took with me was "The Wedding Vows from Conversations with God" (Neale Donald Walsch and Nancy Fleming-Walsch) and a quote that I pulled from Marianne Williamson is "All pain derives from spiritual ignorance." *ALL PAIN* DERIVES FROM SPIRITUAL IGNORANCE. Either someone else's or...our own. Some of us do (or don't do) things because we are ignorant about what our rights are as Adonai's daughters. For some of us, he's using this special and sacred time in our single state to reveal to us what we are worthy of. Oh, but Adonai's a trip. One of the main reason why is revealed in Numbers 36 and is the lead Scripture for this blog.


"This is the Lord's command to Zelophehad's daughters: You may marry anyone you wish, as long as the person is from your own tribe. In this way the Israelites' land will not pass from tribe to tribe, and each Israelite will keep the land in the tribe that belonged to his ancestors. A woman who inherits her father's land may marry, but she must marry someone from her own tribe. In this way every Israelite will keep the land that belonged to his ancestors. The land must not pass from tribe to tribe, and each Israelite tribe will keep the land it received from its ancestors."---Numbers 36:5-9 (NCV)

DECENT. AND IN ORDER. In these modern times, one way of seeing "tribe" is found in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (NKJV): "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'”

Adonai sees us getting intimate with someone who does not serve him as Christ attempting to be on one accord with the Liar (8:44). That is pretty drastic and I'll leave it at that. However, another definition of tribe is "a class or set of persons, especially one with strong common traits or interests". What the Lord spoke to Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah and Noah (who knew "Noah" was unisex? That's hot! It means "rest", by the way) was pretty literal. They were apart of Joseph's tribe (Genesis 49) and they needed to marry within it. We, as Abba Father's chosen generation, his royal and special people (I Peter 2:9), need to follow suit. WE NEED TO CHOOSE MEN WHO ARE LIVING (IN WORD AND DEED-Colossians 3:17, I John 3:18) AS A PART OF ADONAI'S COVENANT. *In every way.* However, even beyond that, some of this time is being used to show us what our own traits and interests are. Sadly, some of us have been so busy (and some are even obsessed) with who "the guy" is and what he wants that we don't even know who we really are. I have watched it more than I would care to fully elaborate on at this time, but there is *nothing* like a woman who becomes whomever she's with and can do that simultaneously (meaning, with multiple men). DO YOU. And let the Lord bring you (Genesis 2:18-25) to the person who complements that. Precisely. In Numbers 27, the women got their inheritance. In Numbers 36, they got their husbands. *The latter did not come before the former.* Praise the Lord!!!


Hmph. I thought again about Ms. Applegate's own inheritance. There's a part in the story where she talks about how self-conscious she's been about her chest (understandably so) since her double-mastectomy; how she wouldn't let anyone see her top half. Oh, but when Little Miss Sadie Grace was born...


"I didn't care. It didn't matter anymore. Not only was she the most beautiful thing that's ever happened to me---but she saved me too. I got to abandon resentments that I've held on to in that vicinity for years because [my chest] is where she feels the most comfortable and where she's happiest."


The place of the mother's shame *is* now the place of the daughter's refuge. All things work together (Romans 8:28), even when we don't see how at the time. BEAUTIFUL.


Our ways are not his ways. Our thoughts are not his thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Oh, but when the Lord said that he would withhold *no good thing* from us, from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11), we can really trust and believe in that! Husbands came...after Zelophad's daughters got some other things that they deserved. Literally. Ours will as well. If a marriage is apart of God's will in a way that goes far beyond our wants, we will have them. And it will be at a time when we are ready to choose someone from *our distinctive tribes*---ones that some of us don't even know about because we're still figuring *us* out.


This was a good word, God. Thank you.


For revealing that we have so much more coming to us...more than most of us even know about. 

But should. And you're using this time to show. 

As singles. Before marriage.


Amen. And amen.


Love to you,


SRW



Saturday, February 12, 2011

"On Fire": The Romantics

 "Like a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters."---Song of Solomon 2:2 (NKJV)


Yes...yes.

St. Valentine's Day is upon us and while I'm not sure how everyone feels about that at present (wink), and while I tried to not be cliche' and pen a piece surrounding the theme, the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) *obviously* had other things in mind.

The title of this blog is not happenstance. It is a co-incident in the grandest of forms. Earlier this week, I checked out a movie by the title of that name (you can check it out at the Redbox). Now, I'll say this: there was a *series of dysfunction* all up in that film. The sanctity of the boudoir (Hebrews 13:4), honey...it's getting sooooooo ridiculous out here! Yet and still, there was something in the movie that I found to be pretty profound: THERE ARE ALWAYS SIGNS THAT SOMETHING IS EITHER *FOR YOU* OR...*NOT*. Ignoring those signs doesn't change that fact.

I don't want to ruin this cinematic experience for those who may desire to check it out at some point; however, whether you have someone of the opposite sex to share heart candy with or not this coming Monday, there was a short-n-sweet checklist provided by one of the characters that I would like to run by you. The bride-to-be's sister asked her the following questions about the groom-to-be:

1) Does he make you feel beautiful?


2) Does he make you feel safe?


3) Does he make you feel special? Like you're his most interesting person?

Ah. The holy trinity of courtship (LOL). I'm laughing...but I'm kind of serious. How simplistic these questions seem and yet the more counseling, premarital counseling and marital counseling that I do, the more I realize how much this *must* be overlooked based on the climate of many of the relationships that I currently encounter. Partly sunny? Hmph. Not even partly cloudy a lot of them are. Even on the best day. Unfortunately.

Oh, how I want to use this movie to break down some things (ew...ew...ew!). Sometimes we just want something to happen so badly, so *desperately badly* that we become...well...*desperate*.  We do things that are "reckless" and "dangerous". We process things, especially emotionally, in a way that is "extreme" and "excessive". We "give our all" in ways that spiritually the Lord cannot condone or support (YOU'RE NOT MARRIED UNTIL YOU ARE MARRIED...physically, emotionally or otherwise). We move in ways that say we have an "urgent need". We can be oh so needy...sometimes.

And when you're desperate, you tend to be hopeless (which is a huge compromise in faith-Hebrews 11:1 & 6)...which means you tend to be rushed and you don't take the time out to ask yourself the kinds of questions posed above. These questions are married. They cannot separate from one another. In a romantic relationship, let me say this first: YOU should feel beautiful. YOU should be a safe place (there are sooooooooooooo many unsafe women in this world!). YOU should feel special and be one of YOUR most interesting people. Cause really (and I'm speaking from personal hindsight experience here)...if you're not making you a priority, how hypocritical of you to expect someone else to. Relationships tend to reflect people's internal issues. That's a harsh reality that a lot of us don't want to face. Again, it doesn't make it any less true.

Yet once you have come to this resolve, I don't care how fine he is or how up in age you are, I don't care how long you two have been dating or even if you're engaged, if there is not an affirming and resounding "YES!" to *all three questions* (with some additional information to support your answer), then stepping back, guarding your heart (Proverbs 4:23) and getting back to you before committing to someone else is *exactly* what you need to do. Even, and in some ways especially, if you come to that resolve on Monday.

So what does that have to do with the lead verse for today? Well recently, a confidant of mine took me to a plantation in Murfreesboro, TN. Girls and women alike could stay out of half of the crap that they're in now if they stuck to a lot of those traditions in the late 1800s. Anyway, some of the papers that I was given was how to flirt with a fan and a parasol. Another? What flowers mean. It was nice to refamiliarize myself with that last one.

And you know what? I know that roses, especially red ones, symbolize love. But do you see what the Beloved said about his lady? The Shulamite woman? That she was like a LILY among the thorns. Now, I knew *some* of what a lily represented but it wasn't until I looked it up, just now, that I saw that it had *so many* definitions. It was this one that stayed with me. In a very intimate way:

LILY OF THE VALLEY: Return of happiness, purity of heart, sweetness, tears of the Virgin Mary, you've made my life complete, humility, happiness, love's good fortune. The legend of the lily of the valley is that it sprang from Eve's tears when she was kicked out of the Garden of Eden. It is also believed that this flower protects gardens from evil spirits. Also known as the flower of May.

Now that is a somewhat "secular" view. I still loved a lot of it, though. The *return* of happiness. The *purity* of heart. The sweetness that makes the statement that "you've made my life complete". This is what a Lily of the Valley means. But of course, you know I had to dig deeper, especially since that kind of flower is what the Shulamite woman declared herself to be in Song of Solomon 2:1. I found a write-up with a more biblical perspective here. In the article, it states that a lily is sweet and fragrant. A lily is white (let's go for poetic license and say that it again symbolizes purity) and is very beautiful. A lily is *very fruitful* (Fruit of the Spirit, anyone?-Galatians 5:22-23). A lily has many medicinal properties (a lily is a healer). A lily is the tallest of flowers *but hangs its head down* (in the sense of humility). Yet, most of all, the lily is said to represent Christ (which is a big part of the reason why a lot of us see lilies around Easter time). A WOMAN IS TO LOVE A MAN LIKE CHRIST LOVES US.

The Beloved said that his sweetheart was a lily among thorns. You know the old saying, "He's a thorn in my side"? That's basically like saying he (or she) is "something that wounds, annoys, or causes discomfort". In the midst of so much that wounds, annoys and discomforts, the Beloved said that the woman that he so loved was the *return of his happiness*, that she had a *purity of heart* that she *made his life complete*.


Yeah. Lots of people loves roses (I'm a tulips girl, myself) but, at least when it comes to our character, it's a lily that we should be after. And so, whether you're in a relationship or not, I encourage you to spend some time...some serious soul-searching time, not just on the three questions but on if you are indeed a lily. If you are relief among the irritants of this world. And then, dating/courting or not, GET YOURSELF A LILY, GIRL. *On Monday*. While I dig them (obviously because they are the backdrop for this blog), roses are so common. If you're following this blog? YOU'RE. NOT.


People often don't think that realism comes with romance. *It does*.


Love yourself so that you can love your neighbor.


So that when the time is right and those three questions have been internally and emphatically answered, you and your (future) Beloved can be considered as more than a couple. You can be seen as...


THE ROMANTICS. *The real kind*.


Love to you,


SRW

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"On Fire": Hand Crack and Suicide Pacts

"But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren."---James 1:14-16 (NKJV)


Hey Ladies,

Well, the bad news is that I'm willing to bet that this is gonna make a couple of y'all *really uncomfortable*. The good news is that whom the Lord loves, he chastens (Hebrews 12:6). The truth sets us free (John 8:32). GET FREE so that you can LIVE. FREE.

For the past few days now, I've been hearing a phrase in my head. In all honesty, it's actually been making *me* a bit uncomfortable because as much as people like to swoon over dysfunctional love stories like "Romeo and Juliet", I find nothing comforting or romantic *or healthy* about two people feeling like they can't live, literally, without one another. In martial covenant, spouses are to remain committed until death parts them; not until they kill themselves.

And so when I heard "suicide pact" in my psyche, it threw me for a minute. Was the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) giving me the heads up that someone in my space was in trouble? Well. Yeah. Kinda. However, let me preface this with one other thing first. And for the conservatives on here, I'm quoting it *just as it was said*...for a reason. And a purpose.

Now that I don't sexualize my relationships with men anymore (finally...FI-NAL-LY!), I have really grown to appreciate them in such a real and lasting way. There is *so much wisdom and guidance* they have to offer when they are put into their proper (relational) place and (spiritual) position. Anyway, I was talking to one of my male friends recently about men and how they process sex. Now granted, this was more of a "worldly view"; however, I will say this: life gets *a lot easier* when we as women quit trying to make men be something they're not, especially emotionally, AND ONE THING THEY ARE NOT IS WOMEN. In Adonai's system of operation, *none of us are to be promiscuous* and when the Word says that "There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact" (I Corinthians 6:16-Message), this applies to both the XX (us) and the XY (them). But because there are more people who are not living in *total sexual purity* (I Timothy 5:22) than are, I think a lot of women need to hear what my friend said. The conversation went like this:

Me: "So, how can you (general you) claim to love one woman and have sex with someone else?"

Him: "We don't see sex in the same way that you do. We don't need to care about you to sleep with you."

Me: "I mean, you're willing to put your body into someone else and it doesn't matter?"

Him: "If I asked you if I could jack off into your shower, would that seem like an emotional experience to you? Jackin' off in the shower. Jackin' off in some chick. What's the difference? One's just more attractive than the other. It's about getting the release. It's not about bonding or loving cause if we loved those girls, we would leave the women we're with to be with them."

(You *did catch* that he called the side chicks "girls" and the main gal a "woman", right? Let's proceed.)

Me: "But I mean, we're close, you find me attractive and we haven't had sex."

Him (with a pause of "Huh?!?"): "EXACTLY."

Me: "So what are you saying? That a lot of men are vowing to not emotionally cheat as opposed to physically?"

Him: "Possibly. We definitely don't love a lot of women in our lifetime. It seems that you all do [love a lot of men], though. So...we're sexually promiscuous and you're emotionally promiscuous? Neither is any better. What really are y'all mad about?"

Yeah. Well. I'll say this. If that exchange offends you, it shouldn't. *Especially if you're abstinent.* What it did for me was gain a greater understanding of what a "jump off" really is (it seems like it's pretty close to a scratching post that cats use) and process how conflicting fornication and adultery really are. Oh, and to remember that "saving myself" is a human trinity experience. My future Beloved is to have my mind, heart and body. *All of me* should be guarded (Proverbs 4:23) as I wait. That said, women all over the globe aren't ready to get married (*which is what sex is for*-Genesis 2:24-25) and so they "cheat on God" by not keeping his commands and yet they wanna get mad when a guy they're *sinning with* is sinning with someone else...too? There's no "kinda loyal". That's like "playing house" and PLAYING HOUSE ISN'T REAL (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message). Either you're married and in covenant. OR YOU'RE NOT.

Hmph. If anything, listening to what he said made me mad that I allowed myself to be someone's, um, "bathtub" for so many years. Someone's outlet. Someone's jack off. Especially when my Creator sees me as *so much more* than that. When will we *all* get to a place where we stop trying to edit God's way of doing things? The lead verses for today *clearly state* where lust will get you and if you're engaging in *any kind of sex* outside of marital covenant, lust is what's leading you. NOT. LOVE. It used to be corny to me back when I was super impatient, but true love does indeed...*wait* (I Corinthians 13:4). If you try and tell yourself otherwise, you're caught up. In self-deceit. We all need to focus more on what we owe Adonai than what we think some man owes us. Self-respect begets relational respect. There's no real way around that.

As I started pondering (Proverbs 4:26) more and more on this, I got where the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:12) was leading. Have you ever known someone to engage in a suicide pact? If not personally, then perhaps on the news? When you actually think of two people deciding to kill themselves *together*, it sounds utterly demonic and traumatizing, doesn't it? And yet, when you look at the Scripture for this message; when you think about how Hebrews 13:4 says that fornicators and adulterers God will (not might...WILL) judge; when you think about how Romans 10:23 says that the wages of sin *is* death...how is "making love" as a single (which when you're single would make it a deceitful term) NOT like entering into a suicide pact? Cause if memory serves me correctly, Romeo and Juliet felt that their "love for one another" was the motivating factor in their decision to end their lives. Either they were going to have the relationship in the way (and time...that's key!) that *they wanted to have it*...or not at all. When two people fornicate (or commit adultery) is it not essentially saying the same thing? "I will just die if I don't get to have you in the way (and time) that I want you so let's throw caution to the wind." Literally.

Desire gives birth to sin. Sin leads to death. This is not some quote from Shakespeare. This is a warning from the Bible. It's not poetic fiction. It's a spiritual fact. Take it from me, just like Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) who did not physically die *immediately* after eating the fruit, when you partake in something that is poisonous, one way or another, you will die. If nothing else, again, like Adam and Eve, there will be a separation, not just from your Heavenly Father but from who you are created to be:

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was."---James 1:22-24 (NKJV)

In some ways, I'm just beginning to see who Shellie Renee' Warren *really is* because I'm taking what God says about sexual sin seriously. I can't believe how long I've been a "dead woman walking"...not really knowing who I was...not seeing the authentic creation of my Creator. I can't believe how long I let sin cheat me out of an abundant life (John 10:10).

Which brings me to one other point. The other catchphrase.

Another one that "popped up" in my head a couple of weeks ago? HAND CRACK. Can you guess what I'm referring to? It would be masturbation. You know, in the realm of sexual indiscretions, "the other white meat" (LOL). Seriously. It was a real struggle for me to "get over myself", literally, but 16 months free of that act has caused me to repent for trying to rationalize lust...just in another way. I Corinthians 6:18-20 (NKJV) says:

"Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."

One definition of "immorality" is "sexual misconduct", which is "improper conduct"..."wrong behavior"...to "mismanage" or "misbehave" oneself. Being that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, why would  we attempt to *molest him* in such a way? Besides, whenever people ask me why I don't do it (er, anymore), my reply is usually, "My orgasms are not my responsibility. They are my husband's." I Corinthians 7:4 (NKJV) says, "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does." One definition of "authority" is to be an expert. Another lie from the pits of hell? That you have to know how to please you so that you can teach your husband? Whatever. Proverbs 3:5-6 says that if you acknowledge God is *all of your ways*, he will direct you. What I have finally and resolutely chosen to acknowledge about my Lord is that *no one* knows me or my future Beloved like he does. He will direct us. To the right place. Time. And...other stuff. I'm not going to *abuse* sex now thinking that I will be able to *use* it later by doing so. That's more self-deceit.

AND A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE DECEIVING THEMSELVES IN THIS WAY.

According to a KinseyInstitute.org, 99% of men and 40% of women have reported ever masturbating. In a study of African-American women (15-64), 62% reported having masturbated at some point in their lives. 60% of men and 40% of women have reported masturbating in the past year. 85% of men and 45% of women who are currently living with a sexual partner reported masturbating within the past year. And only 5% of men and 11% of women have reported never masturbating.

Exactly. Masturbation. The act most people don't talk about...but do. Whenever I public speak, I usually ask, "So when a married couple comes back from their honeymoon, what do we assume happened?" SEX. And yet, they still come out in public. Why? *Cause that is what they were supposed to do.* To be naked and not ashamed. Yet it's amazing (and conflicting-I Corinthians 14:33) to me that so many people want to claim that masturbation is not "sexually immoral behavior" and yet they don't want to admit that they do it. *Why is that?* Things that are godly have LIGHT around them. They are not to be kept in the dark.

Which is why I call masturbation "hand crack". The drug of all drugs. "Sure I can stop" is what a lot of people say (or think). The follow-up? "I just don't want to." JUNKIES SAY THAT ALL OF THE TIME. In waiting for our covenant partners, that means we are to wait mind, *body* and spirit. Again, how dare we try and rush God when we can't even be patient with our own libidos? I mean, what is it? "Hurry up God so that I can get my fix?" My next hit? My jack off? Indeed, how can women be mad at what my friend said when many of us treat our bodies the *exact same way* that he says a lot of men do. Just using it for a release. No real care. No real concern. No self-love because that would mean that we would honor ourselves as the place where Ruach Hakodesh dwells. A Divine Spirit deserves a divine space: a place befitting of a deity.

Chasing the dragon. On the streets, that's a drug (heroin) term. Biblically? There's also a dragon we should stay clear of:

"So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."---Revelation 12:9 (NKJV)

What profits it a man to gain the whole world and lose their soul, right? Yeah, in the Matthew 16:26 (NKJV) version of this question, it's immediately followed-up with: "Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Sexual sin in exchange for your soul? In exchange for the principle part of our feelings, thoughts and actions? I've been there. It's not worth it. The best sex I've had (which was counterfeit because I was single) was not worth it. It's the cheapest and most degrading kind of trade-off.

And when you think of the fact that the Word says that married couples are not to deprive one another from sex (I Corinthians 7:5) and yet we as singles are to wait until marriage, don't you think there's something to that? You're supposed to be 16 before you can drive for a reason. It's illegal to drink before 21 for the same reason as well. A MATURITY MUST BE IN PLACE BEFORE PARTAKING IN SUCH THINGS. Ignore that fact and...well...

You might as well call your (sex) habits "Hand Crack and Suicide Pacts".

Isn't your life worth more than that?

Don't be deceived.

Yes. It is.