Monday, October 31, 2011

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: "Letting Go of Your Past: Take Control of Your Future by Addressing Habits, Hurts and Attitudes That Remain from Previous Relationships" (John Loren and Paula Sandford)

"Sometimes you have to let go to see if there was anything worth holding on to."---Unknown



"Peace is an indicator. When our intended comes, our heart and mind may flip which way, while underneath is a peace totally unfamiliar to us. Outside we may be turned every which way but to peace, while inside there is no storm at all. Something has settled. When we are trying to discover, especially concerning one who doesn't yet know the Lord, our logical mind may do convolutions about itself. We may run in endless circles, opposing every thought with its opposite, getting nowhere in a hurry. And yet at the same time there may be a gentle inner knowing. Again, time is the friend of God and man; haste is the enemy. Such inner knowing and resultant calm will stand the test of time; passion and lust will not.

Sometimes lasting friendship is difficult to divide from spouse love, especially since love sometimes enters first by the door of friendship. We often confuse burden-bearing love with romance, or transference with love. All too often prayer ministers think they have 'fallen in love' with a person to whom they are ministering. Such relationships might, but seldom do, develop into marital love. Relationships based on need are always unstable and can seldom stand transition into two free equals freely choosing each other. Possessiveness frequently masks itself as love. All the above confusions are best sifted by time. The Holy Spirit is the giver of discernment, but as in the healing of the inner man, ripeness is the key capacity to hear Him. We must be careful not to pluck fruit before it ripens. Perhaps this is another meaning of the warning 'I adjure you...that you not arouse or awaken my love, until she pleases' (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:5, 8:4---three times the Word uses very similar words!)."---"Becoming One Means Really Leaving Father and Mother"---pg.83

We've all heard the phrase, "Let go and let God." Some of us don't realize just how real that really is. An "On Fire" sistah (thanks Jennifer D.!) introduced me to these words in Jude, oh, about a couple of years ago:
"Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!"---Jude 1:2(Message)

Adonai's words do not return to him void (Isaiah 55:11). You don't have to "make love happen". You simply need to *let God happen* in your love relationships. And yes, sometimes, that requires loosening your grip so that you can gain a clearer perspective. On you, God and the other individual.

By the way, you can cop the book here.

In the wise words of Ms. Whitley Gilbert ("A Different World"), it's OK to "Relax, Relate and Release" when you're releasing it all over to the Master, the Creator...the Giver of Love.

Still prayin'. For your progress and your peace of mind.


Friday, October 28, 2011

An Ounce of Prevention: "You'll Learn to Trust Again When You Learn to Trust You"


The truth will make you free (John 8:32). You were bought with a price. Do not be slaves among men (I Corinthians 7:23):

"This is why we can be very angry with ourselves and struggle to trust because in over arching with our benevolence, we recognize that we’ve made a big mistake. When we keep plugging away, it’s because it would be ‘better’ for them to prove our trust investment right than for us to admit we’ve made a mistake.

The ability to trust yourself and trust others actually comes from having your eyes and ears open and processing feedback. When you’re honest with yourself, you’ll feel and acknowledge the impact and what it means in relation to you and your relationship. You’ll experience your feelings, acknowledge any discomfort or what new information you have learned as a result of the impact, and take a view on it, and ultimately do something whether that means proactively addressing any code amber concerns, or inflating your opt out parachute and jumping from a code red concern."

Read this article in its entirety here.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: "Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life"

Hook, line and sinker. Right here:

"God calls you to be the 'you' that he created you to be. He knows, however, that you can only become your real self if you give yourself to him. C. S. Lewis wrote, 'The more we get what we now call 'ourselves' out of the way, and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we is when I turn to Christ, when I give myself up to his personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own...Sameness is to be found among the most 'natural' men, not among those who surrender to Christ.' Within our relationship with God we can be transformed into extraordinary individuals he intends us to be.

If we keep our relationship with God at the center of our lives, he can also equip and empower us to do the extraordinary things he designed us to do. The things to which God calls us are usually challenging. In Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby says that moving from our way of thinking or acting to God's way of thinking or acting requires us to make major adjustments. We cannot stay where we are and go with God at the same time. We have to be willing to make changes in our lives.

Sometimes the problem in finding our vocational calling is not that we are unclear about God's calling to us, but rather that we are unwilling to do what he is asking. For many of us, financial concerns get in the way of our following where God is leading. Over the years, we have had many people begin their career counseling with us by expressing their desire to do whatever God wants them to do with their lives. If their new vocational calling would necessitate living on less income, however, their tendency often was to stay in the same job or field in order to maintain their lifestyle. Living our calling may require confronting some difficult money issues that have no easy solutions.

We have seen stunning examples of God's faithfulness to people who choose to trust him to meet their financial needs as they pursue their vocational calling. Jim and Jan believed that God was calling them to leave their positions in higher education and join Wycliffe Bible Translators, a nonprofit organization. One large obstacle stood in Jan's way, however. She was afraid that if they made this career change, their reduced income would be inadequate to fund a dearly held dream: to send their children (then ages three, eight and ten) to a Christian college.

In spite of her concern, they made the decision to join the organization and entrust God with their children's education. Nineteen years later, their three children were all graduates of Westmont, a Christian college in Santa Barbara, California. At a time when the national average for undergraduate debt was more than $12,000, all three graduated debt-free. Their story illustrates that God has unlimited resources he can make available to us if we trust him enough to follow where he leads. 

Keeping our primary calling primary builds our faith and trust in God so that we are able to answer 'Yes!' to his call despite our fears and reservations. We trust that he is calling us toward something that is the very best for us, and we have faith that he will provide what we need to fulfill that calling. Keeping our focus on the Lord also reminds us that our ultimate accountability for what we do with our lives is not to our parents, spouse, boss, neighbors, society or ourselves. We are to live our lives playing to the Audience of One: God."---"Live Your Calling", pg. 13-14

A good man (and woman's) steps are ordered (Psalm 37:23). *In order*. Feel free to cop the book. It's got some *real gems* within it.

Lech Lecha...*for real, doe!* (LOL)


An Ounce of Prevention: Take "The Marriage Readiness" Quiz

"To be tested is good. The challenge of life may be the best therapist."---Gail Sheehy


I haven't taken the quiz yet. Oh, but I *love me some* and so I will certainly make it a point to get around to it! Anyway, these days, when an excerpt/portion catches my eye, I don't question it much. Things are moving/shifting at an accelerated pace and so we have to be open to moving...*swiftly*. As led.

That said...

*This* is what caught my eye about the "marriage readiness" write-up:

Point One: I was a statistic. There I was, being told over and over by nice, well-meaning people that I was more likely to be struck by lightning twice than to get married over the age of 35. I couldn't get the image of Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, angrily tapping her foot about her "biological clock ticking like this," out of my thoughts. I pictured myself as a cartoon time bomb, the fuse lit and hissing closer and closer. Panic settled into my daily life, and I almost succumbed to the belief that I would always find myself in the lonely, unsatisfying relationships I was familiar with. I was terrified I might never find meaningful love and have my own family.

Point Two: If you are sincere, and are doing all of the right things, but you find you're attracting random people, or people who don't "get it" or "get you," then it's time to look under the hood of dating to understand that what you think and how you feel directly relates to what you have and what you attract into your life. There's no hiding it.

Point Three: If you say you want to meet someone warm, kind, and welcoming, but you are being negative, skeptical, and judgmental, you are likely going to attract someone who is just like the way you are being rather than what you are saying. So I ask you, what kind of people are you attracting? If you do a lot of the right things, like dress well, look great, go on a lot of dates, and put yourself in all of the right places, but deep down you have unconscious stories about yourself, negative vibes, skepticism, misconceptions, and confusion, do you think it will make a difference?

This is the "Dating Epidemic." And until I realized what was actually going on, I was doomed to continue attracting men who would reinforce the story I had about myself - and I didn't even know it! I had to change - to wake up and have a breakthrough - and take personal responsibility for who I was being in my life. The truth is:

I had to be the one to find the one.

And when I did, my energy changed and my life changed. The wrong ones stopped showing up!

Good stuff! Anyway, if you want to take the quiz, go here.

Adonai's moving. And speaking. AND TESTING. If you're in a "dating epidemic" (and sick of it):




Monday, October 24, 2011

An Ounce of Prevention: "Prioritize Having a Healthy Relationship Instead of Focusing on 'Getting One' from a Reluctant Source"

This ain't your pastor's sermon but...

If you stay open, it will *surely* set the captives free! I simply adored these three points right here:

1) “Well, what I realize now is that I have never seen relationships with men in terms of what I wanted from a (any) relationship with a (any) man. I always saw relationships in terms of what I wanted from this (particular) relationship with this (particular) man, so that my desire for a relationship was always about a specific man to me and never about relationships in general or about men in general.”

2) If you check into a hotel today and complain about the lack of sea view even though you’re bang smack in the middle of a built up area, you’ve either got to accept that the view is the view, or move to a hotel closer to the beach. End of. In relationships, we become sidetracked because we think, unlike the view from the hotel, that we can change a person or that if we have feelings for them and want the relationship, they should give it, even if they act and say differently. Instead of knowing what you represent, what does and doesn’t work for you, your priorities etc, you meet someone and they become the vocation that you’re sinking all of your energy into. You don’t do your homework and find out if you have shared values, etc. – all you know is that you now want a relationship. In fact, it becomes “What values?” This is why I hear from so many women who became focused on getting one man or a series of men to give them relationships they weren’t giving, that are regretting not folding and feeling like they’ve ‘wasted’ their lives.

3)  Stop hammering your square peg and pinning your hopes for a relationship on a ‘type’ that may actually be working against one. Get happy with you, work out who you are and what’s important, and align yourself with a relationship that reflects this instead of only getting the ‘relationship erection’ when you know that one isn’t in the offing or having to ‘suffer’ for your mission. You can tell a lot about what someone truly wants and how they feel about themselves by the relationships they’re in and the people they claim to love. Fact is, if more of us prioritized our self-esteem and our true values, there’d be far less unavailable relationships! You’re the only person you’re in control of, so don’t stand in the way of your own progress.

Get free. GET. FREE!

You can check this article out out in its entirety here. Thanks, Ms. Natalie. Baggage RECLAIM fa sho!



Friday, October 21, 2011

"On Fire": Later. Sometimes Means Better. Most Times, Actually.

"Jesus said to him, 'You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later on.'"---John 13:7(AMP)

"At first we hope too much; later on, not enough."---Joseph Roux

My hope chest sits, patiently, next to the love seat where I do a lot of my writing. Therefore, I see it everyday; but just now, am I *really looking at it*. Again. Wooden. Hand-carved. With angels all about. Hmph. It's funny that *just now*, I'm processing that it represents the theme Scripture for this blog: "Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire." (Psalm 104:4-NKJV)


I used to make it a point to put something in it rather regularly. Yet, there's been so much...upheaval as of late, that I must admit that it's been neglected. That I haven't been making my hope chest...HOPE-FULL. I've got to get better. Sometime over this weekend, I shall.

Actually, I think I know what I will put inside of it. I will order a book that one of the "On Fire" gals sent me a link to last week (thanks again, Nicole). Seven days ago, actually. It's entitled, "Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood After 35". When I got the email with the subject heading, "SOMETHING FOR PEREZ'S MOM", I thought, "That's cute." Yet, after reading a story earlier today and the lead Scripture which complements it well, I now see that the Spirit (John 4:24) is saying, "Oh, it's a lot more than that." Yeah. Adonai is a lot more than...cute.

The story was on It's entitled, "My Husband's Ticking Biological Clock" and at the risk of overusing the word, yes, I found it to be...*cute*. And somewhat profound. In the timing (Acts 1:7-Message) of my reading it. Because timing is such a...catchy word. And I picked that word on purpose because based on its context, "catchy" can either mean, "pleasing and easily remembered" *or* "tricky and deceptive". When you get the timing thing right, it's the former. When you don't, it's the latter. I'm trying to master the first one. More. And better.

I think that's why I gravitated to this part of the author's narrative so much:

"On paper we both wanted the same thing: to start our own family. We just happened to want that same thing at different times. As the dance of our relationship revealed, timing was everything. If one person moved too quickly or too slowly, the whole thing became clumsy. Clearly we’d have to compromise. And that meant neither party would get exactly what they desired. So like a game of chicken, each of us waited, wondering who’d budge first. I didn’t want it to be me, pushed into a new role prematurely.  I was confident that postponing parenthood now promised the two of us, and our unborn offspring, a brighter, more satisfying future. That waiting until I was ready to be a mother meant I’d be a better mother. I only hoped that when I finally was ready, my body and my husband wouldn’t tell me it was too late."

Now, I'll be the *first* one to say that it bugs me when women call the Lord "their husband" in a humanized way. It's a metaphor (Hosea 2:16). Not an exact in the sense of him doing what an earthly being is created to do. However, when it comes to the analogy, I couldn't help but think of some of the things on my "heart wish list" and feel that Adonai and I have similar dialogues as this woman and her husband do. That when it comes to certain things, with my whole heart, I believe that Adonai and I want the same things for me. And, because he is a *perfect spirit* and I am a *flawed piece of flesh*, there is often a compromise that transpires: he waits for me to get with his program (LOL). But more than anything, what really hit home for me---mind, body and spirit, is when the author said that she was confident that postponing parenthood was to ultimately bring about a brighter and more satisfying future for her unborn child. That waiting to be ready meant waiting to be better.


This is God's vote. This I know.

You know, if you read the context of the lead verse for this lil' blog thought, it's when Christ was about the wash the disciples' feet. Peter didn't understand why Christ was doing it. That way. Christ simply said, "You do not understand now what I am doing, but you will understand later on." And a lot of times, in our "love relationship of compromise with the Lord", we have to come to this same resolve. That we don't always understand what is going on *right now*, but if we wait, we will. Later.

And later. Sometimes means better. Best, actually, if it's according to Adonai's timing.

I'm praying for y'all. Still. Hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). Still.

Lech Lecha,


Friday, October 14, 2011

"On Fire": Signs That You're SETTLING.

"Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me— the very thing you've been unwilling to do."---Isaiah 30:15(Message)

“Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.”---Barbara de Angelis

Hey Ladies...

So, I was having a conversation with someone earlier this week, basically along the lines of that quote by Ms. de Angelis re: how do you know when someone is disrespecting you in a relationship. I mean, not *abusing you*, but just not *honoring you*. I have lived, for some time now, by the (working) philosophy that *once you state your needs* and they *continue to go 1) unacknowledged and/or 2) unaddressed*, that is a pretty clear indication that some respect is lacking. And it's hard for anything to really flourish, especially in a healthy way, without mutual esteem present. That's not my *opinion*; that's *biblical*: "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind." (Romans 14:5-NKJV)

Indeed, I hear myself saying more and more these days, "You value what you value." Personally. Professionally. RELATIONALLY. Period.

I think that's what I really enjoyed about an article that I "happened upon" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) last evening entitled, "Settling vs. Settling Down". As I went down the list, it amazed me how many people, based on the information that they've shared with me, came to mind. ON THE SETTLING SIDE OF THINGS. Check it:

Settling vs Settling Down in Your Career

Signs of Settling:

    I hate this job, but it pays the bills
    It’s not the ideal job, but I’ll take it
    I don’t like what I’m doing, but the money justifies it
    This is the lesser of all evils
    I can take this job and look for something else in the mean time

Signs of Settling Down:

    I love this job
    I love what I do here and the money is just an added bonus
    This job gives me an opportunity to express myself creatively
    The idea of doing this for the next 5 years really excites me
    I’m not really thinking too far ahead and I’m really present when I do this work

Settling vs Settling Down in Relationships

Signs of Settling

    This is the best that I can do
    This is significantly better than my last relationship so I shouldn’t complain
    It’s been a long time since I’ve connected with anybody
    Well, I’m x age and if I don’t make this work I’m going to be to old (this one is quite popular)
    etc, etc.

Signs of Settling Down

    I feel amazing about this
    I feel truly blessed to have this person
    I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with this person
    I wake up everyday grateful to have this person next to me
    This is what I truly want

Now, we know that for the sake of *this blog*, you're also settling (I Timothy 5:22) if your fella is *already* waking up next to you (SMH...LOL...RME...LOL), yet I think we all get the gist. And then, the goodness just kept on coming after I read another piece entitled, "Dating: God's Best or All the Rest" with this tying it all together quite...effectively:

As I began to observe his life and how he interacted with others, as well as how wonderfully he always treated me, I decided that there could really be something here. As I prayed about it, I felt like God gave me permission to pursue it. Later on, when I prayed about the possibility of marriage, God answered that prayer clearly too. The rest is history. We dated for about 10 months before he proposed.

And now, after nearly four years of marriage I am so glad I followed God’s leading. It’s not that my husband and I never disagree, or that we do not get on each other’s nerves periodically, but married life is so much simpler when you know that this is the person that God led you to. With that in mind, we know God will see us through whatever difficulties we face in the future. And as I look back on past relationships, I can see why Matt and I are the best match compared to others we each dated.

Don’t get me wrong, you could probably make your current relationship work. I believe that there are any number of people that we each could marry and make it work – and even be happy. But I also believe that we will be happiest in marriage if we allow God to choose our mate for us. That doesn’t mean waiting for God to drop that person into your lap, or waiting for a flashing neon sign to blink over his or her head identifying that person as “the one.” Instead, it means taking each relationship to God and asking, “Where do You want this relationship to go?”

And the next step is just as important, are you truly willing to abide by God’s answer?

If God’s will is for you to be married, then I believe He wants you to have the best marriage possible. You deserve someone who will appreciate you for who God made you to be, encourage you to grow spiritually and embrace all that God has for you, and cherish you as a precious gift from your Heavenly Father. Don’t settle for less than that.

That question about asking Adonai where HE WANTS the relationship to go...boy, that could spare a lot of unnecessary money for a wedding *and* for the divorce that oftentimes follows right there! Come to think of it, it could also move a lot of relationships *much further along* if more women chose to accept that Adonai is *far more concerned* about a person being good for your spirit (soul salvation) than your libido, bank account or family photos. Sometimes we make the wrong options our top priorities.

Anyway, I'm sharing this because as the 2011 calendar year is starting to wind down, if you see yourself anywhere in these articles, I hope you will *make the time* to *really think* about the warnings that they're giving you. If you don't like where you're working or living...*why are you settling?* When the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), tells us that perfect love casts out all fear (I John 4:18), this doesn't just apply to relationships. LOVE YOURSELF TO NOT LET FEAR STIFLE (OR STAGNATE) YOU. And, if you're in a relationship (even, on some levels, in a friendship) where you see some of these "You're settling" red flags, that is *definitely* something to think about...*and reconsider*. Not only is life too short, but there are *far too many spirits* out here in the world that are not just out to waste your time, but drain your energy and distract you from fulfilling your purpose (Psalm 20:4).

In the game of life, Adonai covers all bases. Don't you just love the lead verse for this? We can only *truly settle down* by being *completely dependent* on him---relying *wholeheartedly* on his way, his time and his will.

Life is short. We are vapor (James 4:14). It would be a shame to rewind and realize that more days were spent (or is it wasted?) on "This is the lesser of all evils" and/or "This is the best that I can do".

Why settle? You're a daughter of the Most High (Psalm 82:6). You *certainly* don't have to.

So don't. Settle down...instead.



BOOK RECOMMENDATION: "Dating with Pure Passion: More than Rules, More than Courtship, More than a Formula"

Hook, line and sinker...right here:

"Unfortunately, eating chocolate on an empty stomach illustrates how a lot of singles build dating relationships. They approach one another with hungry hearts, hoping that the other person will feed them. This condition can be especially acute when a man or woman feels lonely, rejected or starved for acceptance. Without love, people become desperate for something to fill the void inside their hearts. A romance, with its potentially sweet taste and emotional highs, seems the likely solution to their hunger. 

Consider my Great Dating Crusade. I was hungry for love and searched repeatedly to find a woman to fulfill me. Every new romance that I entered felt like a sugar high with soaring emotions, exhilarating self-esteem boosts, and a sweet sense of security. In the headlines of romantic rapture, I thought a woman could fulfill me forever. Nevertheless, the euphoria inevitably collapsed. Sometimes it took weeks. Other times, it took months. My wife's happiness vanished a year after dating and seven months of marriage. 

Regardless of how wonderful a new dating relationship feels, the romantic bliss will eventually wear off. Human affection may taste good, but like chocolate, it cannot give our hearts what they need for survival. The true hunger of our hearts is to be accepted unconditionally. We need more than just attention, friendship and sex. We long for someone to love us despite our faults, mistakes and imperfections. Our hearts remain hollow when no one completely accepts us."---"Dating with Pure Passion", pg. 12

El Elyon, the Most High, just keeps speaking...and speaking...and speaking...

Calling us higher....and higher...and higher...

Get the book!



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: "101 Cups of Water: Refreshment and Relief for the Tired and Thirsty Soul"

It's a quickie.

My mom forwarded this to me this morning. It really resonated:

"All my life I’ve sought to be extraordinary. I want to be admired by others and also admired by myself so that I don’t feel the shame of being just plain ordinary. I used to think that ambition was an indication of emotional health. Not so. Extraordinary people feel extraordinary pressure to continue being extraordinary. It’s a prison from which one cannot easily escape. The effort to maintain 'extraordinary,' to be a somebody, even to be a super Christian, takes so much energy and consumes all one’s joy and peace. Worse, any of us who are bound to maintaining an extraordinary spiritual reputation eventually find Jesus oddly irrelevant, even an impediment, to one’s purpose. Jesus came to free us from the prison of needing to be extraordinary."

It's an excerpt from a book entitled, "101 Cups of Water: Refreshment and Relief for the Tired and Thirsty Soul". Loved it!

Keep hangin' in. And on'.


Friday, October 7, 2011

"On Fire": If He (Always) Told You, It Wouldn't Be a SURPRISE!!!

"If I were in your shoes, I'd go straight to God, I'd throw myself on the mercy of God. After all, he's famous for great and unexpected acts; there's no end to his surprises."---Job 5:8(Message)

"Be ready to be surprised."---Loesje


It's Yom Kippur tonight (and tomorrow thru sunset); what is considered, in Judaism, to be the holiest day of the year, and being that I am getting more and more into observing HOLY-DAYS rather than HOLI-DAYS, I am an observer of it.

Therefore, I won't be with you long.

I just wanted to share with you an excerpt of an "On Fire praise report" that I received from one of the "On Fire" sistahs earlier this week. Ironically, in reply to the "Knock-Offs" devotional featured under this message:

"PRAISE REPORT!!! I AM ENGAGED!!! My future husband is named Akim Iddrisu and he's from Ghana. He is 37 years old and he is a car exporter here in South Korea. He is the most wonderful, caring, sweet, kind, hard working, compassionate, loyal, protective, loving man GOD could have ever blessed me with!!! I AM SOOOO GRATEFUL!!!"

I'm going to leave her name anonymous because I'm not sure how public she's made it. Yet. Although *something tells me* (I believe it's the Holy Spirit-LOL) that this news is probably all the rage on her Facebook page!

Anyway, I'm sharing this for two reasons. 1) because I remember what my friend was going through this time last year. *And the year before that*. On many levels, due to her mom's health challenges and this whacked out economy, it was *pure hell* for her. She hung on, though and so, I am *so thankful* that she has gotten some *real relief* and that she has *truly reaped* from the seeds that she has sown (Galatians 6:9). Adonai has proven, yet again, that he can be trusted. And 2) because I also remember when she sent me an email to tell me that she was leaving to teach in South Korea. When we touched base by phone, I just laughed. This is one person in my life that you can't put too much past. One day in Nashville, the next day in South Korea. And who knew (other than Adonai) that over there was where her Beloved was? Hmph. Reminds me of my brother. Seven years ago, he too left Nashville, thinking that it was going to be for a few weeks.

To the Nashvillians, including myself, I say: GOD IS BIGGER THAN DAVIDSON COUNTY. And to the "On Fire" gals as a whole, "GOD IS EVEN BIGGER ON SURPRISES!" Therefore, either way, don't limit him. Don't let your fear(s) limit him. Your past limit him. Your preconceived notions limit him. Other people's input limit him. You limit him.

How? By deciding how he should move on your behalf. We are to be followers of the Spirit. Not leaders. Submitters. Not instructors. Surrenders. Not doubters.

Sadly, I don't know if we think of Adonai as the Master Element of Surprise nearly as much as we should, but when you think of the fact that he is the Master Source of Miracles, would that not be the same thing? I think sometimes we're so focused on what we see, that we forget (or is it that we neglect?) that the unseen holds some of the greatest of blessings; that Elohim is always at work on our behalf. Sometimes in the most unpredictable of ways. And times.

And so, as you prepare to enter into another week, perhaps consider stepping out of your comfort zone a bit. Peter would've never been able to say he walked on water (Matthew 14:22-23) had he not. And it looks like my friend wouldn't be yelling with excitement at me via email had she not either.

Stay open. And alert. And obedient. You never know when Adonai will *surprise* you.



An Ounce of Prevention: "Knock-Offs"

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”---Matthew 7:6(NKJV)

“The rarest things in the world, next to a spirit of discernment, are diamonds and pearls.”---Jean de la Bruyere

SIDEBAR: This was featured as a devotional earlier this week. Hope it blesses you...

Early this morning (Psalm 46:5), I had a vision. Rather, I *envisioned something* that I thought was most appropriate for the “On Fire” blog; yet, it would seem that the Spirit (John 4:24) has other plans. Because, while this initially speaks to singles and standards, if you “wait it out”, it may bring about some personal clarity, married or not, re: some of the choices that you are making, or are about to make. In other words, it may bring about a firm “yes” or “no”, in this season, re: if Adonai can actually *trust you*---or is entrusting you---to make the right decisions; if your choices are manifesting *grace* (I Corinthians 3:10) or if they are resulting in a need for an abundance of *mercy* (Psalm 123:3) within your life. Because, indeed, the phrasing of the opening line of Amplified Version of I Corinthians 8:9 *definitely* bears pondering (Proverbs 4:26): “Only be careful that this power of choice (this permission and liberty to do as you please) which is yours does not [somehow] become a hindrance (cause of stumbling) to the weak or overscrupulous [giving them an impulse to sin].” I think a lot of us would be a lot safer if we applied this “hindrance possibility” to ourselves as well as those around us.

Tiffany’s? Or Claire’s?

Who knew? Who? Knew? Well, other than perhaps someone with that name, that the *very high end* jewelry franchise was onto something when they named their store, simply: Tiffany’s. And, let me just say this for the analogy’s sake, Claire, in real time, as it relates to a real person, ain’t a bad name, either. In Latin, it means “clear, bright, famous”. OK, but wait until you see what Tiffany means: THE MANIFESTATION OF GOD in Greek and “three” or “trinity” in Latin.

Yeah…this devo is gonna be…stunning. Literally (LOL).

So anyway, in this *envision*, I was at my absolute favorite mall in Nashville, Green Hills, and things were laid out just as it is in “real time”: Tiffany’s was upstairs and Claire’s was a level down (oh how the metaphors just keep a comin’!). However, there was a twist: instead of it being actual gems (Tiffany’s) or custom jewelry (Claire’s), both stores had actual women inside of them. Some I was aware of (I am using the word “know” less and less these days) and some I wasn’t, but in looking around and taking it all in, it was kind of like how they say that when we get to heaven, we’ll be shocked by who made it. And who didn’t. Some of the “Tiffany’s” gals caught me off guard just as much as some of the ones in “Clarie’s”. In some ways, it was surprising to see, which were “the real thing”…and which were the knock-offs.

Anyway, as I was asking the Divine Spirit for insight (Isaiah 28:29-NIRV) into what was going on, I was then taken to two bible chapters: Proverbs 31 (10-31) and Proverbs 5. One, according to Hebrew scholars, is the eulogy that Abraham penned for Sarah, “The Virtuous Wife” and the other is a long warning entitled (in the New King James Version), “The Peril of Adultery”. The first results in a man, *a husband*, saying “’Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’” (Proverbs 31:29-NKJV) The other? Well, it’s not praise that a man feels like giving after dealing with someone like her: “For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell.” (Proverbs 5:3-5-NKJV) Oh, and while we’re here, sexual sin (I Corinthians 5:11) is not the only way someone can be immoral. That word is simply defined as “not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted or established as consistent with principles of personal and social ethics”. And what are we as disciples (John 8:31) told to not conform to? *The things of this world.* (Romans 12:2) It’s so easy to judge until we have a clearer understanding of the Lord’s expectations; hence the need for *righteous judgment* (John 7:24).

So, as I looked into these two stores: one filled with the “manifestation of God” (that’s still so hot, Holy Spirit!) and the other with women that are “bright, clear and famous”---women that a lot of women try to emulate, I thought about my own jewelry experience.

Now, I’ll be the first one to admit that I have more custom jewelry than not. And you know why (catch it) because *it’s cheaper*. And *easier*. And more *readily available* (how many fellas are with a “Claire chick” for the *exact same reason*?!?). Yet, there are two things that I *very rarely* remove and that I couldn’t go the frugal route to get: my tiny pearl earrings and my pearl ring. I simply wear them too much to get the knock-off kind. To do so would be a waste of my money and my time.

And while we’ll get to the exquisite beauty (and value) of a pearl in just a moment, as I was piecing all of this together, I heard the Spirit (John 14:16-AMP) say: “Shellie, don’t confuse the difference between what someone doesn’t *want* and what they can’t *afford*.” Hmph. What someone “desires” vs. what they are “able to meet the expense of; have or be able to spare the price of”; what they are able to “furnish; supply”; what they are able to (good one, right here!) “able to do, manage, or bear without serious consequence or adverse effect”. Indeed, because if I were able to be up in Tiffany’s all day long, *would I really be in Claire’s?* Probably not. *Even if I’m acting like I prefer Claire’s, if I could *afford* Tiffany’s, I’m sure Claire’s would not be a priority. Or an option.*

Ladies-in-waiting, catch it: “Even if there’s more traffic in Claire’s, the clientele of Tiffany’s tends to be much different. The Tiffany’s shopper wants *the real thing*; not something that can simply be passed off, to the poor appraisers (we’ll get to that in a moment as well), as a rare gem simply because they don’t want to save up (wait) to pay the price (following godly standards) to get something…authentic, pure…*real*. Something of lasting value. Custom jewelry, to a Tiffany’s shopper, is really no more than junk jewelry because, to them, *you get what you pay for*. Both in the spiritual and in the natural: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30-NKJV)

The Parable of the Pearl: Revisited

I have shared, on more than one occasion, that I am *quite partial* to the pearl. It’s my birthstone, it’s a Christian symbol for Christ (John 10:9, Revelation 21:21), in Judeo-Christian recordings, it also symbolizes purity, harmony and humility and I’ve always appreciated (and in many ways, related to) the journey of the pearl: all that the grains of sand go through to become something so…precious. And in thinking about the pearl, I find that the following quote complements the Parable of the Pearl quite nicely: “The pearl is the queen of gems and the gem of queens.” For indeed, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.” (Proverbs 12:4-NKJV) And in connection to all of this, I appreciate how the Parable of the Pearl is so…profoundly succinct:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Now, if you’re looking at this from a courtship perspective, it really is…quite romantic, isn’t it? A man, finding a woman of purity, harmony and humility and giving up everything just to have her. Yes, yes. In this life, there is something to be said about the quality of the “pearl” and its *appraiser* (to determine the worth of). Perhaps, in this sense, two of the greatest appraisers of all time were Adam and Boaz:

ADAM:And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’”---Genesis 2:23(NKJV)

BOAZ:Then he said, ‘Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.’”---Ruth 3:10(NKJV)

Show an average guy a gemstone and he’s probably a bottom liner: it if looks like a pearl or diamond or sapphire or ruby, then it must be one. Oh, but one with *gem experience*, he looks for the cut, clarity and flawlessness of the stone. And, if he’s been in Tiffany’s enough, he’s also noticed that, more times than not, it has its own *stamp of approval* on its merchandise…so that *all* can know where he made his purchase. Hmph. Life is teaching me that in a marital covenant, it’s not just enough to be “the pearl” but to be in communion and connection with a man who actually *knows it when he sees it*: both must happen for a true spiritual transaction to take place (Amos 3:3, Malachi 2:15, Matthew 19:1-10-Message). A godly man is not just looking for someone who *acts like the manifestation of God* but IS THE MANIFESTATION OF GOD in not just her appearance and words, but her actions as well! For him, simulation is not enough. Authenticity is what he’s after because he doesn’t just want to rock her like some junk jewelry at a party. He wants to have her as a part of him…for life. Kinda like my pearl earrings and ring. Yes, like the Parable of the Pearl, you’ll be amazed what you’ll give up for something that you want to last.

Yet, this message doesn’t just apply to courtship. Remember that the parable was making a comparison. Single or married, as a disciple, *what will you give up for the kingdom of heaven* (Matthew 16:26, Luke 9:23)? To have access to what’s really precious and priceless amidst all of the counterfeit that this world has to offer, what kind of choices are you willing to make? *Or stop making?*

Rest. Wait. *Then Choose*.

Something that a friend by the name of Brian Watts said on this past Sabbath day is, “There are two things that Christians hate to do: rest and wait.” Shoot, flesh and blood certainly did not reveal that (Matthew 16:17) because that’ll preach! Ten times over! Personally, I love that Naomi spoke along those lines to Ruth and Orpah when she was trying to get them to leave her on her way to Bethlehem: “The Lord grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband.” (Ruth 1:9-NKJV) Sometimes, I think, that wives forget that rest is to be bestowed upon them as well. Especially the *spirit of rest* (peace). Especially within their own home.

Matter of fact, Adonai thinks so highly of rest, that there is *an entire commandment* centered around it (Exodus 20:8-11); one that, upon completing the creation of this earth, *he himself honored* (Genesis 2:1-3). In a state (and/or season) of rest, one can have a “relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs”, a “refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor”. Indeed *rest is a reward* for those who labor (Matthew 11:28-29). And if/when you take this kind of resting *seriously* and *literally*, this definition is often the result: “mental or spiritual calm; tranquility”. Yes, just another reason why the Liar (John 8:44) doesn’t want disciples taking the Fourth Commandment to heart because when you’re mentally and spiritually calm, you can make *much clearer (and usually better) decisions*. Yes, *rest* helps one to do this. Effectively and efficiently. Indeed, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9-NKJV) We must embrace this. Fully.

And then there’s waiting…

I shared a quote with someone last week that I find to be quite…fitting for translating what “wait” should be both to and for a believer (Mark 9:23):

“Often a Christian man or woman falls prey to that cruel and vexatious spirit, wondering how to find marriage, who, when, where? It is on God that we should wait, as a waiter waits--not for but on the customer--alert, watchful, attentive, with no agenda of his own, ready to do whatever is wanted. 'My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.' (Ps. 62:5 KJV) In Him alone lie our security, our confidence, our trust. A spirit of restlessness and resistance can never wait, but one who believes he is loved with an everlasting love, and knows that underneath are the everlasting arms, will find strength and peace.”

An author by the name of Elisabeth Eliot once penned it and her spiritual wisdom (Proverbs 4:7) gave me some additional enlightenment (2 Samuel 22:29, Psalm 18:28) on something that I never really thought about before. In this way:

“For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.”---Psalm 37:9(KJV)

 “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”---Isaiah 40:31(KJV)

“Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.”---Psalm 123:2(NKJV)

Whew! Dig deep enough (Matthew 7:7-8) and you’ll find that we are not just to just wait *on* the Lord, but *upon* him:

Upon: upward so as to get or be on; in or into complete or approximate contact with, as…an important or pressing occasion; to or in an erect position; toward a particular direction or in the interior of, as a region or territory; step on; go better than

Synonyms: affixed to, attached to, acquainted, alive, appreciative, attentive, aware, enlightened, informed, knowing, mindful, perceptive, *receptive*

A lot of times, waiting is hard for us because we look at it from this definition: “to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens”. However, I believe that the Lord is instructing us more from this standpoint: “to be available or in readiness”.

Waiting *upon* the Lord is about being in a *constant state of availability and/or readiness* to be attentive to his assignments, aware of his instructions, mindful of his abilities and perceptive enough to be *immediately receptive* to his commands. His will and his way. Waiting is about not moving, forwards or backwards, right or left, to or away from, until he tells you to. This makes Isaiah 30:18(NKJV) just that much more inspiring:

“Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.”

We’re blessed when we wait *upon* Adonai because when we are “affixed and attached to” him, without question, therein lies a state of being “divinely or supremely favored” in a way that, in due season (Galatians 6:9), yes, can lead to a place of being “blissfully happy or contented”.

And this is what a pearl has to keep in mind. No matter what.

That it/he/she is far too invaluable to cast itself/himself/herself upon, the Word calls them “swine” (check out the definition sometime!), I’ll go with “poor appraisers” (LOL); that as the lead quote implies, it does, indeed take the spirit of discernment (I Corinthians 2:13-15) to notice just how *rare* it is to encounter one.

I thought about all of this as it relates to my own life. Honestly, not so much from the courtship perspective (I’ve gotten some real peace on that for a minute now), but from the, “Do I really see the kingdom of heaven as clearly as I should?” angle. Because if I did, I think I’d be willing to both release and embrace more than I have been. Because more than anything, what the Parable of the Pearl teaches is that to get all of Adonai, you have to let go of all of you. Remember, the pearl is a symbol of Christ. TO GET ALL OF CHRIST, YOU HAVE TO RELEASE ALL OF YOU. Your wants, your agenda, your plans. Without question, only *a true appraiser* sees the value of not just a good woman, but of her Savior as well. *And then acts accordingly*. Again, he’s not just *perceptive* but *receptive*.

You know, it’s funny. When you look up the word, “option” in the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), it’s not that easy to find. Not in the New King James Version, the New International Reader’s Version, the New Century Version or the Amplified Version. And even in the Message Version, it was only referenced four times, with these two being the most relevant to this message:

“We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God's purpose prevails.”---Proverbs 19:21(Message)

“Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.”---James 1:6(NKJV)

Some of us are making life *much harder* than it has to be because we don’t realize that really, at the end of the day, in the spirit realm, the choices are these: do it your way or Adonai’s way.

“Shop” where it’s popular. Or where the manifestation of God is present.

Move busily and impatiently. Or wait *upon* Adonai.

Hmph. It really is up to you.

Pay the price to have the real thing…or settle for a knock-off.

These are some interesting times…so whatever you do…

Choose wisely.

As for me, I’ll be in and at…Tiffany’s. (LOL)

Selah. And amen.

©Shellie R. Warren/2011