Tuesday, September 22, 2015
"They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me."---Jeremiah 32:38-40(NLT)
I penned a devotional on purpose. Specifically, on really getting to the root of why you're here and and making sure that you make the most of your time fulfilling your purpose (Psalm 20:4).
Being that I tend to have my fair share of conversations with people about purpose (the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc. ) and, interestingly enough, a lot of folks still seem to battle with either discovering their purpose or fully surrendering to what their purpose is, within the devotional, I provided a link to an article that helps to guide people to their purpose. The title is "Life on Purpose: 15 Questions to Discover Your Personal Mission".
If you're someone who wants to learn more about your on purpose, feel free to click on the link to learn more. The exercises are pretty easy and (I think) insightful. However, when it comes to the point and *purpose* of this blog, it was this part of the article that really caught my attention:
Your Personal Mission Statement
"Writing or reviewing a mission statement changes you because it forces you to think through your priorities deeply, carefully, and to align your behavior with your beliefs." Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
A personal mission consists of 3 parts:
What do I want to do?
Who do I want to help?
What is the result? What value will I create?
Now here's where I'm going with this...
Although a lot of people want to be married, I'm not sure how many A) actually seek God for divine wisdom (James 1:5) about if it's designed, by him, to be a part of their life's purpose (what they were created, by God, to do--Matthew 19:11-12-Message) and B) if they do receive confirmation that marriage is something God wants them to do, that they are praying and preparing for their marriage to be one of purpose:
Purpose: the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc. ; an intended or desired; result; end; aim; goal; determination; resoluteness; the subject in hand; the point at issue; practical result, effect, or advantage
Synonyms: intention, meaning, ambition, aspiration, desire, direction, function, objective, plan, principle, project, scope, target, view, design, destination, dream, hope, mecca, mission, point, proposal, resolve, will, big idea, where one's headed, whole idea
Of course, in the general sense, Scripture let's us know several of marriages purposes:
"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"---Genesis 1:26-28(NKJV)
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed or embarrassed."---Genesis 2:24-25(AMP)
"God made husbands and wives to become one body and one spirit for his purpose---so they would have children who are true to God."---Malachi 2:15(NCV)
Spirit-Guided Relationships: Wives and Husbands
"And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.
As the Scriptures say, 'A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."---Ephesians 5:21-33(NLT)
And all of them (ALL OF THEM) are connected to God..
That said, what I'm getting at today is that if you are someone who knows that God has called you to be a wife someday, have you made the time to ask him what the *specific purpose* of what your marriage would be?
Honestly, I discern that this is simply another "dot" that is connecting because remember that earlier this year, I penned a piece on here entitled "Wanna Know What's Next? Ask God to Give Your Love Life a WORD." Basically, it's encouraging you to ask the Lord to provide you with *your own special word* as it relates to how your future beloved will feel about you. Here's an excerpt:
As I was processing some conversations that I've been having with single women (who desire marriage) lately and also been seeking for a few answers about my own journey, this is what I heard the Father say. Clear as "dawn day":
Ask me, *and only me*, for a word to describe how your husband will feel towards you, even before you are his wife. *And then don't settle* until you see that word acted out in a man.
Then he gave me the word. And it's awesome. And rare. A word that I don't really use. Ever.
It's a word that truly will set my husband a part from any other man.
And now, I'm being led (Luke 12:12) to encourage y'all to seek God (Matthew 7:7-8) about the purpose within your marriage. To craft a personal marriage mission statement so-to-speak.
So yeah, sometime this week or weekend, when you have a little downtime, *pray first* (Proverbs 28:9-Message), get out a journal and then ask the Lord the following questions about your marriage:
Lord, what do you want my marriage to do?
Lord, who do you want my marriage to help?
Lord, what do you want the result of my marriage to be? What value will it create?
There are a few benefits that will come from doing this kind of exercise...
One of the main ones is this:
Say for instance that the Lord reveals to you that he desires for your marriage to consist of you and your husband doing missions work. Then say that you meet a guy who wants to take you out but absolutely hates traveling. Um...doesn't that pretty much put him in the platonic category?
Or maybe it's revealed to you that God wants you and your husband to adopt several children (James 1:27) and you find yourself interested in someone who's told you that he never wants to have kids. Why put you or him through weeks or months of connecting when it probably is going to end up at a dead end?
Perhaps it's revealed to you that your marriage is to be about full-time ministry and the guy that you're currently seeing can't stand the thought of doing "church work" or quite possibly living a modest lifestyle when it comes to finances. Why try and talk him into or talk yourself out of what you've heard from the Lord?
Listen, I have sat in numerous marriage counseling sessions with people who *love each other* but really are not like-minded or a complementary fit when it comes to fulfilling purpose. And because we are created, in part, to live out our purpose, that reality ends up bringing with it a deep sense of frustration and resentment.
That's why I like the lead Scripture so much. Although the context of it is speaking of the children of Judah/Israel returning to the Lord, being that spiritually we are to consider ourselves to be "the Tribe of Judah", should it not also apply to us? And if there were a blessing to be placed on our future marriages, isn't it extremely fitting?
God will give our relationship with our future husband, one heart and one purpose.
In our marriage, we will worship God forever---for our own good and the good of our descendants.
In our marriage, God will make a covenant with us.
As a result, in our marriage, God will not stop doing good for us.
In our marriage, we will never stop worshiping God and we will never leave him.
And one of the best ways to worship the Lord...
Is through fulfilling our purpose...
As singles---and then as spouses united to our husbands.
A marriage mission statement is about direction.
A marriage mission statement is about clarity.
A marriage mission statement is about having a plan.
A marriage mission statement will help you to guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23).
A marriage mission statement will help you to know better how to prepare.
A marriage mission statement will help you to better see your husband once he arrives.
A marriage mission statement will reveal more to you about your purpose now and how it will continue to unfold...later...into the future.
Being married is about *so much more* than simply "having a husband".
Please make sure to seek the Father about the purpose that he wants your marriage to fulfill.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
While I was taking a bit of a writing break today...
One of the "On Fire" sistahs (thanks Alicia) sent me an article that I think needs to be shared here. Although I'm pretty sure that all of us are looking for real and lasting love, it takes a lot of courage *and self-love* to be in a relationship with someone, get engaged *and end it* once you realize that the person is truly not God's best for you (and/or you accept the fact that you are not God's best for them).
Before I share a couple of excerpts from "I Changed My Mind: Why I Decided Not to Get Married", another article entitled "5 Signs It’s Time To End Your Engagement" also offers some helpful bullet points on how to know if you really need to *strongly consider* calling things off:
The only thing keeping you from ending the engagement is money.
You would have ended the relationship already if no one knew you were engaged.
You have postponed the wedding at least once.
Your body is falling apart.
You are reading this article.
I've got relatives, who are divorced, who said that they knew the day before their wedding that they needed to call the wedding off. In fact, *most of the divorced people I've unofficially polled* have said that they knew they didn't need to get married...before they got married. And trust, it's a lot easier to end an engagement than to end a marriage (Malachi 2:16).
That said, here are some excerpts from the article:
My situation was more down than up. So why did I say yes? Was I stupid? No, I was hopeful. I hoped that maybe being engaged would help us and magically make everything alright. Well it didn’t. It made things worse.
I was engaged to the okay boyfriend, now my fiancé. And what did that mean? Just more of the same problems with a different title. I could not, I repeat, could not turn this man into the okay husband.
I made a list. It wasn’t your usual list of pros and cons. It was a list of things I wanted in my life, things that I liked, and things that really grind my gears. Then I asked myself a few questions: Does he add to any of these aspects of my life? Does he know any of these things about me? Do any of these things matter to him? The results were staggering. I realized one thing with this simple list and these simple questions. I was settling. I realized that these things only mattered to me. That he wasn’t really in tune to me and what I liked at all. I was about to make a huge mistake. I was about to marry someone who I was good for (because for me, all of these things mattered when it came to him), but who was not good for me. I realized that I did not exist in my relationship at all. I gave so much of myself that I barely knew who I was until I made that list. In fact, I now understood why he wanted to get married. Not because he loved me so much, but because I gave, and did so much to uplift him and I didn’t require much in return. Who wouldn’t want to keep getting the best while only giving the bare minimum?
Whew! A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with a young engaged woman. As she was sharing with me all of the drama and baggage that came with her fiance' (and it was A LOT), I was like "OF COURSE, he wants to marry you! He knows you're willing to take on all of his stuff. But really, what can he offer you?"
Yeah, I got the stumble-crickets (Well...see...um...I mean) in response. *sigh*
I've shared several times before what a wife once said to me "The loneliest night single beats a bad marriage any day." And that'll preach! None of us should want to be married *so badly* that we settle. This goes for engaged couples too.
Just some soul food for thought...
Monday, September 14, 2015
"Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust."---Proverbs 4:23-26(Message)
GUARD YOUR HEART.
DON'T LIVE A "WHITE" LIE.
WATCH YOUR STEP.
Although I haven't checked the actual episode out (yet)...
I really do like the "feminine boldness" that singer Erika Campbell (one half of Mary Mary) has in the trailer for Being when she says "No pressure. But I'm not a permanent girlfriend." I'm assuming that's a conversation that she had with her now-husband Warryn while they were dating. It's actually along the lines of what I heard Dr. Phil's wife say about him as he, according to her, was dragging his feet to make a commitment and simply put, she wasn't having it. If memory serves me correctly, she broke up with him, moved to Florida and it wasn't too long before he came after her and, well, you know the rest.
Frankly, almost 11 years into not having a boyfriend (we were sexually active for two years following the break-up; I'm pretty sure some of y'all know how *that* goes. Ending relationships often includes going into sexual detox), I am becoming more and more convinced that boyfriend-and-girlfriend relationships are *the last thing* single women who desire marital covenant should be doing...or rather settling for.
I mean, what is that really about? "Practice marriage"? "Trying marriage on"? "Testing a so-called 'husband potential' out"? At the of the day, these mindsets are not doing much more than desensitizing people to intimacy while preparing them for divorce. Just think about what we say when those kinds of relationships come to an end. What happens? We *break up*! Marriage is not designed to "break up" so why even put yourself in the mindset of that prior to it?
Whenever people ask me "So, what do you think we should do instead?" I'm like "First, let's follow the Garden-of-Eden formula." Give "our Adam" (and no one truly knows who that is *but God*, so we should always seek and follow him--Proverbs 3:5-6) the time and space that he needs to cultivate a solid relationship with the Lord and discover his purpose/calling (Genesis 1). Let's also allow the Father to continue making us in the process, so that when the time is right, we can be *brought* to our Adam, he will acknowledge we are the one for him *and then*, we can get married (Genesis 2:18-25)...without all of this "extra stuff" which is sometimes nothing more than time wasted, hearts broken and drama introduced. Oh and bitterness taking root: "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright." (Hebrews 12:14-16-NKJV)
Secondly, what's the problem with simply hanging and out organically developing *friendships* with members of the opposite sex? Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 speaks of the immense value that comes from true friendship, Proverbs 17:17 tells us that a friend loves at *all times* (how many boyfriends and girlfriends *are really friends* when they seem to have so many stipulations within their relationship?!?) and John 15:13(NKJV) tells us "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." Being that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and Christ told us that what God has joined through his design for marriage, no man should separate (including the two people within the marriage--Matthew 19:6), sounds to me like friendship should be *foundational* for a relationship anyway. And besides, when you're friends, there tends to be healthier sexual boundaries; you tend to be more conscious of not wanting to disrespect God, sex and your own body (plus the guy's--I Corinthians 6:16-20-Messsage) by remembering "we're just friends". This is good because until you are joined as husband and wife, God doesn't see you as really much more than that anyway. When it comes to sex, with him, either you're married, you're fornicating or you're committing adultery: "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (Hebrews 13:4-NKJV) Yeah, peep that it doesn't say "he might judge"; he says that *he will*. Why would you want to bring judgment into your marriage...before you're even sure it will *be* a marriage?
However, the focus of today's message is meant to go even deeper than that...
As I was reading an entertainment article week before last about a woman who was a singer's girlfriend, had two children with him, allowed him to talk her into *burning her tubes* (have mercy) and now he is engaged to another pregnant girlfriend, it reminded me of something that my mother told me after my third abortion: "Shellie, your uterus is going to fall out. Meanwhile, these men are going to move on and have children." Hmph. So true, so true! I'm 41 with no kids (still a uterus and regular cycles but no kids). Three of the four men I had abortions with? They have children now. Amazing what we'll do for *boyfriends*...BOYFRIENDS...when there absolutely no guarantees that come with those kinds of relationships.
And then I thought about something that some women will tell me. That they are tired of being the woman who seems to *prepare the man* for his wife rather than actually *being his wife*. I can't help but to think that the woman who burned her tubes is now thinking something similar. It can truly be heart-wrenching to put so much time, effort, energy and emotions into a relationship, only to get nothing more than memories out of it.
*And that's* actually the point of this message...
And when we find ourselves in that kind of emotional predicament, who's fault is it other than our own?
Where in the Word are we told to be a wife (catch it), *until we actually are one*? Until God himself joins us to a man (our man), after vows have been taken (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7) and we're legally considered man and wife? And if God is not giving us his permission, his blessings and his authority to be a wife, isn't it basically a waste of our time *and a huge gamble* to go ahead and act like one anyway?
As I was praying about all of this, it was "chef" vs. "prep cook" that came to mind. A chef is an expert, with credentials, to cook in a restaurant, hotel, etc. They have the title. The accolades. And all of the top-notch benefits. A prep cook? They're just like the sound. They are preparing to be a chef, *they aspire to be a chef*, but they are not yet...a chef.
A lot of women who settle for being a "wifey" are like prep cooks...
Aspiring to hold the "wife position" by doing wife-like things but...
Oftentimes, they end up investing without a return.
So, how can you know if you're more like a "prep cook"? Good question.
This really could be an entire book but for now, I'm going to (relatively) quickly share five roles of a wife from an article that I checked out entitled "5 Marks of a Biblical Wife"---not a "girlfriend" or a "wifey" but a wife. *This means these are things that wives have God's blessings to do and be*. If you are currently doing these things in a dating relationship, that is definitely (DEFINITELY) something to pray about and seek divine wisdom from your Heavenly Father (James 1:5) on. Because why would you act like a wife when you're not one? God does things in a decent order (I Corinthians 14:40). A woman acting like a wife as a single woman? *That is out of order*.
A Worker at Home
It is clear that God has given the home to women as their domain. Man are called to lead and provide for their family and we are called to care for our home and our family. Women struggle with many different areas, but being lazy in your home and also being too busy and out of the home often can lead to a wife who isn’t fulfilling her role in this area. This is not to say that women should only be in the home, nor is it to say that they should never work outside of the home. As my husband always says, don’t hear what I’m not saying. What I am saying is this: a wife’s primary responsibility is their home.
Yeah, I'm floored by how many single women claim they want to be wives but then go into all of the housekeepers and nannies that they plan to hire. The Proverbs 31 Woman was praised for what *she did* inside of the house. It's kind of like when I compliment a woman on her hair and I get super excited when I find out there is no weave in it. Look, I can buy my own weave! There's something truly impressive when it's her own tresses. Hiring a team of people to run your home isn't blowing my mind either. A woman who understands that as a wife, her home is a huge part of her responsibility? And she takes that on? She is truly amazing.
OK, but until you are a wife...please don't be up in some man's house helping him with his bills and cooking and cleaning all of the time! The title of wife blesses him with those kinds of benefits. Before that, he's basically getting a free maid. (Ugh.)
Am I saying to never help him out? I'm saying that you need to do for "him" no more or less than what you would do for any other friend. If you help them all around the house from time to time, cool. Otherwise...uh-huh.
All Christians are called to generally love, but wives are specifically called to love their family. Older women are instructed to train the younger women in how to live a Godly life...The kind of love that God calls wives to isn’t conditional and based upon feelings. This kind of love isn’t the kind that you can “fall out” of. It isn’t an optional love, it’s a commandment.
So true, so true! I have said many times over the years that "What wives go through in marriage is called 'commitment'. What singles go through is usually nothing more than 'settling'" and as the writer Maria Dowd once said "The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for."
There is nothing wrong with single women having conditions in relationships. Another way to look at it is they have *standards*. That said if you're dating someone and no matter what he's throwing at you, you're taking it under the guise (which is usually the self-deception) of "unconditional love", please get some wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15 & 24:6), quick, fast and in a super duper hurry! You didn't sign up for "until death parts you" until you both are standing before an officiant on your wedding day and there is a signed wedding license. A lot of single women find themselves being super-jaded and horrific committers *after marriage* because they gave away too much of their heart (and everything else) to some dude *prior to marriage*. We're supposed to love our neighbors, sure (Mark 12:30-31). But that ride-or-die, we're-in-this-together-no-matter WHAT kind of love? Only husbands and wives can pull that off because they are going to need God with them in order to do it (Matthew 19:6)!
Respect for your husband
Often, when a husband loves their wives the way they should, it is easy for a wife to respect her husband. Likewise, when a wife shows respects to her husband, it is easier for them to show love the way they should. While this is usually a nice trade off, it doesn’t always work. Even if a wife doesn’t feel loved by her husband, this isn’t an excuse to not show respect to her husband. Why? Because God commands it.
I'm actually going to combine this with another point:
Submission is such a touchy subject today, but it is clear what Scripture teaches on the subject. Those who find excuses in order to ignore it are doing just that, making excuses and not looking to Scripture as their final authority. In a Biblical marriage, where both spouses are striving to live their God-given roles, the husband would ideally lead his wive lovingly and she would graciously submit.
This leading and submitting would be mutually beneficial and ultimately glorifying to God. However, a husband doesn’t always lovingly lead and the wife doesn’t always graciously and loving submit. But this doesn’t excuse either side from their roles.
To both of these points, Ephesians 5 says this:
"And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything."---Ephesians 5:21-24(NLT)
No, a man is not to submit to his wife (it really irks me when people say that). A man is to submit to the Lord so that he can be shown how to lead his wife *as she submits to him*. God takes this very seriously across the board. A wife's submission is a sign of obedience to God (Colossians 3:18). A man who doesn't honor his wife as she submits can end up with a lot of "static in the lines" when it comes to his prayer life (I Peter 3:7). However ladies, *please hear me when I say this*: SUBMISSION IS A GIFT THAT WIVES GIVE TO THEIR HUSBAND AFTER HE VOWS TO GOD THAT HE WILL LOVE HER AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH. AS A SINGLE WOMAN, THE ONLY ONE YOU ARE TO SUBMIT TO IS GOD. *NOT A MAN*. "He" doesn't make major decisions for you and your life. God does. He is not the one whose insights you defer to. God is. When it comes to personal and professional decisions, don't allow any man whose last name you do not have determine your destiny. When you're single, that is God and God's job alone. When you get married, God will share the responsibility with your husband. *Until then*, it's just you and him ("him" being God).
Intimacy (response to husband)
Of course this is the big one, intimacy. So many wives struggle with this in their marriage and many husbands and wives feel less than satisfied in their sex life. Peace shares, “The sexual bond between husband and wife is a gift from God for the enjoyment of physical intimacy and the procreation of life. All that God created is good, and physical intimacy is no exception” Pg 119.
God created sex within marriage, and He created it as gift for us. But some wives can struggle to see this as a gift and only as an obligation instead. There is a lot more to be said on this subject, but the bottom line is that God does intend for each couple to have a sex life that is fulfilling for both husband and wife.
A whole lot of single women jack this one all the way up (I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message) by acting like a wife in the bedroom before becoming a wife at the wedding. And do you know what's really a trip about it? Here's a part of the reason why sex, within a marriage, is so important: "But because of [the temptation to participate in] sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband." (I Corinthians 7:2-AMP) IN MARRIAGE, SEX IS A FORM OF PROTECTION. OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE, SEX IS A FORM OF IMMORALITY. So really, how can you be acting like a good wife while having sex with a man who isn't your husband? And listen here, "gonna be his wife someday" doesn't count. I went to college with a girl who was a virgin until her senior year, slept with her fiance' and not only did he break up with her after he got the goods, but she found out that he was also bisexual (no joke!). When it comes to sex, to God, either you are helping to protect a man or you're playing a starring role in helping to put him in harm's way. There's no middle ground and as the Word tells us, "love does no harm to a neighbor" (Romans 13:10). Harm is defined as being "physical injury or mental damage; hurt". Harm is also defined as being "moral injury; evil; wrong". Proverbs 31:10-12(NKJV) says this:
"Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life."---Proverbs 31:10-12(NKJV)
How can a man trust you *as a wife* when you're causing moral injury, evil and wrong while *acting like a wife?
A lot of single women are right. They *are* preparing a man for a wife...
It's because through their actions, he's seeing what he *doesn't* want.
In the spirit realm, God doesn't want you to be some random "prep cook" for a guy...
He's not looking to you to prepare him...for someone else.
Let God do the preparing; meanwhile, you do the obeying. To the Lord. While you're single.
So that when the time comes...
You won't have to "act".
You being a wife will be the sho 'nuf real thing!