Friday, November 30, 2012
Y'all know I'm a big supporter of the Baggage Reclaim website.
One of her latest offerings is about rebound relationships. I really dug this part:
"Aside from how emotionally debilitating it is to be in a rebound relationship living with the ghost of the previous relationship, whether it’s the effects of it or the imprint of this person who may even still be lingering in their lives, it’s not your job to make a person who is unavailable due to not being over their ex, available. That.is.their.job. If you participate in this hot mess, not only will you compromise you greatly and put you in the position of ‘campaigning’, but you’ll basically nurse them out of unavailability and prime them for their next relationship. Either that or you’ll nurse them until it becomes clear that you want them to be available and then they’ll move on to the next Buffer and keep moving until one day they emotionally implode.
Equally, you’d be better off fixing / healing / helping you instead of avoiding facing your own issues and using ‘potential’ as a way to seek validation in your attempts to right the wrongs of your past. I guarantee you if you continue down this path, you will wind up in a lot more pain than you would have done if you’d taken the personal responsibility that you already have for your own emotional well-being."
Good stuff, right? You can read the article in its entirety here.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. "---2 Timothy 2:20-22(NKJV)
Earlier this week...
While prepping for this message, I happened upon (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) a Scripture that I didn't recall seeing before:
"Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house."---Proverbs 24:27(NKJV)
As I thought about the divine wisdom that King Solomon was inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17) to share regarding that verse, it reminded me of what I have suspected ever since I found myself wanting to follow the courtship and marriage blueprint of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2); that *even now* a man needs to have just what Adam did *before* his Woman arrived:
A relationship with God
A clarity about his purpose
A career path
Oftentimes, when I speak on college campuses, I will tell the women who are trying to make those *students* husbands that college is one of the most important times in life for young men to figure out who the heck they are and what the heck they want out of life; that to pressure them into even contemplating marriage is a bit unrealistic and actually pretty unfair as well (the stats on the marital success rate of people under 25 is not good).
Yet, more and more, I'm seeing that *any women of any age* who pressure a man into marriage (and trust me, I've been guilty of it myself!-James 5:16) when he doesn't have those three things in place is just as out of order.
I remember when I was walking a particular journey with a guy and he once wrote me and said, "I promise to pray and strive to get into position for this life and for us." I promise you what I heard from that was "I'm going to marry you in a year." (LOL) Oh, what would our lives be like if we *actually listened* to what men said rather than what we wanted to hear? First of all, have you ever looked up the word "strive" before? It means "to exert oneself vigorously; try hard". OK, so he told me that *first* he was going to try hard to pray and *then* he was going to try hard to get into position *for this life*...and then he would get around to us. And in that order. What I should've done when he made that declaration was silently pray, believing in the power that comes with "touching and agreeing" (Matthew 18:18-20). Instead, I started referring to us as husband and wife to him and all who would listen. On this side of wisdom (Proverbs 4:7), I realize that it probably actually distracted him from doing what he said that he was going to do because when a man says that he needs to *pray on something* (and please make sure you settle for *no less* than a man who thinks in that way), it means that he needs to hear from God more than from you. It's hard to hear when there's a lot of background noise (especially when it's whining and nagging). My point in bringing that up is because "he" was telling me that he was going to prepare. And a lot of the preparation had *absolutely nothing to do with me*.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam had a relationship of God way before the Creator declared that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). In the Garden of Eden, Adam had clarity about his purpose in life and a job before the Woman arrived as well. And here's the thing that a lot of men and women continue to jack up:
MAN DOES NOT DECIDE WHEN IT'S TIME FOR A HELPMATE.
WOMAN DOES NOT DECIDE WHEN IT'S TIME TO BE A HELPMATE.
GOD DECIDES WHEN IT'S TIME AND TIMING IS THE FATHER'S BUSINESS (ACTS 1:7-MESSAGE).
This means that neither party needs to be pushing the other into marriage (or into doing what married people do-Hebrews 13:4). All that singles need to be doing is, because of sin, focusing on wholeness *and then* preparing themselves (and honestly, a lot of us don't even get the order of *that part* right!). Yet here's the point even about preparation: Adam didn't know if or when he would have a companion. God didn't speak about that as he was establishing a relationship with his son and delegating responsibilities. Now, one would "argue" that since Genesis 1:26-28 spoke of being fruitful *and then* multiply that if Adam heard that information (because it's not exactly clear that he was present for that part; being that he was created in the second chapter, I'm thinking probably not), he might have had a clue that God had something up his sleeve (if God wears sleeves-LOL), but the timing of such a manifestation and what that would actually look like was still a blur.
And honestly, I kind of dig that about God and his order of things (I Corinthians 14:40). A woman wasn't even on the radar as Adam was communing with God and getting settled into his career path. In other words, he wasn't a God-follower *to get anything*. He was a God-follower simply because he loved God. That is the kind of love that comes from a pure place. And as it relates to his career, he wasn't working to "support a family" (or these days to pay child support, to purchase an engagement ring that he can't afford or to answer to his girlfriend's ultimatum). He was working because it gave him purpose and pride in his manhood. It helped to solidify and establish him as an individual on this earth.
That is why I think the lead Scripture for this message and that verse in Proverbs is so profound to this "preparation point". First, *the Word*, which is Adonai (John 1:1), says that a man who *cleanses himself* is someone who is considered to be a vessel of honor, a sanctified man, a man who is useful for the Master...prepared for every good work. Marriage (and sex) is of God. Yes, it is a good work (James 1:17).
A MAN WHO PREPARES HIMSELF IS A MAN WHO CLEANSES HIMSELF, WHO ESTABLISHES HIMSELF AS A VESSEL OF HONOR, A MAN WHO IS SANCTIFIED AND USEFUL---*FOR THE MASTER* BEFORE ANYONE OR ANYTHING ELSE.
And according the verse in Proverbs, a man also prepares his outside work and makes it fit *for himself* and then he builds his house. He doesn't make it fit for his girlfriend's approval. He makes it fit *for himself* so that *he* can be satisfied with what he has done. *Then* he starts to build his house and even then, honestly, he is to do just what the Lord says: "count the cost" to make sure that he has enough (literally and spiritually) to finish it (Luke 14:25-33) and *allow the Lord* to build the house (because he does it in vain otherwise-Psalm 127:1). And *again*, those steps also have nothing to do with us as women. We come in to *help* what is already established not *build* what needs to be there to begin with.
"Miscarried marriages". As a doula, I experience all kinds of pregnancy journeys. Sometimes, when a woman miscarries, it's because she is under so much pressure and stress that her body can't contain both the stress and the baby growing within. I also do (pre)marital counseling. As I was praying about this message, the Spirit (John 4:24) was like "Do you know how many courtships are put under unnecessary pressure and so therefore a lot of what's supposed to be in place before the wedding ceremony is *miscarried*? It doesn't get to finish maturing because the two parties involved don't allow it to." Miscarried. MIS-CARRIED. One definition of miscarry is "to have a miscarriage of a fetus". Oh, but another is "to fail to attain the right or desired end; be unsuccessful".
A MARRIAGE THAT LACKS A MAN'S PREPARATION TO BECOME A MAN OF GOD IS VERY LIKELY TO MISCARRY.
I just love the quote at the top of this message. It reminds us again of the power and purpose of "counting the cost"; that a man of God is not just thinking about marriage from the perspective of only the wedding day (as so many *brides* tend to do), but his last day on earth with his beloved as well. It also reminds us that if a man prepares to be a husband by first preparing to be a man of God, we as women can be at peace because a man who knows who he is in God is a man who is automatically going to be in a mindset of preparing for all that his Father has for him. Being a man of God *naturally* brings forth becoming someone who constantly desires to be "to put in proper condition or readiness"...for whatever God desires to bless him with. And the right kind of helpmate is a *blessing*.
Romans 14:13(NKJV) says, "Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way." There are countless amounts of women who are men's stumbling blocks simply because they are trying to put *their wants* ahead of *God's will and timing*. For a man to prepare to be a husband, he has to prepare to be a man of God first. And again, that has *absolutely nothing* to do with us. A relationship with God is private, intimate and individualized (Psalm 33:15, I Corinthians 12:11).
Besides, there's another verse in Proverbs that I also haven't recalled seeing before that came *right before* the one that I already referenced. It says "He who gives a right answer kisses the lips." (Proverbs 24:26-NKJV) A man who has *prepared* for his wife is a man who is answerable to God to where he can get all of the benefits that come with having her. Giving God the right answers brings forth the reward of our presence. In other words, *we* don't have the "husband preparation study sheet"...*God does*. Let the student study. Let him take the tests. Support him in prayer until he passes.
After all, don't we have *enough* to prepare for on our own without bothering someone else, anyway? I'll answer for me and say, "Definitely." The truth is, a godly husband prepares but a godly woman knows that she has a lot of preparing to do as well; enough to not have enough time to tell a man all of what he needs to being doing.
That was good, Holy Spirit. Thank you.
Saturday, November 24, 2012
I’ve seen it so many times in the stories people share where they emphasize how much their ex or partner loves them or really wants to do something because they kept saying it. Yes…but they also kept saying “But I can’t do this”, “But I’m not that”, “But you this and you that.” People with excessive use of “but” (cough) can end up being guilty of giving with one hand and taking away with the other, which basically brings you back to their status quo.
Many a person has had their expectations managed down by clever use of “but”.
“But…” doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is "shady" but what you do have to realize is that we communicate who we are through what we say and do, and also what we don’t say and do. No matter how much of a good game we talk, we just can’t help but show people who we are. It’s self-evident. We have “tells” and yes, we say stuff that completely contradicts something else we’ve said. Our jobs as individuals are to be naturally listening and watching as part of the process of being in reality.
Monday, November 19, 2012
"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."---Ephesians 5:1-5(NIV)
After that quote is there anything else that really needs to be said?!?
Probably not, but y'all know me. (LOL)
Recently, I was sitting in a marriage counseling session. As the (ex) husband was going on about what the Word, which is God (John 1:1), says surrounding the reasons why a couple can divorce (adultery-Matthew 19:1-12-Message), I thought about the fact that we "cheat on God" on a daily basis (he did say that if we loved him, we would keep his commandments, right?-John 15:10, I John 5:2-3) and personally, I can only imagine where I'd be if he "divorced me" because of it. God hates divorce and a part of the reason why is because he doesn't do it (wow Holy Spirit!-Malachi 2:16).
You know, sometimes life can dish out *so much* that you find yourself realizing that when the Spirit said that he would never leave or forsake us, that of all of the things that God and his kingdom have to offer, that really is more than enough. To be loved in an everlasting way (Jeremiah 31:3) to the point that you don't have to worry about *ever* being abandoned by the Creator is...so comforting, so blessed, so divine. No wonder Hebrews 13:5 said that we should be content in just knowing that. Wow. Even God has moments when he feels like his love for us should simply be...*enough*.
As I was praying during the session of what to say, the Spirit brought the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) to my remembrance. Here was a father who wasn't perfect (*no man is*), who had a son who didn't appreciate what his father was doing. So, his son asked for his inheritance and abandoned (withdrew from and [gave] (oneself) over to natural impulses, usually without self-control) his father and went out and did his own thing. Only to return and be *celebrated* for coming back. He didn't immediately return...but he did eventually.
“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
"But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry."---Luke 15:20-24(NKJV)
I shared with that couple that *real love* looks like that parable. People are human and humans make mistakes. There's simply no way around that and it's kind of well, crazy, to know that a perfect God loves us in spite of ourselves, yet so many of us are not be willing to love others who are just like us (humans and sinners-I John 1:9-10). Yet, the love that is displayed by the father in that story is so remarkable *and restorative*. When the child who left his father came back home, the father *had compassion*, he ran and kissed him. And he brought his son his absolute best. And yes, they partied...happily so!
*Even after the father had given some of his best*...even after being brokenhearted by his son, he still had more to give. His son had been dead in many ways and now he was alive (confession does bring forth healing-James 5:16). His son was lost and now he was found. To the father, that's really all that mattered. All of the other was simply...extra.
That's how God loves us.
And, that's the example that a godly man takes notice of (and shoot, a godly woman for that matter).
When I went to look up the definitions for the word "example" here are two definitions that I found:
Example: a person, action, thing, etc, that is worthy of imitation; pattern; a precedent, illustration of a principle, or model
It was a woman by the name of Catherine Aird who once said, “If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.” Now, I don't know about y'all, but most of the men from my "romantic life past" may have had a few things that I *really liked* about them (um, obviously), but honestly, I don't think that I ever thought about if they were the kind of men that I wanted to *imitate* or *pattern my life* after. And doesn't that within itself present the godly mandate of submission in an entirely new light?
"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."---Ephesians 5:22-24(NKJV)
So many women literally fight GOD on this matter either by thinking that as helpmates (Genesis 2:18) that it's their role to change a man (it's not; it's also to be an example-I Peter 3:1-6) or being upset about the kind of husband that they have to submit to, when if you look at this from an "example perspective", if you picked a man who imitates, patterns himself after and models the Godhead, *what would be wrong with submitting to that*? If your husband is *truly godly*, wouldn't you *want* to use him as an example of how to live your own life? *Especially* since one definition of submit is "to subject to some kind of treatment or influence".
Most of y'all know that I work with a porn ministry. Oftentimes, on that platform, I will share that I believe that fornication can cause you to have multiple personalities. After all, if you are joining yourself to someone who you are not in covenant with who is not an example of godliness (and if he were, he wouldn't be having sex with you-I Corinthians 6:15-17), why wouldn't their personality traits and habits rub off on you? (Just one more reason why God does not want us to fornicate!-Hebrews 13:4) Yet, the more time that I spend abstinent, the more I am detoxing from my sexual past and the more that I am seeing who *Shellie really is*. The 80 billionth reason why sex outside of marriage is not God's best for you. It takes you away from you.
Now, please believe that a sistah is *all for* being naked and not ashamed (Genesis 2:24-25) with the *one person* who God has for me (LOL). Yet, don't you see? With *that one*, if I take this mini-series to heart, by choosing a *truly godly man* who strives to pattern his life after God in word and deed *in public and in private*, being with him, *in every way*, will only cause me to become more of who I'm purposed to be in the first place: my Creator. Remember that I Timothy 2:14(NKJV) says, "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression." Women *need* godly husbands to pattern their lives after. We were created to help our husbands and so Satan guns for us in very cryptic ways. God knows *just what he's doing* when he put the boundary of submission in place. Yet, he didn't do it with the intention of us marrying men who don't have an intimate relationship with him, with men who influence us to go *blatantly* against the Word of God, with men who say one thing in "the light" and something else in "the dark"...with men who are not mature enough as disciples to *even consider* taking on the leadership role of a husband (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Whether you're in an *intentional relationship* now or you're praying about the one that is to come, this was a good word from the Spirit. *Please* be careful about who you choose to pattern your life after because according to the Word, if he's not walking in love, if he's not living a life of sexual purity, if he's not careful about what he says, if he's not a thankful person...if he's immoral, impure or greedy, if he's an idolator (which would include *putting you before God*), he's not the kind of example that God wants for you.
That lead quote is so stellar.
IF "HE", BY HIS EXAMPLE, IS NOT LEADING YOU CLOSER TO GOD, THEN "HE" (AT LEAST FOR NOW) IS NOT "THE ONE". PERIOD.
You know how patterns go. If he's not godly...*cut it out*.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."---Colossians 3:12-17(NKJV)
Initially, when I was doing some praying about some women I know who are trying to basically drag their boyfriends down the wedding aisle (whether literally, manipulatively or desperately-LOL) and I heard the Spirit tell me that I needed to do a spouse series, I thought that it was going to be on what a wife needs to be. Then the Spirit was like, "You have a pretty big blog talking about all of that. If these women knew what a husband's role *really is*, that it's not just to keep them company when they're lonely or be a warm body in their bed, perhaps they would see that they are not married because they are not ready and a part of the reason why they are not ready is because they have no real idea of what a husband's role in their lives is *truthfully* supposed to be. If they did, they would see men much differently, their standards would shift, and they'd loosen up that death grip on those guys that they call their boyfriends so that they could be more covenant-focused than relationship-driven."
Yeah. Well. ;-)
So, here we are. At the beginning of what I'm thinking will be a seven-part mini-series.
When I asked the Spirit where we should begin, he led me to the word "character":
Character: the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing; one such feature or trait; characteristic; qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity; reputation
Now before we even get into what the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), says about character, let's just look at the dictionary definitions. A man of character is to be honest, courageous and he needs to have integrity.
Honest: honorable in principles, intentions, and actions; upright and fair; showing uprightness and fairness;
gained or obtained fairly; sincere; frank; genuine or unadulterated
OK, let me pause here for a moment. So, those of you who are still struggling with ending the sexual part of your relationship, you see that an *honest* man (and woman for that matter) obtains things *fairly* and lives and *unadulterated* life (Hebrews 13:4), right? It was a *long and hard road* (by my choosing, by the way) for me to get to a place of *really accepting* that if a man is not faithful to God, if he doesn't honor his own Creator's laws about how to treat me, then he's probably not going to be the most faithful to me, either. After all, a man who has a problem with honoring authority is definitely not the kind of man that we should rush to submit to (Ephesians 5:22-24).
Courage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery; the heart as the source of emotion
I really dig that second definition because while it doesn't take a lot of courage to have sex with a woman, it does take insurmountable amounts of courage to *love* her because we can see in just how God loved us enough to send us his Son (John 3:16), that *real love* does enable a person to face difficulty, danger and pain without fear. Why? Because of this verse: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." (I John 4:18-NKJV) I think I shared before that I am easing out of calling men in my past "past loves" because as I'm learning more about what love *really is*, they were more like men that I cared about and had sex with (which caused me to think it was love at times) who taught me some really valuable lessons. That said, when it came to my first "not God's best lesson" (LOL), he did a lot of running. Right when I thought he would commit, he'd disappear...literally for months and sometimes years at a time. Because he is the person who I gave my "conscious virginity" to (he was the one who I had sex with after being molested), I kept thinking that he just needed me to encourage him (i.e., urge him on), but as the Word shows us, when a person is motivated by the enemy of love, which is fear, they tend to live a tormented life. Torment is mental suffering. Torment is excessive worry or annoyance. Torment is agony and misery. When a person is in that kind of state, while you can *model* love to them, you really cannot do much more than that. God really has to get involved to do some spiritual heart surgery (Ezekiel 36:26) *to open them up* and my first lesson didn't even have a strong relationship with God; that made the odds of us succeeding just that much more difficult, if not close to impossible. A man who is "scared" to fully serve God (and a lot of men are) will be "afraid" to totally love you. That's a guarantee.
Integrity: adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty; the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished; the quality of being unimpaired
I remember one time when I was talking to God about what he expects of a husband and wife and I said, "That's some really high standards" to which he replied, "Maybe now you'll see how so many people who are getting married have absolutely no business doing it. Marital covenant reflects the Godhead and we *do* exist by some really high standards. If you are going to claim to be the likeness of us, you have to have integrity." God doesn't expect perfection, but he does expect that we *honor* his moral and ethical principles and that we constantly work towards being whole individuals. A person of integrity shows up to work on time. A person of integrity doesn't cheat on his taxes. A person of integrity says what he means and means what he says. A person of integrity operates with a *sound* mind (2 Timothy 1:7). A person of integrity is going to tell *you* "no" when you want to have sex with him (outside of marriage). A person of integrity reads the Word and follows it to the best of his ability. A person of integrity takes his single life just as seriously as you should.
Reputation: the estimation in which a person or thing is held, especially by the community or the public generally; repute; a favorable and publicly recognized name or standing for merit, achievement, reliability, etc.; good name
OK, on the reputation tip, this has a bit of a twist because honestly, people can be pretty fickle, lack discernment and therefore they sometimes cannot properly speak on what it means to *really* be someone who is worthy of having a good reputation. However, I will say this. There's one guy I know in particular who has a pretty good name when it comes to things that he does in the community, but as it relates to how he treats women, his name is basically mud. He's carnal. He's selfish. He's not reliable. The list goes on. Plus, if you add on the saying, "If you want to see a man's character, look at his friends"...well, that just really causes him to lose some points (LOL). A big part of living with discernment (Proverbs 2) and operating from a place of common sense (Proverbs 2:6-8 & 8:12-21-Message) is looking outside of what you want something to be and inside to what it *really is* (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message). Pay attention to his family. Pay attention to his friends. What are people's facial expressions when his name comes up? What does *God* tell you when you ask about him? Is he reliable? All of these factors play a role in a man's reputation.
And then there's the lead Scripture for today. Now, while we could definitely break down all of those words and make each of them be their own blog, I am led to simply share the definitions and *encourage you* to pray about how they are to manifest, via a man, in your own life:
Mercy: compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence
A MAN OF CHARACTER IS COMPASSIONATE AND BENEVOLENT.
Kind: indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane; mild; gentle; clement; loving; affectionate
A MAN OF CHARACTER IS CONSIDERATE AND HELPFUL, GENTLE AND AFFECTIONATE.
Humble: not proud or arrogant; modest; courteously respectful; conscious of one's failings
A MAN OF CHARACTER IS NOT ARROGANT, HE IS RESPECTFUL AND HE CAN ADMIT WHEN HE'S WRONG.
Meek: humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others; long-suffering, or submissive in disposition or nature
A MAN OF CHARACTER DOES NOT HAVE A SHORT TEMPER AND CAN SUBMIT TO AUTHORITY.
Longsuffering: enduring injury, trouble, or provocation long and patiently
A MAN OF CHARACTER CAN ENDURE HARD TIMES...*WELL*.
Forgive: to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve; to cease to feel resentment against
A MAN OF CHARACTER PARDONS OFFENSES AND DOESN'T HOLD GRUDGES.
Love: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."---I Corinthians 13:4-8(NKJV)
A MAN OF CHARACTER IS NOT TRYING TO *MAKE* LOVE BUT *BE* LOVE.
Peace: the state existing during the absence of war; a state of harmony between people or groups; freedom from strife; law and order within a state; absence of violence or other disturbance; absence of mental anxiety; a state of stillness, silence, or serenity; to become reconciled with
A MAN OF CHARACTER IS NOT VIOLENT OR ANXIOUS. HE KNOWS THERE'S A TIME TO "BE STILL AND KNOW" (PSALM 46:10) AND HE RESPECTS AND HONORS THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION (2 CORINTHIANS 5:12-21).
Thankful: feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative
A MAN OF CHARACTER SAYS "THANK YOU" AND IS APPRECIATIVE (WITHOUT ANY PROMPTING).
"But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him."---I John 3:17-19(NKJV)
A MAN OF CHARACTER IS *SENSITIVE* TO THE NEEDS OF OTHERS AND IS NOT SATISFIED WITH SIMPLY TALKING ABOUT LOVE. A MAN OF CHARACTER *ACTS IT OUT*.
A lengthy list? Indeed. Yet, it's the foundation that all good husbands are "built" upon and so if you're in a relationship, know that the kind of "love house" that the Lord builds has this at its core (Psalm 127:1). And yes, it certainly doesn't hurt to run down it to see what areas you could use some fine-tuning in as well (I know that it opened up my own eyes to a couple of things).
I'll be back with Part 2 later within the week. For now, stay humble and prayerful. Seek wisdom (James 1:5) and be willing to do *just* what God tells you to with what is revealed. A good husband's not hard to find when you seek God on the kind of man that you are to be looking towards.
"Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all."---I Timothy 4:15(NKJV)
Well, I was going to wait until Monday to post this, but we are about to start the "Husband Mini-Series" today and so I thought that I should send out a message first acknowledging that we are (whew!) three years and running (on 11/19).
When this first started on Facebook, I really had no idea how long it would go or how big it would get. In the course of this time, some women who never thought they would get married are and honestly, some women who thought they would be married by now...are not. Yet, one thing that I have seen, especially with the women who have been following the blog, taking their spiritual walk *seriously* and staying in touch with me about their journey, is *progress*.
When the Spirit first brought to me the name "On Fire", while I did dig the Scriptural reference (that's featured on the top left-hand side of the page), I wasn't completely sure where he was leading. But when you're in the fire, when you're in the *refiner's fire" (Malachi 3:2), that speaks to being in a place where God can (and will, if you would totally surrender to the process) do just what the word "refine" means:
Refine: to purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured
That's really what this blog is about: purifying us in our single state so that we can be the kind of wives who value covenant, adore our husbands and honor our marriage beds as we worship the Creator of all three.
And so, take a moment to celebrate where you were three years ago, two years ago...*this time last year* (whew again!-LOL) in comparison to where you are now. God has a purpose and a plan. The Divine Spirit was with us when the blog started, he's with us now and he's also right at the altar, waiting for us on our special day. That's just how big God is!
If there was a song that I would dedicate to you all as I pray for you to be *brought* to your beloveds (Genesis 2:22), it would probably be this one:
Wait on the right love...the full love...the kind of love that will make you more than you could've *ever* imagined!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
"When you understand your needs, you understand your values. When you recognize your values they also tell you about what you need. This is for you to work out and when you don’t, it’s why you end up feeling like something is 'missing' or that you’re being neglected."
"Being self-sufficient doesn’t mean that you don’t need others but what it does mean is that you’re not deficient without others. Address your relationship with you and your relationships, romantic and otherwise will be more nourishing. Pretending that you don’t have feelings or needs is like trying to pretend that you’re not a person of any worth – that’s not an act that you should be wiling to pull off."
Excellente. You can read the entire article here.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
“Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, ‘Can it really be that God has said, “You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?”’
And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, “You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”
But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You shall not surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity.’
And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate.
Then the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves apronlike girdles.”---Genesis 3:1-7(AMP)
I don't know ladies. Maybe y'all can charge it to the fact that it's getting mighty cold outside and this tends to be the time of year when a lot of single women want to be up under some mistletoe *so badly* that they'll settle for "some dude" rather than *the one* just to have some holiday company. Whatever the case is, it seems like the Spirit (John 4:24) really is not letting up on reminding us of how easily one can be deceived (Matthew 24:4).
As I was praying about some of the women in my own life who I *know* are not in God's best situation for them, the Spirit took me back the Garden of Eden to show me something: "the forbidden fruit". Except to me, he said, "Swap the fruit out for a man and a lot of women are being deceived just like the Woman in the Garden was. Actually, what they are doing is more like rebellion because I've sent warning after warning after warning and they are hell bent, literally, on not listening."
You know, when I've thought about forbidden fruit before, it's been more in the context of sexual activity. I must admit that I never really thought about it as a "total man package". Yet, just ponder (Proverbs 4:26) over it for a moment. In the Garden of Eden, Adam was given some strict guidelines that we have to assume from the dialogue that the Woman had with the serpent that she was made well aware of. They were *not* to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. *Of the tree of compromise*.
Let's stop there for a second. Even now, we have guidelines that we are given as well:
Don't be unequally yoked with nonbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:11-18).
Do not be sexually immoral (I Corinthians 6:18).
As mentors we are to be "reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things" and as mentees of older women we are to learn "to love [our] husbands, to love [our] children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed". (Titus 2:1-5)
And yet, how many of us are *really adhering* to what God tells us to do? How many of us honor the Bible as the Book of Life for us on this earth all the while knowing that anything that compromises it is deception? That any *variation* of biblical truth (in this case: having sex, shacking up, messing around, sneaking around) is *untruth*?
OK, let's keep going. The Woman knew what she was told to do and decided to talk to the serpent anyway as he commenced to tell her that God is a liar. Titus 1:2 *clearly* tells us that God cannot lie. That said, what really tripped me out in processing the story *this time* is that whenever I sexually (or shoot, even just emotionally) compromised myself in a relationship, I was basically listening to the same kind of spirit telling me the exact same thing: "Girl, ain't nothin' gonna happen to you if you have sex. God just doesn't want you to have any fun. He wants you to die alone."
Let's keep going even further. I have actually publicly spoken on the fact that it tripped me out how both the fruit and the tree were biblically described. It says that the Woman saw that the tree was good. Not necessarily that it was but she *saw* that it was. Her *perception* was that it was. Hmph. Be careful about assuming that just because something looks good to you that it must be. Remember that Satan was once Lucifer and he's described in the Bible was being "perfect in beauty" (Ezekiel 28:12). The Liar (John 8:44) knows how to play tricks on our eyes *quite well*. Sometimes "tall, dark and handsome" is more *dark-ness* than anything else.
The Woman also saw the tree as being something that she desired to make her wise. God told her that the tree would kill her. The serpent told her that the tree would make her wiser; that it would make her more like God.
Do you what Satan does to a lot of us now? He tells us similar things. God will tell us, "He is no good for you"---he'll send messages through friends, sermons, dreams, songs, movies, commercials, quotes, all kinds of things and we'll *still* try and rationalize our way into staying. A big part of that is because Satan is still using what has worked so "well" for him before. Hell is expanding (Isaiah 5:14) even now and a big part of that is because we want to be like God in the sense that God tells us to leave something or one and we'll stay thinking that we know better than he does *or* that we can manipulate God into changing his mind. Both are demonic ways of thinking. There really is no other way around saying that.
So, she took of the the fruit and ate it. *And her eyes were opened*.
How many times have we not done what God has *explicitly told us to do*...only to regret it? And here's another telling point. Did the Woman eat the fruit and die immediately? No. But she did *start to die*. Some of us are so cocky or caught up in what we're in, that we think that because it's been going on for a several weeks or a lot of months or a few years that the relationship, and even a part of our own spirit, is not dying in some way. We have to remember this blaring fact: "'I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.'" (John 15:5-NKJV)
WHAT SATAN USES "FORBIDDEN FRUIT" TO DO MOST OF ALL IS TO TRY AND SEPARATE US FROM GOD'S *BEST* FOR US.
FOR ADAM AND THE WOMAN, THAT WAS ETERNITY IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
FOR US, THAT IS COVENANT WITH OUR LIFE PARTNER.
As I'm "walking it out" with some of the women on the masturbation fast, one thing that I'm seeing, more than anything, is that Satan has been abusing sex (John 10:10, I Peter 5:8) in some really subtle ways (again like how he approached the Woman). It *looks* to a lot of us like it's pleasant and suitable, but God tells us not to touch or partake until marriage (Hebrews 13:4) for a reason: it's not to withhold from us but to protect us from so much of the *shame* that was *never* supposed to be associated with sexual activity. In Genesis 2:24-25, it was declared that we were to be naked and *not* ashamed; however, that precedence was put in place for *our husbands*, not for us and some guy, a "friend with benefits" (more like deficits), our boyfriend or even our fiance'. Once *God* has joined us together (Matthew 19:6), that is when the fruit of our mates is not *forbidden* but *fully accessible* and true blessings. Until death parts us from them.
I remember when a guy in my life once said to me, "I want to be good *for* you, not good *to* you." It's a very powerful and profound resolve to have. There are a lot of things out in this world---the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (I John 2:16) that, just like that fruit was to the Woman in the Garden of Eden, may seem good *to* us but if we're partaking in it outside of God's boundaries, it's not good *for* us and trappings are sure to follow.
In my mind, I saw women just about to reach out to touch the fruit. *Please don't*. Death, one way or another, is *always* attached to sin (Romans 6:23): "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren." (James 1:14-16-NKJV)
God has your "own tree" (LOL) and there is *much life* attached to it.
Wait for it (Psalm 27:14). It will truly come and with it will be what's good *for* you.
Mind, body and spirit.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
"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."---Ephesians 5:22-24(NKJV)
I was praying this morning for the "On Fire" women and the Spirit (John 4:24) led me to doing a mini-series on the *biblical role* of a husband. I will pray about what to pen, but for now, I *really encourage you* (especially if you are currently in a serious relationship or you are engaged to be married) to read an article that I "happened upon" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) just a few moments ago. It's entitled, "The Husband's Sanctifying Role in Marriage". It's really good...and thorough. It's amazing how much we can want something and God is like, "You don't even know what *that* is...let me show you." (LOL) Yeah. More and more, I'm seeing that a husband is one of the things that is on that "You *think* you know, but you have no idea" list. For many of us.
Anyway, here are a couple of excerpts:
"This responsibility for my wife's spiritual growth involves two primary assignments: I am not to lead her into sin, and I am to lead her into righteousness."
"John MacArthur puts it this way: 'Men, if you love a woman, you will do everything in your power to maintain her holiness, her virtue, her righteousness, and her purity . . . every day you live. You'll never put her in a compromising situation where she would become angered, because that's a sin. You would never induce an argument out of her, because that's a sin. You would do nothing to defile her. You would never let her see anything or expose her to anything, or let her indulge in anything that would in any way bring impurity into her life. Love always seeks to purify.'"
LOVE *ALWAYS* SEEKS TO PURIFY.
Definitely something to think about, ponder and pray over.
I'll be back.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
“If you would prepare your heart, and stretch out your hands toward Him; if iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away, and would not let wickedness dwell in your tents; then surely you could lift up your face without spot; yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear; because you would forget your misery, and remember it as waters that have passed away, and your life would be brighter than noonday. Though you were dark, you would be like the morning. And you would be secure, because there is hope; Yes, you would dig around you, and take your rest in safety. You would also lie down, and no one would make you afraid; Yes, many would court your favor."---Job 11:13-19(NKJV)
So last night, when I was praying about and for the "On Fire" women, another "ouch" came when I was asking the Lord what was delaying some of the women's process when it came to being brought to their husbands (Genesis 2:22). Indeed, I never really thought about the fact that *just like God opens and closes wombs* (Genesis 29:31&30:22), the Almighty himself will stand in the way of a woman being brought to her husband if neither one of them are *truly and truthfully ready* (John 8:31-32). The Spirit (John 4:24) provided me with some insight on why a lot of *us* are inadequately prepared (at the moment):
"Shellie, how much help is a helpmate going to be if she is insecure? I created you all to be lifesavers and with all of the voids that you have in your self-worth and value, and it's evident by the choices that you make, you are currently the equivalent of a life jacket with holes in it. In your current state, you won't be any real or lasting help to 'him' at all."
Well. I mean...
And so, I went to go and look up what the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), has to say on the issue and guess what word is not mentioned in the Bible (in any version from what I can see)? INSECURE. Isn't it amazing that God will speak on things like murder and adultery, but a subject like insecurity he is basically silent on? I thought about that even further and then another "ah ha!" moment came to me. God's Word spends *so much time* edifying us. On top of that, Genesis 1:26-28 speaks to the fact that from the very beginning, he made us in his image to reflect his likeness. Therefore, it's almost like he is saying, "You are made to reflect me. Therefore, I'm not going to spend a lot of time focusing on how *badly you feel about that*. It is insulting to your Creator and a waste of time for you."
Ouch again! As I am getting freer from my own insecurities, I never really thought about the fact that some of the things that I struggle with *offend God* since he is the One who made me *and* that is probably the main reason why Satan wants me to stay in that *dark* place (*because it offends God*). As I was sharing with an "On Fire" woman who is on the masturbation fast recently, there is a *spiritual reason* why King David (as fine as he was-LOL-I Samuel 16:18) could say, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." Something that I discern (Proverbs 2) that a lot of us miss is that he started off that statement by saying "I will praise YOU" and ended it by saying "my SOUL knows very well". King David was praising God for his own "individual reflection" (Psalm 33:15) that his *soul* can understand and relate to. It wasn't about if he was tall enough or built enough. It was about knowing that being made in the Spirit made him spiritual and that is something to praise Abba Father for!
Ladies, the more studying, marital counseling and praying (not necessarily in that order) that I do, the more I am coming to *really respect* covenant. And as it relates to this blog, the *power and purpose of a helpmate*. Now, it's another message for another time, just how many women *dishonor God's order* by *assuming a role and position* that they actually don't have (yet). You are a Ezer Kenegdo when *God joins you together* (Matthew 19:6). Yet, please don't miss out on this *very special and sacred time* of preparing for that position. Women who desire marriage are to be more than just brides (that lasts for a few hours). We are to be more than just wives too. Thanks to *Hebrew Scripture*, we see that we are also to be Ezer Kenegdos: helpmates that help to save lives! A person in *that* position simply has no time to be insecure!
So, this week, I would encourage you to jot down your own list of insecurities. No matter how big or "small" (those "pinholes" are the ones that can really sneak up on you!). Then, look up Scriptures that speak *directly* to them (you can go to BibleGateway.com and put whatever word in the keyword search on the left-hand side). Keep a journal and as the Spirit leads, write about what God shares with you. You can use blue or black ink for you and red for "him" so that you can keep everything in order (I Corinthians 14:40). Although this particular blog might have made you feel like, "Wow. Will I *ever* get this thing, right?" if you're looking through *the spiritual eyes of faith* (Hebrews 11), you'll actually see that the Spirit's answer is that he is bringing you *just one step closer to your future (that God already knows the identity of in the present) beloved*. The more secure you are in God, the more secure *he is* about bringing you to your husband (amazing how *that* works, huh?).
Besides, I've been quoting that "Hope does not disappoint" (Romans 5:5) for *quite some time now* and did you catch the underlined and bold part of the lead Scripture for today? You will be secure because there is hope!
You're made in the image of God, "On Fire" women. So this week, go and get a mani/pedi or a new blouse or shade of lipstick to celebrate it! When you break your insecurities, you will be able to be a more reliable lifesaver. All things work together (Romans 8:28).
Saturday, November 3, 2012
"I only like guys that are not nice. What is wrong with us girls? It's not like I want somebody to treat me badly. I want somebody who looks like they could treat me badly, but then really treats me good. I would rather lick the bottom of my shoe than go on a date. The minute I think I'm ready to start dating, then I realize, 'Oh no you're not.' I just don't know how to date."---Jennie Garth, actress, 40
Bless Jennie Garth's heart. *For real*. You know, they say that truth is stranger than fiction and so when I read these quotes on her current state of resolve regarding relationships (she's fairly recently divorced), I couldn't help but think about her role as Kelly Taylor on the original Beverly Hills 90210. Do y'all remember how it all played out? She fell for her best friend, Brenda's boyfriend, Dylan: a signature bad boy. And now, here the real person speaks, umpteen years later, about recognizing that as being her pattern in "real time".
I used to have that pattern. I remember when I told my mom that I had a thing for thugs and she said, "Makes sense. Your daddy was a thug." Indeed. So was my first..."not God's best for me" lesson (which is what I choose to call my "first love" on this side of wisdom). And while to some reading this, it might seem odd that Jennie would say that she looks for a "bad guy" that she wants to treat her well, I get that too. Well, I'll speak for me.
Whether we're single or not, we as women came into this earth to be *helpmates* (Genesis 2:18). This means that married, we are to be a "wife", "companion" and "helper". But as a single woman, we also are to be helpmates: "anything that aids or assists, especially regularly". However, *aiding* and *assisting* does not mean *changing* or even *enabling* a person.
MEN ARE NOT TO BE OUR PROJECTS. MEN ARE TO BE OUR PARTNERS.
I believe that in some of us, subconsciously, we feel that when we take a "bad boy" on, somehow, we'll earn brownie points with God if we are somehow able to miraculously change him into a good guy. Yet, where---where anywhere in the Bible---are we told to be *anyone's savior*? Trust me, having that kind of mentality does not impress God, it disturbs him because it is a deceptive indication of wanting to do God's job rather than our own. In other words, we can love a man but we can *never* save a man. Spiritual wholeness and maturity (Hebrews 5:12-14) is between God and that man. And real talk: Oftentimes our "efforts" really only end up getting in the way of that.
So with the hopes that women can be spared from feeling like Jennie, I asked the Spirit (John 4:24) to provide me with some telltale signs that will help single women all over the world (or at least the regular blog readers-LOL) *break the pattern* of choosing the wrong kinds of guys:
Pray. Tell the truth and shame the devil (*for real*-LOL). When's the last time you met a guy that you really liked and you told him, "Before we go out on a date, I need to ask God if he even wants me interacting with you"? Most of that gals that I know that are in *totally spiritually irrelevant relationships* even now waited until they were all caught up *and then* decided to ask God his opinion (if then). Do you know what that is the equivalent of? Going to premarital counseling *after* you have an engagement ring on your finger. By then, it's more like a "courtesy protocol" than a sincere effort. I Corinthians 15:33(AMP) says, "Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character." These days, I really try and keep a safe distance from people who would rather be in a relationship than please their Heavenly Father. That's a spiritual disease that, if you allow it, can be quite catching. James 1:5 says that we can ask God for wisdom. It's best to get that *before* getting into a relationship. (And heads up: God is not going to tell you "Yes, date a man who doesn't have a relationship with me so that you can become a weaker woman yourself and now I'll have two people to restore rather than one.")
Make your spirit a top priority. Romans 8:5(NKJV) tells us, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." God is Spirit. This means that we are to live our lives according to what God expects of us and Christ made it *quite clear* what that standard should look like: "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment." (Mark 12:30-NKJV) Something that I am learning more and more in my own journey is that if you *really* love God with your *all*, there's not much room for a lot of foolishness. God helps to set the standard of what loving and being loved should look like and so you find yourself not really having the desire to put your spiritual growth in jeopardy just for some "flesh attention". Especially since God says that if we do it *his way*, we can get to the point of having *his blessing* with the spirit and the flesh in the sense of being naked and *not ashamed* (Genesis 2:24-25).
Look for character more than personality. This was *such* an ah-ha moment when the Spirit told me that this was one of my biggest problems. And of course the Spirit was right! Personality traits are things like funny, charming, interesting and a good conversationalist. However, the Word, which is God (John 1:1), shows us what a man's *character* should look like: "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." When *the Spirit* is leading, you tend to naturally (yes, a play on words-LOL) look for the "gift" rather than the "package" that it comes in. Remember, Lucifer was once "perfect in beauty" (Ezekiel 28:12) and he is now Satan. Looks can be deceiving. At the very least, it fades (Proverbs 31:30). If "the guy in question" is not showing signs of *spiritual* mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forgiveness and a *deep and profound* love for God (and his Son and the Holy Spirit-I John 4:1) and you decide to "take him on" anyway, you are showing signs of someone who is more personality than character prone. It's a hard way to live. I've lived it. Several times.
Make sure you have spent at least six months not dating after the end of a serious relationship. Guy to guy to guy to guy to guy to guy. Did you get tired reading that last sentence? That's how tired you should be of being in that emotional hamster wheel. You know, running from relationship to relationship without really getting anywhere. This is where the Proverb, "As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly" (Proverbs 26:11-NKJV) fits in really nicely. Once a relationship comes to an end, this is not the time to "get under another guy to get over the last guy". This is not the time to go on dates to make yourself feel attractive and appealing. This is not the time to get desperate. This is the time to really stop and think about why you have more boyfriends than *a husband* in your heart history. Write down what your past guys have in common. It also doesn't hurt to write down what you have in common when it comes to interacting with them. For instance, did you have sex too quickly with most (if not all) of them? Do you immediately think about marriage with most (if not all) of them? Do you spiritually compromise to be with most (if not all) of them? If you are the same you, you will attract the same guys who will find that version of you to be intriguing. And if those guys always bring about fractionation and prove to be a waste of your time, then there needs to be some serious time spent alone doing some internal reconstructing.
Stop having sex. What drunk or high person makes wise decisions? So, why (oh why...OH WHY) do women think that they can trust themselves to pick the right guy when they are having sex (oral sex is included) with them? This is a big part of the reason why the Word says, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified." (I Thessalonians 4:3-6-NKJV) You peeped the underlined bold part, right? It is not, nor will it ever be, God's will that we be sexually involved with someone who we are not married to. *Under any circumstances*. So, when you're sexin' up your dude tonight and then sitting in church tomorrow asking God to "bless the relationship", it might be a good idea to keep this in mind: "And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (I John 5:14-15-NKJV) God grants according to *his will* and *his will* is that you don't have sex outside of covenant. So no, he's not going to grant your petition to be with someone who you are spiritually violating and who is spiritually violating you. At the very least, you will need to repent (and totally stop having sex) first. Yeah. You'll need to "sober up" so that you can see things *clearly* (Psalm 18:28).
Listen to wise counsel (people who know and follow the Word). Proverbs 11:14(NKJV) tell us this: "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." And not just counsel, but *wise counsel*(Proverbs 24:6). Counsel is defined as being "advice; opinion or instruction given in directing the judgment or conduct of another". OK, but don't stop there. It's also defined as being "deliberate purpose; plan; design". Therefore, wise counsel is not just going to give you advice or their opinion; they are going to speak in ways that will keep you focused on the purpose, plan and design that God has for your life. That's why Satan tempts (I Corinthians 10:13) people into isolating and lying and hiding information when they are in a relationship that is spiritually not God's best for them. It's because he knows that wise counsel is to get people to *really think* about what they're doing more so than what it is that they want. It takes things out of "present tense" and puts people in the mindset of focusing about their future.
Stop picking out of loneliness and desperation. Whenever women tell me that they are tired of being single and so that is why they are in a relationship, do you know what that makes me think of? When I asked a particular guy why he was getting married to a spiritual sistah of mine and he flippantly (yet oddly, it was still somewhat sincere) said, "If I don't get married now, I'll never get married." Yeah. Let's all break out the champagne for that *touching sentiment*. Their marriage is *really struggling* five years in. Should that be a real shocker, though? When you pick to fill a void, you usually end up digging a bigger hole for yourself. Besides, the Woman didn't "pick" Adam. She was *brought* to him (Genesis 2:22). And she wasn't *lonely* or *desperate*, either. Remember that Genesis 2:18 says that it's not good for *man* to be alone and so *God* will pick a *woman* who is suitable and right for him. So, how do we as women end up picking, anyway? Relationships are some serious work. If you are looking to feel loved, God needs to be the Spirit you are panting after. Not some dude. A guy *adds* to your life in a way that brings surplus. This means that you should already be "filled" by the time that he arrives.
Understand the difference between *dating* and *courtship*. There are a lot of different people who have a lot of different opinions on the difference between the two. Personally, I think it's like this: Dating is like "casual sex" in the sense that there doesn't tend to be a serious intention involved between one or both parties involved. Dating is hanging out with the opposite sex that you are attracted to with no real guarantees. Period. I remember when I was out with a guy and he said, "I'm dating you. I'm dating a lot of women." Hmph. "He" ain't neva lied (LOL). He also ain't with none of us, either. He's not looking for that. *He's dating*. Now, when it comes to courtship, I immediately think of The Little House on the Prairie. A man *wants to get married*. A man goes to the woman's father about his intentions (a man should be *going to God* about his intentions for you). A man has *a job and house* to bring the woman into (she is not having to find a way to put him up). Both people are abstinent (in those days, they were actually virgins). Both people spent roughly two years preparing for marriage and then *they got married* (they weren't dating for years and years and they weren't engaged or years and years, either). Real talk: A lot of women are in relationships in their hearts with men who are only dating them in their minds. And as Jeremiah 17:9 *warns* us, the heart is deceitful and (catch it) *desperately wicked*. If you want a husband, doesn't it seem like you would *court* and not *date*? That's definitely something to think about.
Don't use romance. Use common sense. Romance. OK. Here's the thing: Song of Solomon is full of love, passion, sex and intimacy. What it doesn't have an abundance of is romance. How can I say such a thing? It's because I don't think that all of the definitions of romance applies to that Book of the Bible. Romance is defined as being "a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention". Now there is one definition that is pretty cool: "to court or woo romantically; treat with ardor or chivalrousness". Indeed, chivalry is not dead. It is dormant for a lot of people, though because many women don't demand it in relationships. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on *noble* things and that's one definition of chivalry. So, you should be looking for a man who has the qualities of "courage, courtesy, and loyalty" (chivalry), who is "considerate and courteous to women; gallant". Proverbs 3:21-22(Message) says, "Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive." Common sense tells us that it's not the right kind of "romantic" if there is no *consistent chivalry* involved.
Have an end goal in mind: not marriage but *covenant*. I counsel a lot of couples that simply "got married". That is not synonymous with *marital covenant*. I say this because people in covenant with God know that they need to marry *covenant keepers*. Covenant keepers honor God. Covenant keepers keep God's law and precepts. Covenant keepers know that God doesn't like it when people make a vow and then break it (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7). Covenant keepers care about the fact that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). In other words, covenant keepers keep covenant. Covenant is a word that needs to be discussed more in the Church because it's a really big deal. So much in fact that it is mentioned in the New King James Version of the Bible approximately 315 times. Yes, you *definitely* need to be involved with a man who understands the point and purpose of covenant and wants to only have a *covenant union* with his wife.
When it comes to patterns, a man by the name of J.G. Gallimore put it this way: “Your self image is your pattern!. Every thought has an activity visualized. Every activity belongs to a pattern. You identify with your pattern or thought. Your patterns leads your life.” If you recognize yourself in this piece and you don't like it, if you want God's best and you keep ending up with less than that, if you're sick of wearing "date clothes" and you want to put on a *wedding dress*---one of the first things that you should do is *change your pattern*.