Thursday, May 26, 2016
"Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]."---I Thessalonians 5:16-18(AMPC)
I saw two things that brought a smile to my face. One was a video that actor Lance Gross posted on his one-year anniversary to his wife. I really dig wedding photos like this. I'm pretty used to brides being thrilled, but look at how ecstatic---and peaceful---Lance looks:
You can click here to watch the IG video. The caption he put under it was this:
One year ago today you gave me another reason to smile. Another Blessing to count. Plus a higher level of love and friendship to cherish. I love you today, tomorrow & Forever on Mrs. Gross...
Then I saw something that actress Meagan Good (co-author of The Wait: A Powerful Practice for Finding the Love of Your Life and the Life You Love) posted about her husband/marriage on her IG:
When he loves you exactly the way you are.. No need to shrink.. he wants you to shine ✨
Click here to see the actual shot. Here's a similar one from the shoot, tho:
Marriage is supposed to be something that brings joy and clarity. It's supposed to be the kind of relationship that makes you better than you were before experiencing it. Unfortunately, so many people are not paying attention to (or is it flat-out ignoring?) GOD'S PURPOSE FOR MARRIAGE BETWEEN ONE MAN AND ONE WOMAN *FOR LIFE* that they are not adhering to the warning signs---ones that are telling them that who they are dating (or desiring to date) is *nowhere near* God's will and plan for their lives.
They are not a blessing...
They are not going to let them shine...
Especially as LIGHT in the world (Matthew 5:14).
As I was pondering all of this (Proverbs 4:26), specifically as it relates to the "On Fire" women, God shared a very simple yet profound point:
Shellie, many of my daughters pray for their future husbands. What they also need to do is pray that he is praying for them.
Boom! And amen!
Just last night, I penned a devotional that is loaded with Word as it specifically relates to marital covenant (hit me up at email@example.com if you want to check it out). Bottom line, we really have allowed the world to influence us about marriage *far too much*.
ONLY TWO BELIEVERS WHO ARE STRIVING TO BE WORD-ABIDERS (JOHN 8:31-32) AND SELF-DENIERS (MATTHEW 16:24), TWO PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO GET *AND REMAIN* MARRIED ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE'S STANDARDS---NOT POP CULTURE, PEOPLE'S OPINIONS OR THEIR OWN CARNAL DESIRES (JAMES 1:14-15)---SHOULD GET MARRIED.
And two people who fit into this category are two people who pray---*without ceasing*.
Growing up, my mother had My Utmost for His Highest in the house. God brought that to my remembrance as I was penning this. Here's one article on the purpose of prayer:
Prayer is not a normal part of the life of the natural man. We hear it said that a person’s life will suffer if he doesn’t pray, but I question that. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished not by food, but by prayer. When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished. Our common ideas regarding prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.
“Ask, and you will receive…” (John 16:24). We complain before God, and sometimes we are apologetic or indifferent to Him, but we actually ask Him for very few things. Yet a child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask! Our Lord said, “…unless you…become as little children…” (Matthew 18:3). Ask and God will do. Give Jesus Christ the opportunity and the room to work. The problem is that no one will ever do this until he is at his wits’ end. When a person is at his wits’ end, it no longer seems to be a cowardly thing to pray; in fact, it is the only way he can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. Be yourself before God and present Him with your problems— the very things that have brought you to your wits’ end. But as long as you think you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.
To say that “prayer changes things” is not as close to the truth as saying, “Prayer changes me and then I change things.” God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.
Prayer changes me and then I change things.
Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature.
It can't be said enough. It really can't. I Corinthians 2:14(NKJV) tells us "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." MARRIAGE IS OF GOD. EPHESIANS 5 IS JUST ONE EXAMPLE OF THAT. Yet do you know how many people get married in their "natural state" rather than their spiritual one? How many people foolishly choose the wrong partner and take a very foolish approach to the roles in marriage because they are allowing their hearts to lead them (Jeremiah 17:9) rather than the Word?
MARRIAGE WAS NEVER DESIGNED TO WORK WITHOUT GOD---*EVER*.
IN ORDER TO ENTER INTO HIS BEST FOR YOU, YOU NEED TO SEEK HIM *NOW*.
YOU ALSO NEED TO PRAY THAT THE FUTURE LEADER/PRIEST OF YOUR HOME WILL ALSO SEEK HIM. *WITHOUT CEASING*.
That doesn't start *after* your wedding...
That begins right now!
AS YOU ARE PRAYING FOR YOUR FUTURE HUSBAND...
YOU NEED TO PRAY THAT HE'S PRAYING FOR YOU.
SO THAT YOU BOTH CAN SEE VIA THE SPIRITUAL RATHER THAN THE NATURAL...
SO THAT YOU'LL BOTH MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE. *GOD'S CHOICE*.
I feel led to pray that more women will desire to pray in this fashion...
So, if you need some "touching and agreeing" (Matthew 18:19-20), hit me up.
We're living in a time when people are making a mockery of marriage...
Satan would have it no other way (John 8:44, I Peter 5:8, John 10:10).
We should want to our marriage to be a light in this world...
An example of what godly covenant looks like in the flesh.
That's a BIG FEAT!
It's best to pray about it now...
And pray that "he's" praying about it now too...
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence."---Genesis 2:24-25(AMPC)
Not too long ago...
I wrote a devo stating that one of the things Satan likes to bring upon us is shame (he is "the accuser of the brethren", after all---Revelation 12:10). And that's one of the reasons why he likes to tempt us so much with sexual sin (I Corinthians 10:13). He knows how beautiful it is with God and how straight-up evil it is outside of his will. *Only in the confines of marriage* did God declare that a man and woman---only as husband and wife---can be naked and not ashamed.
Whenever I do interviews and people ask me if I would marry someone I've already had sex with, my answer is "no". It's not that I don't think a relationship infected by sexual brokenness can't be restored (Joel 2:23-25). HOWEVER, it takes a lot of work, there is still reaping from the choices that must be endured (Galatians 6:7-8) and...I just don't want a rerun on my wedding night. I want to be (pleasantly) surprised...and I want my future beloved to feel the same way. I want him to know that I loved God *and then* him enough to wait. That he was not my idol (Exodus 20:3); that I honored him enough to wait until God gave him permission to be the priest of my heart and home.
I like that picture quote.
My husband having me...
Your husband having you...
IT IS A PRIVILEGE.
PRIVILEGES MUST BE EARNED.
That's why I like the article "No Sex Zone: Why One Couple Is Practicing Celibacy". It's a Q&A. I wanted to share the last question since Satan likes to pull the ridiculous "test drive before you buy", umm, rationale (?!):
Do you worry about not being sexually compatible? Should that be a deal breaker in a relationship?
Brianna: I’m definitely not worried about being sexually compatible. I think communication solves everything. You have to tell someone what you like. I know that Paul is a giver and wants to please me in other areas, so this will definitely not be any issue for him. I also know that if God wants me to wait, it will definitely be worth the wait. He doesn’t make any junk and he wants me to have the best in every area, including my sex life. I don’t think it should be a deal breaker, because I believe intimacy and fulfillment can be attained through communication.
Paul: No, I already know we’re sexually compatible. I can see it in her eyes! It shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Communication is key.
Good for them! If you believe what the Word says, then you can rest in the fact that God withholds NO good thing (Psalm 84:11), he makes EVERYTHING beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and he can do exceedingly abundantly above ALL you could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21)! Sex is not excluded from these assurances. Not by a long shot!
Meanwhile, What does sin do? This:
"But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death."---James 1:14-15(AMPC)
So, whether you're a virgin and tired of waiting...
You're abstinent and wondering how long you'll have to wait...
Or you're having sex and you need to be further encouraged TO STOP...
Spend some time reading about what a privilege your body is by pondering (Proverbs 4:26) the definitions of the word:
Privilege: a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most; an advantage or source of pleasure granted to a person
Your husband's wedding vows are what give him the right...
To have you as a source of his pleasure (I Corinthians 7:1-5, Proverbs 5:15-20)...
DON'T COMPROMISE THAT!
Then check out this video from a married couple. The husband was not a virgin when he got married. His wife was. They both abstained from one another until they jumped the broom and did a video to share why it was worth the wait---in a very real way.
God *never* intended for us to associate sex with shame. EVER.
Satan wants all sorts of shame connected to our sex lives.
Give God what he wants...
And what you deserve.
To be naked and *not* ashamed!
Each day of obedience...brings you one step closer to bliss.
By waiting until marriage.
Until your husband has earned the privilege!
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
I come across *a lot* of information...
And a lot of it is good. Yet as someone who has been called a signs-and-wonders-child by my mother ever since I was young (and I have no problem with it; that's what Daniel was!--Daniel 4:2-3), I really pay close attention to things that are like dots connecting to make an amazing story.
Such is the case with one of the best---if not *the best*---adoption story I've heard. Talk about there being no coincidences! Or as one man once said, talk about "Coincidences being God's way of remaining anonymous"!
I believe I've shared before that I adore the John Piper quote that says "God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them." This 20+ year testimony has one "coincidence" that starts off seeming small but becomes HUGE by the end. Chills-up-and-down huge!
So take roughly 14 minutes to check it out and then take out your smartphone or even better a pen and paper. Think about some commonalities that have ran through your own life. Not toxic patterns (although that's worth pondering for another set of reasons!--Proverbs 4:26). No, think about things that keep occurring or instances that continue to happen. They may be guideposts in your life to let you know that some things are coming together in some truly special and significant ways.
Just ask Chloe...and her parents!
Monday, May 9, 2016
"The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)."---John 10:10(AMPC)
"Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.] For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap. For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."---Galatians 6:7-8(AMPC)
A couple of weeks ago...
I penned an article about the nine things nine years of abstinence have taught me. As I was writing it, I thought about all of the men I slept with---and all of the times I thought things were going to be different. All of the times I thought "Sure, the Bible says not to have sex but this guy, this relationship...these set are circumstances are different."
It is a epitome of pride (Proverbs 16:18) and self-delusion to think that God is going to put something in place and position for his children...then somehow you are going to be the exception. NO ONE HAS GOD'S PERMISSION TO HAVE SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE. *Absolutely no one*. Hebrews 13:4 says that fornication brings judgment. Bookmark that for a second.
Then I thought about a conversation I had with a woman who recently became engaged. As she shared the story, there were *all sorts of red flags*. Two main ones are she offered an ultimatum which led to the engagement (you know, basically "marry me or else") and she's sleeping with her fiance' under the guise of "a woman has needs".
Dangerous. So dangerous.
Here's just one of the reasons why...
I have shared before that every single married couple I've worked with has one thing in common: sexual sin (I Corinthians 6:16-20--Message) and to a large degree, unrepentant sexual sin. Unfortunately, their pastors/counselors provided some pretty misleading advice. Many of them had the impression that getting married would "fix" fornication. Nope. Confessing one's sins and repenting does that (I John 1:9-10, James 5:16, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10). If any couple has violated one another, sexually, they need to repent (which includes spending a season in a lifestyle of repentance). Not hurry up and get married.
And here's why I say that...
Although I personally used to think that spring fever was a term reserved for young single folks and their thriving hormones (LOL), clearly not. There is a rash of married folks right now struggling with emotional or physical affairs---or both. Some of them I'm counseling (Proverbs 24:6) and the spouse on the "receiving end" of the affair (the one customarily known as "the victim") is livid. Ready to end the relationship. Believes their spouse has done the unforgivable (yeah, be careful with thinking certain things are *unforgivable*--Matthew 6:14-15).
Yet whenever I ask "Did the two of you have sex before marriage?" somehow they can't seem to make the connection. Aside from the fact that studies indicate that premarital sex only increases your chances of divorce, the picture quote is right. Fornication is cheating on God. It's lust, not love (James 1:14-15). It's a form of idol worship (Exodus 20:3). It's also a mere shell of what God designed sex to be.
And the Word is clear...
Not wanting to believe it doesn't change the reality (Ecclesiastes 7:18--Message). The Bible tells us that if we choose (because shy of molestation or rape, it is *always* a choice) to set God's precepts aside, at some point, we will reap what we've sown.
So, how is it that two people can cheat on God and want forgiveness...
Yet will cheat on each other and want divorce?
Where is the humility in that?
Where is the spiritual maturity?
Where is the understanding that God's Word is true?
That doesn't give a spouse a pass (so-to-speak) on infidelity, but it should give the person who was cheated on a better perspective and approach. Infidelity is painful but it's pretty arrogant to think that it was OK to violate God's sexual boundaries and then not want to extend mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16) to your spouse---the one you vowed to be with through the good and bad until death parts you when your marriage boundaries are disrespected. (*Please read* "Until Death Do Us Part---For Real".)
Does that mean that two virgins will never experience an affair during marriage?
I wish that were the case. Unfortunately no. Some will.
HOWEVER, are the chances of experiencing the consequences of violating God's boundaries for sex *significantly higher* than those who honored and waited? No doubt about it.
That's not the say there is no room for forgiveness...
And restored purity.
I will be honest and say that while I don't *expect* an affair in my marital future and I'm doing my best, even now, to safeguard it from happening, I get what Galatians says. An affair is not a deal breaker for me. I have cheated on God *way too much* and he has forgiven me *far too often*---of sexual sin and more---to be so bold as to tell the man I promised to be with until death parts us that he's not worthy of the same.
Yet I'm penning this to encourage virgins to remain pure...
To remind those who are not in a relationship to not have sex...
And to warn those who may be...TO STOP. RIGHT NOW.
TO DO NO MORE SOWING.
And what if, like me, you're not going to be a virgin on your wedding day?
There's a great article that I read entitled "Walking the Wedding Aisle Without Your Virginity". I recommend reading all of it (and checking out the attached podcast). Here's an excerpt, though:
You said that you have heard people say, Save yourself sexually for marriage and it is a terrible thing to squander that. Well, I say: Yes, yes, yes — that is exactly right. That is exactly what I think Paul and Jesus would counsel any virgin: “Flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
Your body belongs to God as a single person, and it will belong to your future spouse. It would be good to think about 1 Corinthians 7:3–4: “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights” — that means sex — “and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
In other words, you belong to each other — to no one else. You belong to God in your singleness, united to him in your body by the Spirit. And you belong to God in marriage, through union with your spouse. That is a precious, biblical gift that should be presented in marriage.
That is a gift you don’t have to give. And you will want to teach your children to have it.
So what is the gift you do have to give to this fiancé with whom you have had sexual relations? What gift can you give her that God might be pleased to make so wonderful, the gift you can’t give her will not destroy?
And here it is. You can look your fiancé in the eye and say this:
I failed you. I failed God. And I am deeply, deeply sorry. I hate what I did. I hate the hurt it caused you and me. I hate the dishonor that I brought upon the Lord. I hate the disrespect I showed you in not caring for you better. And I repent.
I turn away from that sin, and sinful forces that drove it. I renounce them. And I turn to Jesus Christ my Lord and my Redeemer and I receive from him his full and blood-bought forgiveness and I cherish it with all my heart.
I tremble at the thought of despising his blood now. And by the Spirit that he has given me, I resolve in his strength never, never, never to betray him or to give my body to any woman but to my wife.
I offer you my forgiven, redeemed, cleansed soul and body in marriage to cherish you and honor you and be faithful to you. I invite you into this new forgiven, redeemed, cleansed union with me. I know there will always be scars and the memories. But God is merciful, and in his time and his wisdom and his way he will make these scars of sin the emblem of his mercy and the signs of his cross.
That is the wonderful gift you can give to your fiancé. And I pray that God will seal that gift for both of you.
If you're single and sexually active, repentance is needed.
If you're engaged and sexually active, repentance is needed.
And please send this along to the married folks you know.
If they had sex before marriage, repentance is needed.
None of us can move through life expecting the future to run smoothly...
If the past is not addressed, repented of and resolved.
Hmph. I can only imagine how many marriages would heal and reconcile (as the Bible intends for them to---I Corinthians 7:9-10) if couples weren't so busy focusing on what their spouse is "doing to them" that they aren't asking God for wisdom (James 1:5) on what can be done to make the union stronger---starting with addressing past mistakes and repenting to God and to one another concerning them.
Satan knows just what he's doing...
Fornication is not about having a good time.
Fornication is about planting seeds that could reap sexual infidelity (and a lack of trust) in the future.
Sex before marriage is not worth it.
Your future marriage will only benefit---reap---if you do!