Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"On Fire": "My Darling Is Like a Lily Among Thorns." (SOS 2:2)


"Among the young women, my darling is like a lily among thorns!"---Song of Solomon 2:2(NCV)


So yesterday...

I unexpectedly received some tiger lily earrings in the mail and since y'all know that I'm big on signs and wonders (Daniel 4:2-3), I took it as being time to pen another Song of Solomon installment. However, before we get into it, let me share with you the symbols behind the different kinds of lilies:

LILY, Calla -Beauty

LILY, Day -Coquetry; Chinese Emblem for Mothers

LILY, Eucharis -Maiden Charms

LILY, Orange -Hatred

LILY, Tiger -Wealth; Pride

LILY, White -Virginity; Purity; Majesty; its Heavenly to Be with You

LILY, Yellow -I'm walking on Air; False and Gay

LILY-OF-THE-VALLEY -Sweetness; Tears of the Virgin Mary; Return to Happiness; Humility; You've Made My Life Complete

I'm sharing those for a couple of reasons. One reason is because it reminds me that while all flowers can be pleasing to the eye, that doesn't mean that they are necessarily the best for you. Take an orange lily, for example. If you've ever seen one before, they are quite beautiful, but a symbol of *hatred*? Who wants to walk around representing hatred and yet, there are some pretty attractive women who could stand to keep this in mind: "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" (I John 4:20-NKJV) I have shared in the devotionals I write that one definition of hate is "unwilling". Is there currently someone in your life who you are *unwilling* to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15), make an amends to (Matthew 5:23-24) or reconcile with (2 Corinthians 5:12-21)?

Secondly, it shows that there are all kinds of ways to be a lily. Some may represent physical beauty. Others, may live a lifestyle of wealth. Perhaps you are a virgin or you're known for being really sweet or humble. Again, all flowers are aesthetically pleasing, but each has it's own "petal print" that makes it especially charming and unique (Psalm 33:15)---just like a woman.

OK, so now that we have that down, let's get into what the beloved said to the Shulamite woman. He said that she was a lily among the thorns. She was a *flower* among the thorns. On the surface, it might simply sound like a nice thing to say. Oh, but if you dig deeper, her beloved actually said a mouthful.

For one thing, a flower is blossom (or at least a plant that is in the stages of blooming) and when something blossoms, this means that it flourishes and develops. When something is flourishing, this means that it is thriving and prospering; that it is in its prime. One of my absolute favorite blessings (given by a human) in the Bible is found in I John 3:2(NKJV): "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." There was something within the Shulamite woman's beloved that saw her as a symbol of prosperity and I choose to believe that a big part of that was connected to her *spiritual prosperity*.

Take it from me, it's a lot easier to get a tube of lipstick for your "outer shell" than to put forth the effort required to be a *spiritual success*. That said, what things are you doing as it relates to your life that will cause *your soul to prosper*? A man who is looking for a godly woman will notice someone who is blossoming, thriving and prospering in the spiritual and emotional depths of herself.

OK, and he did not just say that she was a lily, but a lily among thorns. When you think about the word "thorn", probably the first definition that comes to mind is "a sharp excrescence on a plant, especially a sharp-pointed aborted branch; spine; prickle". However, that is not really where the phrase "a thorn in my side" comes from. No, it comes from this definition: "something that wounds, annoys, or causes discomfort".

Looka here: I have been a man's thorn before and I also know *many women* who men consider to be thorns (even if the women choose to be in denial about it). No one wants to be around someone who is wounding them with their words (Proverbs 15:1 & 18:21, James 3:1-12). No one wants to be around someone who is annoying. When you're annoying, you're troublesome, bothersome, irritating and harmful. The woman that King Solomon once said that men would rather be in the wilderness to get away from (Proverbs 21:19)? Yeah, she's annoying (LOL). No one wants to be around someone who is the *cause* of discomfort. As a matter of fact, as disciples and/or believers (John 17), we are to "comfort and edify" (I Thessalonians 5:11), "comfort the fainthearted" (I Thessalonians 5:14) and "forgive *and comfort* offenders" (2 Corinthians 2:3-11). Of the men that you know, would they consider you to be a source of soothing, consoling, reassurance and cheer (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)? Or are you just the opposite of those things? OR are you extremely inconsistent when it comes to being a comforting individual? (A moody woman is an annoying one as well.)

And finally, I couldn't help but notice that her beloved used an exclamation point in this particular declaration. And yet, I get it, don't you? Shoot, I'm a woman and I know women who annoy me (LOL). This man was so excited to know that the one whom he loved was a source of spiritual prosperity and comfort in the midst of so many woman who are any and everything but!

Yeah. As we get more and more into this particular Book of the Bible, it would appear that nothing is quite as it seems. I'm becoming more intrigued with each verse.

This week, think about if you are spiritually blossoming---if you are a "lily" or a *thorn*.

If you don't like what you see, the good news is that God can always prune (John 15:4-5), right? Right.

Til next time...

tmm,

SRW

Monday, January 28, 2013

"On Fire": 10 Signs That You're About to Waste Your Time

 

“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)

Dog: a domesticated canid, Canis familiaris, bred in many varieties; a despicable man or youth

Pig: a young swine of either sex, especially a domestic hog; a person of piglike character, behavior, or habits, as one who is gluttonous, very fat, greedy, selfish, or filthy; a slatternly, sluttish woman


OK...

First, the article itself is not really "dogging men" (that's not really a sport that I like to play). I was led to start this particular message out this way because the definitions of "dog" and "swine" should be *dead ringers* of people who you shouldn't date (including *selfish* men) and so if you are in this kind of situation (or you're considering it), Matthew 7:6 makes it quite clear not to "give" or *throw yourself* at these kinds of people. It really is a waste of your time and annoyance to them to try and use a dating platform as a rehabilitation tool.

Secondly, I'm not going to do a long intro to this because there are 10 points to touch on. A lot of you know that I am a Q&A writer for several platforms and with all of them, I have recently gotten emails from women who have spent several months or years with a guy with nothing (really) other than heartbreak (and perhaps an occasional gift and fornication-related orgasm) to show for it. As they are healing their pain, it's almost addictive (and a bit prideful) to put the blame all on the guy---"He didn't see how good of a woman I was", "He was too scared for a commitment", "He's such a jerk!"---when the reality is that if a lot of us simply applied some (if not all) of the following tips to our daily lives, a lot of the personal drama and relational mayhem could be avoided.

So, as someone who knows firsthand that one of the main things that Satan is a stealer of is time (John 10:10), a precious commodity that can not be gotten back once it's lost (yes, use today *wisely* everyone!), here are 10 signs that you are wasting your time in a dating relationship (or is it just a "dating situation"?):

1) He's not a Christian. Yes, 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 asks some pretty good questions when it tells us not to be yoked with a unbeliever. What *fellowship* does righteousness have with lawlessness? What *communion* does light have with darkness? What *accord* does Christ have with Belial? What *part* does a believer have with an unbeliever? Healthy relationships are to have a fellowship and communion that is like-minded; it's to be able to be on one accord and walk as a part of one another. However, the other point that I would encourage you to consider is that when you enter into a relationship with someone who doesn't believe the Word of God in the way that you do, it's kind of like two people speaking two different languages. You speaking broken Spanish and them speaking broken French may have a lot of similarities but something *always* gets lost in translation. One of the main causes of divorce is a lack of clear communication, right? Yeah. God knows what he's talking about (when are we really going to get that?!?).

2) He doesn't act like a Christian. Why oh why do people not think that demons come to church? They know where a lot of believers hang out. This is a part of the reason why I take 2 Corinthians 11:14 and the fact that it says that Satan can transform himself into an angel of light very seriously. Sometimes we're so...thirsty for a relationship that we treat men like mirages: we see things that aren't really there. Colossians 3:12-13 tells us what the character of a new man (a man of God) is to look like. It's to be merciful, kind, meek and longsuffering. It's to be full of forgiveness. Paul once spoke of being a man who put away childish things (I Corinthians 13:11). A "full grown Christian man" follows suit. I John 3:18 says that it's not enough to love with our words...there need to be some deeds to back it up. If you've ever seen the show Catfish on MTV then you know how easy it is to say you're one thing and be something else. That's definitely something to "take heed" about. A tree is known by the fruit it bears (Matthew 12:33), not by what it calls itself.

3) You don't act like a Christian. There are a lot of women who find themselves in some pretty jacked up relationships simply because their relationship with God is severely compromised. I will raise my hand in this particular class and say that it's a lot easier to put a man before God when God was never in first position to begin with (Exodus 20:3). All of that stuff that was just addressed about the guy? Yeah, look in the mirror (James 1:23-24) and see if any of it applies to you too. A Christian man *and* a Christian woman in a relationship is an example of two walking in agreement (Amos 3:3).

4) You haven't healed from your past relationship (or relationships). Look: If you are on a date with someone and in your mind you're comparing him with a guy from your past, do you and him a favor and cut it short. Psalm 33:15 tells us that God fashions us *individually* and that means that each person is to be treated in a distinctive and unique fashion. Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't learn from your (past) mistakes (or rebellion) and that if you see some "been there, done that flags" that you are to ignore them. But, what I am saying is that it's not a guy's job to prove to you that he's better than some other dude. It's his responsibility (Galatians 6:5--NCV) to be the best version of himself. If you're going to immediately put him on "the hot seat" or if he's going to hear you go on and on about your past relationships, you are not ready to date yet. You've got some (or some more) internal healing to do.

5) Friendship is not the top priority to you. There are a few women in my world (who are married, mind you), who advise women to tell guys "I date to marry". To them, it cuts out all of the ones who don't have marriage on their radar. While I get where they're coming from, take it from me, that is a lot of pressure to put on *any man* whether he's ready for marriage or not. Plus, you've skipped over one major component: *friendship*. Love is patient (I Corinthians 13:4) and when patience is able to "do it's thing" (James 1:4), you will find yourself lacking nothing (God says so). Telling a man "I date for a husband and we can be friends if you have marriage on your agenda" is a bit like putting the cart before the horse. Many marriages have survived the bad times because their friendship was the foundation that everything is built on. If you can't put your desire (or is it lust?) to be married behind the need for a real and true friendship (one that has no sex in it, by the way), then whether it's one date or 10, you're about to waste both his time and yours. Men tend to want to get to know the woman *and then* see if she is the wife for him. Not the other way around.

6) You're dating for the "wedding". He's dating for the "honeymoon". Hebrews 13:4 tells us that fornicators and adulterers will be judged by God and that the marriage bed is honorable. That said, look...you are not a victim for having sex with a guy thinking that you could put the honeymoon before the wedding and all would go well for you. Unless you were sexually assaulted (which is an entirely different blog and if you have been, feel free to hit me up at missnosipho@gmail.com), you participated in sexual sin. There was no deception there. Disciples of the Word (John 8:31-32) know that sex is for married couples. If the guy does not live by that standard...well, that's a breach in sexual purity that's just waiting to happen.

7) He has some unresolved relationship issues. A lot of times, this is discussed with divorced people but not the single ones who are dating them. There is a man in my world is who my "Hero of the Week" and it's because he broke off his engagement to a girl simply because he's divorced and he takes I Corinthians 7:10-11 very literally. The Word says *that God says* that a wife is not to leave her husband and a husband is not to divorce his wife; that if she does, she is to remain single or go back to her husband. I was telling someone not too long ago, "I can't believe how many people are remarried when I'm not even married yet" to which the Spirit (John 7:24) replied, "Yeah, I can't believe how many people are committing adultery either." OUCH. If you are interested in someone who is divorced and their ex-spouse is still single (meaning, not married to someone else), you have some real praying to do about if you need to pursue a serious relationship with them. Just because it's socially acceptable to date/marry people with a previous marital history doesn't change the fact that God speaks very clearly about  his resolve concerning it. The road to life is narrow *and difficult* (Matthew 7:13-14) and God takes marital covenant *very seriously* (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7) whether the two people in the relationship choose to or not. Don't get yourself caught up in the middle of something that is not resolved *with God* yet. Yes, as much as he hates it, God can forgive a divorce (Malachi 2:16); however, he's quite clear on how that issue is to be resolved. Just something to think about. (A lot.)

8) You don't know what you (really and truly) want. Is there anything worse than being hungry but not knowing what you want to eat? It's so frustrating, is it not? There are a lot of women out here who waste their time and a lot of guys' time because all they know is they want to date a single guy that they're attracted to. The rest they'll just "figure it out as they go". A lot of confusion can be spared if you (and the Lord) have come up with a "this will work for me and this won't work for me" list before going out on dates. To get almost to a proposal before discussing that you don't want kids or that you want to travel the world, only to find out that he wants five children and a that he is a homebody can be...really sad.

9) You have no accountability. Oh, the "sneaky dater". What are we five-years-old and trying to get into the cookie jar? (LOL) It's *a huge red flag* when you are dating someone who the people in your life do not know about. Honestly, if you have nothing to hide, then for both your physical *and emotional* safety's sake, someone needs to know about "him" from the first date. And, as things progress, there needs to be someone *who is a mature Christian* (not one of your "kick it friends" who will only tell you what you want to hear) who you can (and should) bounce things off of. Views look very different from the outside looking in and I've talked to many people who wish, in hindsight, that they had been *humble enough* (Luke 14:11) to take wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15) into serious account. If you're too prideful to lay your relationship out on the table, you're not ready to go to a deeper level in it. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

10) God has told you that it's not time for a relationship yet. While some of us may ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) on if we are dating the right guy, what far too many of us don't do is ask him if we're even ready to date. Some of us need to heal from a past relationship. Some of us need some abstinence under our belt (this would include refraining from having sex *with ourselves*). Some of us need to focus more on our careers or the unbelievable amount of debt that we have. Some of us need to see a therapist (and that really is OK). Some of us simply are not ready for a relationship and so dating would prove to be, yes, a counterproductive act that could turn into a total waste of time. I have quoted Acts 1:7 (Message) many times before: "Timing is the Father's business" and what you will be given in the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you in the meantime as God makes you a true definition of single: *complete*.

Personally, I have spent a lot of valuable time not really believing (Mark 9:23) the assurance found in Ecclesiastes 3:11(NKJV): "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end." We are to allow time to make things *beautiful*...not rushed or regretted or painful or compromised or ungodly.

We all deserve a *beautiful* relationship...in God's timing.

Don't waste your days, months and years settling for less.

Time's far too precious and so are you!

tmm,

SRW


Monday, January 21, 2013

"On Fire": "Your Eyes Are Like Doves." (SOS 1:15)

  

"My darling, you are beautiful! Oh, you are beautiful, and your eyes are like doves."---Song of Solomon 1:15(NCV)

 
This one...
 
I'm excited to pen because I am aware of a lot of the symbolism behind doves. So, when the Shulamite woman's beloved told her that she was beautiful *and* her eyes were like doves, in just a minute, we're going to see just how...widespread that statement was.
 
Let's begin with the eyes.
 
It is a man by the name of Henri Bergson who once said "The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." And already, right there, we can see how a lot of women find themselves in some serious (relational) trouble. They are trying to catch a man's "eyesight" when they are not yet a part of his *vision*. One definition of vision is "the ability or an instance of great perception, esp of future developments". A lot of women wonder why a man won't "see them" when the prayer should actually be for wisdom (James 1:5) regarding if they are *the one* that "he" should be seeing (and preparing and planning) a future with.
 
Yet the eye reference does not stop there...
 
An eye is defined as being an organ for sight. An eye is defined as being the external part of the eye. An eye is defined as being a look, expression, glance or gaze. An eye is defined as being a sexually inviting or provocative look. An eye is defined as being attention or observation. An eye is defined as being able to recognize, judge or appreciate. An eye is defined as being an opinion, point of view or authority. An eye is defined as being vigilant. Whew! I know, right? All of that goes into an eye.
 
So, when her beloved said "...and your eyes are like doves", I hope *none of us* (pardon the pun) "overlook" all that this man was seeking to convey. In her eyes, *in all of the definitions of an eye*, he compared what was inside of them to being like doves.
 
OK, it's pretty much common knowledge that a dove is a symbol of peace. So, before we delve any deeper, let's look at what peace is:
 
Peace: a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations; cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension; (at peace) in a state or relationship of nonbelligerence or concord; not at war; untroubled; tranquil; content
 
So when he looked into her eyes or when she glanced over at him, he saw harmony and tranquility. What she chose to give her attention to and perspective on where matters of concord and contentment (Hebrews 13:5). The Shulamite woman is someone who is vigilant about not being at war. She is able to recognize and appreciate all that goes into having a nonbelligerent relationship.
 
Also, the Hebrew word for peace is "shalom" and while getting into all of its meanings is a blog unto itself, the main thing that I am being led (Luke 12:12) to focus on is the fact that it's the greeting that Jews give coming in and the farewell that they speak when going out. When you come into their space, they wish you "peace" and when you leave, they wish for you the same. Peaceful people don't have time to hold grudges (Ephesians 4:25-26) because they are too focused on being, well...*peaceful*.
 
Yet, as I was digging more into what doves symbolize, I discovered (Matthew 7:7-8, 2 Timothy 2:15-AMP) that it went a bit deeper than the obvious. Because doves are white, they are considered to be a symbol of purity. Remember how it said that one definition of eye was a sexually inviting or provocative look? If you pay enough attention to Song of Solomon, you'll see *all kinds of sex* (literally-LOL) up in there and yet, when her beloved looked at her, even with sexual desire, there was a purity about her.
 
One definition of purity is "virginity" and so if you are one, take it from me, *please stay that way*. However, there are a lot of women who havent' had sex with a man who are still not pure. Purity also means "freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc." (mind, body and spirit) and "freedom from guilt or evil; innocence". I really dig that last definition because there are quite a few women who follow the blog who write me about their "guilt addiction". How absolutely beautiful it is that one definition of being pure is being *free from guilt*. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that if we are *in Christ* we are a new creation and the old stuff is a part of our past. Romans 8:1 reminds us that one of the perks of being *in Christ* is not having any condemnation. Yes, being in Christ makes a person pure.
 
That's still not it...
 
Another thing that a dove symbolizes is love. God is Love (I John 4:8&16) and so there is simply too much about love to "narrow it down" for this particular blog, but it is really special that her beloved could look into her eyes and see love. He could see her patience and her kindness and her willingness to bear and endure whatever came their way. He could look into her eyes and see that she would not fail him as well (I Corinthians 13:4-8). Something else that comes to my spirit about this part is that when you look at all of the "ingredients" in the "Fruit of the Spirit juice box" (Galatians 5:22-23), it starts off in this order: love, joy peace. So many people want more peace but they don't pay attention to what comes before that: love and joy. Eyes are the windows to the soul, right? Being that her beloved saw so much peace in her, this means that he also could detect a lot of love *and* plenty of joy. One of my favorite "joy Scriptures" is Isaiah 61:10(NKJV): "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." The world is hard enough for men without them having to come home to a woman who is full of misery, unhappiness and grief (all of which are antonyms for joy).
 
And still, there's more...
 
Thanks Wikipedia for sharing this: "In Christian Iconography, a dove also symbolizes the Holy Spirit, in reference to Matthew 3:16 and Luke 3:22 where the Holy Spirit is compared to a dove at the Baptism of Jesus." A dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit. I *love* that because John 14:26 speaks to the Holy Spirit being a helper and how are we as women introduced onto the scene? As a HELPER, right? (Genesis 2:18) Indeed, no one and nothing can teach a woman how to be a good spiritual helpmate for her husband more than the Holy Spirit can! If you want some insight on how you can prepare in order to "help better", that would be the first place to "outsource".
 
And finally, I do like the fact that doves are often released at wedding ceremonies. Y'all know I think hard and so when I really gave that some thought, I thought about how Noah released a dove in a chapter of the Bible that is called "Noah's Deliverance" (Genesis 8). A dove let him know what his boundaries were to be (land wise) after the flood. In some ways, I can't help but to wonder if that's what couples should be seeking spiritual direction and discernment on when they do the same.
 
So, when the Shulamite's beloved said "Your eyes are like doves", as we've just seen, that is a pretty loaded statement and in the New King James Version of the Song of Solomon, he references her as his dove five more times. Hmph. I do enough counseling to know that if there's one thing that women don't make nearly enough of a priority is to have "dove like eyes". Makeup doesn't bring out the beauty of a woman's eyes quite like a peaceful spirit can.
 
I hope we all can see that much clearer now...
 
tmm,
 
SRW
 
 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"On Fire": QUOTE OF THE DAY

 


Yeah. That tickled me. However...

The picture above was due to me looking for one that complemented this quote:

“He didn't marry you to become king. He became king because he wanted to marry you.” ---Megan Whalen Turner


Remember that we are of a *royal priesthood* (I Peter 2:9). Marry up. ;-)

tmm,

SRW

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

An Ounce of Prevention: "Setting Standards About What You Need"



So, I was reading an article entitled "Your Relationships Provide a Window into Understanding What You Need" and I really liked this part of the author's resolve:

When we practice being and doing the things that we expect others to be and do for us, we have a far greater level of self-knowledge that makes us hugely aware of who we bring into our lives. We need people that add to what we already do, not subtracting from where we’re already malnourished.

If you tend to neglect you by not treating you with love, care, trust, and respect, any ‘ole person can come along and they can make a fanfare with some hot air and crumbs and it will look like a golden loaf because it is more than what you’re doing for you.


And that led me to reading another piece: "Setting Standards for a Healthy Relationship":

Everyone has relationship standards. Would you enter into a relationship with someone you knew was addicted to heroin? Each person has their limit, a threshold for behavior, traits, and values, below which they are unwilling to tolerate a partner. Furthermore, research has shown that people suffer distress when their romantic partners do not meet their standards. Unfortunately, many do not identify their essential needs before entering a relationship, and sadly, some are willing to accept sub-standard treatment and conditions and remain in unfulfilling relationships rather than insist that their needs be met. What keeps people from setting a higher bar?

Which led to this (further down in the article):

Where should I set the bar?
 

When I ask clients how they envision their ideal relationship, some have no idea where to begin. A good starting place for setting standards is writing down a list of the qualities and behaviors that make you the happiest in a relationship, are the most meaningful to you, and that are non-negotiable, i.e. you are unwilling to live without them (or unwilling to live with them, if the qualities are unhealthy). You can make this list a work in progress, and modify it at any time. If you want to borrow some ideas, the following are relationship standards that previous clients have identified:

    I must feel attracted to the person
    The person must want me (have genuine interest in me, desire to spend significant time with me)
    The person must be honest, trustworthy, and faithful (the relationship is exclusive)
    I must feel safe with this person
    The person must practice good self-care and not engage in unhealthy or destructive behaviors
    The person must have ambition or goals, and be success-oriented
    The person must be employed, energetically pursuing employment, enrolled in an education or training program, or caring for children or dependent family members
    The person must believe in equality and fairness in a relationship
    The person must treat me well and is not excessively critical
    The person must make an effort to get along with my family and friends
    The person must have his/ her own life and interests, separate from mine, and must accept my right to pursue my own separate interests and activities from time to time
    The person must be able to handle conflicts and differences in a fair and civil manner, and be willing to make compromises
    I must have effective communication with this person, and we must be able to express ourselves and listen to each other
    The person must bring positive energy to my life
    The person must like children; if I have children, the person must accept my children and be willing to co-parent in a cooperative manner
    The person must not be overly-involved with unstable friends or family members who demand excessive time, money, resources, etc.

Once you have established your essentials, you might try working on the wish list—characteristics that you desire and may look for when pursuing a relationship, but may be negotiable if you meet someone great who does not possess all of them. The following are sample wish list items:

    S/he comes from a particular race, ethnicity, nationality, or religious background (note: for some, this may be a standard, and not a wish list item)
    S/he has particular physical traits I like
    S/he has achieved a specific educational, professional, or income level
    S/he is athletic, or artistic, or philosophical, or handy, or funny, etc.
    S/he has social and political beliefs that closely match mine


That's some good stuff. After all, how can you be mad about not getting what you need when you don't even know what you want? You know what they say: "Never apologize for having high standards. People who really want to be in your life will rise up to meet them."




tmm,

SRW




Sunday, January 13, 2013

"On Fire": "You Are the Most Beautiful of Women." (SOS 1:8-11)


"You are the most beautiful of women. Surely you know to follow the sheep and feed your young goats near the shepherds’ tent.  My darling, you are like a mare among the king’s stallions.Your cheeks are beautiful with ornaments, and your neck with jewels. We will make for you gold earrings with silver hooks."---Song of Solomon 1:8-11(NCV)


OK...

Let's start this one off with a bit of "beauty reprogramming", shall we?

In order to lay the foundation for this message, we have to remember three things that the Word, which is Adonai (and I do that to remind us all that the Bible *is God's words*-John 1:1), says: 

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."---Proverbs 31:30(NKJV)

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. "---I Peter 3:3-4(NKJV)

"For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world."---I John 2:16(NKJV)

Remember that John 10:10 tells us that Satan *only comes* upon us in order to steal, kill and destroy. So, with that said, he does all that he can within his power to keep us from the *biblical truth* about *all things*--- including beauty. Therefore, the things that we have to keep in our mind and heart space at all times are:

Physical beauty passes swiftly.

The quiet and gentle spirit of a woman is what's truly beautiful to God.

Lust is not of the Father.

A lot of times, when I hear Christian woman talk about their struggles with beauty, having a spirit that will be pleasing to God never comes up. It's more about their breasts being too big or too small. Their figure being too curvy or too straight. Their lips being too full or not full enough. They want more of a butt or they feel like they have too much of one. They wish their hair was longer or a different texture. They wish their skin was lighter or darker. Their eyes and nose are too big or too small. And what's even worse is when they compare themselves to other women. "I wish I was as pretty as so-and-so." Remember that the definition of lust is not just having an intense sexual desire. It's also about having an overwhelming desire, period. And again, lust is not of God.

As I'm transforming more and more when it comes to my own issues with self-esteem (and a lot of it was because I didn't make my spirit as much of a priority as I do now), I see why the Lord made "Do not covet" one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:17) and why he said that "A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones." (Proverbs 14:30-NKJV) It's, in part, to keep us centered on what's most important in all areas of our lives, including when it comes to our appearance.

Satan was once Lucifer. This means that he's a fallen angel (2 Corinthians 11:14). He's not a human being made of flesh. He knows that our bodies are decaying (Job 13:28). So, it's completely understandable why the thief would have us so consumed with something that the Word clearly tells us is temporary. *Looks are temporary*. Not just because someday we will all leave this life (Genesis 6:3) but because time changes the appearance of people. The way you looked at 15 is not the way you look (or looked) at 25 and it's not the way that you're going to look at 50. If you are so busy chasing after something that you've already been told is not God's top priority, you will end up neglecting what is: *your spirit*. And when you're not focused on being spiritually beautiful, two things end up happening:

1) You tend to attract people who think just like you do: they are consumed with physical appearance.

2) You end up putting so much energy into how you look that you don't prepare your spirit for becoming more mature or even being ready for marriage and here's the thing about that: Although the world would like us to think that they came up with the concept of both marriage and sex...THEY. DID. NOT. God is Spirit (John 4:24) and he is the One who said that it's not good for man to be alone; that a husband and wife were to be joined for the sake of becoming one and that they are to be naked and not ashamed. *God said all of that* (Genesis 2:24-25). This means that *above all else*, because God is Spirit, marital covenant is a spiritual union: the uniting of a male spirit in the form of a human body to a female spirit in the form of a human body.

Therefore, when we as women are trying to make ourselves (more) beautiful, this means that our spirits are to be our top priority when it comes to that word:

Beautiful: having beauty; having qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.; delighting the senses or mind; excellent of its kind; wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying

Have you ever listened to one of your girlfriends vent when a relationship comes to an end? There is *plenty* of "he did this" and "he didn't do that" and yet, what did she say that her issues were? And deeper than that, if you had the opportunity to talk to the guy, it would probably be pretty fascinating to hear his side of things. A lot of people are so "sight-focused" that they don't even stop to think about if the person is beautiful to God in the sense of *him* getting great pleasure and/or them being delightful to his senses and mind; if he finds them to be excellent and wonderful. 'Cause here's the thing: Does God loves us all? Yes and exceedingly so (Jeremiah 31:3), but that doesn't (automatically) mean that we all are the true definitions of beautiful to him. I Peter 3 lets us know that. It doesn't say that no matter how we act, we're beautiful to God. Beautiful comes with certain qualities and as far as lasting beauty, the Word says that a quiet and gentle spirit is his definition of an incorruptible beauty. A lot of people may want to challenge that, but again, Lucifer was made *perfect in beauty* (Ezekiel 28:12). He definitely brings new meaning to "beauty ain't everything". And being that he had no flaw in how he looked (the Word doesn't even say that about Adam and the Woman), this means that he knows how to divert people visually so that the internal state of someone is not as important as it should be. It's his ultimate optical illusion: to have someone's appearance draw you in with your eyes as you give little thought to how what you see does or does not affect your soul.

And honestly, I discern (Proverbs 2) that a lot of marriages are suffering right at this very moment, in part, because women treat their husbands a lot like how we treat God; like we should be seen as having "beautiful spirits" no matter how we act and that's really not true. When a man makes a vow to God (Ecclesiastes 5:1-5) to love us for the rest of our lives, he should honor the promise, but as far as our beauty, that is something that we are responsible for. It is our responsibility to have qualities that give pleasure and satisfaction. It is our responsibility to work towards being a woman of excellence and it is our responsibility to be satisfying and pleasing. Hence the phrase "BE. BEAUTIFUL." It's an action term...it's something that we must *constantly* work at...*be-ing*.

Yeah. Folks don't like to hear that. We like to think that we can say and act however we want and it should be acceptable and the truth of the matter is that is not even close to being the case. In God's kingdom, there are consequences for all kinds of actions and for a relationship to work successfully, we have to be willing to *be beautiful* and that has so little to do with the face that we put on everyday. As a matter fact, it was wise when Oscar Wilde once said "A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction.” Some women are so busy "putting on" that *being* has not even touched their radar...and that's simply not good.

This is why I personally like that the first recorded statement of the Shulamite's beloved was that, to him, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Her beauty was pleasing to him more than any other and I can't help but believe that a part of that was due to her spirit. It was *most* pleasing, *most* satisfying and *most* excellent both to and for him (Genesis 2:18). How many of you pray, "God, please help me to have a most excellent spirit?" It's definitely something to think about.

Her beloved didn't stop there, though.

He also said that she knew how to follow sheep. Due to the culture of that time, I'm pretty sure that he was referring to an actual occupation, but remember that I'm asking the Spirit for insight on how he wants this book of the Bible presented for this series and so immediately, this was the verse in Scripture that came to mind: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27-NKJV) I was in a counseling session recently and I was telling the husband, "I mean, how can you expect her to submit to you when she doesn't even do what God tells her to do?" When women are women of the God, they too should be near the shepherd and know how to follow him. And to a godly man, that's extremely attractive (and attracting).

It continues...

The Shulamite's beloved said that she was a mare among the king's stallions. A mare is a female horse. It's kind of a long story (LOL) but I used to do quite a bit of "horse research". Therefore, I'm aware that Psalm 21:31(NKJV) says, "The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord." Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us that we don't wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities. Proverbs 31:10-31 pays homage to a woman who lived a life of preparation. How much preparation do you put into your life when it comes to preparing your home to be a place of safety from spiritual warfare? Whenever you are joined to your beloved, he needs to feel like he can *retreat* in your space, not that it's an all out war zone. Is your home one of peace? Is it filled with prayer and joy and rest? Would people associate your place with being comfortable and warm?

Let's keep going...

He also said that her cheeks were beautiful with ornaments and her necks had jewels. Now, I know that we spent a lot of time today talking about inner beauty because, after all, it is what's most important. However, I do get that I Peter 3:3(NKJV) starts out saying "Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel..." Merely means "only", "simply" or "entirely". Therefore, there is something to be said for adorning ourselves on the outside. When's the last time you got yourself a facial or picked out a new shade of blush or lipstick? When's the last time that you purchased a piece of dangling earrings or a necklace to accentuate your neck? So many women want a man to celebrate them and guys are like, "Well shoot, maybe if you threw the 'I love myself party', I'd want to come." (LOL) The Shulamite's beloved praised her for being most beautiful and then went on to describe some of the ways that he noticed that *even she* knew that she was. Indeed, what we value, we tend to take care of and what we're in love with, we tend to go all out for. It's easier for a man to want to love you when you love you because he can trust that you're loveable (some of y'all will catch that later!).

And finally, he said that they would make some gold earrings for her...

This ending point is simple. If you are in a relationship right now, while it may not be "gold earrings", if the relationship is healthy and right, it will be within a man to want to give to you. We see far too many references of it in the Bible. Jacob worked for years for Rachel (Genesis 29:20). King Xerses offered Esther up to half of his kingdom (Esther 5:3). Elkanah gave his barren wife Hannah double portions (I Samuel 1:5). When the servant of Isaac knew that Rebekah was "the one" for his master, he pulled out a gold nose ring and two bracelets for her wrists (Genesis 24:22). At one point, Boaz declared this to Ruth: "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 3:10-11-NKJV) The moral to the story is this: When you are *the one*, the man will *give to you*. You won't have to ask. You won't have to hint. You won't have to beg or imply or manipulate. There will be something within him that *naturally* desires to do it *and then does it*. Just like the five men that I just mentioned and the beloved of the Shulamite woman. He will find that you bring so much into his life that he wants to give you more in return. (I hope y'all catch that because that is key!)

The picture up top is important as well because Psalm 33:15 tells us that the Lord fashions our hearts individually. This week, I encourage you to do some *deep soul searching* on what it means to be beautiful to God and what unique attributes, both inside and out, that he wants you to develop. And, as you're doing that ground work to *purge* all of the envy and insecurities that you may have.

Shoot, you think the Shulamite woman was the only attractive person that her beloved had ever seen before?

Yet, there was something so special, so significant, *so suitable to his spirit* that made her, to him...

MOST. BEAUTIFUL.

tmm,

SRW

Friday, January 11, 2013

"On Fire": INTRO TO THE "SONG OF SOLOMON" SERIES


WHEW!

OK, so I've been mulling around with this in my head for a couple of days now and the Spirit (John 4:24) just *won't let up* about it and so here we go...

Although I will probably throw in some "Quotes of the Day", etc. in between, for the next...little while (LOL) we will be doing a Song of Solomon series on the blog. For now, what the Spirit is leading me to do is focuses on all of the stanzas given to the Shulamite woman from her beloved. As a lot of you have probably noticed, there are a lot of metaphors and analogies in it and while the entire world seems to have its theories on what was really being said, as a writer who got her start as a poet, one of the things that I enjoy most the Song of Solomon is that its like a priceless piece of art: only the artist *really knows* what he meant and as "observers", we are free to see it however we wish.

Therefore...

This study will not be an exegeses on the relationship dynamics or how it's really a description of how Christ feels for the Church. No, what I am led (Luke 12:12) to do is go through the verses (again, starting with what the "male beloved" said first and then...we'll see) and share what the Spirit is leading me to pick up on to share. 'Cause here's the thing: Although television is scripted (and that means oftentimes quite unrealistic-Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message), there is still something very, relevant, about what Carrie Bradshaw once said when she was in a relationship where she realized that she was settling for less than she desired: "I'm looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love."

Now, let me say *this* about *that*. Some of that sounds a bit fairytale-ish (and you know how I feel about that word; look up the definitions sometime) and borderline lust and/or obsession. You *can* live without anyone on this earth (Hebrews 13:5) and more than a few of you have written me about knowing what a ridiculous relationship is like (LOL). No, what caught my attention with her quote was the context of it. She was with one man, all the while knowing that something wasn't right...something didn't click...something didn't really, fully and totally *fit*. And remember, when God declared that it was not good for man to be alone, he said "Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him." (Genesis 2:18-AMP) So many couples learn *way too late* that when *God joins people together* (and that doesn't happen just because two people decide to get married, by the way-Matthew 19:6), they are going to be suitable for one another, adapted to one another and complementary for one another:

Suitable: such as to suit; appropriate; fitting; becoming

Adapted: to make suitable to requirements or conditions; adjust or modify fittingly; to adjust oneself to different conditions, environment, etc.

Complementary: acting as or forming a complement; completing; forming a satisfactory or balanced whole; forming a mathematical complement; [math, logic] mutually exclusive and exhaustive, each being the complement of the other; (of genes) producing an effect in association with other genes

It's a blog that's a book in length to get into how absolutely absurd the world's perception of love is. It's selfish. It's lust-filled. It's temporary. It's spoiled. It has no understanding of what real commitment is because it has no respect for what true covenant does (Genesis 2:24-25, Malachi 2:15). However, as the Spirit is using this time in my own life to help me to really understand what marriage is about and for (Psalm 18:28, James 1:5), I see that the reason why a lot of relationships "epic fail", both in and out of the Church, is because people are so focused on wanting to be "loved" or having someone to "love" that one, they don't really understand all of I Corinthians 13:4-8 and two, they don't spend nearly as much time in Genesis 2:18-25 as they should. God didn't say "It's not good for man to be alone so I will make a helper who *loves* him." He said "It's not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper who is *right* for him." Or, as the Amplified explains, suitable, adapted and complementary...appropriate, adjustable, mutually exclusive and exhaustive...BECOMING. 


FOR TWO TO BECOME ONE, BOTH HAVE TO BE BECOMING FOR ONE ANOTHER... FIRST.

Becoming: that suits or gives a pleasing effect or attractive appearance, as to a person or thing; suitable; appropriate; proper

God makes couples who will be suitable for one another, who will give a pleasing effect to one another, who will be mutually attracted to one another and who will also be appropriate and proper for one another. Indeed, you can love a lot of people in this world, but *only God* can make the call on if you are truly becoming for one of them. Yes, far too many people don't even make the time to see if they are (spiritually) suitable for someone...it's something that doesn't even come up on their radar...until its too late.

That's one of the purposes for this series. It's not about trying to make your future husband like the one in Song of Solomon. That kind of man may not be *suitable* or *becoming* for you and honestly, throughout a lot of the counseling sessions that I do, I realize that one *huge* problem is that people don't love *the individual* (Psalm 33:15) they are with; they use people like mannequins: "I like your shell. Now be like the guy I saw in this movie or heard in this song." Again, absurd. No, this is about pulling back some of the layers to see just how *suitable* these two lovers were so that we can have a better spiritual understanding of the standard that we should set for ourselves when it comes to becoming the helper God wants us to be and requiring the kind of husband that God wants us to have: an Ish (Hebrew for "man" and "husband" simultaneously).

And this is what makes the cute lil' pic so extra comforting and a wonderful way to intro this series. The Amplified Version doesn't just say that the Shulamite woman found the man that she loves; she said that she found the whom *her soul* loves. That speaks to a deep spiritual connection because in the wise words of C.S. Lewis "You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body." Souls are immortal. No wonder marriage is supposed to last until the death of the bodies, right? It's because marriage is a representation of two *souls* becoming one.

I don't have a full idea of where we're headed. What I do know is that we'll get there soon enough and when it comes to better understanding the kind of love that we all deserve...things are about to *so get much clearer*.

I'll be in touch soon,

SRW

Monday, January 7, 2013

"On Fire": Are You a Woman of STRENGTH?


Strength and beauty must go together.

If you wanted to have a conversation with me about new programs on television, I would probably look at you with a blank face simply because I don't really watch many. Yes, yes, I am getting to that blessed age where I'm hearing my mother come out of my mouth far more than I was prepared for and so I find myself saying things like, "Television is nothing like it used to be."

There are some shows that are in "rerun syndication" that I enjoy, though. One of them is 30 Rock. A few days ago, while taking a writing break, I checked out an episode. I was moving about in my house and so I can't even tell you who said it, but this right here will preach:

"There are two kinds of women in this world: the ones who give you strength and the ones who take it."

Here's the tripped out part about that resolve. Look at what Proverbs 31:3(NKJV) says, "Do not give your strength to women, nor your ways to that which destroys kings." Now that's really interesting considering the fact that when Abraham penned Sarah's eulogy in the form of Proverbs 31 has other references of strength:

"She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms."---Proverbs 31:17(NKJV)

"Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come."---Proverbs 31:25(NKJV)

Interesting, is it not, that in the beginning part of Proverbs 31, a man would be warned by his mother to not give his strength to women (to not sleep with women-Jeremiah 2:21) and yet in that same chapter, a man is praising a woman for the kind of strength that she has? What gives? Because if Abraham and Sarah were in a healthy marriage then we know that sex was taking place (Hebrews 13:4); that he indeed was "sharing his strength" with her:

Strength: the quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; vigor; mental power, force, or vigor; moral power, firmness, or courage

As most of us know, sperm is a seed. As I was pondering (Proverbs 4:26) all of this, I thought about it from the perspective of Matthew 13. In that chapter of the Bible, it speaks to how seed can end up. Seed can fall on stony places. Seed can fall on thorns and get choked out. Seed can fall on good ground then yield a crop. When it comes to sex, only in marriage can the "sperm seed" fall into good ground because when God joins two people together (Matthew 19:6) for the purpose of becoming one (Genesis 2:23-25) that is when a man's strength can multiply thanks to the "soil" (LOL) of a woman. Marriage is the spiritual science of good seed going into good ground and beautiful harvests coming from it.

Yet let's go just a bit deeper.

On one hand, a man is to save his strength for his wife. On the other, when a man is united with the one who God deems is suitable for him (Genesis 2:18-AMP), she is to be a "double portion" of strength for him. She is to be a woman of power, a woman of vigor (physically healthy and energetic), a woman of *moral (ethical) power* and a woman of firmness and/or courage. For Abraham, he was so impressed with Sarah's strength throughout their union that one line about it in his "love poem" was simply not enough. She was so strong that he had to praise her...twice.

And that's kind of where I'm going with this. Just like "God" or "love", I am learning that some words need to be more thoroughly investigated (2 Timothy 2:15-AMP) including words like "wife" and "husband". To simply say "I want to be married" without really taking into account all of the qualities that are required (and desired) to do the "job" thoroughly well, that is a surefire way to be ill-prepared. Proverbs 12:4(NKJV) says, "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones." According to Abraham (and obviously the Lord since he allowed Proverbs 31 to be in the Bible in the first place-2 Timothy 3:16-17), a part of what makes a woman excellent as a wife is if she is a woman of strength. She's got to be powerful. She's got to be physically healthy and energetic. She's got to be moral (meaning, she is not going to take a man's strength who isn't her husband; in marriage strength "recycles") and she's got to be firm in her resolves and courageous in her efforts.

So, that's the "On Fire" challenge for this week. In your own life, where are you strong and where are you weak? As most of us know, the best way to develop a weak area is to *work* at it.

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God gives us power, love and a sound mind---that all of those things work together. Power is about having an ability to do something. God has given us the ability to love and to act in our right minds (LOL)! In what ways do you need to *work* at being more loving *and stable*?

How's your weight? How's your blood pressure? How's your physical endurance? How's your muscle tone? How well are you eating and resting? Are you making your physical health a priority? In what ways do you need to *work* at being more vigorous?

Ethics. An ethical person is a moral person. A moral person is not just someone who knows the difference between right and wrong (James 4:17) but makes their decisions, both personally and professionally, based on those values. In what ways do you need to *work* at being more moral?

A moral woman is firm. A moral woman is courageous. It takes a lot of both to be able to know your convictions and stick with them; however, a *good man* will be looking for that in a *strong woman*.

You know, according to the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), a fascinating thing starts to happen when we start to *develop our strengths*:

"But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."---Galatians 5:22-23(Message)

Psalm 84:11 tells us that God withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly. It takes a strong person to have a strong backbone. Instead of putting so much energy into what you want (Psalm 37:4), how about developing what you already have? Your husband will be so glad that you did!

tmm,

SRW


Thursday, January 3, 2013

"On Fire": QUOTE OF THE DAY





While recently reading an excerpt of an interview with Anne Hathaway, I found myself liking this:

"'I took my trust out for a ridiculous joyride with him,' Hathaway, 30, told the magazine for its February issue of falling for Shulman, 31.
 

'It was scary. But as the days wore on it kept getting better and better. I found that the love I found for him made me more trusting of everyone, and the more I started to see who I had become.'

Since marrying in Big Sur, Calif., in September, Hathaway says she's as happy as ever.
 

'He walks into a room, and I light up. I can't help it,' says the Golden Globe nominee."

Trusting him caused her to trust others which changed her into a better person. Brilliant. Reminds me of another quote that I really dig:



Amen!


tmm,

SRW