Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"On Fire": YOUR Burning Bush. Experience.

"But Moses said to God, 'I am not a great man! How can I go to the king and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?'

God said, 'I will be with you. This will be the proof that I am sending you: After you lead the people out of Egypt, all of you will worship me on this mountain.'

Moses said to God, 'When I go to the Israelites, I will say to them, 'The God of your ancestors sent me to you.' What if the people say, 'What is his name?' What should I tell them?'

Then God said to Moses, "I AM who I AM. When you go to the people of Israel, tell them, 'I AM sent me to you.' "---Exodus 3:11-14 (NCV)


Yeah. I know.

Usually, it's lovey-dovey stuff (one way or another) that is discussed on here. Things haven't changed. Actually, it's somewhat of a lovey-dovey thing that inspired this week's "On Fire" PSA. :-)

In the midst of some of my random researching this morning, I happened upon the winning entry of a Nokia contest. Whew! 1) I guess it's about time for me to get a new cell phone (although, I come from the age where people used phones *to make calls*...only-LOL) and 2) the constant progression of technology *never* ceases to amaze me. The entry? "Splitscreen: A Love Story". You can check it out here:


I love how the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) can use, well, *anything* (Psalm 24:1) to get a point across. As I watched the two-minute entry, in my spirit, I know that I heard, "Just use what you got."

OK, I'm sure it goes without saying that I, *we*, should use what we have for *good* and not for *evil* (LOL), but personally, I find the timing of this reminder to be profound because I speak with some of you fairly consistently while some not at all and yet, I sense, *greatly*, that a lot of us are on the cuspis of making some *major life decisions*. Some may be so...random that we are tempted to fret for fear of failing. If that is you, to you I say, "Smile Sistah. This is your burning bush moment."

Honestly? With the way this world is going and with the fact that the laborers are few (Luke 10:2), to those who are 1) obedient; 2) faithful and 3) willing, there may be more than one "burning bush experience" in your lifetime. Moments when, like Moses, you're off minding your own business (I Thessalonians 4:11), living a "normal" (if there really is such a thing) day and the Lord will roll up on you like, "Nah. I think we're gonna do *this* now."

OK, let me give a heads up on that, though. GOD IS A GOD OF DECENT ORDER (I Corinthians 14:40). An author and prophet from the 1880s by the name of Ellen G. White once said that it was by divine order that Moses was a shepherd before he was appointed, by God, to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. The point: some of what you're doing now, no matter how senseless or mundane it may seem, *if you remain faithful and consistent*, if you stick with it, it will reveal itself to be *great preparation* for what lies ahead.

That said, again, if this resonates as a confirmation, I recommend you spending some of your own time in Exodus 3 ("The Burning Bush") and 4 ("Proof for Moses") so that you can get some of your own confirmations re: this revelation. For now, I will just say this:

Moses, with all of his hang ups and issues, was still called by God. *To do something that no other man had done, in that way, at that magnitude, before*. He quickly went into the reasons why *he believed* (Mark 9:23) that couldn't do what *God believed* that he could. And the light bulb moment for me in that? GOD WOULDN'T HAVE APPROACHED HIM IF GOD DIDN'T THING HE WAS *THE MAN* FOR THE JOB. Ladies, God wouldn't approach us if he did not *fashion our hearts individually* for the job...if he didn't consider *all of our works* (Psalm 33:15). BEFOREHAND. When God calls, it's time. TO MOVE.

All that from a two-minute Nokia love story short? Yeah. Pretty much (LOL). Because really, what would have happened had that filmmaker underestimated his creativity or the ability of the tools that he had at hand? If he had spent so much time talking (or would it be whining?!?) about needing more money, more equipment, more time...more whatever? If he had worried himself to the point of being stagnant about all of the other entries or if his was not going to be good enough? He would've missed out. UNDERESTIMATING YOURSELF GETS YOU NOWHERE. AND FAST.

I think I've shared a quote with you all before about how having low self-esteem is like driving through life with your emergency hand-break up. The looks you have (or don't have), the education you have (or don't have), the amount of money you have (or don't have), the gifts and talents that you have (or don't have), the connections you have (or don't have)...don't let that hinder you from the people, places, things or ideas that God has in store. *Just for you*. Because real talk? The moment he comes, whether you think you're ready or not, is the moment he believes that you are. ;-)

Aight, I'm out. I have my own burning bush to tend to.

I AM THAT I AM. That is God.

YOU ARE BECAUSE HE IS. That is (more than) enough. (Ephesians 3:20)

Love to you,

SRW

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"On Fire": BOOK RECOMMEND: "Not Ready for Marriage. Not Ready for Sex."

OK...

Most of the books on the reader's list, either I have read or *more than one person* has referred me to. Except for this one. "Not Ready for Marriage. Not Ready for Sex", I *happened upon* while doing some research. I'm gonna step out on faith and recommend it. Especially since, from personal experience and widespread observation, I totally agree with the title of the narrative: that you're not ready for marriage if you're having sex before marriage. OK...that's not the *exact* title of the book (LOL), but based on its description, I'm gathering that's the gist:

Product Description

When Chris Padgett met Linda Dodge for the first time at the end of high school, sparks flew. Or maybe that was just the glare from Chris s mustard-yellow polyester vintage suit, a typical item in his shock-and-awe wardrobe. Linda was impressed if puzzled, but the beautiful cheerleader and Chris, winner of the senior class's Most Unique Personality award, were soon a couple. Even sooner, the two young Christians found themselves involved in a passionate sexual relationship. Certain they should stop but just as certain they couldn't, the relationship began to unravel. When they found the courage, in college, to choose chastity, they discovered a renewed friendship, affection and the self-discipline that would serve as a firm foundation for marriage.

Wondering if you have the resolve to choose sexual purity? Wondering why you should choose it? Read the Padgetts story for some straight talk about sex and the truth that will set you free.

About the Author

CHRIS and LINDA PADGETT have been married for over fourteen years and are the parents of seven children. They are nationally known speakers who address many of the issues facing young people today. Chris is a musician and has five solo albums.


Seek...and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7-8). Whomever this was meant for, happy reading.

Love to you,

SRW

"On Fire": BELATED Father's Day Message (from a man)

Side note: I got this today, in response to a dialogue I was having with him about some things going on in the news world in this season. It was to me, yet I believe for us all. Healing and validation may not always come in the ways we would predict or expect...but *they do come*. 

Anyway, thank you, Michael Burford, for making the time. To honor. Us.


Good Day SRW,

Before I start, I would like to apologize to you on behalf of all the men in church and the world that have not represented a pure image of The Father God. Men are the only one's in God's creation that share a name with Him and that name is "Father". The first representation of God on earth comes from the relationship we have with our earthly father's. And when that earthly (horizontal) relationship with our father's is not  pure, our image of our (vertical) relationship with The Father God becomes distorted (i.e., we think God don't love us because our father's left or a relationship with a man failed etc.).

I believe The Father God wants this Father's Day and all of them thereafter to show us all the purity that comes from His love. So on this Father's Day, God wants us as men to be the conduit by which He shows forth His love and we represent the pure love of God. So when people see us, they see the Father God in us. That each person would know the Love of The Father God is real.

1 Peter 3:7 NLT says, "In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God's gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.

From what the above verse says, we are not giving you all the full honor that you deserve. Honor means "to regard or treat (someone) with admiration and respect: to regard or treat with honor. To give special recognition to: to confer honor on."

1 Timothy 5:2 (NLT) says, "Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters."

I think some of the reasons why we as husbands don't treat you all with understanding, is because we are selfish when it comes to you all and we just want you all to ourselves. Selfishness is always based in pride. The reason why some of us don't treat you all with purity is because we have not seen it from a godly perspective. I'm learning to speak from my heart (what I really want) and not my head (that's on you mentality). Another thing we have to fight is the way society viewed women as second class citizens; that same spirit is in our churches (this is Shellie speaking. You may want to check out this book: "Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women"). That is why the women's liberation came into being. They knew what they did not want, but what they wanted got perverted (i.e. lifting, physical labor etc.).


This song really spoke to me you can check it out on You Tube.

Mary J. Blige

"Father In You"

Can I talk to you, baby

When I was a little girl
I didn't have a father
And that's why I'm leaning on you..
When I was a baby
I didn't get a hug from daddy
That's why I need a hug from you..

Ohh, it's not easy and
I thank you for putting up with me
When you don't have a daddy's love

To say that you...
To say that I'm your little girl
(Are his little girl, Oh why didn't you love me)
And give you the love..(I need love yeah yeah yeah)
You really deserve (and I believe I deserve it and that's why)

[chorus]
That's why I need, the father in you
(I need the father in you, baby)
That's why I need, (please don't hurt me please)
The father in you
That's why I need (oh that's why)
The father in you (really need you)
That's why I need (please be true)
The father in you

Oh, things got bad, to the point
Where mommy couldn't hold us down
And that's when it hurt me so much
To see her, to see her cry
(oh don't cry, momma don't cry momma)
Each and every night
(we're gonna be alright that's what I used to say)
I said that some day
That I would try to take his place
But it was too hard;
It was so hard trying to be a man and a woman
And that's why I need the father in you

[chorus]
That's why I need, (oh, I needed)
The father in you, (I put my trust on you)
That's why I need, (please don't let me down)
The father in you.
That's why I need,
The father in you (I need the father in you)
That's why I need (hold my hand)
The father in you

[Breakdown]

Because we never had one at home
(No No No) As a little girl...
So I understand, why daddy couldn't be there
Cause it's so obvious nobody taught him, how to be father to me
Oh and I'm not sayin' this
to reminisce on the past
I'm just saying this to make you understand, that I needed a father
And this is my problem
This is why I couldn't keep no one
This is why I couldn't stay alone
I was so scared alone
Every woman needs a man
And I don't think she understands
That she really needs a father
The father in you, my brother
She really needed the father
The father in you.
When your wife is speaking fellas
Pay attention,Yeah,don't ignore her
No,no,no I really need the father in you

"On Fire": Crazy Love (but in a good way...)

Hey Y'all...

OK, so I *would* post the video, but I forgot what the treatment was like (being that the song is from [wow!] 1994) and I'm not sure why the gal in the video has a gun at the end (LOL). Well, my Mama did used to say, "That's what's wrong with you girls now. Always wanting crazy love. What *is* that?!?" (LOL)

And yet, even with that memory in mind, a couple of weeks ago, when I purchased a Brian McKnight's greatest hits CD (because my age is now showing in relationship to technology and I *do* still like getting those...LPs too!), the first week I found myself playing "Still in Love with You" and since, it's been "Crazy Love" (what I *really wish* is that they had "Never Felt This Way" on it. A *stellar* joint! Remember the proposal scene from "Martin"?!?) I am a *music fan* and so for a minute, I was really listening to it for the musicianship (some of the chord progressions are so sick wit it!). But then, there was a line that he said that I had me listening over and over...for a different reason:

And when I'm determined from so far away
She gives me sweet, sweet lovin' 
Brighten up my day
It makes me righteous 
And it makes me whole
Makes me mellow 
Down into my soul

Now most of y'all should know me well enough by now, in this forum, to know which part really caught my attention. Her love *makes him righteous* and *makes him whole*.

Now, in context, we know that no one can *make* anyone righteous or whole but the Lord and *even he* respects our power of choice to allow (or not allow) him to come into our space in that way. However, what I do like about those lyrics is that seemingly the woman in his life's *influence*, her *help* (Genesis 2:18), her *favor* (Proverbs 18:22) was a tool of great significance towards leading him into a state of moral living and completion. And yes, with the way this world is going, that would be a kind of love that would be considered to be, well, *crazy*.

I won't be on here long today. I just want to encourage one thing. I'm sure I've shared this quote on loving on more than one occasion and if it's been recently, please forgive me. It's one of my *absolute* favorites:

"As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, as soon as I in a love relationship do not lead another person to himself, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, is not true love. For real love is dedicated to continual becoming."---Leo Buscaglia

Love is God. God is love (I John 4:16).

Leo wrote it. Brian sang it. Whatever situation you are in, pondering or desiring, please let both of these men serve as "parable reminders" that if that "love" is not encouraging you to embrace uncompromised righteousness and wholeness, then really, no matter how secure and ecstatic it may be causing you to feel, please remember that the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). *Real love* is about continually becoming...more like what love *really is*. And that is God. REAL LOVE MAKES YOU MORE LIKE GOD.

That's it. At least for today. But really, when it's all said and done (and we all know that I can say *a lot*-LOL), isn't that all that needs to be said? Romanticize, attempt to legitimize, deny all you want...if what you're in isn't making you *more godly* then it's making you *less godly* and there's no really "kinda moral" or "kinda whole" (Revelation 3:16). Like a pregnancy, either you is or you ain't.

You can look at the media or at the divorce statistics and realize that yep, waiting on the kind of love that is of God, these days, is considered to be, in a lot of ways, crazy. Maybe not so much the *kind of love* but to be willing to make *whatever the sacrifice* to wait for it. And yet, so what if you're seen as being "impractical", "foolish" or "ridiculous"? God's not impressed by the world's wisdom (I Corinthians 3:19-20). He's supportive of those who follow his standards.

I know it's not always easy, but be willing to be abnormal to get the kind of love that someone of a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9) is deserving of. You won't regret it.

Indeed, sometimes "crazy" is a good thing.

Love to you,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: "Strange Fruit. Unripened Fruit. Forbidden Fruit"

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”---Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)
 

“When anything is forbidden, everything which leads to the same result is also forbidden.”---Latin Proverb



While speaking over the weekend, another speaker (shout out to Kevin E. Outland) told a story that I think is going to prove to be a *great* introduction to this message.

A woman, with a “pet” boa constrictor, used to let it sleep by her side, in her bed, every night. For months, it would be in a coiled position. Over time though, she noticed that it was beginning to unravel itself. This was making her uncomfortable because the snake started taking up most of the bed. She also noticed that it would not eat what she put out for it. She decided to take it to the vet to see what was going on. That visit ultimately saved her life.

“It was stretching because it’s starving itself,” said the vet.

“Why is it doing that?” the woman inquired.

“Because it’s preparing for its next meal. It was stretching so that it could strangle you and then eat you.”
I know, right? Why would anyone have a boa for a pet? Yeah. Well. I’m sure the Lord is looking at a lot of us like, “Oh, some of you have *a lot worse* than a snake that you’re sharing your intimate space with. And if you’re not careful, the end result could be very much the same.” (Romans 6:23)
Indeed.

Don’t you just dig that Latin proverb? When anything is forbidden, *everything* which leads to the same result is also forbidden.

Let the games begin…

Fruit Yields According to Its Own Kind


This is the season (Ecclesiastes 3) where the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) has me spending quite a bit of time in the Garden of Eden. Just this morning, I was reading Genesis 1:11 (NKJV). On repeat:

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth’; and it was so.”

At first, I paused at “the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its own kind”. I thought about it in context to Romans 8:5 (NKJV): “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Flesh produces flesh. Spirit produces spirit. Being that we are made of up both flesh and spirit (Galatians 5:16-17), how do we navigate through this?

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”---Romans 8:9 (NKJV)

Someone who embodies the spirit of Adonai, it will show as the result of God dwelling within them *and* them taking on the Spirit of Christ. *Both must be in operation*. I John 4:1-3 tells us how we can tell if someone does not have the Spirit of Christ (currently) within them:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”

I love how this says not to believe every *spirit*. A lot of people are *spiritual*. That doesn’t mean that they have *the right spirit* dwelling within them, though. You have *no idea* how much utter foolishness I have gotten myself into in times past just on this alone! People who don’t acknowledge the divinity of Christ, that he is not our Lord and Savior? They, whether they realize it or not, at least in this season, take on another spirit.

But after pondering (Proverbs 4:26) that part of Genesis 1:11, I found myself pausing at “whose seed is in itself”. Fruit trees yield fruit according it its kind…*whose seed is in itself*. So often, we focus---or at least I focus---on the tree, the end result of something. Oh, but how much could be spared if I spent more time on the *seed*? The way something began. Because after all, the *fruit* is simply a manifestation of the *seed*.

Organic. Just today, I went and purchased some organic peaches from Whole Foods. I tried to go the “cheapy route” (LOL) and get some at Kroger’s. Twice. The quality was not the same. *Not by a long shot*. The moral to that part of this story? Sometimes you have to *pay* more or *wait* longer to get the good stuff. *The really good stuff*. However, as I thought about it in correlation to this message in particular, I thought again about the seed. The beginning. A lot of people think about the word “organic” in the sense of allowing things to develop naturally. I’m encouraging you to look at it from another definition: “constitutional in the structure of something; fundamental; integral”. In starting something, whether it be a business, a ministry, a friendship, a partnership, a relationship, a marriage, a pregnancy…how often do we stop to see how *organic* the foundation is? Cause here’s the thing about the word “integral”: by its very definition, it’s something that’s “necessary to the completeness of the whole”. In starting something, if you want it to be “good fruit”, you need to evaluate if it’s going to be what’s necessary to complete you or your endeavor. If it’s not going to fractionate you, but make you whole. And sometimes, in the pursuit of wholeness, drastic measures must be taken:

“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”---Matthew 5:28-30 (NKJV)

“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”---Matthew 6:21-24 (NKJV)

There comes a time, several times actually, in all of our lives when we have to ask ourselves, “What will we do to protect our *whole body*?” How much will we do to insure that our entire being will remain *full of light*?

Again, fruit starts from seed. Matthew 6:21 (NKJV) puts it this way: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Wow. Jeremiah 17:9 speaks of the heart being wicked. *Desperately wicked* at that. How much of that is that due to where we place or what we esteem our treasures to be? I’ll tell you what God had in mind re: treasure:

“The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.”---Deuteronomy 28:12-13 (NKJV)

The seed that brings forth *His good treasure*? That comes from heeding God’s commandments *and* observing them (all of them!). As a direct result, “valuable” things are given to us. People that should be “highly prized” in our eyes are placed within our path. “Precious” and “cherished” blessings are bestowed upon us. The lead verse for today tells us that a tree is known by its fruit. A tree is a *grounded and rooted* plant. A good spiritual tree is *grounded and rooted* in the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). It’s seed? It starts with honoring Adonai’s commandments (Exodus 20:3-17 & Matthew 22:37-40) *and* observing them.

And yet, so many of us opt to dine on another kind of cuisine. Strange fruit. Unripened fruit. *Forbidden fruit*. We will take a look, semi-briefly, at all three.

Strange Fruit

Fruit, in the context of this message, is probably best defined as “something (as evidence) that is obtained or gathered during an action or operation”. In other words, fruit is the result of the choices that we make and that comes from the “seeds of thought” that we plant.

Strange, by its very definition, is something that’s “unusual” or “odd”. Another definition is “foreign”. That said, the Scripture that immediately comes to mind is I Corinthians 6:12 (AMP): “Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power.” That lady having a boa constrictor for a pet? Was it *wrong* for her to own one? No. But it could certainly classify itself as *strange*…as “odd”…as “foreign”.

In the choices that we make, in using discernment (Proverbs 15:21) re: the end result, we *must* be cautious about choosing to do things that may be lawful but will result in us becoming a slave to it (or them). I Corinthians 7:23 (NKJV) says, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” That woman’s *strange choice* almost cost her, her life. Foreign things are things that are “not familiar” or what I favor, “not pertinent or related”. Familiar, by its very definition, says that it speaks to “a long association”, “a mutual trust”, “a close connection often based on interest, sympathy and affection”. In processing that, Amos 3:3 comes to mind. How can two walk together unless they be agreed? Or familiar with one another? Starting intimate relationships, for example, with people who are not interested in the same God (or Godhead) as you? It’s not necessarily always *wrong* (although it is a big gamble-I Corinthians 6:14), but it is certainly *strange*. Different cultures do things differently. Especially when it comes to the spirit world. That snake owner didn’t know what the boa was doing, in part, because *she wasn’t one*. It almost made her its slave due to her ignorance (Hosea 4:6). Hmph. Wasn’t it the R&B group, TLC that advised, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to. I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothin’ at all, but I think you’re moving too fast”? Let patience have its perfect work (James 1:4). BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING (Philippians 4:6-7). You know, it’s not often that “strange” is used in relationship to “good”. That’s not to say that God is not the God of manifesting the unfamiliar, but where and when he leads you to something or someone, accountability will come, confirmations will come, *peace of mind* will come. *And obedience will follow* (Acts 5:29). Then it’s not so strange anymore. Be careful of engaging in what seems odd and foreign to you without gaining some Adonai-ordained clarity on the front end. Remember, “But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.  And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:12-16-NKJV) Strange is usually a sign. To do not what you *can* but what you *should*. To do what’s beneficial. Even if what’s piquing your interest isn’t necessarily wrong, but you can’t be sure if it’s right. When that’s the case, when it’s that kind of fruit, *don’t pick it*.

Unripened Fruit

Mark 4:26-29 (NCV) says, “Then Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of God is like someone who plants seed in the ground.  Night and day, whether the person is asleep or awake, the seed still grows, but the person does not know how it grows. By itself the earth produces grain. First the plant grows, then the head, and then all the grain in the head. When the grain is ready, the farmer cuts it, because this is the harvest time." Boy, I’m tellin’ you. If there’s one mistake that most of us make, it’s seeing good fruit *developing* and picking it out of season. Fruit before its ripe is fruit that isn’t good. To you. Or for you.

I love how Christ said that when someone plants a seed into the ground, night and day, whether the person is asleep or awake, the seed is still growing and the person who planted the seed doesn’t even know how it grows. Some verses in Scripture that I praise the Comforter, in a mighty way, for bringing to my attention some time ago is I Corinthians 3:5-8 (NKJV):

“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”

Real talk? Many of us see a good thing in the works, but we don’t choose to wait on the Lord (Psalm 27:14) because we think that if we don’t rush matters, we will miss out on our increase that comes from the result of the good that we have planted. Psalm 37:34 (NKJV) says, “Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.” Timing is the Father’s business (Acts 1:7-Message). Forcing something before its ready is not keeping God’s way. He told us that we would inherit the land, not by rushing, but by *waiting*. Again, we don’t know all that it takes to grow what’s been planted. Rushing is a form of presumption.

Several years ago, I penned a devotional paralleling “the wait time” to baking cookies. There is a time to put all of the ingredients in and mix ‘em. Then there’s a time when you have to let the oven do its job. *You simply have to wait*. I’ve had unripe fruit. I’ve had undone cookies too. Hmph. All of that potential…not appreciated because it did not mature. *Because I did not allow it to mature*. A tree is known by its fruit. A good planter is known by his/her patience. The Lord provides telling signs of wisdom (James 1:5) to know when something is mature or if something needs more time. However, if that’s not enough to go on, as the old saying goes, “When in doubt, don’t.” Moving in doubt (James 1:6) is *never* a good thing. Moving due to anxiety isn’t either. Faith (Hebrews 11:1) isn’t just trusting in God’s ability but his timing as well. Unripened fruit. *Please* don’t pick it.

Forbidden Fruit

“Now the snake was the most clever of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day the snake said to the woman, ‘Did God really say that you must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden?’"---Genesis 3:1 (NCV)

Now, I’ll just speak for me when I say that I have *never* had the Spirit of God approach me in that manner. You know, that “Are you *sure* you want to do *that?*” tone. And yet, I have had more than my fill of forbidden fruit in my day. Pretty to the eyes, tantalizing to the senses…*deadly*. Genesis 3 tells us that the snake/serpent was *most clever*. And you know what? In Matthew 10:16, we are advised to be *wise as serpents* and harmless as doves. Now, when’s the last time any of us asked the Lord to make us as wise as the Liar (John 8:44)? Wonder how much we would/could avoid if we did.

You see, the thing about forbidden fruit is that it’s not that complicated to spot. It’s just that we’re often too carnal to care to avoid it (I Corinthians 10:13). When the lead verses speak of bad fruit, when it comes to our spiritual growth, forbidden fruit would fall into this category. And for us personally, how do we know when something is forbidden? Well, look at how it’s defined: “to command (a person) not to do something, have something, etc., or not to enter some place”. Sexual sin (I Corinthians 6:18)? Forbidden fruit. Lying (Revelation 21:8)? Forbidden fruit. Gossip (Proverbs 20:19)? Forbidden fruit. DOING ANYTHING CONTRARY TO GOD’S WORD, WILL AND WAY IS PARTAKING IN FORBIDDEN FRUIT. OK, but here’s what I had to repent (James 5:16) about: no one just ends up in an affair. No one immediately becomes a liar. The reputation for being an insatiable gossip doesn’t happen overnight. *That is the fruit resulting from a seed that has been planted and growing for quite some time*. Ah! So now James 1:13-16 (NKJV) is manifesting itself a bit differently to me than it did in times past:

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 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.”

Blessed is the man who doesn’t even plant the *seed* of temptation or allow the seed to be planted in his life. Blessed is the man who knows that no matter how the Liar presents himself, even when he comes appearing at an angel of light, the man knows that God will *never* contradict himself. Fornication and adultery (and homosexuality-Romans 1, I Corinthians 6:9) have *always* been wrong (Hebrews 13:4). Coveting and not being in a state of contentedness have *always* been wrong (Hebrews 13:5). Putting anything (or one) before God has *always* been wrong (I Corinthians 10:14). Satan coming to question the change in culture, Satan coming to encourage us to compete with other people, Satan coming to get us consumed with anything more than our Creator? That is planting the seed of forbidden fruit. *Nothing good will come from that*. Only evil.

I recently read an article on WebMD that stated that 30% of all now-divorced women knew deep down, as they were walking down the aisle, that they were making a big mistake. The failed marriage was the *fruit*. What would’ve happened if they had been more honest with themselves re: the seed? On one of my favorite Jewish websites (Aish.com), I checked out a satire video entitled, “Four Ways to Marry the Wrong Person”. I definitely think it’s worth four minutes of your time.

I got free (John 8:32), some time ago, when I check out what goes into a sowing and reaping process. We do reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-8), no doubt, but sowing is a *conscious* and *concerted* and *purposeful* effort. It doesn’t “just happen”. *We make it happen*. Through a series of steps. A series of choices. *A series of seeds*.

Family, now more than ever, I know that a *very unique* harvest time is upon us. The wheat and tare are separating (Matthew 13:24-30), the good and bad fruit are being made evident. It is my earnest prayer that all of us, from past trial and error, learn to plant *good seed* into *good ground*. And, that we allow it to fully mature. The best blessings are *mature* blessings.

And that we will not be so *hungry* that we will settle for strange fruit, unripened fruit, *forbidden fruit*. God told us that he would supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19), that he would withhold *no good thing* (Psalm 84:11). Psalm 145:16 (NKJV) states that, “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” God satisfies our desires. *God does that*.

Like an old pimp (no joke), the Liar uses what’s worked before. He convinced the Woman that she was not satisfied with God’s best. That there must be more. He’s still using that same tired line now. WHAT GOD HAS FOR YOU IS WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU. WHEN GOD GIVES IT TO YOU, THAT’S WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU TOO. Until then, don’t worry about the harvest time. The timing is God’s business. Instead, focus on the seed…so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Strange and forbidden fruit? They got their start somewhere.

Unripened fruit? Let it finish.

No matter what, if you’re gonna partake in a fruit, why hurt yourself? Make sure it’s good to you. And for you.

Make sure it’s from a “rooted and grounded” tree.

Make sure it’s the kind of fruit, before picking, that you *know*.

Amen. And amen.

©Shellie R. Warren/2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

"On Fire": Cause Really...How Old *Are* YOU?

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things."---I Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV)

"The day when passion is accepted as a mark of womanhood, it will mark the beginning of the end of femininity."---Sri Sathya Sai


What a "Wow God, you really trip me out!" way to start a new year message.

OK, so I'm one of those, "Shellie, are you sure you're leaving *today*?" kind of packers, right? Yesterday, my flight to here (Alaska-which is *stunning* and a bit "heaven-like" in the sense that it's only dusk-dark for 3-4 hours every day) was at 3:59pm and at 1:30pm, I was walking around Wal-Mart.

It was timely, though.

As I was checking out, the cashier was checking me out. Honestly, it didn't bother me. One, I'm too focused on being courted *by one* and not dating *many* to really care and two, this young man didn't look a day over 18. Actually, he was two years over it, though.

"How old *are you*?" I asked after getting "So, how are *you* doin'?" for the third time in a row.

"How old do I look?" he asked.

Why do people ask that question? I *hate* that question.

"Old enough for me to be your mother."

And even with my thinking that he was in his late teens, a part of me did think, "Wow! I'm old enough to be an 18-year-old's mother."

He shrugged. "You might be." And then he paused with a sly grin on his face. "I'm 20."

Ohhhhhh. OK. As if *that* was gonna make me pull my Samsung out from my back pocket.

I mentor teen moms so I'm used to doing the math. That means I would've had him at 17. "Yes. I could've been your mother."

"Yeah," he said in a smooth-syrupy-Southern drawl. "But you ain't. And you're *sexy*."

He had a point there. On both counts (LOL). Although I did wonder how many "could've been your mama" women he's *messed with* for him to not be phased by my age. In the least. And whomever those women are, they need some *serious therapy* and to get on this blog just as soon as possible. I tried another approach.


"Yeah, but I've been abstinent for almost five years. Honey, you ain't tryin' to date this."

And there was his light bulb moment.

He smiled (he *was* a cutie). "Yeah...you probably right." He gave me one more "Umph, umph, *umph*" size-up and handed me my change.


Big ups to him, actually. At least he knew what he wanted and made it clear *up front*. Guys twice his age could stand to try that approach more often. *It would bring about a lot of clarity and spare a lot of wasted time and and energy*. Either a woman is down...or she's not.

My point in bringing all of this up? My point in making sure that it's mentioned on my 37th birthday while laying in a hotel bed (loooooooove a *good* hotel bed) right outside of Anchorage, Alaska? It's because I think that most of the women on this blog would've rolled their eyes (at best) at the young man. I mean, a 20-year-old is definitely way too young to (and for) most of us.

*In the flesh*.

Yet, when are more of us going to get to a place that we start being more *spiritually-discerning* as well?

When is it gonna be just as comical and dismissive for a guy who wants to have *any kind of sexual activity* prior to marriage?

When are we gonna take the "Are you serious?" approach to a man who owns a bible yet has no signs of a relationship with Christ?

When are we gonna mature to a place where we look at a man's *character* rather than his *personality* and decide, "Honey, you're supposed to be the head of my household so why I am dragging you along? Yeah. Thanks, but no thanks."...???

When is a 20-year-old in the spirit gonna start being just as much of a turn-off as a 20-year-old in the flesh?

For me, the answer to that question is *now*.

It doesn't matter what he does, where he lives or what he drives. It doesn't matter how cute he is, funny he is or interested in me he is. It doesn't matter if he goes to church on Sabbath or Sunday, does community service (whether he wants to or *has to*), or my friends would think I'm crazy to pass him by. What *matters* is if my Abba Father digs him...for me. What matters is if he submits to THE GOD *now* in *all* that he does in preparation for me submitting to him. What matters is if we're not only "good people", but *right for each other*.

I'm willing to bet that most of the women reading this has had a similar "Wal-Mart experience" where they've seen a young man and been like, "Sweetie, just how old *are* you?" And you know what? The Lord is quick to check us on our stuff because now, to all of us, he's saying...

"Actually, my daughters, based on the amount of foolishness you settle for...HOW OLD ARE *YOU*?"

Spiritually.

Cause just because you may *look* one age, that doesn't mean that you actually *are*.

Whew! When you get to be my age (although I appreciate that my mother always taught me to *embrace* aging), you're usually trying to find ways to look younger than you are. In the spirit realm, that's not impressive. Nor productive. We are to act our age and strive to go from glory-to-glory (2 Corinthians 3:18)...*continually*. In the spirit, appearing older than you are is high praise.

"Speak Lord. Thy servant heareth." (I Samuel 3:9)

Well, I'm gonna get off of this blog, take care of a couple of things and then milk my birthday for all it's worth (LOL)!

Here's to a year of *not* acting my age. Of not looking it either.

Of not letting (inappropriate and untimely) passion drive me.

Of putting away childish things.

Of seeming *much* older and wiser. Spiritually.

37? Yeah. On so many levels and for so many reasons, I'm wit it.

Love to you,

SRW

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"On Fire": The Courage to End an Engagement.

Yeah. Do y'all sense a theme of urgency? Me too.

I mean, after penning the message below this in the wee hours of the morning, *only Adonai* could've known how the day was going to go; how I was going to speak on having a rebirth, in part due to my middle name and then to speak to another Renee' just hours later.

Some of you may remember her. If you go through the past blogs, she was engaged to be married. A real cutie pie she is with a brilliant smile and a fiance' with a sweet face. That was February. Two weeks ago, she ended it. After rockin' her ring, taking engagement photos, buying her wedding dress and booking a venue (Hawaii, to be exact)...yep. She ended it.

I am *so amazed* by her strength, resolve and courage---her willingness to share her story in hopes of prayerfully sparing some others who see signs, but are either so prideful, so hormonal, so desperate, so fearful...that they are ignoring them anyway...moving full speed ahead. She's beyond profound yet, I think to "concentrate her wisdom", I will present this in a Q&A format. I will ask, in advance, that you send up a prayer for Renee'. She is at peace. One that passes all human understanding. But a death of any kind...takes time...to heal from. Joy unspeakable for her spiritual maturity is what I am petitioning the Father for on her behalf.


SRW: So, in your own words, as much as you want to share publicly, why did you end your engagement?

Renee': Basically, I just couldn't trust him. I've been married before and something that he seems to have in common with my ex-husband is lying. My ex-fiance knows that my deal breaker is lying and he seemed to be best friends with it. Sometimes, I'd be listening to him and I'd be thinking "Who are these people? I haven't met this or that version of you before." It was disturbing...and it's not fair to expect someone to commit their lives to you when they don't know all of you.

SRW: But from what you previously shared, he seemed like such a good guy. Right?

Renee': He *is* a nice guy. He has a good heart. He's older, handsome, established. He has a nice body, he's chivalrous and even a chef. I wanted for nothing. However, he also had no humility in the sense that he was never wrong...could never be corrected. There was no consistency in his convictions. I was finding myself more and more uncomfortable...ignoring me and my needs. Ones that I had put into place way before him.

SRW: So, why do you think it got so far?

Renee': Well, I must admit that in some ways I was lying to myself. Both times (her marriage and her engagement), honestly I was wanting sex pretty badly. I was tired of living in purity. But having that kind of motive jacks up a covenant from the very beginning. No marriage should start on those kinds of terms. Add that to the fact that this time I was like, "It's time for Renee' to be happy and he seems to be the man who wants to bring that into my life." I was tired of not having what I wanted. I saw signs, but I tried to convince myself and others that I was actually more into it than I was. He and I had been friends for a long time. I loved him. It's just that I wasn't as head-over-heels as a person really deserves. A warning flag is when you find yourself convincing you of why it's such a good thing to do.

SRW: Would you expound on that?

Renee': You know you're denying the truth about a situation when you're lying to other people re: what's really going on in the relationship. When you're coming up with stories to either hide real issues or to make it seem better than it actually is. When you're ignoring the facts because you want to make it work so much. That's not love. That's obsession. Even if it's just being obsessed with wanting to make a wrong thing right.

SRW: And yet *so many women* seem to fall into that kind of trap. I call them "bride addicts". Do you have any advice for them?

Renee': Please know your worth. Don't settle for what something looks like on the outside. Go deeper. When you *know* that God has promised you something, don't overlook how the compromised versions present themselves. So many women let their emotions drive them down the aisle rather than common sense. When it's totally God's doing, I don't believe that there's even a hint of doubt within you. If God really sent him, there will be total peace. Don't be trying to make him be more than what he is. That's not fair to you or to him. A man who has a relationship with God will not have to tell you. It will reflect in *everything* he says and does. You can see it, hear it and discern it. And so can those around you.

SRW: And to the women who find themselves in compromised relationships because they are tired of waiting? Do you have any words for them?

Renee': If you're tired of waiting, that's the first sign that you're a bride addict (LOL). Honestly, how can you be tired of waiting when God said that love is patient? I got into my first marriage because I was "tired of waiting" and look at where it got me. I think there comes a time in all of our relationships where we have to really ask ourselves, "Who's running this thing?" Is it God or is it us? Don't we all have to go through certain prerequisites in order to graduate? I mean, if I was a freshman at TSU (Tennessee State University) and I stopped going to class because I was ready to graduate and was "tired of waiting", wouldn't that seem crazy to you? In marriage, I'm looking for a degree with honors and that can happen when you do a relationship right. As you wait, do good to yourself and others. Good comes to those who do good. There's no real way around that. You can't *make* something be what it's not and if it ain't right, it's wrong.

SRW: Any regrets?

Renee': Not one. I'm still going to Hawaii with my girlfriends. I got a store credit on my dress. And there are some plans that God put into place that are transpiring rather quickly; just another indication that breaking it off was the best thing to do. And besides, my future children nor I deserve to be in a relationship where there is not total realness. Neither does my ex. Love doesn't lie. He was lying to me, I was lying to him...we were lying to ourselves *and* lying to God. In time, we'll both be good for someone. We're just not good for each other. And I'm really OK with that. If the covenant is not going to represent God in the best way possible, then it's not something that I'm interested in. And realizing that is something worth celebrating. And I will.

"On Fire": Serve One Another. IN CHRIST. After Rebirth.

"Submit to one another in fear of the Messiah. Wives should submit to their husbands as they do to the Lord; because the husband is head of the wife, just as the Messiah, as head of the Messianic Community, is himself the one who keeps the body safe. Just as the Messianic Community submits to the Messiah, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. As for husbands, love your wives, just as the Messiah loved the Messianic Community, indeed, gave himself up on its behalf, in order to set it apart for God, making it clean through immersion in the mikveh, so to speak, in order to present the Messianic Community to himself as a bride to be proud of, without a spot, wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without defect. This is how husbands ought to love their wives - like their own bodies; for the man who loves his wife is loving himself. Why, no one ever hated his own flesh! On the contrary, he feeds it well and takes care of it, just as the Messiah does the Messianic Community, because we are parts of his Body. 'Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and remain with his wife, and the two will become one." There is profound truth hidden here, which I say concerns the Messiah and the Messianic Community. However, the text also applies to each of you individually: let each man love his wife as he does himself, and see that the wife respects her husband. ."---Ephesians 5:21-33 (Complete Jewish Bible)


This week (Friday to be exact), I will be 37. And without question, because I have changed, I know that this year is going to be *very different*. In a way that I can't really compare or explain because...I haven't been here before.

Matter of fact, I was telling a friend of mine not too long ago that if I could get *privately* rebaptized, I would. Not so much as a symbol of repentance (as I've done twice in times past), but as a display of rebirth. I guess it would be fitting being that my name means "Mine; Belonging to Me" (Shellie), "REBORN" (Renee'), "Loyal, Protector" (Warren) that at some point in my journey, I would really (finally and truly) feel this way. After all, at some point in all of our lives, it's what Elohim expects of us all:

"There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, 'Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.'


Jesus answered and said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'


Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?'


Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.'


Nicodemus answered and said to Him, 'How can these things be?'


Jesus answered and said to him, 'Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.'”---John 3:1-21 (NKJV)

This is rich on a lot of levels; however, as it relates to the context of this blog, *this movement*, here are the three things that I encourage you to keep in mind:

1) In order to see the kingdom of God, one must be born again. Of water *and* Spirit. Being that marriage is a *spiritual union*, a gift from the Godhead (Genesis 2:18-25), there should be a renewal of both the man and his wife waaaaaaaaaaaaaay before they are joined together and it shouldn't be so that they can win some kind of booby (or booty) prize (or is it a trap?). It shouldn't be out of some sick and twisted form of idolatry: to get a gift. It should be out of total respect and admiration and surrender to the Giver.

I have told a few people that with couples that I counsel in the future, I will require that they get (re)baptized, together, as a symbol of this very fact. So many people's marriages fail because they go into their unions without their human trinities (mind, body *and spirit*) being renewed. Romans 12:2 speaks to us, clearly, about not being conformed to this world but rather that we must be *transformed by the renewing of our mind* "...that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." We must *prove* what is good and acceptable and the perfect will of God. That said, a flesh relationship will not survive a marriage. It is *the spirit* that endures a marital covenant. Romans 8:13 (NKJV) says, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." Access to a *true covenant* requires a *total transformation*. FIRST. As singles.

2) One of my favorite verses on sex is I Corinthians 6:16 (Message): "Sex is as much a spiritual mystery as it is a physical fact." So many people think it's just a physical fact. You can tell by the sexual choices that they make. They don't reverence sex. Again, you can tell by the choices that they make. Oh, how much I can't believe how conservative I have become. Not about enjoying my husband (Hebrews 13:4) when that time comes, but how prior to that, if there is *any time* where sexual compromise transpires, for me, that is where the relationship ends. Not because people do not make mistakes, but because a relationship of compromise...usually continues to be that way and I am just now *really grasping the fact that* "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?" (I Corinthians 6:18-19-NKJV) This year, perhaps more than any other time in my life, I have seen the Spirit work *miraculously* in my life. How dare I dishonor him. Even a little bit. No, I need (and will require) that my future husband, even in the courting stages, honor me...present me as *spotless* before Elohim. In large part because of this:

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."---Romans 6:1-14 (NKJV)

In this life, it's "either" or it's "or". Either we will *serve in love* or we will *obey our lusts*. So many people, SO MANY PEOPLE, think they are "in love" with someone and it's because lust, love's ultimate counterfeit, is in full operation. A man who loves you is going to protect your mind, body and spirit as best he can. There are no excuses. There is prayer. You won't have to lead in this way. He will already be convicted. Purity won't be something that he *has* to do with you. It will be something that he wants to do in service to the Lord. You see what Paul said? When sin reigns in our mortal bodies, obeying our lusts is often the end result. Marriage is not a cure for sin. *Conviction is*.

You know how when a substance abuser is in recovery and they are told (warned) that they should not date for a year and *definitley not* someone who is also in recovery? Yeah. OK, and you know how when Paul sometimes says that what he's sharing is not from the Lord but him? What I'm about to say is *not* one of those times (LOL). GOD CREATED SEX. THE HOLY SPIRIT DWELLS WITHIN YOUR TEMPLE. YOU ARE *NOT* YOUR OWN. If you're in a dating situation and there has been sexual compromise, you should really consider "resetting your clock" and giving it a(nother) year to see if purity, *total purity* can take place. The reason being is that if you don't have a healthy grasp of sex now as a single person, I'm not sure what makes you think you can handle the *extreme pressures* that the Liar (John 8:44) will place upon you within your marriage. And, if you're dating a "sex junkie" who is also in recovery or one who has no conviction about the sanctity of sex, I'm not sure if he's a viable candidate all at. Again, we would think it was crazy for an alcoholic to date a heavy drinker and yet somehow, when it comes to sexual sin, we rush to the altar rather than pumping our breaks. Being that sex is a sin that is committed against our own bodies and being that a man is supposed to love us as his own flesh...if he continues to harm himself, what makes you believe that he will nourish and cherish you? Appropriately. Remember, King David speaks of the Israelites wanting quail (their fleshly desires) satisfied so much that God gave them what they wanted, "...but he sent leanness to their soul." (Psalm 106:15-NKJV) Is it worth all that? Is some guy really worth all of that?!?

Which brings me to #3...

3) YOU MUST MARRY A CHRISTIAN. *It's an absolute must*. Not someone who's heard of Christ. Not someone who has a Bible in their house. Not someone who surrenders to your cryptic brand of "missionary dating". No, someone who has *his own relationship with Yehoshua*. Not (just) Abba Father. THE MESSIAH.

I say this, not because there are not examples of unequally-yoked relationships in the Bible. Actually, there were *quite a few* (Moses and Zipporah, King Xerses and Queen Esther, Boaz and Ruth, etc.). However, those people were given *very clear instructions* and it was because of something that was *much bigger than they were*. When it comes to the women following this blog? I believe that the Lord, while he may have you meet your husband before he is a *true believer* (Mark 9:23), has provided far too much information on here about why *waiting until he is one before marrying him* is of divine order. The women on this blog are being prepared to bring favor to a man who gets the importance of Christ in his life. BEFORE he embraces the blessing of the favor known as his wife (Proverbs 18:22). If you settle, you'll be...*settling*. Your favor will be more of a brand of "mercy" than "grace" in your husband's life. There's something to be said for stabilizing something. There's something more to be said for progress. Covenant is to be a progression towards the abundant, the miraculous, to...more than you could've even conceptualized on your own (Ephesians 3:20). So many wives are spending time helping a man fix his errors rather than supporting him in doing good on this earth (James 4:17). Time is precious. Obedience recognizes this fact.

That's a big part of the reason why the lead verses are used for today. Especially after reading about Prince Philip and his (whew!) 90th birthday on yesterday. There were a couple of lines in his interview that tickled my fancy:

*The queen made him Lord High Admiral -- the titular head of the British Royal Navy and an office until now held by her -- partly in recognition of the promising seafaring career Philip gave up to spend a lifetime at her side.

*After a turbulent childhood, Lieutenant Mountbatten, as he became, married Elizabeth but his stellar progress in the Royal Navy, including service in World War II, was halted when his wife became queen in 1952. He told ITV it was "disappointing", but "being married to the queen, it seemed to me that my first duty was to serve her in the best way I could".

*The duke showed the accolades were unlikely to go to his head, as he showed when he was asked by the BBC if he thought he had been successful. "I couldn't care less. Who cares what I think about it? I mean it's ridiculous," he said, adding that he had figured out how to perform his role by "trial and error".

We could speculate for days what goes on behind the scenes of their marriage (or anyone else's for that matter). But in the context of I Peter 2:9 telling us that we are a royal priesthood, I actually thought this story was a great complement in the sense that the Queen appears to have chosen a man who *balances her*. The first and second paragraphs speak to him understanding that a relationship requires mutual participation and sacrifice. And the third? That it requires a lifelong *lasting* commitment.

And in honor of that, he was given a new name, a title of being Lord High Admiral. On so many levels, I dig that. Makes me wonder, based on the *quality* of what your potential suitor brings to your life (more so than the needy voids that he may fill), what title would he get right now? And if it's high praise, would the King of kings and Lord of lords be in agreement with that? Based on what the Word says a husband is supposed to do, *would he really?!?* Remember, according to Revelation 17:14, "...those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” A godly man acts in a way that reflects, without question, not that he's without "trial and error" but that he is *called*, *chosen* and *faithful*.

To do what? SERVE THE LORD AND THE MESSIANIC COMMUNITY.

Yeah. Kudos to the Complete Jewish Bible for how they translated *that*. A big part of marriage should be about uniting yourself to someone who is committed to and excited about serving the Messiah and the community. Not one or the other. These two things must go hand-in-hand. This means that he's not just about church on Sabbath or Sunday or praying on your cue (or is it nag?-LOL). This means that he's excited about serving Christ because he's clear about the role that the Savior plays/ed in his life. He has some understanding of the sacrifices that Christ made for him and so he's more than willing to do whatever he needs to make his marriage a testament of what a Christ-centered relationship can do. And should be.

More and more, I've been seeing how many women have been bamboozled, *literally*, because this was not a priority. They wanted a husband so badly that a man of God was an afterthought and not a priority. She didn't look to see if  he loved the Lord in *word and deed* because indeed, Colossians 3:17 (NKJV) tells us, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." A viable husband candidate is to do ALL in the name of Yehoshua. Including how he loves his future wife. Presenting her as "holy" and "without defect" is to be top on his priority list. Hmph. Interesting. Some translations of Genesis 2:18 speaks of Adonai *presenting* the Woman to Adam. How fitting that throughout the course of one's marriage, the man is supposed to present his wife as well. Basically, it's like God saying, "Now, I know how I gave her to you. I need you to bring her back in the same condition." LOVE, LOVE...THAT!!!

Sound ultra-preachy? Yeah. Maybe. But if you're on this blog, you're not looking for "feel good" messages. You're looking for a life transformation in preparation for one of the greatest *privileges* on this earth: Marriage. Covenant. An earthly reflection of the heavenly Godhead.

My prayer? Oh, my prayer is that you will love God *and* yourself enough to desire to serve a person *in Christ* and that you will take the *drastic and necessary steps* to make sure that things are done in a decent and orderly (I Corinthians 14:40) fashion. *On the front end*. That a Christian man will be something you know that you are deserving of. That a sex junkie is not something you will feel that *you* have to detox. That being spiritually reborn will be more important than not being lonely. That you will desire, most of all, for your future covenant to be one that will reflect Christ's love for the Church and a total commitment to the Messianic Community.

Anything less is less than God's best. For you.

Love to (and lots of interceding for) you, my sistahs.

SRW

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"On Fire": Almost Doesn't Count (aka "A Nice Guy Is *Not* Enough")

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."---I John 4:1 (NKJV)

"You can't get to heaven half off the ground...almost doesn't count."---Brandy


One day last week, while driving, I experienced a blowout. In the middle of nowhere.

Actually, it was somewhere between Lexington and Raleigh (a trooper, *literally*, told me that later). Anyway, the sun was making *very clear* plans to set within the hour and my friends were trying to figure out the most effective and time-efficient way to get me off of the side of the highway.

And so were a couple of other fellas in a pickup truck who, within moments of my incident, drove backwards on the gravel to speak to me.

"Ma'am, you got a spare?" one of them asked in a "you can only be from the deep-rooted South" accent.

"One sec." I was trying to talk to him and one of my friends at the same time.

"You don't need nothin'," he persisted. "We can help you."

*We?!?* Another guy popped his head over from the passenger's side with a goofy grin.

Oddly enough, they heard me say something about an official coming by and they sped off. Now, I'm not gonna say what their intentions were, but I will say that move was *very fishy* and when Trooper Billingsley, my hero in that instance, came to change my tire, he was like, "Don't ever *ever* get out of the car in situations like that.'"

Do you see where I'm going with this? Sure they *seemed* like nice guys. That doesn't mean that they were, though. The best kind of deceit...*deceives you*.

Since interceding for the women on the "Clear Response" fast, there have been some real burdens (and warfare) in my space. What it is showing me is 1) how divine marital covenant really is (Genesis 2:18-25) and 2) how much the Liar (John 8:44) tries to desecrate upon it. Because he gets #1. *Quite well*. And as I prayed, as the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) so often does, I was serenaded. This time by R&B singer, Brandy. I can usually tell when a song is about to be a spiritual experience because it tends to be one that I haven't heard or thought about in many months or several years. This time, it was "Almost Doesn't Count". ALMOST. DOESN'T. COUNT.

Yeah. You see that part of the song in the beginning of this blog: "You can't get to heaven half off the ground"? YOU. CAN'T. GET. TO. HEAVEN. HALF. OFF. THE. GROUND. Makes me think that's the secular music version of Revelation 3:16 (NKJV): "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."

Vascillators. Oscillating. Spiritually.

That is what I was thinking about and then the Divine Spirit confirmed it and I promise you that it was almost like I heard him say "Honey" in the beginning of this sentence (LOL): "People's choices speak to their levels of conviction. Especially in mate selection."

And we're off!!!

I'll tell you what: sometimes we're looking for things to be *so deep* when it's really "kiddie pool" insight. A man who is not convicted about sexual purity is who you are praying for God to have as your covering? A man who is not a Christian (A BELIEVER IN CHRIST AND FOLLOWS HIS PRECEPTS-John 8:31-36 & 14:6) is who you want to lead your home? A man whose *personality* may be great, but his *character* (Romans 5:1-5 & Colossians 3:12-17) is questionable? A MAN WHO CAN'T MAKE CLEAR AND CONCISE DECISIONS YET HAS NO PROBLEM COMPROMISING YOU AND YOUR STANDARDS IN THE MEANTIME?

Honestly, what are you praying for? How to let him go *totally* so that either Adonai can heal those broken areas or you can get to who *God selected for you* rather than whom *you* have chosen? Cause here's the other thing: GOD DOESN'T GIVE GIFTS OF COMPROMISE:

"I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him."---Ecclesiastes 3:14 (NKJV)

It makes me think of an interview process. People get callbacks *only* when the first impression was a good one and yet single women will see red flags (i.e, land mines) with a guy that they are considering *submitting to*, that as wives they would "be to their own husbands in everything" (Ephesians 5:22-24) with and for some reason, common sense (Proverbs 2:1-7-Message) and discernment goes out of the window (oftentimes the *bedroom* window-*crickets*). Remember, Proverbs 15:21 (NKJV) tells us that, "Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment, but a man of understanding walks uprightly." Yep. As I used to often say, "Queens can't balance crowns on their backs" and you know what else? Queens don't fudge on their spiritual standards, either. NOT IF ROYALTY (I Peter 2:9) IS *REALLY* WHAT THEY ARE SEARCHING FOR.

*What you seek, you will find*. (Matthew 7:7-8)

It's almost depressing how many people I am chatting with in this season re: regrets re: compromises that they made all because they loved someone and he appeared to be a nice guy. Some of these people's guys I have met and you know what? *They are nice guys*. They are "pleasing; agreeable; delightful". Yeah. And here's the thing about *that*.

In my "firstborn" book, "Inside of Me: Lessons of Lust, Love and Redemption", the last guy that I wrote about was one of my greatest lessons. When he asked me what I wanted in a man, after I gave him my list, his reply was, "I can be that." I can *be* that. Not I *am* that. Just because a guy is agreeable, that doesn't mean he's God's best for you. God's best is someone *God* is in agreement is best for your life (Amos 3:3) ; it's the person who will serve as an aid in getting you to the afterlife. And yes, Brandy was right: You can't get to heaven half off the ground.

Another Holy Spirit moment: "So many women are so desperate to be wives that they've forgotten about being Christians. Putting the cart before the horse is a surefire way to get nowhere."

Been there, done that. I burned the T-shirt.

I often say, "You only do the limbo when the bar is set low." Bending over backwards, spiritually, as a single woman? Doing most of the work. Compromising your spiritual integrity. Falling into the cycle of worldly sorrow vs. godly repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10)...

You know, there's a four-star restaurant here in Nashville that, upon my first visit, there was a roach in the pitcher of water. *I ain't been back since*. And that was at least 10 years ago. Hmph. Some of us are more picky about what we eat, how we spend $40 bucks, than how we live our lives...and who we share it with. So afraid (I John 4:18) of being alone that we'd rather settle for a nice guy than a godly man.

I'm waiting for the "download" to complete but at some point, I'm going to be penning a piece about how many women marry as the spirit of Eve rather than the creation of the Woman. In the meantime, I'll share with you a bit of what the Comforter led (Luke 12:12) me to pen to a friend in an email dialogue:

You know what? I'm gonna speak for me. On this. I think far too often I have overlooked the fact that just like life, *marriage is a privilege*---not an absolute. God doesn't *owe* me a marital covenant. I *owe* him obedience and trust and surrender. FULLY. The Lord told me where I would be for 37 and it's in the Garden of Eden and honestly, I think he is using this time to show me how to *stay a Woman* and not make an "Eve" move. So many women, even as singles, are "Eve" (and you *know* I'm gonna blog about it!): wanting to help a man out without following God's *very clear instructions* on what to do. So many of us "edit him", even if it's just Ecclesiastes 3:11: GOD MAKES EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IN ITS TIME. We *still* are just as distracted as the Woman was. Believing that how the serpent tells us to do things *or even how he tells us what we need* is right. That doing things, totally, God's way is just because God doesn't want us to have our desires when God is like, "No, actually, I just want you to want me." So many women, people for that matter, *want to want him*, but they don't. Not really. I can only imagine how much idolatry is in a lot of our prayers. Always consumed with the gift and not the Giver and disguising it as something else. It's kinda like the Christian/gospel artists who say, "I just want to minister" when really what they mean is, "I want to be as famous as Ga-gag." God is like, "You're lying because if you just wanted to be in my will, then I would be enough. And if I'm not enough, why should I give you more?"

I desire my Beloved. And what can grow from that. But you know what? I'm growing out of being tired of waiting because, being that "love is patient", that is like being tired of loving. The longer the wait, the greater the love because the more completion there is.


"But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."---James 1:4 (NKJV)


Jack's narrative was soooooooo gangsta, even though it's obviously a work in progress, because he's like, "Godly women are an endangered species." Peculiar women are rare. It's a confirmation that I'm in the right lane. Not the left. #goats (Matthew 25:33)


Hang in there. Stay away from "tree conversations" and JOURNAL THOSE DREAMS OF YOURS. ;-)

Am I say that conditions need to be perfect before marrying someone or that everyone's courtship looks the same? Not at all. That's not in the least bit realistic (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message). I will say this, though: from the exchanges that have been shared, I can count about three women who are actually *being courted*, though (and that ain't good). And I'll also say this: if you want to only go from glory-to-glory (2 Corinthians 3:18), if you know that two can put ten thousand to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30), why would you start off something bound up? In a poem that I penned many years ago, I asked myself the question: "How can you start off on the wrong foot and not expect to be on a crooked path's journey?" Why would a lukewarm guy, a kinda-Christian...an "almost doesn't count" situation be something that you think is best for you (and if you someone who is saying, "What about Hosea and Gomer?" two things: Hosea was *told* to do that and he didn't compromise *any godly standards* to accomplish the assignment)?

Beloved, do not believe every spirit. TEST IT.

God makes it *very clear* what a husband is supposed to be...like.

"Nice" is nowhere in the description (matter of fact, I'm starting to wonder if it's a distraction for "kind"-I Corinthians 13:4).

Aim. Higher.

Love to you,

SRW

Monday, June 6, 2011

"On Fire": Where Are the Godly Women? (a submission by a man-friend)

"For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them]. For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate silly and weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women, loaded down with [the burden of their] sins [and easily] swayed and led away by various evil desires and seductive impulses. [These weak women will listen to anybody who will teach them]; they are forever inquiring and getting information, but are never able to arrive at a recognition and knowledge of the Truth."---2 Timothy 3:5-7 (AMP)


This below is actually a submission from a spiritual brother of mine that I met on Facebook before I signed off last year (glad it was good for me for somethin'-LOL). We have been having an interesting exchange, especially on this topic, for some time now. I love Adonai's timing because I've been trying to get Jack to submit something *for a minute* and again, "Clear Response" fasters, I don't find this to be happenstance at all: that I would receive his narrative *this* morning. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don't be looking for what *you* want so much as what *God is saying*. And thanks, Jack, for being so vulnerable with this piece. Due to its nature and your current level of seeking (Matthew 7:7-8), you will be in my prayers in a very special way during this time.

Where Are the Godly Women?

Okay, I have been thinking about this for months.

I've been separated from my with of 23 years for five years now. Just this past week, she came to my house and handed me divorce papers to sign. I expected it would happen one day. I didn't know how to stop it.  This is not the way I wanted things to be.

Honestly? It hurts. Honestly, I have no idea what I could have done to stop it.

When I lost my job in January at NASA, she was the first one I talked to and she told me, "Jack, don't worry about the child support. God has blessed me and He takes care of me and the kids. I know you serve God with your whole heart and I can't wait to see what God has in store for your life." She just blew me away with her encouragement. What more would a woman want in a man except he follow God?

Obviously she wanted more.

What do I want in a woman? I can't speak for all men. I can only speak for me. I simply want a godly woman first and foremost. I'm very unsure if I even should entertain the thought of being with another woman. I'm not one to brag so please don't take it wrong, but I've had friends and family tell me now I would be a great husband. In some respects, perhaps, but I have issues that would be difficult now to work through.

Not long ago, a teacher of the Word told of when he was in Bible school in the deep South. He had a girlfriend and coldly told her he had to break up with her because she wasn't spiritual enough for him. Many years later, his daughter attended VCU and it just so happened that her roommate was the daughter of his old girlfriend that he had lost contact with many years ago. He told of how his words had haunted him and when he met her, he apologized and the lady broke into tears as she had been so hurt. His story struck me and I wondered if I would truly recognize a godly woman. I have a great male friend and a spiritual mentor that I love deeply and cherish the time we get lost in God's presence.  If I even have a relationship with a woman, I want that same kind of relationship.

I suppose it is a good thing and it's all in God's timing that I have never met a woman that I connect with on a deep godly level. I suppose then I would actually be in love. I've met some physically attractive women. I've met women that I enjoy being with. But I've never met a woman that was so godly I just had to be with her. I have three daughters. I hope they never read this for I'm not sure how to say this. The oldest two are very outwardly attractive, but I feel really bad for any young man to be involved with them because their hearts do not follow after God. My youngest, however, is beautiful inwardly but has a serious weight issue. For her, a young man better have his act together spiritually. She might be the next Shellie R. Warren. LOL. I was telling her the other day how she was so beautiful inwardly. I know her sisters are jealous of her and give her a hard time about her weight. I'm not so concerned for my youngest but for the older two.

One of my favorite writers is Max Lucado. He stated that a woman's heart should be hidden so deep in the heart of God that man has to seek Him to find her. I'm not seeking for a relationship with a woman. I think it would ruin things for me sometimes and the quiet times I have with God. I have a hard time imagining sharing my intimate moments I have with God. To be joined together with a woman in prayer or worship on a deep intimate level would require so much trust and openness. I'm not sure a woman exists that truly connects with God. Not in my world, anyway. I have a few male friends I've discussed this with as well and they have never met a woman as well that had such inner beauty. Some have put on a good show for a while for me. I'm glad I'm cautious and haven't gotten drawn in by a few. This whole "love at first sight" thing, to me, is a bunch of hog wash as my mom used to say. Women, if you want to catch a good man, let it be the inner beauty. That is what is lasting. The only way a man will see that is over time. Let him romance your mind and not the body. If you use your physical charms and ways of a woman to draw and keep a man, you are in for a lot of hurt down the road.

I hope I'm being fair with women as I've drawn this conclusion after 47 years. I've just never met a godly woman. I'm sure you are out there, but I see a bunch of silly women seeking after a guy that simply doesn't exist for you if you're not seeking after God with your whole heart. Let God be your lover of your soul. Then it doesn't matter if you never find that guy.

---Jack



Saturday, June 4, 2011

"On Fire": YOU ARE AN ANSWER.

Hey Y'all...

I've pubbed this before, but being the nature of the "Clear Response" fast, I just wanted to remind you all to perhaps make this purchase as a (blaring) reminder. Don't put it in the hope chest. WEAR. IT.


*click here: "I Am An Answer" T-shirt*


Ask the right questions (Jeremiah 33:3). BE THE RIGHT ANSWER. ;-)

Love to you,

SRW