Sunday, July 23, 2017

"On Fire": Before You Go and Kiss A(nother) Guy...READ THIS!





"Look! Listen! There’s my lover! Do you see him coming? Vaulting the mountains, leaping the hills. My lover is like a gazelle, graceful; like a young stag, virile. Look at him there, on tiptoe at the gate, all ears, all eyes—ready! My lover has arrived and he’s speaking to me!"---Song of Solomon 2:8-10(Message)


Lately...

I've been talking to more and more virgins. Yep. Don't let the media LIE to you. There are still *quite a few* women AND men who are saving it until marriage. *Just like the Bible says we're supposed to do*.

For instance, look at how Rebekah is described in the Bible *before* being joined to Isaac:

"Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up."---Genesis 24:16(NKJV)

Or the the criteria of what Esther's future husband was looking for in his queen:

"Then the king’s servants who attended him said: 'Let beautiful young virgins be sought for the king; and let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather all the beautiful young virgins to Shushan the citadel, into the women’s quarters, under the custody of Hegai the king’s eunuch, custodian of the women. And let beauty preparations be given them."---Esther 2:2-3(NKJV)

"The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti."---Esther 2:17(NKJV)

Here's another great reference to virginity:

"For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you."

Christ was conceived in the womb of a virgin:

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, 'God with us.'"---Matthew 1:23(NKJV)

(This one alone is enough of a reason to get why Satan HATES virginity; our Savior came to this world through one!)

Both the wise and foolish bridesmaids in Matthew 25 were virgins:

"Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps."---Matthew 25:7(NKJV)

According to this verse, it is to be an "assumed standard" that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN is a virgin prior to marriage. *This* is how it was supposed to be for all of us:

"There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world---how she may please her husband."---I Corinthians 7:34(NKJV)

In fact, check out this 24-year-old male virgin who said my favorite thing last week:

"I may not be catching bodies, but I'm out here catching souls!" PREACH!!!




So yeah...

*Who cares* what the world---the place that the Bible says is filled with *nothing* but lust and pride (I John 2:16)---has to say about virgins?! The Bible ADORES them!

Matter of fact, if you are one, hit me up at missnosipho@gmail.com. I recently looked up what the Hebrew word for it is: "bethulah". I'm gonna figure out a way for you to sport your sacred sexual status in a way that's subtle but still a conversational piece (if you're down!).

In the meantime, as you can tell from the title of this message, this isn't just for virgins nor is it only about virginity---although I will say "I salute you!" to all of the virgins who are *so pure* that they've never even been kissed before.

Yeah, virgins who are the I-do-everything-but-penetrate-and-still-brag-about-being-untouched women don't impress me. Not one bit. God isn't impressed either. Being a virgin is about more than just not being penetrated. It's about living your life like you really and truly know that you've been bought with a price (I Corinthians 6:16-20--Message) and that ONLY once you are MARRIED does a man get special privileges to..."unwrap your gift" (James 1:17, I Corinthians 7:1-5).

So back to kissing...

There is an article that I checked out that confirms what I've been saying quite a bit on this long as of late. The title will give it away: "Does Dating Prepare Us for Marriage---or Divorce?" Here's an excerpt:

The common trends in dating today are more likely to prepare you to get divorced than to enjoy and persevere in marriage.

Dating is an intentional pursuit of marriage, not casual preparation for it. Unfortunately, many of us are being told we must date early and often if we ever want to be ready for marriage. For instance, one popular Christian dating book reads, “Dating is an incubator time of discovering the opposite sex, one’s own sexual feelings, moral limits, one’s need for relationship skills, and one’s tastes for people.” Sounds practical and reasonable on the surface. Until you think about putting yourself (or your daughter) into someone else’s “incubator” for a few months, or years, while he or she tries out their “sexual feelings” and “moral limits.” We put too much of ourselves at risk in dating to donate our hearts to someone’s romantic experiment.

The truth is we have given dating far too much credit, and far too much power in our pursuit of marriage. And because we misunderstand and misuse dating, we end up making more and greater mistakes in our search for love. 


Wait to Date?

Wait to date until you can marry. That’s my advice for the not-yet-married, reflecting on my personal experience (and failures) in dating and on years of walking with others falling in love (and often falling harder out of love). In short, if we are dating in order to marry, we need to be ready to marry before we begin dating.


Yeah, some of y'all will call this take "old-fashioned". Me? I call it "SAFE"...
It' also a great way to connect the whole kissing thing.

There's a married couple I'm working with right now who dated (and had sex off and on) *for years* and now? While they claim that they still love each other, they act like they can't stand each other. What I've worked to get them to recognize and admit (James 5:16) is that they were so busy trying to be "boyfriend and girlfriend" (which for them included having sex) that they never focused on cultivating a real *friendship*.

The Bible says NOTHING about having a boyfriend.
It says A LOT about the value of true friendship, though.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Proverbs 17:17, John 15:13)

And if you're more focused on friendship...
How sacred is not only protecting your body...
But your mouth too?

Related image

What prompted most of this was that over the weekend I was having a conversation with a 30-something never-been-kissed-before virgin (when she launches her FB fan page about her platform, I'll let you know!). She's going to be speaking to some youth soon about purity and she was asking me how far is too far in my personal opinion. She also wanted to know if it's the woman's job to tell the guy what the limit was.

My response to the second question was basically...
A man who doesn't want to be accused of rape is going to want to woman to set the limit...
A godly man is going to have some preset boundaries out the gate. #realtalk

The first question? I shared with her an article about what is *really going on* during a kiss:

As people kiss, oxytocin, which is a hormone made in the hypothalamus and released from the pituitary gland near the base of the brain, also increases. Among many other functions, oxytocin is thought to reduce stress and increase feelings of connectedness. Along with the endorphins, it is thought to influence feelings of happiness and attachment found in committed, loving relationships. Pheromones, which are chemical messages sent between members of the same species, may also play a part in human attraction. The vomeronasal organ, located between the nose and mouth, usually detects others’ pheromones. Although it is still unclear how they work, pheromones are thought to signal sexual arousal and increase attraction towards appropriate partners. You feel fantastic; the warmth and appeal for your date grows beyond your imagination and leaves you feeling closer than ever.

He squeezes you tightly one last time before you begin to back away, neither of you aware of the internal changes and reactions that have just occurred in your bodies. You barely remember the keys in your hand, as you thank him for a wonderful time. He smiles at you happily, already daydreaming about the few moments before. You unlock the door and slip inside, thinking, “There’s nothing like a first kiss.”


Whew!

That's why I included the lead quote. I wanted it to look/seem/feel mega-intense because a kiss---and you know what I mean: *a real kiss*---is just that: INTENSE. There should be *nothing* casual about it!

Taking it further, peep what oxytocin is---and does (excerpts):

One of the hormones that these neurotransmitters send from the Deep Limbic System of the brain is oxytocin. Oxytocin promotes bonding and attachment and if all the hormones had an opportunity to vote for the “most popular” award in the hormone yearbook, its peers would vote for it every time because it makes others feel good and close when it is active.

For the Psychology student, here is the scientific description: “Oxytocin is produced mainly in the hypothalamus [which is in the Deep Limbic System part of the brain], where it is either released into blood via the pituitary gland, or to other parts of the brain and spinal cord, where it binds to oxytocin receptors to influence behavior and physiology.”  (DeAngelis)

Oxytocin has been dubbed the “cuddle hormone” or “love hormone” because it does simply that. It creates bonds, trust, and generosity in us. (DeAngelis) In fact whenever you feel comfort or security, oxytocin is involved. It is involved in every form of human bonding. (Horstman, 23)...


Oxytocin not only promotes bonding during birth and breast-feeding; it also increases trust and empathy. (Bartz) It is also released during a hug and kiss of a loved one. (DeAngelis) This hormone does it all. I could go on and on about this hormone but it is time to turn to oxytocin and sex.

Oxytocin and Sex
The other crucial time oxytocin is released is during sex. During sex this chemical is being produced in both individuals, creating a bond between them both. Released in the brain, this hormone is creating an emotional bond between the partners.

One of the prominent figures in neuropsychology is Dr. Daniel Amen. Dr. Amen does cutting edge research in neuropsychology and has helped millions of people have healthier brains, which translates to healthier lives. Dr. Daniel Amen writes in his book, Change Your Brain Change Your Life, page 41:

“Whenever a person is sexually involved with another person, neurochemical changes occur in both their brains that encourage limbic, emotional bonding. Yet limbic bonding is the reason casual sex doesn’t really work for most people on a whole mind and body level. Two people may decide to have sex ‘just for the fun of it,’ yet something is occurring on another level they might not have decided on at all: sex is enhancing an emotional bond between them whether they want it or not. One person, often the woman, is bound to form an attachment and will be hurt when a casual affair ends. One reason it is usually the women who is hurt most is that the female limbic system is larger than the male’s.”

Does this resonate with you? Have you ever felt the hurt and pain after a one night stand or breakup? Do you find yourself repeatedly playing the scenario in your mind, maybe even thinking of different outcomes? Chances are you are doing these things because of the attachment that was created between you and your partner when you were sexually involved.  The emotional attachment that is created during sex (the glue) brings two people together.


IN MARRIAGE, oxytocin makes a *ton* of sense because there is to be NO "starting and stopping" in intimacy. A husband and wife can go all the way because sex is especially *for* them.

SINGLES? Shoot, I can only imagine how many people are more caught up in someone than they should be because they are on an oxytocin high! **sigh** And, as you can see from the first article, oxytocin kicks in with kissing...not just with sex.

In fact, it helps me understand why some of the men in my world (they get side-eye, but still) consider kissing to be MAD INTIMATE. Some of them even think it's more intimate that sexual activity. If they *kiss* you, they *really like* you. They feel very connected during the act.

And listen. Y'all may need to refresh my memory because it's been a while since I've kissed anyone and, real talk? Even longer since I've kissed someone and it didn't lead to *something somewhere* coming off. As...amazing as a *good kiss* can make you feel, if you're at least *halfway* trying to take the Bible seriously (God don't like "lukewarm" y'all--Revelation 3:14-16), can't it be a bit of a roller coaster ride too? A mad frustrating one?

Here you are, in the throes of passion, with the man of your dreams and he's a *great kisser*. HOWEVER, you know that sex before marriage is wrong (DEAD WRONG---I Corinthians 6:9-10, 18, Hebrews 13:4, I Corinthians 10:7-8, Revelation 21:8) and so you end up...multi-tasking. You know: trying to enjoy the kiss while also wondering where to put your hands, if his are in an "appropriate" place, how far is too far...stuff that married folks *never* have to consider.

Sex, especially sexual intercourse, is the *ultimate* form of physical intimacy...
Yet don't for a moment underestimate the power of a kiss.

Case in point: who wants to have sex *without* kissing?!
Exactly.

So Shellie, what are you saying? That kissing is wrong?
Nope. I'm not saying that. Not saying that at all.

What I *am* saying, though, is that your *entire body* was created for a purpose and your mouth is not exempt. Also, when you kiss someone, your body is expecting A LOT from the experience. Not only that but the mouth is the dirtiest part of the body (I mean, it's true), more and more STDs are "popping up" via saliva. Plus, your mouth is precious. So is his. And if both of you are trying to see where things are going, the less oxytocin...the better.

To confirm these points...
Let's close out with some videos about couples who took their kissing seriously.










I have a girlfriend who was a virgin when she got married. Her husband was one too. They started off kissing but then stopped and didn't kiss for three years...until their wedding day. They've been married (wow) 14 years now. Look how geeked she is!



Everything about you is special.
You're the temple of the Holy Spirit after all.

Whether you're wondering when your first kiss is coming...
Or who is worthy of your next one...
Even kissing serves a sweet, profound and very relevant purpose.
CHOOSE. WISELY.


His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...

SRW

Saturday, July 15, 2017

"On Fire": (Another) Follow-Up to God Telling You Who Your Husband Is...



"Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established."---Proverbs 16:3(NKJV)


Whew...

I honestly did not think that when I penned the piece on whether or not God would tell you someone is your husband that it would get *so many* responses. Although I do make it a point to personally reply, there are some patterns I'm seeing that led me to discern that this will probably be more like a series than just a couple of posts on the issue.

For starters, I want to encourage everyone who has questions in this area to read (or reread) a post from November of 2015 entitled "So, About Hearing from God About Your Husband..." It's got some foundational points to keep in mind because if you don't know God's Word (John 1:1-3, 2 Timothy 3:16-17) on various topics, there's no way you can be sure that God is saying something or not. Because one thing he NEVER does is contradict his commandments, standards or instructions. NOT. EVER.

Next up. There is a collection of married couple stories that I penned several years ago. I turned it into a blog and it's called "So, How Did You Know?" Husbands and wives share stories of how they got together, what they love about each other (mind, body and spirit) and they also provide advice for single men and women. Take out some time to check it out. You might get some of the clarity that you seek there. Indeed, confirmations come in all forms...and during some of the most unexpected times too.

Third is this:



Something that really concerns me is how some of the emails I'm getting come with a tone of desperation and anxiety. The Word tells us to be ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING (Philippians 4:6-7). Not only that but if basically your entire focus is on when you'll be joined to your husband, whether you realize it or not, you're setting him up to be an idol in your world (Exodus 20:3).

LIFE DOES NOT BEGIN WHEN WE GET A HUSBAND...
MARRIAGE SIMPLY MAGNIFIES WHO AND WHAT WE ARE ONCE WE DO.

As a single woman, the BIGGEST FOCUSES we should have right now is pleasing God and fulfilling our purpose (Psalm 20:4)---not wondering the who/what/where/why/how of our husband.

That's why I like verses in Scripture like what Boaz said to Ruth right here:

"And he said, 'Blessed be you of the Lord, my daughter. For you have made this last loving-kindness greater than the former, for you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, fear not. I will do for you all you require, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of strength (worth, bravery, capability)."---Ruth 3:10-11(AMPC)

Ruth was focused.
Boaz was watching.

She wasn't out here hopping from guy to guy (or bed to bed).
She was handling her business. Period.

We should follow her example.
You never know who's watching YOU.

Then there's this:

"For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints."---I Corinthians 14:33(NKJV)

And this:

"Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men."---Romans 14:16-18(NKJV)

We're all flesh and the Word tells us that we can struggle sometimes because of it (Galatians 5:16-17). Yet what you've got to remember is that *marriage is a gift* and so is a *godly husband* (James 1:17). What God is involved in? It's not going to come with confusion:

Confusion: disorder; upheaval; tumult; chaos; lack of clearness or distinctness; perplexity; bewilderment; embarrassment or abashment

Honestly? About 60 percent of the emails I've gotten have been chocked full of confusion. What God tells us will oftentimes *test our faith walk* (Psalm 7:9, 2 Corinthians 5:7) yet we will be compelled to not morally compromise (in any way), we will be at peace and we will find joy in the Holy Spirit as he guides us (John 14:26--AMPC). If you're not experiencing this (maybe not all of the time, but a significant amount of it), that is a red flag.

And then there the pic quote up top...
It's an "ouch" and a doozy...
Yet it can spare a lot of pain and drama if you accept it.

There are TONS of things that are God's will for people that people don't end up having. Why? Because they are disobedient. For instance, it was not "God's will" that Adam and Eve would sin. He told them what he wanted them to do and how to live (Genesis 2:15-17). Unfortunately, they chose otherwise (Genesis 3). There were consequences because of it; he still respected their right to choose, though.

You *and* your future husband aren't much different...

Please catch this...
Even if God does tell you who he desires to be your future husband...
That man has the right to say "yes" or "no".

God moves miraculously in our lives (Matthew 19:26)...
He forces his will on no one, though.

See, what concerns me is, well, two things...

1) Some of you believe a man is your husband when Scripture doesn't support why you think so (remember the heart can be deceitful--Jeremiah 17:9-10, Mark 7:21-22).

2) Some of you think that since God speaks a word into your life that it's OK to *make claims* on a man, before *he chooses* to get in line with God's will for him. And for you.

And that? That is dangerous. 

It's basically making claims on someone...
Before they claim you.

Claim: to demand by or as by virtue of a right; demand as a right or as due; to assert and demand the recognition of (a right, title, possession, etc.); assert one's right to; to assert or maintain as a fact; to require as due or fitting

Whether a lot of women realize it or not, when they wonder if God has told them that someone is their future husband, what they're *really curious about* is if it's fine to start making demands, asserting and/or living like it's a fact. If they can now start making/expecting certain requirements as it relates to "him"---when what this *really means* is it's time to start praying for "him" to hear from the Lord so that both of you can start believing and then walking in agreement (Amos 3:3, I John 5:14-15).

Make sense?

If you truly believe that God told you someone is your husband...
The focus is not to start acting like you're his wife...
The focus needs to be praying that he hears the same thing...
And to be willing to *still trust God* if he chooses otherwise.

Again, God reveals to us OFTEN what his will is...
We *still* have to get in line with it, though.

One more point. If you look at the pattern of how many things in the Bible happened, it wasn't about someone wanting something, praying if it's of God and him saying "yes". It was more about him approaching them about something they weren't really even thinking about or considering and them asking him how to follow his leading.

Noah when it was time to build the ark (Genesis 6).
Abraham when he left his home (Genesis 12). 
Hosea marrying Gomer (Hosea 1).
Mary carrying Christ (Luke 1).
Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14).

Where am I going with this?

What I'm hearing a lot about is women *wanting* a guy and because they do, they feel like God has told them that the guy is their husband. Yeah, be careful with that too. Even the Word tells us that our own desires are what can tempt us (James 1:14-15). Besides, most of the healthy married relationships that I know of consists of one or both people, as singles, living their lives, minding their own business (I Thessalonians 4:11) and BAM! Here comes someone, almost like they're a surprise or even an "inconvenience", and God is telling them "This is who I have for you." Not someone having a huge crush on someone, lusting after them (one definition of lust is "an overwhelming desire" by the way) and then believing that they've heard a word from the Lord simply because they want someone or want to be married so badly.

When you're thirsty, literally and figuratively, trying to discern who your husband is? It's basically like a parched person in the desert who sees a mirage. They want water *so badly* that they think they see it when really their mind/appetite/desperation is basically playing tricks on them.

What God has for you? 

He'll make it clear.
He won't compromise Word.
He won't require you to lower your standards or convictions.
There will be peace and not confusion.
It will be a faith walk.
It will spiritually mature you.
You will be open to the fact that when another person is involved, they have a say too.

As you're praying about who your future husband is...
Prayerfully this has connected a few more dots...
So that you'll TRUTHFULLY know it/him...
When you see it/him.



His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...

SRW