Friday, July 29, 2011

"On Fire": The Four Agreements *and* Four Changes ALL Must Make

"All my days are a struggle; I will wait until my change comes."---Job 14:14(NKJV)


Hey Y'all...

Well, it seems like the complacency issue, rather the *breaking out of a state of complacency* issue, will be a theme of focus for a bit longer. I actually just have a summary of a book that I recommend you print off and marinate on (Proverbs 4:26) and a book that I suggest you purchasing.

We'll do the latter first:

I have been a *big fan* of authors, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend for quite some time now. If you're not familiar with them, they are, what I call, the Boundary Kings. They have been gifted (Romans 11:29) with a *wealth* of knowledge on how to set, keep and honor other people's boundaries. Anyway, a book that Dr. Cloud penned some years back, I think may help some of you who have written me requesting prayer. It's entitled, "Changes That Heal" and one excerpt of the first chapter states that:

"Each section of this book begins with the story of a Christian struggling with bonding, setting boundaries, sorting out issues of good and bad, or becoming an adult...


First, we all struggle with all four issues. There are no clear-cut lines between the issues. Because of the Fall, we will be able to see all four issues in our lives. Our sanctification has a lot to do with resolving these issues in God's way. 


Second, there is no such thing as either an emotional problem or a spiritual problem. We all have broken relationships with God, others and ourselves. Because of this brokenness, we develop symptoms that develop on an emotional level and are lived out in our spiritual lives. For that reason, we need a spiritual solution that involves our emotions, and any spiritual solution must be one of love. Relationship reconciliation is at the base of all healing.

In the final analysis, therefore, this is a book about relationship, and the barriers that must be broken down for us to have a real relationship with God, others and ourselves. Any solution short of a relational one is a solution short of love.

Third, our symptoms are not the problem. For years Christians have focused on the symptoms and not the issues. As a result, healing has been superficial. We must learn to use our symptoms as signs that lead us to issues. Issues can be resolved; symptoms cannot. If we resolve the issues, the symptoms will no longer have reason to be.


Fourth, meaning, purpose, satisfaction, and fulfillment are fruits of these issues. Meaning comes from love, which flows out of bonding. Purpose comes from direction and truth, which form boundaries. Satisfaction comes from having the less than  perfect 'be good enough' in the light of God's ideal, and fulfillment comes from the adult ability to exercise talents. 


And last, 'the greatest of these is love' (I Corinthians 13:13). What I have written about is a model that can help us become functioning human beings. But if that is the final goal, we have sold ourselves short. We were made to love, and the fully functioning person is one who takes his bonded, separate, forgiving, adult self into a world and denies that self for the sake of others...


Work on your ability to attach to others so that you can have your empty heart filled. Work on setting boundaries so that you can own your own life. Work on confessing and receiving forgiveness so you can develop your real personhood. Work on assuming adulthood so that you can be an authority. Then go out and give it to others. Remember, 'Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.' (John 15:13) God bless you."

GOOD. STUFF.

And to build upon it, there is a book that I was introduced to, some years back, entitled, "The Four Agreements" (Don Miguel Ruiz). It would be classified as New Age and so I decided to just include its four points, in the form of a summary, below. If you really make it a point to apply them, *consistently*, with responsible intent, complacency will begin to dissolve. In very radical ways. *I guarantee it!*


Be Impeccable with Your Word

Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Impeccable means “without sin” and a sin is something you do or believe that goes against yourself.  It means not speaking against yourself, to yourself or to others.  It means not rejecting yourself.  To be impeccable means to take responsibility for yourself, to not participate in “the blame game.”

Regarding the word, the rules of “action-reaction” apply.  What you put out energetically will return to you.  Proper use of the word creates proper use of energy, putting out love and gratitude perpetuates the same in the universe.  The converse is also true.

Impeccability starts at home.  Be impeccable with yourself and that will reflect in your life and your relationships with others.  This agreement can help change thousands of other agreements, especially ones that create fear instead of love.



Don't Take Anything Personally 

Nothing others do is because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own dream.  When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

We take things personally when we agree with what others have said.  If we didn't agree, the things that others say would not affect us emotionally.  If we did not care about what others think about us, their words or behavior could not affect us.

Even if someone yells at you, gossips about you, harms you or yours, it still is not about you!  Their actions and words are based on what they believe in their personal dream.


Our personal “Book of Law” and belief system makes us feel safe.  When people have beliefs that are different from our own, we get scared, defend ourselves, and impose our point of view on others.  If someone gets angry with us it is because our belief system is challenging their belief system and they get scared.  They need to defend their point of view.  Why become angry, create conflict, and expend energy arguing when you are aware of this?



Don't Make Assumptions 

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

When we make assumptions it is because we believe we know what others are thinking and feeling.  We believe we know their point of view, their dream.  We forget that our beliefs are just our point of view based on our belief system and personal experiences and have nothing to do with what others think and feel. 

We make the assumption that everybody judges us, abuses us, victimizes us, and blames us the way we do ourselves.  As a result we reject ourselves before others have the chance to reject us.  When we think this way, it becomes difficult to be ourselves in the world.


Take action and be clear to others about what you want or do not want; do not gossip and make assumptions about things others tell you.  Respect other points of view and avoid arguing just to be right.  Respect yourself and be honest with yourself.  Stop expecting the people around you to know what is in your head. 



Always Do Your Best


Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Doing your best means enjoying the action without expecting a reward.  The pleasure comes from doing what you like in life and having fun, not from how much you get paid.  Enjoy the path traveled and the destination will take care of itself.

Living in the moment and releasing the past helps us to do the best we can in the moment.  It allows us to be fully alive right now, enjoying what is present, not worrying about the past or the future.


Have patience with yourself.  Take action.  Practice forgiveness.  If you do your best always, transformation will happen as a matter of course.



Aight, Ladies. Lots on the docket today and so I'm off for now.

Still prayin' for your (further) transformations.

Love to you,

SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: "Not Barren. Wounded."

“Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised. The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth? He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat him with princes—with the princes of His people. He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!”---Psalm 113(NKJV)
 

“Of one thing I am certain, the body is not the measure of healing – peace is the measure.”---George Melton


Ever have those moments when you know that you are becoming your parents and you just can’t stop it? That’s how I felt while sitting with a 19-year-old yesterday, watching one of my favorite shows, “Family Ties” and having her ask me, “Who is *that?*”

What?!?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some Michael J. Fox (even more since he’s been a married man of many years and a *powerful* spokesperson for Parkinson’s Disease). Man, am I old enough now where he is an old-school icon? Well, he did turn 50 this year. Guess so.

Anyway, it really tripped me out to see her casually shrug her shoulders with a “C’mon Shellie, you can’t be serious” expression on her face to the following questions: “Have you ever seen ‘The Wonder Years’? ‘Clarissa Explains It All’ (although I said, ‘Knows It all’)? What?!? You’ve never seen ‘The Bodyguard’?...OK, how about ‘Jem’? Um, ‘A Different World’?”

The last one she recognized. “My mom used to watch that while doing my hair and I used to be like…um, OK.”

The truth makes us free (John 8:32), right? I’ve gotta roll with it. I am of a different generation. *In every way*. My mom used to have the same kinds of conversations with me. “Shellie, why is Toni Braxton singing that she can’t breathe without a man?” “Why does anyone want to walk around with a one-handed lace glove?” “The Humpty-Hump? His nose is fake? I don’t get it.” And so, I didn’t even get into much of a cinematography conversation with Miss Kacy (especially after she told me how ridiculous she thought “Back to the Future” was-LOL). I didn’t tell her about how, while flicking channels not too long ago, I saw Meagan Good (wonder if she knows who *she* is-LOL) as a little girl and I heard a line in a movie she starred in that serves as the title for this message. Debbie Morgan’s character was hesitant about moving forward in a romantic relationship. She tried to use this as an excuse to disengage:

“I’m barren. I can’t give you any children.”

To which her love interest replied, “You’re not barren. You’re just wounded.”


The Transitions Within Barrenness

I won’t be with you as long as I tend to be and this devotional warm fuzzy certainly isn’t for everyone. Yet, as I talked to one of my love niece’s mothers (hey LS!) about how, after praying to conceive again, she recently found out that she is going to have twins in 2012 (Ephesians 3:20), I do know that someone needs to hear this:

“When it comes to certain things that you desire, things that you *know* the Lord has promised you (2 Corinthians 1:20), yet do not have (in your physical possession), you are not *barren*. You are just *wounded*. You need time to heal. Fully. *First*.”

You see, barren is a really broad word. Yes, it can apply to women (actually *couples*) who have a hard time conceiving. However, by its very definition, we can see that it goes far beyond that:

Barren: not producing or incapable of producing offspring; sterile; unproductive; unfruitful; without capacity to interest or attract

OK, but the definition that I think *most* applies to this message (Luke 12:12) is “unable to support growth”. Unable to *support* (bear, hold up, sustain, withstand, undergo or endure, especially with patience or submission) growth. And do you know a synonym for that definition of “barren”? It’s *fallow*:

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way, in the multitude of your mighty men.”---Hosea 10:12-13(NKJV)

This is a verse that the Lord brought to me, in a very personal way, oh (and wow!) about seven years ago. Several months later, after speaking to an abortion recovery group (I Timothy 4:14-16-AMP), I recall a woman saying to me on my way out, “Your verse for the year is going to be ‘Sow in tears, reap in joy’.” (Psalm 126:5-NKJV) I left thinking, “Great, lady.” Oh, but oftentimes people don’t want to hear a prophetic word unless it’s one that appeases their flesh. Hmph. A wise man by the name of Mignon McLaughlin once said that, “Flesh goes on pleasuring us, and humiliating us, right to the end.” Words to live by.

Anyway, the woman was beyond accurate. She spoke that right before I had my last sexual experience as a single woman (‘cause a dude has to get the title in the form of a marriage license next time-Hebrews 13:4), and since then (Galatians 6:7-9), there have been *a lot of tears* and a *ton* of fallow ground that had to be broken up. For me, my body had been a carnal battlefield and my uterus has served as a warzone for most of my adult years and so there had to be a “time and a season” (Ecclesiastes 3) of being “uncultivated”, of being “not in use; inactive”, of being (love this) “undeveloped but potentially useful”, of being (catch it) “left unseeded after being ploughed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop”.

Not dead; dormant. This is what a lot of us need to consider our waiting current season to represent. Sometimes our ignorance, our arrogance, our poor choices, our rebellion puts us into a state (or series) of *consequences* that require a time of “reset”. Our “soul soil” is not conducive to the kind of harvest that we are praying for (or Adonai has in mind for us-I Corinthians 2:9). Yes, so many of us want to claim Mark 9:23 (NKJV), “All things are possible to him who believes.” OK, but there are four words that come before that: “IF YOU CAN BELIEVE”.

Believe: to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so; to have confidence or faith in the truth of (a positive assertion, story, etc.); give credence to; to have confidence in the assertions of (a person); to have a conviction that (a person or thing) is, has been, or will be engaged in a given action or involved in a given situation; to think that someone is able to do (a particular action)

All things are possible if you *have the ability* to have the conviction that God is involved in your situations. Every single one of them.


Hannah: Damaged Goods. And a Healed Vessel.
 

When the subject of barrenness comes to mind, Hannah is often the biblical spokesperson. She is also the perfect depiction of what it means to be not barren but wounded. Something that is often overlooked when I hear Hannah’s story (re)told is that twice in the New King James Version of I Samuel 1, we are told that it was *the Lord* who closed her womb (verse 5-6). It’s another message for another time how forcing a door ajar to get what you want can bring about results that many are ill-prepared for. The Word, which is God (John 10:10), says to *knock* (Matthew 7:7-8) on the door, not kick it in. It also needs to be mentioned that the devil is not always the reason or obstacle for why people don’t get what they want. God is more powerful than Satan. If you are *supposed* to have something (or one), Adonai is certainly capable of making it happen. Anyway, it seems that Hannah had her own season of “sowing in tears”:

“So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.”---I Samuel 1:7(NKJV)
 

Yeah. How men think they can really handle more than one woman continues to baffle me. Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah was a plum trip! Anyway, it’s also another message for another time, how sometimes we try and rush God (Psalm 27:14&37:34) *only because* we allow other people’s manifestations to provoke us…*to jealousy*. Indeed, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.” (James 3:13-15-NKJV)

Partially because of this, partly due to a series of other issues, Hannah was wounded. She was “marred; impaired; damaged”. She wanted a baby yet conceiving, carrying or raising a child in that environment was not…optimal. *She needed some time to heal.* Psalm 147:2-3(NKJV) tells us that we serve a God, a Master Healer, who builds up and gathers…who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”. *Binding is a process*. It often requires a season of this definition: “to restrain or confine with or as if with ties, as of responsibility or loyalty”. When someone has been damaged, there tends to be a need for them to be restrained or confined so that responsibility and loyalty can be redefined for them…in preparation for the very thing that they requested of the Lord. There was a king of Judah by the name of Amaziah who was described this way: “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart.” (2 Chronicles 25:2-NKJV) Loyalty, both to God *and* his gifts, are *essential*.

We know how Hannah’s story ended. When *God opened up her womb*, she birthed Samuel, her “heard God”, her “asked of God”---one of the greatest prophets in biblical history. Whether Hannah realized it or not at the time, there were certain things that transpired in that temple time between her, God and even Eli, the priest, at *just the right time* (Acts 1:7-Message) that were *preparing her for her manifestation*. A prophet child has to be raised…*differently*. An order of operation had to be set in motion. Decently and orderly are how God has and will *always* do things (I Corinthians 14:40).

I really do appreciate that one definition of “barren” is “being unable to support” (don’t even get me on the *with patience and submission” part-eh hem!-LOL). Why would God, a *responsible and loyal* God, rush to give us something before we can *support* it? And why should we (any longer) think (or choose to believe) that he’s not *supportive* of us getting to a place of being where we can?:

“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [ Assuredly not!]”---Hebrews 13:5(AMP)

I love how the Amplified Version says that he will not *relax his hold* on us. He will continue to bind our wounds until we are healed. Until we can support our blessings.

I’m done. Or rather, released from saying more on this message. I’ll just leave with this encouragement (Hebrews 13:3-NCV): “Sow in righteousness. IT IS TIME. Seek Adonai *until* he rains righteousness on you.”

AND HE WILL. When you can properly support the *magnitude* of what that kind of sowing can do in your “soul soil”. In your life.

Family, no matter what, don’t let your barren state *consume* you; let your healing season *prepare* you.
Praise the Lord *now* (Psalm 37:4) for your own “heard God”, “asked of God” reaping.

It is, rather *they are*, coming. God’s promises always do.

Selah. And amen.

©Shellie R. Warren/2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"On Fire": The Warnings of Complacency

Ministers-in-Training...

So, sometime over the weekend, I'm going to pen a devotional that will deal, somewhat, with complacency. It wasn't in the plans. At least not my own. It was a word that I "happened upon" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) after doing some research on another word: GENEROSITY.

Anyway, in Isaiah 32, in the New King James Version, there's a section entitled, "The Consequences of Complacency" and it starts off like this:

"Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech."---Isaiah 32:9 (NKJV)

At first I was like, "I'll *just* add that to the devotional" and then the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) was like, "Yeah. Do that. AND mention it to the 'On Fire' women as well." Here's the rest of that section. According to the Amplified:

"But the noble, openhearted, and liberal man devises noble things; and he stands for what is noble, openhearted, and generous. Rise up, you women who are at ease! Hear my [Isaiah's] voice, you confident and careless daughters! Listen to what I am saying!

In little more than a year you will be shaken with anxiety, you careless and complacent women; for the vintage will fail, and the ingathering will not come. Tremble, you women who are at ease! Shudder with fear, you complacent ones! Strip yourselves bare and gird sackcloth upon your loins [in grief]! They shall beat upon their breasts for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine, for the land of my people growing over with thorns and briers--yes, for all the houses of joy in the joyous city. For the palace shall be forsaken, the populous city shall be deserted; the hill and the watchtower shall become dens [for wild animals] endlessly, a joy for wild donkeys, a pasture for flocks, until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is valued as a forest."---Isaiah 32:8-15(AMP)

This, my sistahs, would be called a prophecy. It was one for then. And I believe it is one for now. God is calling us to no longer be spiritually, personally, professionally, relationally or sexually...complacent.

Complacent: pleased, especially with oneself or one's merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied

All things work together for the good (let's add all of that verse) of those who LOVE HIM and are called according to HIS PURPOSE (Romans 8:28). You know, a lot of us are familiar with the fact that the Word, which is God (John 1:1), tells us that if we love God, we will keep his commandments (ALL OF THEM-John 14:15-24, James 2:10-11). However, for those who already feel a level of conviction (which is always a good thing, by the way!), before the Liar (John 8:44) tries to infiltrate you with guilt (Romans 8:1), I want to remind you of something else that comes with confessing your faults (I John 1:9) and asking for prayer (James 5:16)...to be rerouted *back* to God's *perfect will* for your life: MERCY:


"For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."---Exodus 20:5-6(NKJV)

God is a jealous God. GOD. IS. A. JEALOUS. GOD.

You know, I remember something that someone from my past life (2 Corinthians 5:17) once said to me, after he knew that he was getting on my *last nerve* by the way: "Shellie, I'm not going to apologize for expecting you to be a better person."

GOOD FOR HIM. Glad he didn't, because whether he realized it or not at the time, it was the Spirit (John 4:24) speaking through him. It couldn't have been anything *but* God because the thief (John 10:10) is never out for our self-betterment. *Ever*.

And that's what I'm realizing about these verses in Isaiah. What Adonai is essentially saying is that a lot of us are "at ease" with where we are. We have forgotten/overlooked/ignored/become arrogant (Proverbs 16:18) in the fact that just because *we* may be comfortable with where we are, just because *we* may not see any real consequences of our actions (um, yet-Romans 6:23), just because *we* are pleased with our relationships, our jobs, our sexual choices, our current level of spiritual development, that doesn't automatically mean that Adonai is. Matter of fact, I can tell you from personal experience that when the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) tells us that, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18-NKJV), going from glory-to-glory is a *constant* process. Just when you think you can take a break, that is when God is ready to, as a word I was given just a week ago, *catapult* you...elsewhere. Away from being confident in our carelessness.

Now *only you* know the real deal about where and how this applies to *your* life. It may be in how you spend your money. It may be about that emotionally/sexually compromising relationship that you have been in *for far too long*. It may be in re: to where you live or work. It may be those girlfriends who, when you really think about it, haven't been *true friends* for a really long time now. It may be when it comes to your social media habits or leisure activities. I don't know. All I do know, for sure, is that Isaiah 32 comes as a *huge* wake-up call to make some adjustments...swiftly. That yes, in a year's time...some things may manifest that...you really are not prepared for. If you don't. After all, that's really what a prophecy is all about. To prepare you. To prepare us. All.

Shoot, I'll just speak for myself and say that with a heads up like this, I'm going to borrow King David's prayer in this season:

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit."---Psalm 51:10-12(NKJV)

'Cause I saw what comes with receiving his Spirit. Wildernesses become *fruitful* (Matthew 12:33, Galatians 5:22-23) fields that become *valued as forests*. And here's the thing about a "forest" in reference to the Hebrew word(s) for it. The word "ya'ar" literally means "a dense wood, from its luxuriance". The Hebrew word, "horesh" speaks to a "thicket of trees" often in reference to providing a *safe hiding place* The Hebrew word, "pardes" means "an enclosed garden or plantation" and can be interchanged with "orchard" or (eh hem) "PARADISE". Matter of fact, look at one of the Scriptures where pardes is cross-referenced: in *Song of Solomon* 4, where the Beloved is praising the Shulamite woman (verse 13).

God is absolutely amazing, isn't he? His Word says that he will take "a wild, uninhabited and uncultivated region" and make it fruitful. That he will turn it into a paradise, "Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness (moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation) will abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace [internal and external], and the result of righteousness will be quietness and confident trust forever. My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, in safe dwellings, and in quiet resting-places." (Isaiah 32:61-18-AMP)

By making it a point and purpose to break out of complacency (please catch it), *moral and spiritual rectitude [rightness of principle or conduct; moral virtue] IN EVERY AREA AND RELATION* will manifest itself.

I don't think there's much more that can be said. If you are requesting the support of prayer in this area of complacency, feel free to hit a sistah up at missnosipho@gmail.com.

Times (and seasons)...they are a changin'.

Stay alert.

Love to you,

SRW




Monday, July 18, 2011

"On Fire": Some Commercials Speak (PREACH) for Themselves...

Yeah. Well...

As someone older, wiser and female used to say in my world, "You're sitting on a million dollars and giving it away for a Happy Meal."

Yeah. Well...

*Not anymore*. My husband will have to get the title in the form of a marriage license. All praises to Adonai for showing me myself.

Anyway...

Gotta love Summer's Eve right about now. Check out:


It'll preach (LOL).

Love to you. LOVE YOURSELF.

SRW

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"On Fire": Embrace the Godly Signs

"God also testified to the truth of the message by using wonders, great signs, many kinds of miracles, and by giving people gifts through the Holy Spirit, just as he wanted."---Hebrews 2:4(NCV)


Hey Y'all...

I hope this won't take forever. This is another "hug from God" reminder more than anything. I hope you'll feel his embrace from this lil' testimony (I Timothy 4:14-16-AMP). As you watch how *he chooses to move* in your own life.

On Friday, the Holy Spirit, *the Comforter* (John 14:16-AMP), led (Luke 12:12) me to pen a piece on Genesis 24. That is the story of how Isaac received his bride, Rebekah. If you're not on the devotional list and would like to 1) get on it or 2) receive a copy of the message, feel free to let me know (missnosipho@gmail.com).

Anyway, it's what happened on yesterday that I want to share.

A love brother of mine (hey Joseph!) is getting married soon. He wanted to meet with his blood and love sisters re: the ceremony. However, when he reached out to me, that was not all. He emailed, "You are gonna be blessed."

HE. WAS. RIGHT.

Now, what's a trip about that "heads up" is that in the devotional, I stated that when you are within God's will, a *sign* of that is that you will receive blessings (verbally and otherwise).

Watch this:

Joey (as he's affectionately called) wanted me to open my presents in front of him. He stressed there was great significance in them. One was a butterfly necklace, a belated Christmas gift. It is precious. The other? A birthday gift. Also belated...yet *so right on time*. It was seven different bangle bracelets.

"This year, I'm giving bracelets to the women that I love as a symbol of God's continuous love for them," he stated. "I gave them to the women who are *officially* (I *love* that he stressed that part-LOL) mothers on Mother's Day." He paused. "I thought it would be right to give you yours for your birthday."

Now, my *birthday* is June 17. I received my present on July 16.

I said to Joey, "I read somewhere that in the Bible, brides were given bracelets", to which he replied, with a smile, "I have too."

I love them. They are so...regal looking. Some are turquoise-colored. One is made of wood. Two are surrounded by simulated diamonds. And two are gold. TWO. ARE. GOLD.

"The servant said, 'Lord, God of my master Abraham, allow me to find a wife for his son today. Please show this kindness to my master Abraham. Here I am, standing by the spring, and the girls from the city are coming out to get water. I will say to one of them, 'Please put your jar down so I can drink.' Then let her say, 'Drink, and I will also give water to your camels.' If that happens, I will know she is the right one for your servant Isaac and that you have shown kindness to my master.'

Before the servant had finished praying, Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, came out of the city. (Bethuel was the son of Milcah and Nahor, Abraham's brother.) Rebekah was carrying her water jar on her shoulder. She was very pretty, a virgin; she had never had sexual relations with a man. She went down to the spring and filled her jar, then came back up. The servant ran to her and said, 'Please give me a little water from your jar.'

Rebekah said, 'Drink, sir.' She quickly lowered the jar from her shoulder and gave him a drink. After he finished drinking, Rebekah said, "I will also pour some water for your camels.' So she quickly poured all the water from her jar into the drinking trough for the camels. Then she kept running to the well until she had given all the camels enough to drink.

The servant quietly watched her. He wanted to be sure the Lord had made his trip successful. After the camels had finished drinking, he gave Rebekah a gold ring weighing one-fifth of an ounce and two gold arm bracelets weighing about four ounces each. He asked, 'Who is your father? Is there a place in his house for me and my men to spend the night?'

Rebekah answered, 'My father is Bethuel, the son of Milcah and Nahor.' Then she said, 'And, yes, we have straw for your camels and a place for you to spend the night.'

The servant bowed and worshiped the Lord and said, 'Blessed is the Lord, the God of my master Abraham. The Lord has been kind and truthful to him and has led me to my master's relatives.'"---Genesis 24:12-26(NCV)

One of my favorite prayer Scriptures re: the relationship Adonai has with his daughters is Psalm 46:5(NKJV): "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; shall help her, just at the break of dawn." It's *actually* in reference to "the tabernacle of the Most High" (Psalm 46:4), yet are we not the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19)? Anyway, it wasn't until at the crack of *this morning* that the bracelets were more clearly revealed to me.

While in bed, I took out my phone and Googled "bride", "bracelet" and "bible". Guess what came up?...Over and over again? Drum roll, please: GENESIS 24. Again, *the very Scripture* that I used as the lead verse for the devotional, "A Sign. That It's Time." on Friday. And do you know what else has me (slightly) buggin'? Joey's dinner invite was a reply from this devotional. He and his gifts...especially those bracelets were a sign. And I didn't get them in June...but in reference to something else that I stated in the devotional: 

Yet for some of us, for the chosen few in this season, this is what I want you to catch. Do you see how, in the examples provided, when a sign was given, it was because *it was time* for something to happen? That is what I thought about when I (re)visited the story of how Isaac's favor (Proverbs 18:22), in the form of a godly wife, was being selected for him. Abraham gave his servant *specific* instructions of where to go. The servant asked God for a *specific sign* of what *kind of character* to look for. He didn't say, "Lord, let 'the one' resemble Halle Berry." He (basically) said, "Lord, let a woman with *a servant's heart* be the one for Isaac." Indeed, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." (Proverbs 31:30-NKJV) Truth (John 8:32) has no timetable. The servant knew this way before King Solomon penned that verse in Scripture. Perhaps, it was because of where Abraham's family currently lived. Perhaps beauty-with-no-substance (Proverbs 5) had gotten really old. After all, Abraham *did* send him to a *familiar land* to get Isaac's wife to begin with. 

Anyway, what I got was that because it was *the right time* (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Acts 1:7-Message), the sign manifested. Immediately. 

Now, there were a couple of things that were put in place *first*. If you read the stories of betrothal in the Word, a young man usually had to be in a certain position to be considered ready for marriage (eh, *by his father*-Genesis 2:18). I think it is safe to assume that Abraham believed this to be the case re: his son, Isaac. Secondly, the *motive* for Abraham appeared to be healthy as well. He wanted him with someone *like-minded*. You know how the Word tells us not to be unequally yoked with nonbelievers? That it asks us to ponder (Proverbs 4:26) what part a believer has with a nonbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14-15)? Ah, *now* I'm wondering how much that plays a role in Matthew 11:30(NKJV): "'For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.'" How much, in relationships, by not heeding that, things become much *harder* and *heavier* than they really have to be (hmph!). 

And because God is a God of order (I Corinthians 14:40), because a good man's steps follow that order (Psalm 37:23), yes, when the servant asked for that *event that conveys a meaning*, it was granted. Yes, immediately:  

"Before the servant had finished praying, Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, came out of the city. (Bethuel was the son of Milcah and Nahor, Abraham's brother.) Rebekah was carrying her water jar on her shoulder.She was very pretty, a virgin; she had never had sexual relations with a man. She went down to the spring and filled her jar, then came back up.The servant ran to her and said, 'Please give me a little water from your jar.'"

Friday was the devotional. On Saturday, I received a sign. In the form of (among a few) two gold bracelets. *Almost immediately* a sign manifested itself!

As I told a loved one this morning, "Who needs television when you're linked up with the Creator?" (LOL) Who needs fantasy when you see just how much of a joy that *reality* (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message) can be? When we know how to read the signs.

Now, I ain't got no lie for you. I have *no clue* when my wedding day is or when my husband will make himself known. Fully. What I *do know* is that I don't need to know before Abba Father says that I do. What I *do know* is that he has been lining things up in a very special way...especially since my mom and I attended "The Royal Rehearsal" in London earlier this year. And, what I know is that my love brother has *never* bought me jewelry before and so...for him to tell me that the Lord has some big things in store for me and tell me that those items were of *significance*...because I know that, "The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly of the Lord [even the events that seem accidental are really ordered by Him]" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP), I choose to trust my God, my Father, my Creator...the Institutor of Marital Covenant. I choose to believe (Mark  9:23) that Friday, nor yesterday, was an "accident" but *a sign* that things are...shifting. That a change, indeed, is gonna come!

Another verse that I have been a fan of for quite some time? Psalm 33:15(NKJV):

"He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works."

What we all have in common is that Adonai's Word (John 1:1, 2 Timothy 3:16-17) applies to each and everyone of us *and* that he does not contradict himself to manifest it. No, not ever. However, where we differ is that we each have our own *individual* journeys that are not meant to be duplicated any more than our fingerprints.

That said...

From *very personal experience*, I encourage you to not be so consumed (or is it obsessed?!?) with the destination that you miss out on all of the beauty that *obedience of the journey* brings.

Yeah, I'm gonna get off of here now so that I can find (or is it, "Be led to?") something fabulous to rock with my new bangles.

All seven of 'em. But especially...*those gold two*.

Love to you,

SRW




Friday, July 8, 2011

"On Fire": If Chivalry Is Dead...*We Killed It*.

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church."---Ephesians 5:22-29 (NKJV) 


I'm gonna do my best to not go on and on about this topic...

It's just that I ran across an article this week that caught my eye. It was entitled, "7 Ways You Can Tell Chivalry Is Dead". Yeah. Well. Let me first say that in some ways, the e-zine gets props for even *acknowledging* chivalry. Because, yes, while it does appear to be an "endangered species" re: a lot of men's character, you'd be amazed how many women...*how many grown women* have no clue what it even is. And indeed, it's hard to expect what you don't know you deserve.

*a sermon unto itself*

It's kinda like my theory on why so many men "pause" at marriage. Boy, I wish women would own up to their power...that can be used for good *or* for evil (we are *helpers* after all-Genesis 2:18). I mean, wait until marriage for sex...for what? If you're giving it up on the front end. Take you out on dates...for what? If you are putting yourself so out there that there's no real reason for him to take you...he already knows everything. Open your door...for what? You're so busy trying to get to it first. Or...you are not patient enough to wait for him to get it (or catch on that he's supposed to get it). In reference to that last point, I smiled when I read the article, "How to Be Chivalrous"on HubPages:
  
It's ok to be a feminist. It's not ok to be a femnazi.

Ms. Femnazi; If he holds a door open for you, he's just trying to show you some respect. Did you not spend the last few decades fighting for respect from men? Think about that, the next time you're getting ready to throw a temper tantrum. If you can't handle a simple act of courtesy, you've got bigger issues that have nothing to do with civil rights.

Femnazi (LOL). *Classic*. It was the feminist Gloria Steinem who once said, "We are becoming the men that we wanted to marry" and while I'm not 100% sure where *she* was coming from, the more I am allowing the Lord to reveal to me the *priority of femininity* (Proverbs 31:30), personally, I find that statement to be *highly unfortunate*. AND ACCURATE.

Then, when I read another article on chivalry, my suspicions were confirmed. It's a site that has quite a bit of content that I dig: "The Art of Manliness". Anyway, as I was reading through its own take on being chivalrous, "Be a Modern Knight: Protecting Your Lady in the 21st Century", I loved (loved, loved!) that three of its points were, "Guard Against Harmful Media Sources", "Steer Her Away from Negative Friends" and (whew and amen!) "Quit Watching Porn". A MAN WITH A SEXUAL ADDICTION IS NOT A MAN WHO IS CHIVALROUS. A MAN WHO DOES NOT TRY AND GUARD YOU FROM SEXUAL SIN IS NOT EITHER. We are of a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9). We are daughters of the Most High, the "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 17:14). Another word for "chivalrous" is "noble". QUEENS ARE WORTHY OF A NOBLE MAN. *IN EVERY WAY*. *IN EVERY ROOM*.

This is where Ephesians comes into play. It shouldn't be rocket science, but a lot of us sure do make certain things *far more complicated* than they have to be, don't we. My point?

*Watch how a man honors Adonai and treats himself. It will speak *volumes* re: how you will be treated.* 

A man who is not faithful to God, why would you expect him to be faithful to you? A man who does not *respect* God, why would you expect him to respect you? A man who doesn't even spend enough time (2 Timothy 2:15) in the Word, *which is God* (John 1:1), to know that the comparative between how Christ treats the Church and how he is to treat his (future) wife? That is *quite telling*. Why would you expect chivalry from him? In the grand scheme of Ephesians 5 standards, chivalry is like icing on the cake. It doesn't even *begin* to scratch the surface of what a man is supposed to do for the woman he loves. And in a lot of ways, for women in general, as a brother to his spiritual sisters to help remind them of the bar that has been set (and for many, raised) in God's kingdom re: how a man should treat a woman.

Yeah, I know. Some people would challenge that a man walking on the outside of the sidewalk or pulling out a lady's chair is outdated. Whatever. The Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and ROYALTY NEVER GOES OUT OF STYLE. It is classic. And timeless.

The Word says that a man nourishes and cherishes his body. When a woman is united to her Beloved, she becomes a part of his body (Genesis 2:24-25). Chivalry is just an example of how he honors his rib. And ladies, if it's dead while you're dating (er, *courting*), it's gonna be *really taxing* trying to resurrect it once you're married.

Don't be so desperate (or needy or fearful) that you become the man that you want to marry. Just be *the woman* that your godly ideal should marry. By holding him to manly standards. By expecting no less than nobility.


Love to you,

SRW

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"On Fire": So, Just How *Codependent* Are You?

"Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law."---Romans 13:8 (NKJV)


Codependency.

It's actually a word that has been in my head space since I was a child; something that a few members in my family recognized that they were suffering from (in, around and through) and strived *hard* to not be. If you're not familiar with the definition of it, the classic explanation is basically that one person is unhealthy---whether it's being a substance abuser, a sex addict or really just a jerk (just sayin') and the other person involved is psychologically dependent on that individual.

OK, but let's take that a bit broader, such as how this applies to being a disciple (John 8:31) and then revisit this *command* in the Word, which is God (John 1:1):

"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.' Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.'"---2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NKJV)

Yeah. Let's ALL get free (John 8:32) up in here! How many Christians are in codependent relationships with the world? Intimate with people who are addicted to lust, to greed, to spiritual vacillation, to a conscious sinful lifestyle *while we are addicted to them*? And you know what? As a *recovered codependent*, I'm here to tell you that it is one of greatest traps of the Liar (John 8:44) because you tend to tell yourself that it's "ministry" when really it's just a cryptic form of self-abuse. There's a "letter poem" that I wrote some years ago that had a liner in it which says, "God promised to give me the desires of my heart, not the aid to my addiction." God doesn't give us people to *fix*. He gives us people to *love*.

Sometimes, it can be *very hard* knowing the difference. Without great discernment (Proverbs 15:21) and *total surrender* (I Peter 5:6-7) to the Father.

I tend to throw this out from time-to-time because it's a book that saved my life in a lot of ways. It's called, "Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You and Avoid Those that Aren't". The "boundary kings" (as I like to call them), Henry Cloud and John Townsend, penned it. If you see yourself anywhere in what I have been describing, it's a *must read*. However, whether you make the time to check it out our not, I do hope that *everyone* will make the effort to read an article that I read a little while ago on WebMD:

"Signs of a Codependent Relationship"

Here is an excerpt:


“Codependency, by definition, means making the relationship more important to you than you are to yourself,” she tells WebMD. “It’s kind of a weird phrase, and it doesn’t sound like it means a one-sided relationship. But that’s what it is. It means you’re trying to make the relationship work with someone else who’s not,” Tessina says.

The good news is that if you’re a codependent partner, you can start finding a solution to the problem under your own power, too.

The concept of codependency was first applied to couples in which a partner has an alcohol or drug problem, says Scott Wetzler, PhD, author of IsIt You or Is It Me? How We Turn Our Feelings Inside Out and Blame Each Other.

But other issues in a couple’s lives can foster codependence, too. One partner may have trouble controlling other impulses, or simply not show much interest in the partnership.

The other partner - who is the codependent one - then works all-out to try to “fix” the problem.

“For example, if someone is with an alcoholic, that being the most typical case, taking care of that person or kowtowing to them solves something in their own personality. They have a hard time leaving it,” says Daniel Bochner, PhD, a psychologist in Savannah, Ga. and author of The Emotional Toolbox.“They get locked into trying to save their partner or the relationship over and over.”

Codependency can also arise when a partner is self-absorbed or uninterested, Tessina says. This may happen “in a relationship where only one of you is ever asking to get together or making moves toward the other one.”

Still, the codependent partner often finds some type of reward in this setup.

“Probably the most significant theme is a sense of control. The other person plays the out-of-control person, and so they get to be the person who is in control and thus is respected,” Bochner tells WebMD.

“They can be the better person, the smarter person, the person who’s recognized as having it all together. They’re defining themselves as strong enough to deal with it, when actually they need to realize that maybe they should be taking care of themselves instead of proving their strength,” he says.

Simply being in a relationship - even one that’s not ideal - may also be comforting, Wetzler says. “A lot of times, people have low self-esteem and say, ‘I’m no good, no one would want me, and therefore I have to put up with this.’ These negative thoughts are very common, and they have a big impact on why people stay in relationships that may not be good for them.”

You know what I've realized? *A lot of my (past) relationships were based in codependency.* Not just "romantic" ones, but platonic ones, with men and women, as well. You know what else I'm seeing? *Pride* is the root of a lot of this. AND PRIDE DOES GO BEFORE DESTRUCTION. A HAUGHTY SPIRIT BEFORE A FALL (Proverbs 16:18). A Savior? We are not to be. A controller? We are not to be. In a cyclic state of enabling destructive behaviors, we are not to do. Coddling spiritual stagnation is not on the list of a proper witness, either. And what I'm seeing is that once we get that, once we *really get that*, we get out of being *needy* (or wanting to feel *needed*) and into truly loving others. Freely and truthfully (John 8:32).

"But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?' 

Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”---Matthew 22: 34-40 (NKJV)

I have been in enough dating situations and have watched enough other people go through them as well to know that more times than not, it's not a *courtship* that people are in but a *codependent* situation. This helps me better understand what my Baba (my mother's husband) meant when he said, "Satan is not in the business of breaking up marriages (so much as) he's in the business of putting the wrong two people together in the first place." Therapists are advised *not* to get into relationships with their clients. It's *unhealthy* because they are providing a service to a person who is (currently) in a debilitated state.

Oh, but how many women find themselves in something similar? The Lord tells us what a healthy person, spiritually, is like and yet, we take on the "therapist agenda" with a "girlfriend heart". And so, in walks...*codependency*.

However, when we make it a *point* and *purpose* to love God most of all and ourselves *and then others*, if doing these things *well* is the motivation and desire, things shift. You know how it said in the WebMD article that a lot of times we find ourselves proving our strength rather than taking care of ourselves? Brilliant. Just this morning, I was reading this in a book ("The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice"):


"I don't have to prove God.  God doesn't need me to prove God or believe in God. God doesn't need me at all. I need God. I need God for a lot of reasons, but most importantly, I need God to think the thought that is my very existence. So in a sense I could say, 'I am, therefore God is.'"

And just like we don't have to *prove God* because we are made in Elohim's image to be their likeness (Genesis 1:26-28), we don't have to *prove our worthiness either*. In who we *choose* to love or how we choose to love. If we love God first and love ourselves well, how we treat others will be evident of those two things being put first into perspective and secondly into action.

Owe *nothing* but love. Patience. Kindness. Truth and the belief that they can be their absolute best kind of person (I Corinthians 13:4-8).

Oh, but not because *you've* fixed them. Because they've *made the choice (and concerted effort) to allow *God to*.

Love to you,

SRW