Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"On Fire": A Cool "I'M SINGLE" T-Shirt

Hey Y'all,

I just wanted to drop a quick line to let you know that I designed (the concept of) a shirt for X3Church that celebrates singleness. If you want to cop one, you can go here.

Also, for the "bucker chicks" (LOL), I designed this one too:


Yeah. Well. I work for a porn ministry and I have come to the conclusion that far too many people put "sex" and "porn" in the same category. When God said that two were to be naked and not ashamed (Genesis 2:24-25), porn was definitely not what he had in mind. Porn mimics sex...*horribly*. Anyway, you can get that shirt here. They're both $15 and this one is available for men too.

Just a heads up and it's a great way to invest in our "live in sexual freedom" movement so be sure to pass the word along.



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

An Ounce of Prevention: "30 Resolves to Apply to Your Life...TODAY."


While I was doing some research for a devotional that I'm planning to pen some time tomorrow, I noticed (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) that quote up above (ain't it fabulous?) along with an article entitled "30 Truths I’ve Learned In 30 Years". Although some of you are under 30 (which means this can spare you a lot of...unnecessary drama) and some of us are over 30 (so we can look back and be like "Uh-huh, sho' you right!"), it's stellar enough to want/need to print off and hang up somewhere. That's why I'm going to straight copy and paste it. Enjoy!

1) There comes a point in life when you get tired of chasing everyone and trying to fix everything, but it’s not giving up.  It’s realizing you don’t need certain people and things and the drama they bring.

2) If a person wants to be a part of your life they will make an obvious effort to do so.  Don’t bother reserving a space in your heart for people who do not make an effort to stay.

3) If you want to fly, you have to give up the things that weigh you down – which is not always as obvious and easy as it sounds.

4) Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.

6) Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success.  You don’t fail by falling down.  You fail by never getting back up.  Sometimes you just have to forget how you feel, remember what you deserve, and keep pushing forward.

5) When you get to know people with different ethnic backgrounds, from different cities and countries, who live at various socioeconomic levels, you begin to realize that everyone basically wants the same things.  They want validation, love, happiness, fulfillment and hopes for a better future.  The way they pursue these desires is where things branch off, but the fundamentals are the same.  You can relate to almost everyone everywhere if you look past the superficial facades that divide us.

6) The more things you own, the more your things own you.  Less truly gives you more freedom.  Read The Joy of Less.

7) While you’re busy looking for the perfect person, you’ll probably miss the imperfect person who could make you perfectly happy.  This is as true for friendships as it is for intimate relationships.  Finding a companion or a friend isn’t about trying to transform yourself into the perfect image of what you think they want.  It’s about being exactly who you are and then finding someone who appreciates that.

8) Relationships must be chosen wisely.  It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.  There’s no need to rush.  If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason.

9) Making a thousand friends is not a miracle.  A miracle is making one friend who will stand by your side when thousands are against you.

10) Someone will always be better looking.  Someone will always be smarter.  Someone will always be more charismatic.  But they will never be you – with your exact ideas, knowledge and skills.

11) Making progress involves risk.  Period.  You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.

12) Every morning you are faced with two choices:  You can aimlessly stumble through the day not knowing what’s going to happen and simply react to events at a moment’s notice, or you can go through the day directing your own life and making your own decisions and destiny.  Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

13) Everyone makes mistakes.  If you can’t forgive others, don’t expect others to forgive you.  To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.

14) It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.

15) We sometimes do things that are permanently foolish just because we are temporarily upset.  A lot of heartache can be avoided if you learn to control your emotions.

16) Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right.  There are many roads to what’s right.  

17) You cannot judge others by your own past.  They are living a different life than you.  What might be good for one person may not be good for another.  What might be bad for one person might change another person’s life for the better.  You have to allow people to make their own mistakes and their own decisions.

18) Nobody is perfect, and nobody deserves to be perfect.  Nobody has it easy.  You never know what people are going through.  Every one of us has issues.  So don’t belittle yourself or anyone else.  Everybody is fighting their own unique war.

19) A smile doesn’t always mean a person is happy.  Sometimes it simply means they are strong enough to face their problems.

20) The happiest people I know keep an open mind to new ideas and ventures, use their leisure time as a means of mental development, and love good music, good books, good pictures, good company and good conversation.  And oftentimes they are also the cause of happiness in others – me in particular.

21) You can’t take things too personally.  Rarely do people do things because of you. They do things because of them.

22) Feelings change, people change, and time keeps rolling.  You can hold on to past mistakes or you can create your own happiness.  A smile is a choice, not a miracle.  True happiness comes from within.  Don’t make the mistake of waiting on someone or something to come along and make you happy.

23) It’s much harder to change the length of your life than it is to change the depth of it.

24) You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.

25) When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.

26) One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.

27) Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.  Read The Book of Awesome.

28) Anyone can make a difference.  Making one person smile can change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.

29) Everything is a life lesson.  Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, etc.  They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’  Never forget to acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go your way.  If you don’t get a job that you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting.  And the lesson you just learned is the first step towards it.

30) Regardless of how filthy your past has been, your future is still spotless.  Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday.  Every day is a fresh start.  Each day is a new beginning.  Every morning we wake up is the first day of the rest of our life.



Sunday, February 24, 2013

"On Fire": "My Desire for You Made Me Feel Like a Prince" (SOS 6:11-12)


"I went down into the orchard of nut trees to see the blossoms of the valley, to look for buds on the vines, to see if the pomegranate trees had bloomed. Before I realized it, my desire for you made me feel like a prince in a chariot."---Song of Solomon 6:11-12(NCV)


This is definitely one of my favorite verses (and quotes) thus far because it reminds me of something that a lot of women seem to forget: men need to feel important in their relationships.

As a matter of fact, I was just having a conversation with a married couple that I am friends with earlier this evening about how the wife oftentimes speaks in a patronizing way to her husband in public. As she was providing her perspective as to why that's the case she said, "When you act like a child, you'll get treated like one. That's how the women in my life have always approached marriage. It's engrained in me."

And you know what? While that may seem extreme, let's not act like we all haven't witnessed a woman who either talks to or about her husband like he's her son and not her Ish (Hebrew word for "man" and "husband" simultaneously). Honestly, we can't "buffet" a man. Meaning, we can't pick and choose when we want to see him as a man, as *the man* in our lives, and when we think we have the right to treat him as less than such. Earlier today, I just wrote a devotional on how we are *commanded by God* to respect our husbands (Ephesians 5:33) and a part of respecting an individual includes esteeming and honoring them. When you esteem a person, you hold them in high regard and have a favorable opinion of them. When you honor a person, you treat them with honesty and fairness, you give them high *public* esteem (people know how much you value your man outside of the home) and give them a high and *noble* rank in your life.

A noble rank. Now I will say this, if you are a part of a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9) then you need to select a man who is a part of it as well. When someone acts nobly, it means that they are "of an exalted moral or mental character or excellence". This means that their moral character (Colossians 3:12-17) stands out above the rest. A noble man is not going to lie to you. A noble man is not going to be a, what I now call male fornicators (Hebrews 13:4), "Cookie Monster" (LOL-Matthew 7:6). A noble man is going to make sure that he doesn't put you before God (Exodus 20:3) and if he is seriously considering marrying you, he is not going to put you under anyone other than the Lord, either. When you are brought (Genesis 2:23), by God, to a man like this, he is more than worthy of your respect. And when you give him what God says that he is deserving of, yes, it makes him feel very similar to what the Shulamite woman's beloved said that she made him feel: "like a prince".

And what's really hot about how he phrased it is that it's not just that she treated him like a prince, but she loved this man so well that even his desire for her made him feel like royalty. Check that, please. His desire didn't make him feel like some horny teenager or some lust-driven man (I John 2:16). No, his longing and craving for her caused him to feel (whew!) *sovereign*. Supreme, utmost, and above all others when it comes to the level of importance that he has in her life.

When I do public speaking on how sex before marriage *damages* the marriage's foundation (people can survive it, but it definitely comes with a high price of consequences-Galatians 6:7-8), one of the things that I share is that when both people were raised that sex outside of marriage is wrong (and it is) and they do it anyway, trust is severely compromised. Remember that a part of a man's role, as a husband, is to be a protector of his wife's mind, body and spirit AND a part of a woman's role, as a wife, is to be his helpmate (his Ezer Kenegdo, his lifesaver-Genesis 2:18). So, how are two people spiritually protecting or helping one another, by partaking in an act that God said is wrong (I Corinthians 6:16-20)? *They're not*.

As daughters of the Most High (Psalm 82:6), a part of our role is to honor men as sons of the Most High in all that we do and in all that we say. That said, I can't help but the think that a part of the reason why the Shulamite woman's beloved could say that wanting her made him feel like royalty was because he could trust her; trust her with his mind, trust her with his body, trust her with his spirit. When you can fully entrust your heart to another human being, yes, that is a feeling that is truly...majestic and it is the result of involving yourself with someone who serves the King and seeks *only him* (Matthew 7:7-8) for direction (Proverbs 3:5-6) on how to love well and right.

Trust me, it's not hard to get a man to lust you. These days, I want a man who is in this "desire lane": "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4-NKJV) I don't want a Cookie Monster. I want a husband. And as I once said in a poem, "queens can't balance crowns on their backs".

Bottom line, if you want to make a man feel like a prince...*act like a princess*.



An Ounce of Prevention: "Too Many Flavors: Is Online Dating Decreasing the Chances for a Happy Marriage?"

This article *definitely* provides some food for thought. Here's an excerpt:

"In an extensively researched new book, Love in the Time of Algorithms by Dan Slater, the rise of internet dating is chronicled and the myriad effects studied carefully. The consensus of the research, the polling, and the dating experts is that the rise of online dating will mean an overall decrease in commitment. Internet dating makes people more disposable.

The owners of dating sites are thrilled; they don’t make money off of happily married people. Dan Winchester, the owner of a British dating website muses, 'I often wonder whether matching you up with great people is getting so efficient, and the process so enjoyable, that marriage will become obsolete.' Greg Blatt, the CEO of’s parent company, takes another tack, “Historically relationships have been billed as "hard" because, historically, commitment has been the goal. You could say online dating is simply changing people’s ideas about whether commitment itself is a life value.'

The stats seem to agree with those opinions, only 51% of adults in the US are married today, down from 72% in 1960, and the median age of first marriage is higher than it has ever been at 26.5 for women and 28.7 for men, up from a respective 20.3 and 22.8. The number of people getting married in the US has dropped each year for the past five years, despite a growth in the overall population. (Not surprisingly, the fertility rate in the US is at its lowest since 1920, and now is at 1.9, well below the 2.1 rate which is the replacement rate.)

All the challenges to the institution of marriage might be worth it if it meant that the single people who have thousands of dating options at their fingertips were happier for all their freedom and choice. But that seems not to be the case. When there are so many alternatives, people don’t invest in their relationships and thus find much less meaning and satisfaction in them. "



Friday, February 22, 2013


 Definitely something to think about:

"If you feel like you’re being used, you’re very likely being used – friendship or a relationship feels and looks like friendship or a relationship. Using, looks and feels like using.

If you haven’t twigged that you’re being used but you’re subsisting on a crumb diet while they feast on the fringe benefits and then some, yeah, you’re being used.

If they’ve aligned themselves around you at a time when it suited their greater purpose of having a place to stay / money / a job / a reference or just seizing on a vulnerability that would have you giving to a greater degree than you would under ordinary circumstances, you’ve been used, especially if now that you no longer serve a purpose or have figured out what is going on, they’ve suddenly disappeared or have become quite mean towards you.

Once you suspect or know that you’re being taken for a ride, it’s stop, look, listen and step back and adjust your boundaries time."

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I'm not a Drake or "hoe" fan but this was just too *relevant* not to share: 



"On Fire": "Young Women Called Her Happy. Queens and Slave Women Also Praised Her." (SOS 6:4-9)


"My darling, you are as beautiful as the city of Tirzah, as lovely as the city of Jerusalem, like an army flying flags. Turn your eyes from me,because they excite me too much. Your hair is like a flock of goats streaming down Mount Gilead. Your teeth are white like sheep just coming from their bath; each one has a twin, and none of them is missing. Your cheeks behind your veil are like slices of a pomegranate. There may be sixty queens and eighty slave women and so many girls you cannot count them, but there is only one like my dove, my perfect one. She is her mother’s only daughter, the brightest of the one who gave her birth. The young women saw her and called her happy; the queens and the slave women also praised her."---Song of Solomon 6:4-9(NCV)

I must admit that although I enjoy country music and therefore, I knew who Mindy McCready was, I wasn't really a fan per se. So, when her life tragically (and I mean *so tragically*) came to an end on last Sunday, I was kind of surprised that it affected me so much. I think it was just that her life was filled with so much *cyclic pain* and to kill yourself in the same way and at the same place (literally) as your boyfriend did just a month prior while leaving two little boys, now without their mother behind...oh, it was just so sad. Yes, pain is very sad.

However, it wasn't until I read an article that featured some quotes by her ex-fiance' Dean Cain that I knew it was time to pen the next "Song of Solomon" series installment:

"'I'm saddened to hear of her passing, but I'm not surprised,' says Cain, 46, whose starring role in TV's Lois & Clark ended just as he and McCready began their relationship in 1997.

They lived together and were engaged, but things imploded after a year. From his Los Angeles home on Monday, one day after McCready fatally shot herself, Cain struggled to remember any joy to their relationship: 'I can't paint too pretty a picture. She would start arguments, start drama. Things weren't allowed to be good.'

Though drugs and alcohol would later send McCready to rehab, Cain said neither was a factor in their relationship – or its demise.

'She was never abusive or addictive with me, but red flags were everywhere,' he says. 'I saw all the bad signs and told her to get out.' At the end, he says he fled his own home for a hotel to escape her. 'Everything she did was a manipulation of sorts. She would just get combative.'

In the decade and a half that followed, Cain, who fathered a son with a subsequent girlfriend and is single today, severed all ties with McCready."

Again, pain is sad. When a man who once loved this woman looks back on his journey with her, he remembers that she would *start arguments* and *start drama*. He remembers that *there were red flags all over the place*. He remembers that *she was manipulative* and *she would get combative*. And it got so bad that he severed all ties with her.

I know women who fit this kind of description to a "t". I call them "damaged goods" because while there tends to be a lot of good in them, they are loaded down with so many issues that they make it really hard to love them. From their tainted point of view, nothing is ever really their fault and every person they are in a relationship with should have to take the emotional weight of the lack that they experienced before that person ever came onto the scene. Yes, some women are wondering where their husbands are and God, with his infinite wisdom and mercy, knows that until the healing of their brokenness transpires (Psalm 147:3), they won't be much help to a man. Again, the Hebrew word for helpmate (Genesis 2:18) is Ezer Kenegdo and that translates into *lifesaver*. It takes a strong and healthy woman (not a perfect woman but a healthy one) to be able to take that kind of responsibility on.

And one of the signs of being healthy is being happy.

That's why, of all that the Shulamite's beloved said about her in Song of Solomon 6:4-9, what jumped out at me the most was that last line: "The young women saw her and called her happy; the queens and the slave women also praised her."

There are some wives in my life who are on "complaint restriction" with me (and they know it-LOL-Philippians 2:14). I mean all they do is whine about their marriages and talk about how much they wish that they were single. I know it's oftentimes discussed how much single women covet married ones, but honestly, I'm starting to think there is a "spiritual virus" going around that shows signs of married women wanting what *we* have. Hmph. No wonder King Solomon was divinely inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17) to pen that there is a time and season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3). When you're in your particular season, you need to embrace it for what it is. Coveting is a sin (Exodus 20:17).

And besides, when you're so unhappy with your life that all you do is talk about how dissatisfied you are, it tends to be a bit contagious. As believers and/or disciples (John 17), we have a responsibility to not be dishonest about our emotions but responsible in how we relay them to other people.

So for me, I have "duly noted" the fact that the Shulamite's man was impressed with her physical appearance (um, obviously-LOL), but something else that he took special note of was the fact that *other women* enjoyed being around her.

Exactly. If a man is godly, he is going to operate from a place of extreme discernment (Proverbs 2) and that means he's going to observe how *other women* respond and react around the woman he is contemplating being around. And in this case, "he" noticed that young women found his beloved to be happy. When you're happy, you're content (and Hebrews 13:5 tells us to be content so obviously being happy is a command from the Word, which is Adonai-John 1:1). When you're happy, you're full of joy and as I've been sharing with a few people in my space, when you look at the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), the attributes go in the following order: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

A lot of single women are not *at peace* with being single and a big part of that is because they don't make having *joy* a priority in their lives (shoot, for that matter, they don't make self-love one either!). Yet, as we can see, one indication of having the Holy Spirit, of having *divine help* (John 14:26-AMP) is that we will be full of joy. This is a part of what's so special about when Nehemiah said "'Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.'” (Nehemiah 8:10-NKJV) And when you think about it, no wonder Satan tries so hard to keep our spirits down about our circumstances. There is *godly strength* that comes with *having joy*; in having "the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation".

Yes, yes. Doesn't all of that tie in nicely? When we take great delight in knowing that God is exceptionally good and satisfying, there are wonderful results that come from that. Indeed, Psalm 37:4(NKJV) says "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." The Shulamite's beloved didn't say that because she had him, she was happy. He said that he observed that other people found her to be happy; that joy was a part of who she was and in connection to that, her heart's desires were granted. One of them being, having an intimate relationship with him.

It doesn't stop there.

It's one thing to have young girls observe you. It's another thing altogether when royal woman do. The verse also says that queens and slave women---women from all walks of life, both rich and poor, both famous and not well-known, praised her. Most of us know what Proverbs 31:30 (NKJV) says: "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised" and I can't but help to assume that a part of what these women saw in her was that she feared the Lord. Fear, in this context, is "reverential awe, especially toward God".

Now here's the thing about being in "awe of God". It's not something that you can simply *claim* to be. No, your actions will be a dead-on indication of if you are really in awe of the Most High (Genesis 14:19) or not because it's defined as being "an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like".

I don't know about you, but I've been overwhelmed before and it usually caused me to take some kind of action. The emotion has had me so full that I simply have to *do something*. If you have a reverential fear for God, it's going to show in your actions and a godly man? He is going to take notice...*everyone is going to take notice*.

Sometimes we are so focused on getting a man's attention when a good one is looking to see how you capture the thoughts of others. Bottom line, that last line in these verses speak to the Shulamite woman's reputation and as Proverbs 3:3-4(Message) tells us: "Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people."

How happy are you?

Do you live a life worthy of being praised?

Definitely some things to think about.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An Ounce of Prevention: "You've Got That One Thing" Proposal



I'm not in social media (by design) and so the super romantics have probably already seen this, but someone just sent to me tonight. She's a separated woman married to a porn addict and her statement before sharing the link to this proposal was "By the end I was bawling my eyes out and found myself whispering 'I wish I had waited on Your best for me, Lord.'" Better to be waiting on the best than figuring it out with far-less-than-the-best.

Anyway, whether this is your first time or 10th time watching this, I hope it sparks hope in your spirit (Romans 5:5) that when a man *really wants to marry you*...IT.WILL.SHOW.





This is a really good read entitled "Sometimes You’ve Got To Reteach People What To Expect From You" (AMEN!):

"We’re all made up of habits. We deviate from time to time and of course go through periods of change when we become too uncomfortable with unhealthy habits of thinking and behaviour or we move in a different direction, but even then we change and evolve into new habits, hopefully ones that serve us better.

We teach people what to expect from us and sadly if we don’t have good boundaries, we can end up teaching them what they can get away with.

We ‘teach’ through the communication of our actions and words, including what we don’t do and what we leave unsaid. This is why people pleasing can be so destructive – it teaches people that we have no needs, wishes, and expectations and shows an inadvertent willingness to deviate from our values for their approval."



Monday, February 18, 2013

"On Fire": What Windows 8 Taught Me About Relationships (Work Out Those KINKS)


Let me just start this off by saying "Looka here: Warfare is so serious." (Ephesians 6:10-20)

X3Church does live sessions on Sunday mornings now and I've done a couple of the messages. I'm the chick who prefers to be "read and not seen" (LOL) so I'll leave out the details but I will say that I have gone toe-to-toe with Satan enough times that I was pretty prepared when my video card crashed and I had to get a new computer *the day my first message* premiered.

Since then (and that was just in January), by borrowing, being handed a couple and purchasing more than one, I am now on my seventh PC. I'm not a Mac girl, mostly because I do a lot of research (An apple with a bite out of it as the logo? The first retail price being $666.66? One eye symbolizing "One World Order" and Mac having iPhones and iPods and iTablets? Yeah. I'm good.) and so yes, while it may have seemed to make more sense to simply "take the bite of out to Apple", Eve (Genesis 3) continues to remind me of where that can lead a sistah. For me, it was going to have to be a PC or bust.

However, it wasn't until today that I had another "all things work together for the good" (Romans 8:28) epiphany. After sitting up all night online with a Microsoft technician who was trying to figure out why their updates had now caused my second new computer to crash and then speaking with another one after it crashed again this morning, after having deadlines pile up, after refreshing my system and having to go through trouble of reloading programs more than I would *ever* care to count, I finally said to the techie "Listen, just tell me the truth: Am I better off getting a Windows 7 model?" to which he replied "Honestly, Windows 8 is the newest software but it's not compatible with all computer brands yet. It's going to need about 6-8 more months for all of the kinks to be worked out. So yes, get a Dell with Windows 8 or purchase something else that has Windows 7. Windows 7 is far more secure."

*Windows 7 is far more secure*.

Yeah, if you know me even a little bit, you know that I saw all kinds of blaring warnings in that little conversation. For one thing, "7" biblically symbolizes "perfection" while "8" biblically symbolizes "new beginnings". First up: A lot of times, new things *need time* for the kinks to be worked out (yes, if you are in a new relationship, give it TIME-Ecclesiastes 3:11). 

However, as someone who has a confirmed spiritual gift of seeing ahead and then has the challenge of still realizing that I am not the Master of Timing, God is (Acts 1:7-Message), I thought about what that techie said from a slightly different angle as well.

There was/is a man in my life who I loved and I mean loved so much that I'm not sure I won't ever stop loving him (because it was pure rather than carnal and pure love tends to last). I remember there being certain moments in our journey when he looked a lot like Windows 8---so many "bells and whistles". I would look into his eyes, engage his presence, listen to us make certain life discoveries together and think "Wow, this is amazing." Oh, but when it came down to the nitty-gritty, he just didn't perform well. His "operating system" did not comply with my hardware (LOL). Like Windows 8, he had a lot of potential but he needed/needs time for so many "kinks to be worked out" before we would actually work...well...*together*.

However, as I was with two previous computers, I wouldn't accept that like Windows 8, he just wasn't going to work out---right now. There's so much that he can do but so little that he can do for me. I need to leave him alone, allow God and time to reveal (because as DeBarge once sang, time *really will* reveal, y'all!-LOL) and *go back* to what does work for me so that I can get some things done. And what works for me is not chasing after "new beginnings" but staying in my lane of "perfecting" singleness.

Take it from me, there is nothing more exhausting and, quite frankly, *graceless* than trying to make something work when it's simply not going to work. Not because there isn't potential there but because either it's not God's will or there are kinks that need to be ironed out and until that happens, by trying to act like "it's" compatible when it's really not, you're just going to waste a lot of time, energy and effort.

Tonight, I am typing you from my new HP with a Windows 7 operating system. It's not as "fancy" as Windows 8 *but it works* and that brings me more peace of mind than I've had since this whole debacle began...since I've stopped trying to force my computer to accept what it simply is not able to yet.

Yeah. I'm pretty sure there's a "moral to the parable" to that too...

Anyway, remember that the Amplified Version of Genesis 2:18 says that God said he would make a helpmate who would be *suitable* for Adam. Yes, she would be *compatible* with him. Trust me, I counsel couples all of the time that were (initially) so caught up in the beauty of the "operating system" of a person without stopping to assess if their "hardware"would really connect to them. The hardware is your nuts and bolts, your foundation...your core.

When it's suitable, when it's right, *when it's time*, it will reveal itself to be.

And honestly, it won't cost you so much.

I promise you that.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"On Fire": "I Have Entered My Garden, My Sister, My Bride." (SOS 5:1)

"I have entered my garden, my sister, my bride. I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey. I have drunk my wine and my milk."---Song of Solomon 5:1(NCV)

I'm gonna tell you what. It's throwback Wednesday up in here (LOL) because when I read this latest stanza from the Shulamite woman's beloved, *only one song* immediately came to mind (Whew! Quincy Jones was such a beautiful man back in the day!)

Yes, the "Secret Garden". And what's beautiful about the song is one, the women kept their clothes on in the video (um *thank you*) and two, it reminds us that there are such poetic and subtle ways to express sexual intimacy between a man and a woman. Quincy Jones, Al B. Sure, James Ingram, El DeBarge and Barry White all did it here as did "her" beloved in the Song of Solomon. And honestly, if you're paying close attention, they're basically talking about the same thing.

And just why did her beloved call "it" a garden? Why did the guys sing about a secret garden that, according to James Ingram, only one man should have the keys to (so you know some of us need to "change our locks", right?-LOL)? It's because a garden is not just a plot of ground where fruit, vegetables and plants grow. It's also defined as being "a fertile and delightful spot or region". When the Shulamite woman's beloved professed that he was inside of his garden, it was a fertile place for him...a delightful one as well. When something (or one) is delightful, this means it's highly pleasing and gives great pleasure.

Yet here's the catch...

Psalm 16:11(NKJV) says "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." People who settle for sexual sin (Hebrews 13:4) engage in this kind of pleasure: "worldly or frivolous enjoyment" and being that I John 2:16 tells us that lust and pride are of the world, this means that any kind of pleasure that is worldly has lust and pride attached to it and if that's the case, as Joseph Richey used to often say, "It's gonna end. It's just not going to end well." The Bible tells us so. Proverbs 16:18(NKJV) states "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" and James 1:14-16(NKJV) tells us "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." Bottom line, relationships with fornication in them are filled with lust and pride which will eventually, one way or another (especially if there is no true repentance that has taken place-2 Corinthians 7:9-10), result in some form of destruction and death. Even if the relationship transitions into marriage because there was a violation of God's *mandate* for sexual activity, problems will ensue. Marriage doesn't "fix" sexual sin. Repentance does.

However there is another definition of pleasure that needs to be shared: "enjoyment or satisfaction derived from what is to one's liking; gratification; delight". OK, Psalm 16:11 states that GOD shows the path to life. In GOD's presence, there is a fullness of joy. And at GOD's right hand, there are pleasures forevermore. True enjoyment and lasting satisfaction that is according to our own liking only comes from God. Every single boundary that is in the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), at the end of the day is about leading us to a path of life and on that path there is joy and pleasure. On that path, one does not have to come at the expense of the other. On that path, pleasure is not temporary, it is forever (Matthew 19:6).

This is what's so brilliant about how the Message Version of I Corinthians 6:16-20(Message) is translated:

"There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, 'The two become one.' Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never 'become one.' There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for 'becoming one' with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body."

God's purpose for sex is to reveal spiritual mysteries (secrets).

God's purpose for sex is to make two people one.

God's purpose for sex is to celebrate commitment and intimacy.

God's purpose for sex is for a husband and wife to honor one another in an sacred kind of way.

God's purpose for sex is to value what God paid a high price for by having a covenant in place.

And when two people in a relationship get that, *when they really get that*, authentically divine pleasures manifest. Not in the form of a one-night stand or a two-year relationship but until death parts them.

That's why the Holy Spirit and I selected the lead quote that we did. When a woman is single, her garden---especially her heart and body---needs to be a secret. It needs to be "kept from the knowledge of any but the initiated or privileged". And ladies, I don't know if we really get that fact. A man who is able to get into our garden is supposed to go through a certain kind of initiation in order the earn the privilege. In the context of this message, before Elohim (the Godhead) he is supposed "to admit or accept with formal rites into an organization or group, secret knowledge, adult society, etc.". When I Corinthians 7:23 tells us that we were bought with a price and we are not to be slaves among men, a part of what we need to keep in mind is that God paid a dear price for us and so a man must follow certain *formalities* in order to partake of what we have that can (and will-LOL) please him. If he doesn't go through God's "initiation process" (which includes marrying us), he is simply not worthy. *Period*.

That's why I like that her beloved said that he was in *his garden*. Not "a garden" (so many men carelessly plant their seeds into "a garden"-Jeremiah 2:21), but *his garden*. He earned the right to be have authority of her (I Corinthians 7:4), to be an "expert of her pleasure" (expert is one definition of authority). And so yes, he could rightly declare that he has eaten his honey and drunk his milk and wine. Hey, nothing's wrong with that...when it's *yours*.

So do I have a problem posting "Secret Garden" up on this blog? *Obviously not*. It's not meant to tempt you to sin (I Corinthians 10:13). It's designed to remind you to wait. Quite frankly, I'm sick of people being so "hush hush" about something that God made especially since God is light (I John 1:5). Perhaps the more we talk about the beauty of godly pleasure, the more we enlighten (Psalm 18:28) individuals about *the true purpose of sex* and then we will not even associate sensuality with being something that we can partake in before marriage. It will give us something to look forward to in excitement rather than back on with regret.

So the fact that the woman in the lead quote has a secret heart garden with high walls? Good for her. Sounds like she has boundaries and standards to me.

When you know the kind of garden you've got, you know a man should work to gain access to it.

He'll be pleased forever if he does. It's a pretty good pay off.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"On Fire": "You Have Thrilled My Heart." (SOS 4:9-15)

"My sister, my bride, you have thrilled my heart; you have thrilled my heart, with a glance of your eyes, with one sparkle from your necklace.Your love is so sweet, my sister, my bride. Your love is better than wine, and your perfume smells better than any spice. My bride, your lips drip honey; honey and milk are under your tongue. Your clothes smell like the cedars of Lebanon. My sister, my bride, you are like a garden locked up, like a walled-in spring, a closed-up fountain. Your limbs are like an orchard of pomegranates with all the best fruit, filled with flowers and nard, nard and saffron, calamus, and cinnamon, with trees of incense, myrrh, and aloes—all the best spices. You are like a garden fountain—a well of fresh water flowing down from the mountains of Lebanon."---Song of Solomon 4:9-15(NCV)

SIDEBAR: So in time for Valentine's Day, I'm going to strive to get this message plus one more done. I believe the Spirit (John 4:24) has a timeline on me because as much as I know that most of us want to be sexually pure, I'm also a realist (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message). SOMEBODY reading this is planning to engage in sexual activity on February 14 and then "repent" (repenting is not just asking for forgiveness but making the wrong right, by the way-2 Corinthians 7:9-10) on February 15 and so I believe that all of heaven desires for these two upcoming messages to attempt to "reroute" that "wide mission" (Matthew 7:13-14). That said, here we go...


If you read the post that preceded this one, then you know that this is "part two" of what the Shulamite woman's beloved said to her in Song of Solomon 4. And let me just say something about this off of the top. Not all men are wordy. Not all men are writers. But when a man is into you, and I mean *really into you*, he will find some kind of way to express it (and without you nagging him to death to do it). No, it may not be in the form of poems and love songs, but something that I have learned about love, shoot, just from how God loves me/us alone (Jeremiah 31:3), it's that when you really and truly love someone, nothing that you do is enough. You're always looking for new ways to express how you feel about them as a sign of gratitude to God first and them second for being in your world.

So that said...

I adore that her beloved had so much to say about her. It's like this man really couldn't find enough ways to explain all that she brings to his "life table". Now, in fairness, there are a lot of women out here that want to be praised and...well the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), tells us what kind of woman is worthy of that: "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." (Proverbs 31:30-NKJV) It's another message for another time, the amount of women who want something that they did not earn (or have not yet earned). If a man is not giving you the credit that you feel you deserve, you might want to talk to God about it first. There may be some "spiritual fine tuning" that needs to take place...first. Praise is not meant to be a "given". It is meant to be *earned*.

Yet when it comes to his man's praises in these verses, several things jumped out at me.

First, I find it to be very sweet and endearing that her beloved would call her his sister *and* his bride. The reason why is because it immediately made me think about this verse in the Bible: "For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother." (Mark 3:35-NKJV) One thing that I said at the start of this series is that the main thing I appreciate about the poetry of the Song of Solomon is that it's a lot like art; it can be interpreted in so many different kinds of ways. For me, whenever he said "my sister" it made me think that he was declaring her as a part of his spiritual family (I Peter 2:9) first and then his bride, second.

I have shared before that there was a guy in my past, who, after he got a girlfriend, we (the girl and I) had "issues" with one another for years. Then one day the Spirit was like "Actually you two are my daughters which makes you sisters and until he marries one of you, he is your brother. What both of you are doing, I find to be spiritual repulsive. Only marriage makes a man your husband. He doesn't belong to either one of you yet and sisters should love one another." I've written a blog on spiritual incest before. Sleeping with your brother in Christ is...sleeping with your brother (in Christ).

Yet in the sense of transitioning from "brother" to "husband", it's really special that her beloved saw that she was a sister to him *and because of that*, she could transition into being his bride. Due to her relationship with God, he could trust her to be his helpmate (Genesis 2:18). *Just as it should be*.

When you find the one who is like family to you...when you find the one who you know is suitable to be your life partner...can we not see how *thrilling* that can be? I really like that he chose "thrill" as the word to define the sensation that his heart had towards her because it means "to be stirred by a tremor or tingling sensation of emotion or excitement". This man was *excited* about his woman. He was "aroused" by her. He was "stirred up" by her. But do you know one of my favorite definitions of excite is? He was "awakened" by her. As a direct result of his beloved, there was an *awakening* that transpired:

Awakening: the act of awaking from sleep; a revival of interest or attention; a recognition, realization, or coming into awareness of something; a renewal of interest in religion, especially in a community; a revival

Boy oh boy! If you're paying close attention, there is some really rich stuff going on right through here! He declared that the Shulamite woman awakened him from his sleep; that she revived interest and caught his attention; that because of her, he came into some realizations of some things and...(dig this!) a renewed interest in *the community of religion* came over him.

Is it just me or does this seem a bit like deja vu? Let's take a walk through the Garden of Eden once more, shall we?

"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him.'

From the ground God formed every wild animal and every bird in the sky, and he brought them to the man so the man could name them. Whatever the man called each living thing, that became its name. The man gave names to all the tame animals, to the birds in the sky, and to all the wild animals. But Adam did not find a helper that was right for him. So the Lord God caused the man to sleep very deeply, and while he was asleep, God removed one of the man’s ribs. Then God closed up the man’s skin at the place where he took the rib. The Lord God used the rib from the man to make a woman, and then he brought the woman to the man.

And the man said, 'Now, this is someone whose bones came from my bones, whose body came from my body. I will call her "woman," because she was taken out of man.'

So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one body. The man and his wife were naked, but they were not ashamed."---Genesis 2:24-25(NCV)


God still desires for the "Garden of Eden" (Joel 2:3) to transpire when it comes to covenant relationships. God still wants to be the One who determines who is a good fit for one another. God still wants to cultivate the woman to be suitable *before* the man notices who she is to be in his life (in other words, God uses our single time as our preparation time). God still wants a man to have a *spiritual awakening* to the revelation of who his bride is to be. Fornication doesn't produce a (healthy) spiritual awakening. Neither does ultimatums or pressure or nagging or manipulation. None of those things represent godly love (I Corinthians 13:4-8) and being that God is love (I John 4:8&16), when he joins two individuals together (Matthew 19:6), it is for the purpose of LOVE COMING TOGETHER. No lust (I John 2:16), *love*.

Do you know something else that I *just noticed* about those verses in Genesis 2 (and *trust me*, I spend a lot of time in the Garden!-LOL) Adam started his words of praise for his bride with "Now". Before that very moment, she was made from him but he did not declare her as being a part of him. There was something about God and his divine timing (Ecclesiastes 3:11) that made her as someone he declared as a part of him *now*:

Now: at the present time or moment; without further delay; immediately; at once; at this time or juncture in some period under consideration or in some course of proceedings described; at the time or moment immediately past; in these present times; nowadays

During the season that the Woman was being made (because we really don't know how long days lasted in "Garden of Eden" time-2 Peter 3:8), yes Adam was asleep (unconscious and unaware). Oh, but when his spiritual awakening came (which can only come from the Spirit), he lined up with God and realized that the time to become one with her was *now*. Nowhere in that story, do we see that the Woman had *any say* in the timing. God decided Adam shouldn't be alone, she was made and then Adam, after his spiritual awakening, said "NOW this is the woman for me." In the Garden of Eden, the only time when a perfected union transpired, while it would appear that the Woman may have known her purpose in Adam's life before he did (because he was indeed asleep while she was being made), when it came to the time being the right time, it wasn't the Woman who said that. Adam said that the time was "NOW".

A lot of gals tend to put pressure on men, especially around holidays. It's an "out of order biblical formula" in the sense that it's *so not God's best for you* if you decide to tell a man that the time is *now*. That is something that he and God have to work out; not you. So if you are planning to have some kind of "Now is the time" conversation anytime soon, honestly, you and the Creator of time need to have a chat and he's probably going to remind you that “'You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit.'" (Acts 1:7-Message) Trust me, that is no concession prize to a wedding ring. A wife is defined as being a helpmate and the Holy Spirit is defined as being our divine Helper (John 14:26). If this time is not God's best time, he's probably going to tell you "You are to be a helpmate. You need to spend more time with the Helper on what that means." WHEW!

OK, but that's not all the Shulamite woman's beloved said.

He told her that her love is better than wine. Turning water into wine was Christ's first miracle, remember (John 2)? Wine was a drink not only used for celebrations but the Word also tells us this about wine: "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities." (I Timothy 5:23-NKJV) An infirmity is a physical *or moral* weakness. Her love was better than any remedy (shorter than God-Exodus 20:3) for a physical or moral weakness (love that!)

Her told her that her lips drip honey and milk and honey are under her tongue. When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they were told "'You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.'" (Leviticus 20:24-NKJV) And do you know where that was? *The Promised Land*. For this man, the Shulamite woman's mouth was like the Promised Land! Oh, there are so many directions we can take this (LOL) but let me just leave it here. God promised and he delivered (2 Corinthians 1:20). A man wants to feel that what his beloved says, he can trust her to deliver (Matthew 5:37). Also, honey has many antioxidants. It's a natural healer. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that there is death and life in the tongue. A wife should speak words that "drip" with healing not harm. And milk? A lot of people drink warm milk to go to sleep. That's because it is high in calcium and l-tryptophan; both of which help prepare the body for rest. Something that the Shulamite woman once said to her beloved was "A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, that lies all night between my breasts." (Song of Solomon 1:13-NKJV) My last and final boyfriend once told me that a wife should be a sanctuary for her husband. That said, you have *no idea* how many couples I counsel where the husband feels like *the last thing* his wife is, is...a cup of warm milk (LOL). If you are not a gentle and quiet spirited individual (I Peter 3:1-6), that's definitely something to spend some time with the Spirit talking about.

He told her " are like a garden locked up, like a walled-in spring, a closed-up fountain." Yeah, we're going to bust out an old-school music video in the next message about gardens (wink). But I'll say this for now. Proverbs 5:15-16(NKJV) says "Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets?" There are a lot of women out here who honestly, because they try and "marry people without marrying them", their waters are not clean and God is using this time to make them so. No man of God deserves to drink water that has been tainted by other people's hands and mouths (just sayin'). Each man is to have *his own cistern* or as I Corinthians 7:2 says "his own wife" and yes, until each and everyone of us are joined to our husbands, our gardens are to be locked up just like a walled-in spring and closed-up fountain (no wonder he said in Song of Solomon 4:15 that she was *like a well of FRESH water*).

He told her that her limbs were like pomegranates---the best kind of fruit. Being that I am so enamored with Jewish culture, I have been collecting pomegranates for quite some time now. You can read an extensive read about their symbolism here. But for the sake of this message, in Jewish culture they symbolize righteousness. In Christian culture, they symbolize royalty, the Church, hope and Christ's resurrection. And in the Chinese culture, they symbolize fertility. *Nice*. Within her body, she was a symbol of righteousness, hope and fertility. And by the way, a fertile woman is not just someone who is able to bear offspring but someone who is "abundantly productive". A man of God desires a woman who is *abundantly productive* when it comes to her own life *before* uniting herself to his. Are you like a pomegranate? That's something else to ponder (Proverbs 4:26) for sure!

Which brings us to the close of this message...

A couple of days ago, while ordering some things for the women who participated in the masturbation fast, I "happened upon" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) these:

10 Mini Pomegranate Charms - Matte Silver Plated - SCM109

The are pomegranate charms that you can wear on your necklace and I'm going to give five of them away but with a few contingencies.

1) You are a woman whose hope is *very fragile* right now when it comes to believing that your husband is on his way to you.

2) You are barren in the sense that you feel like your life is not as full of meaning and purpose as you would like.

3) You are struggling with moral weakness. You want to live a life of righteousness but it seems like you continue to hit a wall.

If you are one of *those five women*, shoot me an email to and once the pomegranates come in (they're coming from Turkey-go figure-LOL), I'll send you one to wear on your neck. Sometimes we have "wear the truth" as we strive to "live the truth" (John 8:31-32).

Here's to all of us not settling for any less than a man who can *and will* tell us that we *thrill his heart!*



Sunday, February 10, 2013

"On Fire": "Come with Me, My Bride." (SOS 4:1-8)

"How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, you are beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are like doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats streaming down Mount Gilead. Your teeth are white like newly sheared sheep just coming from their bath. Each one has a twin, and none of them is missing. Your lips are like red silk thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks behind your veil are like slices of a pomegranate. Your neck is like David’s tower, built with rows of stones. A thousand shields hang on its walls; each shield belongs to a strong soldier. Your breasts are like two fawns, like twins of a gazelle, feeding among the lilies. Until the day dawns and the shadows disappear, I will go to that mountain of myrrh and to that hill of incense. My darling, everything about you is beautiful, and there is nothing at all wrong with you. Come with me from Lebanon, my bride. Come with me from Lebanon, from the top of Mount Amana, from the tops of Mount Senir and Mount Hermon. Come from the lions’ dens and from the leopards’ hills."---Song of Solomon 4:1-8(NCV)


What the Shulamite woman's beloved said in Song of Solomon 4 is so *much* that I am going to break it down into two parts.

We'll start with verses 1 thru 8...

Not too long ago, I was talking to a woman about her appearance. You know, one of the main things about coveting (which is one of the Ten Commandments-Exodus 20:17) is that you find yourself eagerly desiring *what isn't yours*. There are a lot of women who wish they looked differently than they do *or worse*, they wish they looked like someone else. And then when you add to that what the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), says about envy, it just makes things that much more complex: "A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones." (Proverbs 14:30-NKJV)

Envy makes one rotten. I know this for a fact because I used to be the woman who would covet and envy the appearance of other women. It wasn't all women. It was a very specific type of woman. After a lot of self-work and self-reflection, I realized it was women who looked like my mother. She's pretty stunning and people always used to tell me that while I was growing up (usually without even acknowledging me at all; watch how you talk to children, y'all!). As for me, I represent a significant amount of my father and his mother's DNA and yet,  ironically, people say that as I get older, I look more and more like my mom. Do you know what's a trip about that? I realize that it's not really that we *physically look alike* (although she is my mother and so we do have some similarities. You can see her here.). It's because I am maturing (Hebrews 5:12-14) and with maturity comes a deeper sense of self and purpose and the understanding that life is far too short to be wishing you didn't have what you don't while ignoring all of the things that you do (James 4:14). I have always loved confidence in a man. It's appealing. Confidence in a woman is no different and to a man (because I asked), it makes him feel like she's a lot...safer to be around. Insecure women tend to want everyone to fill voids that really have nothing to do with other individuals. They always want to be complimented, edified and reassured that they have value and after a while, being around a woman like that can be...really draining. Besides, a woman who trusts in her Creator should already know that (Psalm 139:14). Yep. You can tell a healthy Christian, in part, by their level of self-worth. When you know that you are, as R&B singer Brandy says "made in perfection", then you honor, well...*honoring it*.

And so, this brings me to the conversation that I had with a particular woman about her appearance semi-recently. She was telling me that she knew that she was not as beautiful as other women but she hoped that a man would still find her to be desirable one day. OK, let me say this about physical beauty. Just like any other gift in life, I am totally at peace with the fact that there are some women on this earth (shoot, for that matter, there are some cultures on this earth) that are simply breathtakingly beautiful. *It's genetics*. They have nothing to do with it and so there's nothing to be mad at them about. My brother is an award-winning singer. He's very gifted in that way. I am an (almost three time) author. You couldn't pay him to sit down and write as much as I do (LOL). We have different gifts but it doesn't make one of us have more or less value than the other (bookmark that).

One thing that I believe a lot of women are caught up in the web of (literally) is trying to be someone they are not. It's self-deprecating. It's counterproductive. And it's also the ultimate insult to their Creator. Psalm 139:13 says that the Spirit (John 4:24) formed our inward parts and so however God made you, *he purposed you to be that way* and honestly, a big part of the reason why so many women have the image issues that they do is because they lust after the world's (I John 2:16) beauty standard; they have an overmastering desire to look like how the world tells them they should. The delusional thing about that is most of the women that they want to look like don't even look the way that they appear in movies, music videos and fashion spreads. Shoot, in high school, I sat beside many female teenagers who had crafted the art of creating a face that wasn't really theirs (thanks to make-up). That's why I dig the quote by Oscar Wilde that says "A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction." Fiction is not real. Fiction is imagined and invented. To wish to look like something (or one) that isn't even real is...just the opposite of how the Word tells us to act: "It’s best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it." (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message)

The reality is that who you are is how God wanted you to be, so instead of *coveting* someone else's appearance or doing drastic things to alter yours, why not figure out how to *celebrate* your individuality (Psalm 33:15)? Especially since the man who God designed to love you is not going to be comparing you anyway. He's going to be like the Shulamite woman's beloved was with her. He is going to declare that you are beautiful and that there is nothing at all wrong with you.

OK, let me say this to clarify. *Every woman has flaws* so when this man said that about her, I don't believe he meant that she was perfect (although she obviously was *perfect to and for him*). I believe that when he said nothing was "wrong", he meant some other definitions of the word. He meant that nothing was "not in accordance with what is good" and that nothing was "not in accordance with [his] requirements". If you have big breasts and no butt, it will be in accordance to what your husband thinks is good and fits his beauty requirements. If you have no breasts and a big butt, it will be in accordance with what your husband thinks is good and fits his beauty requirements. If your hair is long and flowing and short and tightly-coiled, it will be in accordance with what your husband thinks is good and fits his beauty requirements. If your lips are full or very small, it will be in accordance with what your husband thinks is good and fits his beauty requirements. If you're thin as a rail or "super thick", it will be in accordance with what your husband thinks is good and fits his beauty requirements. If your teeth are perfectly straight or you have some flaws (some men like gaps and overbites...*trust me*-LOL), it will be in accordance with what your husband thinks is good and his beauty requirements.

And so, if you really believe that, then why spend (or is it waste?) so much time trying to look "beauty in general" for the masses? Why not spend this time going to God about what his "beauty blueprint" is for you (Proverbs 3:4-6) and seeking him (Matthew 7:7-8) about how you can adorn your individuality? Why not spend this time freeing yourself from coveting other people (wanting to look like another women is almost like wanting to attract her man in a way...weird, isn't it?) and their appearance and celebrating your own? Growing up, I went to school with a lot of white kids and so their beauty standard was not my natural hair and full lips. *Now?* I rock an Afro proud and those who know me know that I love me some lip gloss. My lips are one of my best features and my husband will be praising the Most High (Genesis 14:19) for them! I spent many years purging myself from how another culture tried to make me want to be. I am free (John 8:31-32) because I choose not to compare myself but prepare myself. Thousands of people don't need to find me "so beautiful that nothing is wrong with me". Hundreds of men don't need to do a run down of my features (hundreds of men don't need to be looking at me so hard that they could!). *One man*, MY MAN, will find me to have distinctive (beauty) gifts that will fit his preferences and I'll know he's the one (in part) when he can* praise the God who made me* for making me...just the way that I am.

That's what's so divine about the first part of Song of Solomon 4. The breakdown of the Shulamite woman's features are not given to us so that we can go out and try and emulate them. No, they are to remind us that when a man goes beyond "lusting a woman" and into *loving his woman*, he is so into her that he can pick out so many things that, in his eyes, are simply...amazing.

I will interject with one part, though (because I feel led to). The section where he gets into her neck and he says that's strong as a tower and that the "like shields" that are on it are like a strong shoulder? Your neck is connected to your spine and that gets back to what we were talking about earlier in reference to having confidence. Genesis 2:18 defines a wife to be a helpmate and as I've shared many times on this blog, the Hebrew word for that is Ezer Kenegdo which means "lifesaver". A man can't trust you to "have his back" when you can't even sit up straight with your own. A lot of us don't need to be asking God "Why don't I look like so-and-so?" The real wisdom (Proverbs 4:7, James 1:5) prayer is "God, help me to develop more self-confidence."

And then there's one last part that I am led (Luke 12:12) to address. It's the title of this particular blog: "Come with me, my bride".

As soon as I get some other "On Fire" tokens taken care of, I'm going to do a few Cracker Barrel giveaways. Why? It's because I am a firm believer, now more than ever, that women who doubt that true love exists need to go sit in Cracker Barrel and talk to some of those couples who have been married for so long that they've lost count!

Take Bill and Alice, for instance. I met them last night while getting some take out. Bill is 82 and Alice is 85. They met at a YWCA dance years and years ago. When I asked Bill how long they had been married, he said "Shoot, I don't know. I stopped counting at around 50 or 55 years." As he shared with me their connection that is so tight that they can interpret grunts now (LOL) and how they didn't have children (because they didn't want the stress-LOL), he said something to me that I knew was God-ordained (Proverbs 16:33-AMP): "It's a shame that these women are out here with more ambition than they guys have. That's why a lot of you are taking care of them. These boys don't know how to want to be strong and responsible men."

Amen Bill! One definition of ambition is "an earnest desire for some type of achievement and the willingness to strive for its attainment". In the context of this blog, men with the *ambition* to join to their helpmate. If we as women really altered our focus to pray "Lord, please prepare me to have the discernment to see the man who has the ambition to be joined to me as his wife (not his "tap partner" or girlfriend for years on end) and will be a responsible leader in my home", a lot of our anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7) and fear (I John 4:18) would cease to exist. A lot of us are so busy wanting "a man" that we are not training our senses to know who *our man* is. Going from guy to guy (to guy to guy) is not preparing us for covenant. It's actually teaching us how to give pieces of ourselves to people who are not deserving and fragmented emotions are a leading cause of why there are so many broken relationships (marriages). Hanging out with male friends is one thing. Making every outing a potential "love connection" is something entirely different.

The Shulamite woman's beloved had ambition. He didn't just talk about how beautiful she was. He had a plan in mind. He told her "Come with me." You know, there are a lot of men who will talk a good game about how fine a woman is but other than a night or two in their bed, they ain't tryin' to take her anywhere. What was it that the rap artist Young Buck once said? "Yeah, you can be my wife but only for tonight." Do you know how many women, women even reading this blog, settle for that foolishness (Psalm 26:11)? When the Shulamite woman's beloved said "Come with me", he wanted her in the day and the night, today and tomorrow...being without her was no longer an option. *This* is what we are to desire. A man who we don't have to *ask to be with* but who will *extend the invitation to come*.

Plus, I like how he said "Come from the lion's den". That is oftentimes a euphemism for swine (Matthew 7:6)---men who have no other intentions but to "physically partake" and bounce. In a way, it would appear that this man was not just wanting her to come away with him, but to get away from anyone who had less than the best intentions for her too. *As a good man should*.

And finally, if he was going to say "Come with me, my bride" (not "my girlfriend" but *my bride*) this means he had *a plan for provision* in place. I don't know why women want to marry men who don't have a plan, *for them*, in motion. Please don't do that. You are to be a man's helpmate not his parent; you want to be a wife not someone joined to a mama's boy (a man who always wants the woman to do everything for him). If "he" doesn't know how and where you fit into his life, either you're not the one or it's not the time. Either way, he and God have more talking about it to do than you and he do. *Let them*.

This study is just getting better and better and more and more confirming and for some of us *conforming* (Romans 12:2) as we step further away from what we've been settling for (even if it's just within our minds) and into what we are deserving of.

This week, seek God on how you may be coveting others, how you can become more confident and the reasons why you should wait for *the one* (not *ones*) who will see you as *his kind of beautiful* and will then extend for you the invitation *come away with him*.

Not to be his "jump off" or "girlfriend"...but his *bride*.



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"On Fire": "Your Voice Is Sweet and Your Face Is Lovely" (SOS 2:14-15)


"My beloved is like a dove hiding in the cracks of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff. Show me your face, and let me hear your voice. Your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch the foxes for us—the little foxes that ruin the vineyards while they are in blossom."---Song of Solomon 2:14-15(NCV)

OK so...

When I read these verses, do you know the first thing that came to my mind? This Scripture right here: "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." (Psalm 91:1-NKJV) Do you know why? It's because the praises of the Shulamite woman's beloved and the resolve that King David was inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17) to share have something in common: secret places.

Although most people think of the word "secret" from the angle of something that is "done, made, or conducted without the knowledge of others", I personally discern (Proverbs 2) that this is speaking more from this place: "kept from the knowledge of any but the initiated or privileged". R&B singer Mya used to sing a while back entitled "The Best of Me" and I always liked the hook: "Oh no I won't let you get the best of me. Even though deep inside something's dying to see. How you flow out them clothes then you put it on me. Feelings coming so strong, I know that it's wrong. I can't let you get the best of me." And what do I like so much about it? I dig that she knew her body was *the best* of her (or at least a part of the best-LOL).

Can you imagine if the Church spent less time talking about how fornication and adultery can send you to hell (more specifically, the Word, which is Adonai [John 1:1] says that it's a sin, a work of the flesh, that people who do it will be judged and those who participate in those activities will not inherit the kingdom of God and they will be judged---2 Corinthians 12:20-21, Galatians 5:19-20, Ephesians 5:3-4, Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 6:9-10) and instead stated to people that the reason why you should wait until marriage before engaging in sexual activity (of any form) is because you should save *the best of you* for the one who is *in covenant* (Malachi 2:14) with you?

Your best is your "most excellent". Your best is your "most advantageous". Your best is your "most virtuous". When God designed you, he intended for your body to be honored as being one of the absolute best parts of you and that a man would need to make a commitment of marriage in order to partake of it. So yes, in figuring out "how far is too far" while you're dating, consider your best assets (literally-LOL) and who needs to be kissing and touching on them: some dude or *the one*.

Therefore, I totally adore the fact that the Shulamite's beloved acknowledged the fact that there were some things about her that only the initiated and privileged needed to *ever* know about.

It doesn't stop there, though...

As I've been in my own "husband school classes", one of the things that my male friends (and family members) have been "on repeat" about for quite some time now is the fact that they are tone-sensitive and voice-activated. My Baba used to say "Shellie, men are not conditioned to argue. We are conditioned to fight and so when a woman is doing all of that yelling and hollering, a part of the reason why we walk off is because we're confused: we see a woman but we hear a man and we don't know what to do with that." I've repeated that to several men in my world and they all nodded in deep agreement and yet, do you know how many women are just like that? There's nothing sweet about their voice (or the words that come out of it) at all. For whatever the reason, a lot of us believe that if our bodies are bangin' or our faces are cute or we've got, um, "skills" than how we speak to men can (and should) be overlooked. However, the Word speaks fondly of sweetness...on more than one occasion:

"The wise in heart will be called prudent, and sweetness of the lips increases learning."---Proverbs 16:21(NKJV)

"Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones."---Proverbs 16:24(NKJV)

"Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart."---Proverbs 27:9(Message)

When you're sweet, you're "pleasing to the ear". When you're sweet, you're "delicate". When you're sweet, you're "smooth" and "precise". You have mastered the ability to "properly execute" things. Sweetness does not consist of arguing, nagging or contention. It doesn't whine or scream or threatened (or throw up ultimatums left and right). There are so many things that we act like are "cultural" or so "back in the day" and yet, if we still applied them to now, our lives would be a lot...fuller. Yes, there is something very sentimental, endearing and purposeful about a man saying that his woman's voice is pleasing to his ears (as opposed to so many men who would like nothing more than for his wife to shut up). When someone is "pleasing to the ears" this means that the individual listening to them enjoys it. You want to be the kind of woman whose husband enjoys engaging her and the word "sweet" shows us how we can make that happen.

It doesn't stop there, though. He also said that her face was lovely.

Isn't it fascinating that when a lot of us read Philippians 4:8 (you know, the Scripture that tells us what to think about), that we often put it in the context of biblical matters? And yet, the Word doesn't specify. It simply provides us with a list of adjectives that our spirits should be focusing on. Well, one of those is the word "lovely". I personally know some married men who are so captivated by their wives that they do think about them, one way or another, all day long. And the thing about being lovely is that it goes far beyond being the physical aesthetics. The very definition of lovely is "having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye, as a person or a face". Another definition is "delightful". Another one is "highly pleasing". And still another is "of a great moral or spiritual beauty".

Yeah, what is it that Proverbs 31:30(NKJV) tells us: "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." Unfortunately, a lot of women would rather be complimented than praised. They would rather be told how attractive their vessel is than be honored for their great moral and spiritual integrity. A big part of the reason why I respect how the Message Version of I Corinthians 6:16 is translated is because it reminds us that sex is a physical and spiritual matter (and not necessarily in that order): "There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact." When we make it a point and priority to be with a disciple (John 8:31-32), with someone who strives to live his life as a part of the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), this means that he sees past the surface; it means that he's enlightened (Psalm 18:28) on the spiritual side of who we are.

So many wives are in severely disturbing relationships now because they didn't choose from a spiritual place, neither did their partner and that's extremely dangerous because something that we all have to remember is that Satan was once Lucifer and Lucifer was defined, *by God*, as being "perfect in beauty" (Ezekiel 28:12). Therefore, Satan as *the Liar* (John 8:44), is a master at optical illusions. He's all for you picking someone based on how they look only to realize that their looks are all that they really have to offer...and that there's something very dark and cryptic lying deeply beneath the surface.

And so yes, when her beloved said that her face was lovely, he was saying that her beauty appealed to both his heart and his mind. This causes me to believe that in a truly intimate and spiritual relationship, being lovely should be far more of a priority than being beautiful.

OK, and the foxes that are mentioned at the end of the verse? Well, I'll just say this: there's something to be said for a woman who uses sound judgment (John 7:24). A fox is not just an animal. It's also defined as a crafty and cunning individual and a false prophet (Matthew 7:15). A woman who knows how to "catch people in their craftiness" (not a paranoid or stalking woman, but someone who really does hear from the Lord about the character of certain individuals) can spare someone a lot of...foolishness. They don't call wives "lifesavers" for nothin'.

Amazing how the Shulamite's beloved was saying so much in just a few words, isn't it?

Be sweet. Be lovely.

Men love that.



Saturday, February 2, 2013

"On Fire": A Kiss Is Not Just...a Kiss

One Direction Last First Kiss Quote (About typography love last kiss last first kiss kissing kiss first last kiss first kiss)

"He who gives a right answer kisses the lips."---Proverbs 24:26(NKJV)

This week...

While doing some research, I "happened upon" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) the word "kiss" and as someone who has not been kissed since my last boyfriend (whew!) and as a woman who *really likes to kiss*, for some reason, it caught my attention. Differently.

Now, I'll be the first to raise my hand in this class and say that I'm not really the "Joshua Harris" (you know, the guy who wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye) kind of gal although I totally get where he's coming from. Aside from the fact that kissing is very intimate, being that our mouths are basically the dirtiest parts of our bodies, we really should be more...I guess "aware" would be the proper word of who we exchange those kinds of bodily fluids with. So yes, I see why Joshua would think that it's best to not kiss while you're dating. Besides, he's married and so the formula obviously worked for him, right?

However, at 38 years of age (Joshua was 21 when he wrote that book), I'm a bit more of a realist (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message). I believe that it's challenging enough to refrain from sexual intercourse (Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 10:13, I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message) without putting a "no kissing ban" on the situation. BUT I must say that when I looked at the definition of "kiss", I did see something that should at least raise our standards in who we allow to touch us in such a special and (as you will see in just a moment) significant kind of way:

Kiss: to touch or press with the lips slightly pursed, and then often to part them and to emit a smacking sound, in an expression of affection, love, greeting, reverence, etc.

OK, the lip touching part, most of us are quite aware of. It was that last portion that caused me for pause. Have you ever thought about the statement that you're trying to make (and what is being relayed back to you) when you kiss someone? How many of us have even stopped to consider that it's not just a greeting (2 Corinthians 13:12) but an expression of affection AND love AND reverence. Right. A kiss is to also be an expression of true reverence:

Reverence: a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration

Venerate: to hold in deep respect; revere; to honor in recognition of qualities of holiness, excellence, wisdom, etc.

I know, right? So when someone kisses you and when you kiss someone, it is a way to express how much you respect them and they respect you. It's a way of honoring the qualities of (whew!) holiness, excellence and wisdom. Now think about the last guy you kissed? Was he someone you reverenced? Shoot, did you even know him long enough to recognize that he was wise or acted in excellence?

When I asked the Spirit (John 4:24) to lead (Luke 12:12) me to a biblical example of what this looked like, I smiled when I revisited the initial exchange between Jacob and his beloved Rachel:

"Now while he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice and wept. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s relative and that he was Rebekah’s son. So she ran and told her father...

Then Laban said to Jacob, 'Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what should your wages be?' Now Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance.
Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, 'I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter.'

And Laban said, 'It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me.' So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her."---Genesis 29:9-12&15-20(NKJV)

There are a few things that are really beautiful about this story. For one, I really adore that Jacob was so moved by Rachel that after he kissed her, he didn't try to get into her bra or panties. The man wept. He was so overcome by emotion that he literally cried. I also appreciate that he loved her so much that he was willing to *put in work* to have her and that kissing her was enough to hold him over for *seven years* (culture back then wouldn't have allowed him to have sex with her before marriage).

Yet, you know what got to me the most? This man kissed this woman with *intention*. When his uncle asked him what he wanted in exchange for his servitude, he didn't want money or land. He wanted Rachel. He kissed her and then made arrangements to marry her. Yeah, let's revisit that: HE KISSED HER AND THEN MADE PLANS TO MAKE HER HIS WIFE.

He didn't kiss her because he she was pretty.

He didn't kiss her because that's what people do at the end of dates.

He didn't kiss her as an "oral alternative" (eh hem).

He kissed her with intention.

And so, I'm going to end this message on that note:

God's daughters deserve to be kissed as an expression of affection AND love AND reverence.

God's daughters deserve to be kissed...with clear and true and lasting intention.

Definitely something to think about in time for Valentine's Day y'all. (just sayin')