Monday, February 29, 2016
Last week sometime...
I read an article from one of the women (?) contestants (?) contenders (?)---I'm not sure what they would prefer to be called---from a past season of The Bachelor. It happens from time to time but it's rare that I'll reference the show at all. Not for the reason a lot of people think because I stand firm on the fact that the story of Esther doesn't veer too far off from it:
"Before each young woman was taken to the king’s bed, she was given the prescribed twelve months of beauty treatments—six months with oil of myrrh, followed by six months with special perfumes and ointments. When it was time for her to go to the king’s palace, she was given her choice of whatever clothing or jewelry she wanted to take from the harem. That evening she was taken to the king’s private rooms, and the next morning she was brought to the second harem, where the king’s wives lived. There she would be under the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch in charge of the concubines. She would never go to the king again unless he had especially enjoyed her and requested her by name.
Esther was the daughter of Abihail, who was Mordecai’s uncle. (Mordecai had adopted his younger cousin Esther.) When it was Esther’s turn to go to the king, she accepted the advice of Hegai, the eunuch in charge of the harem. She asked for nothing except what he suggested, and she was admired by everyone who saw her.
Esther was taken to King Xerxes at the royal palace in early winter of the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther more than any of the other young women. He was so delighted with her that he set the royal crown on her head and declared her queen instead of Vashti. To celebrate the occasion, he gave a great banquet in Esther’s honor for all his nobles and officials, declaring a public holiday for the provinces and giving generous gifts to everyone."---Esther 2:12-18(NLT)
In the one book of the Bible where God's name is not mentioned once, things got pretty racy. It doesn't matter how much people may want to put a spin on it. The Bible is not a collection of stories about people who were perfect or did things perfectly. The Bible is a series of testimonies about how God can move through steps...and sometimes even missteps. And in Esther's case, she married a *pagan* king. Nowhere in the Word are we encouraged to do that (2 Corinthians 6:11-18). It was a sacrifice she was willing to make to save the lives of her people. People who, to this day, frown on interfaith/anti-faith unions. Ironically.
No time to get into all of that though...
Just wanted to lay some Scriptural foundation.
So yeah, the folks who talk about how they hate The Bachelor/Bachelorette and then turn around and say they want Esther's story, I am oftentimes confused. Kinda like the women who say they want to be pursued and then say they want a man like Boaz. BOAZ DID NOT PURSUE RUTH. IT WAS EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE (Ruth 3). And why doesn't that bother me? Because I like what GOD said in Genesis 2:22 and that trumps the perspective people have about what King Solomon said in Proverbs 18:22. Besides, you can still "find me" if I'm *brought* to you. One definition of find is "gain". Another definition of find is "feel". Another definition of find is "meet with". It doesn't only mean "to locate, attain, or obtain by search or effort". A wife is a gift. Why would God put a man through the toil if searching for something he would naturally bring to him? Voluntarily?
Again, let me stay focused (LOL)...
Anyway, I was reading an article by a former...participant on the series (Ali Fedotowsky). The title of the article was this: "'Bachelor' Girls Can't Tell Ben Higgins They're In Love Because They 'Aren't Really in Love Yet'". Apparently Ben is the current suitor on the show. Here's an excerpt of what Ali said:
"You guys probably noticed this episode that the girls had a really hard time telling Ben 'I love you,'" Fedotowsky, the season 6 Bachelorette, wrote on her lifestyle blog. "They just couldn’t get the words out. The reason these girls can’t tell him 'I love you' is because they aren’t really in love yet. Can I be 100 percent certain they aren’t in love? Well no, of course not."
"I can say that EVERY person I’ve ever talked to on the show has told me that they weren’t really in love on the show, they just thought they were in the moment," Fedotowsky wrote. "They were in lust! Heck, even the married couples from the show say that. Ask Jason and Molly or Ashley and JP. I bet they would say that they didn’t really know the person on the show, and they truly fell in love AFTER the show."
Fedotowsky, 31, said that even when the girls utter those three little words, it won't reflect their true feelings. "They’ll say it, but it will feel awkward," she continued. "After the show is over they will even say they loved him, but ask them six months from now and the answer is always the same with every contestant - they’ll say they weren’t REALLY in love. Not yet at least. And this isn’t meant as a dig at the show. The show is amazing and the feelings they express at the time are real!"
Over the years, I've seen the show before. A few times. My resolve is you put a group of women in the house with only one attractive man for several and it's easy to convince yourself he's the one for you just because there are no other options!
And that's what I don't like about it...
It's so caught up in *romance* that no one is really being *realistic*.
The Message Version of Ecclesiastes 7:18 encourages us to *be realistic*.
Yeah. It's really easy to say "Amen!" and close out this blog and move on...
But sit tight with me for a few more minutes, will you?
I remember a few years ago, a young woman who used to follow this blog met a guy and literally six weeks later got engaged. I believe The Bachelor is taped for six weeks (interesting). I got to know her pretty well because she used to write me about her battle with porn, lose self-esteem and feeling isolated and alone. So when she wrote me with "Hey! Just met this guy and we're getting married!", "Congrats!" is not what I could muster. People who know me know that my usual go-to response tends to be "Oh yeah? Why?" and/or "So, tell me about him."
A part of the reason is because I actually want to know. You can pray more responsibly when you have certain details. Another reason is because I think it's important for people to hear themselves say out loud what they are doing and *why they are doing what they are doing* (or are about to do). She showed me a picture of her husband-to-be and I was even more concerned. He looked A LOT older than her and to top it off, she said that *several people* had said "Don't you want to hold off a bit?"
But she wanted no parts of the "negativity"...
Listen, there's a big difference between *negativity* and *accountability*.
What is the rush?!?
Rush: to move, act, or progress with speed, impetuosity, or violence;
I'll give you an example. I know a couple who've been married over 25 years now. They met and got engaged in about eight weeks. But during most of their marriage, they've fought like cats and dogs, their sex life sucks and the wife complains...A LOT. If that's where being "romantically impulsive" is gonna get me, *no thanks*. Pun intended: *I'll wait*. It takes time to really get to know and then cultivate a true friendship (which should be the foundation) in order to transition into a stable, healthy and lasting relationship.
Trying to "hurry up and fall in love"...
Trying to "hurry up and get a title in a relationship"...
Trying to "hurry up and get engaged"...
If you really get that divorce is not to be an option because biblically it's taught that it's not one (I will be shouting out "The Role of Marriage in the Kingdom of God" for a while; it's so good and super thorough!), then don't you want to be sure---very sure---that A) you are with the person who is God's best for you; B) you are spiritually mature enough to follow the biblical guidelines and expectations for marriage (Matthew 19:11-12-Message, Hebrews 5:12-14, I Corinthians 13:11); C) that you're making such a serious decision out of *wholeness* (James 1:4) rather than fear (I John 4:18) or lust (I John 2:16, James 1:14-15)? How can you answer these questions in a short amount of time?
Yeah, The Bachelor/Bachelorette is no more "ridiculous" than what a lot of people, even within the Church, put themselves through. So desirous (or is it lust-filled?!?) to be with someone, they are not willing to pray and fast (Matthew 17:20-21), seek wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15), *remain sexually abstinent* (Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message) and allow a *real friendship* to manifest (John 15:13) before trying to make something...more.
I'm not sure who all this message is for...
But when I sat down to start writing, this is what came out so I know it's for someone.
Slow your heart down...
Slow your desires down...
Slow your words and actions down.
Real love is lasting.
It ain't going nowhere.
You don't want to in the position where you want something *so badly* that like the women on The Bachelor, you try and force yourself to say something that you don't really mean...because you haven't allowed God to reveal to you what it means. Love is loaded. LOADED (I Corinthians 13:4-8). It deserves more than our desperation or lack of discernment. It is something that should be taken *very seriously. And look, real talk, just because you rush into a marriage, does not mean God gives you a pass on getting out:
"Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.
Do not be rash with your mouth and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.
When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed---better not to vow than to vow and not pay.
Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God."---Ecclesiastes 5:1-7(NKJV)
DON'T BE RASH WITH YOUR MOUTH.
IF YOU SAY IT, YOU'D BETTER MEAN IT!
It's OK to be quiet...until you're sure.
And you know what? IT'S OK FOR HIM TO BE QUIET UNTIL HE'S SURE TOO!
Since I did give The Bachelor a bit of a shout out today (LOL), I'll close out with a *real life version* of receiving a rose. This proposal went down last month and it is cute and thorough enough!
Following are two other ones that I liked...
Paul and Hannah just because of their names alone. Paul means "humble" and Hannah means "favor". And yes, they met in church so they're both believers. Just the way the Word intends/instructs.
The other couple is just so familiar and comfortable with one another. An example of what time can do. Her response is so genuine that it's precious!
First up: Alex and Andrew:
Next up (from the day after Valentine's Day): Hannah and Paul:
Next up (from just last week): I think the names and Carlie and Shawn:
If you know you have a problem with waiting, shoot me an email at email@example.com so that I can pray for you.
Why rush...when you can have forever?
Monday, February 22, 2016
For the past several days...
I've been thinking a lot about honey. I *really like* honey, no doubt! It's one of the rare things in life (physically) that's as sweet as it is good for you. When it comes to the health benefits of honey, it does everything from heal wounds and beautify skin to regulate blood sugar and improve athletic performance to alleviate allergy symptoms and suppress coughing to boost energy levels and improve sleeping patterns. So many people call it "liquid gold" and it's easy to see why.
Over the weekend, I penned a devotional on Esther and timing (if you want a copy of it, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org). When you get a chance, I really encourage you to read an article that I included in it entitled "The Miracle of Marrying the King". It talks about what Esther went through in preparation for King Xerses and also what we must go through in order to get to another level of intimacy with God.
A part of what the article touches on is the 12 months of preparation that she and the other women had to experience; some might even say "endure". That's where another article comes in "Esther’s 12 Months Of Beautification". I really like a line that's in it: "purification before beautification":
There’s no Biblical information about the 12 months of beautification beyond what is given in Esther 2:12-14. Many assume it was just an indication of the extremes to which Persian officials went to make certain that a girl was her absolutely most attractive self before spending her one night with the King.
But according to some, the initial six month treatment with oil of myrrh was meant to purify her. They say that oil of myrrh was commonly used for antiseptic and anti-fungal purposes and as a deodorant. Therefore the first six months of her preparation were for cleansing, healing and purification. Once they were certain she was free of disease they spent the next 6 months maximizing her beauty. So the idea being conveyed in Esther is that purification precedes beautification.
Those who interpret the passage this way claim it’s explaining that the key to attractiveness begins on the inside, that just applying the externals like make up and clothing only creates a facade that could be hiding internal deficiencies.
Peter confirmed this in his advice to wives saying that real beauty doesn’t come from outward adornment but internally from a gentle and quiet spirit. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
So true, so true!
I get a lot of emails about women talking about how they don't feel good about themselves physically, but it's far more rare to read an email about a woman who is like "I really want to become *purer* in preparation for my future husband".
This is actually where the giveaway comes in...
It may make sense that in honor of the preparation process, I would go with myrrh as a giveaway since that is what's specifically mentioned in the Scriptures. But that's not what I'm being led (Luke 12:12) to. *It's honey*. I discern it's because honey is also "anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-fungal". It heals and cleanses and purifies.
I like to look for biblical confirmation on things like this. Except, the word that I was led to look up was not "honey" but *honeycomb*. I discern it's because honeycomb is where honey is stored. One definition of honeycomb is "to penetrate in all parts" (looka there!). And from that, these:
"The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward."---Psalm 19:11(NKJV)
"Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones."---Proverbs 16:24(NKJV)
"My son, eat honey because it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste; so shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul; if you have found it, there is a prospect, and your hope will not be cut off."---Proverbs 24:13-14(NKJV)
"Your lips, O my spouse, drip as the honeycomb; honey and milk are under your tongue; and the fragrance of your garments Is like the fragrance of Lebanon."---Song of Solomon 4:11(NKJV)
"I have come to my garden, my sister, my spouse; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk. [ (To His Friends) ] Eat, O friends! Drink, yes, drink deeply, O beloved ones!"---Song of Solomon 5:1(NKJV)
Those last two verses? That's what the Shulamite woman's beloved said about her...
So yeah, this is what I'm on right now...
The first five women (this may be an ongoing giveaway like the manna bracelets) to hit me up with the answers to the following questions, I have some honey and a honeycomb token for them:
1) What areas of your life do you know need to be healed before marriage?
2) What areas of prayer do you need in order to become or remain sexually pure?
3) What areas do you know you need to prepare for---that you've been procrastinating in?
The women who hit me up with that, I'll shoot your choice between this:
And also a bottle of honey essential oil in the form of a roll-on.
Now here's the heads up...
I've done giveaways before and sometimes I end up getting hounded about when things are coming. I have actually a method to the madness about when I send them out. It's kind of a faith test. Things don't always come in the time you think they *should* but they do come! I'll be praying over each entry and will then be ordering and sending them out. I'll let you know when they are on the way. No need to remind me. It's on the radar.
Also, I'm going to leave this post up so that people can read the article I mentioned. When the giveaway is closed, I will state it up top.
So, if you'd like to bring a little (more) honey into your life, I'd be happy to do my part! Shoot me an email at email@example.com and we'll get things...buzzing. ;-)
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
"Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him."---Genesis 2:18(AMPC)
"Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands."---Proverbs 14:1(AMPC)
"A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long."---Proverbs 31:10-12(Message)
I can't recall...
If I've shared this exact video before. It doesn't matter though because it's still relevant and worth (re)watching. Although I haven't seen Justin Cox post anything in several years, I've always liked that he's a pastor and takes such a user-friendly and applicable approach (Matthew 13:13) to Scripture.
Take this video on unequally yoked relationships, for example:
He opens it up with a throwback movie about Samson and Delilah (Judges 16). *sigh* Poor Samson. The very thing he was called to do was conquer the Philistines. Instead, through the wiles of a woman, he allowed them to play a role in his demise.
And that's already a great starting point...
Whomever God has for you?
He is only going to help you to become stronger in your purpose...
As you help him to become stronger in his...
THE FIRST PURPOSE BEING REFLECTING THE LIKENESS OF GOD'S IMAGE (GENESIS 1:26-28).
I really do encourage you to watch the video in its entirety, but I am going to share some of the initial points that Pastor Cox makes in it when it comes to signs that you're unequally yoking yourself to someone else (something that the Word says NOT to do, by the way):
"Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers [do not make mismated alliances with them or come under a different yoke with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light have fellowship with darkness?
What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial [the devil]? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement [can there be between] a temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor,
And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."---2 Corinthians 6:14-18(AMPC)
Again, this is not a *suggestion*. This is a *command*.
According to the video, here are some of the ways to know if you're being obedient to the Word. Or not (paraphrased).
1) When you get too clingy, does the person you're seeing like it or redirect your attention to God?
2) Since your relationship, have you been sinning against God more now than before?
3) How often does the person you're with initiate things like prayer, devotions, bible studies, etc.? If there's no initiation, especially from the dude's side of spiritual things...what are y'all doing?
4) Are there some areas in your life that you know you would not have grown in without this person's spiritual help and advice? Are they helping you grow, straight up?
It's right there where I'm going to stop, although he has six other points...
It bothers me when I'll hear single/engaged people tell me that their relationship is godly when it doesn't bear fruit of godliness. And when know that Matthew 12:33 tells us that a tree is known by its fruit. Fruit is "anything produced or accruing; product, result, or effect; return or profit" and one thing that believers and especially disciples (John 8:31-32) are supposed to bear are Fruit of the Spirit:
"But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [[f]that can bring a charge]."---Galatians 5:22-23(AMPC)
If a relationship is "being holy because God is holy" (I Peter 1:16), it's not only going to be loving, but in dating/courtship situation, there is going to be patience and self-control too. And a big part of that reason is going to be because both people are going to know that 1) the Word says that love does no harm (Romans 13:8-10) and 2) they want to do their part to make one another stronger and better rather than weaker and worse.
This resolve is echoed several times throughout Scripture...
Genesis 2:18 says that God makes wives to HELP men.
If you're truly (and truthfully) helping a man, you are "to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist".
Proverbs 14:1 says a wise woman builds her house.
If you're a builder, you are truly (and truthfully) helping a man, you work "to establish, increase, or strengthen".
Proverbs 31:10 says that a good woman is worth more than diamonds and her husband trusts her.
If you're trustworthy, you are "deserving of trust or confidence; dependable; reliable".
You can't provide a man with what he needs...
You can't contribute to his strength...
You can't help to increase him...
You can't prove that you are dependable and reliable...
If you're helping a man to spiritually compromise or regress in any way.
And for the record, I'm not just talking about sexually, although to participate in an act with a man that brings judgment (Hebrews 13:4) and keeps him from entering into the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9-10), not to mention defiles his temple (I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message), you are not even remotely loving or helpful. In no way is that making him stronger or better.
However, I mean helping him across the board....
Stronger means "having, showing, or able to exert great bodily or muscular power; physically vigorous or robust".
Stronger means "mentally powerful or vigorous".
Stronger means "especially able, competent, or powerful in a specific field or respect".
Stronger means "powerful in influence, authority, resources, or means of prevailing or succeeding".
Better means "morally superior; more virtuous".
Better means "larger; greater".
Better means "improved in health; healthier than before".
IF YOU ARE GOOD FOR A MAN, HE WILL BE *MORE* OF A MAN THAN HE WAS BEFORE KNOWING YOU. *ESPECIALLY SPIRITUALLY*.
HE WILL BE MORE MENTALLY POWERFUL AND MORE SPIRITUALLY COMPETENT AND MORE SPIRITUALLY INFLUENTIAL AND AUTHORITATIVE AND MORE MORALLY SUPERIOR AND MORE VIRTUOUS AND GREATER AND IN BETTER MIND, BODY AND SPIRITUAL HEALTH THAN EVER BEFORE!
If you can't say that about the person you're with or the relationship you're in...
Something is not right.
If you can't say he's doing this for you...
Something ain't right.
You're in the kind of relationship that is not even remotely close to God's design for what marriage is to be. It's time to do some *serious* reevaluating. Quick, fast and in a hurry!
It was fitting that Pastor Cox started the video with that Samson and Delilah clip. That woman did nothing but seduce and weaken that man. She was not a good woman. She was a counterfeit.
Please don't allow how the world operates (I John 2:16) to cause you to minimize what a godly relationship is to represent. Purpose, holiness and covenant.
In a relationship, you're either doing one of two things...
You're helping to make a man stronger and better.
Or weaker and spiritually worse.
What's the FRUIT of your situation?
Please choose wisely.