Monday, February 20, 2017
"Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]."---James 5:16(AMPC)
There's an entertainment personality named Terrence J who some of you might be familiar with. He used to host BET's 106 & Park. Then he was a host on E! News Live. He's produced a couple of films. He's acted in them too (Think Like a Man and the sequel, for example).
Anyway, last week, he posted something about his girlfriend that helped to inspire this post: "I'm so genuinely happy. Man, can't believe God hooked me up with Jas. I hit the jackpot."
Sweet. Very. Mostly because life has taught me that when a man is at a point of PUBLICLY PRAISING a woman, he's emotionally on another level concerning her. And his intentions for her.
Clearly, it's in a man's spiritual DNA to praise a man---a woman he loves:
"And Adam gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the air and to every [wild] beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs or a part of his side and closed up the [place with] flesh. And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
Then Adam said, 'This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man.'
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 2:20-25(AMPC)
Whenever I hear people talk about what a woman should expect in a relationship from a man, a guy pursuing them is what usually tops the list. If y'all have been reading this blog even a little bit, then you know that I'm over here instead: "And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man." (Genesis 2:22--AMPC)
You don't have to *pursue* what's been *brought* to you...
Yeah, personally, I'm more focused on the fact that Adam acknowledged the Woman as being *his Woman*. To me, this is what we need to be listening for more than anything else...a man who sees a woman and "calls her out" in the best way possible. A man who says, "she's a part of me!"
And a godly man?
The best way for him to come to that conclusion is through prayer.
A statement that someone posted last week reminded me of this very fact:
"Imagine a boy praying to God that he marries you..."
How many women look/pray for a man who's a praying man?!
I mean, I know in theory we say that, but when you're on a date with someone or you allow things to get to the point of being in a relationship, do you listen for the phrase "I was praying this morning" or "I prayed about you" or "I prayed for you" or "I've been talking to God about our relationship"?
Because here's the thing about prayer...
As one author stated:
“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.
As single women who desire marriage, is it important to pray for our future husband and our future marriage? *Of course it is* (read more about that here, here and here). And, as you're praying, you know what's equally as important? *Praying that your future husband is praying for you*.
I mean, praying about it *regularly* too, for a couple of reasons...
1) As you pray for this, it will change him to be more like God, change you to be more like God and help both of you to recognize the godliness in one another.
2) It will help you to see what kind of woman a godly wife really and truly is. Because as you *serve in prayer* in this way, it will spiritually reveal (I Corinthians 2:14) what God knows you *and* your future husband deserve in a spouse. And in a marriage.
When it comes to praying in general, a particular article recommends praying---not only these things for him, but that he's praying these things for you:
I believe that a relationship with God is the only way you can be fully human---fully yourself. This is the ultimate prayer for your future spouse: that they would become fully formed followers of Jesus.
Wisdom means “learning to live right,” so pray that your future spouse will make wise decisions on a daily basis.
I worked as a youth pastor for a number of years. It was disturbing how many guys wanted to marry a good Christian virgin, but didn’t see the hypocrisy that goes along with sleeping around or looking at porn. It’s such an ugly double standard...Pray that your future spouse chooses purity in their other relationships.
What you need to do: Evaluate what you want versus what you’re doing. By choosing impurity now, you’re stealing from someone else’s spouse and you’re cheating on your own future marriage. Choose purity.
Selflessness is the most underrated value of our generation, and to me, it’s the most attractive virtue. This isn’t about being less selfish---it’s about thinking about ourselves less. Pray that your future spouse will develop an others-focused mentality.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the 5 Love Languages---quality time, acts of service, gift-giving, words of encouragement, beard-stroking. And many many more, of course. Pray that your future spouse will love others the way they need to be loved. Pray that your future spouse will learn to navigate relationships in a spirit of understanding, grace, and love.
It’s pretty obvious at this point: The American dream is the world’s nightmare. It’s also a detriment to our spiritual walk- we cannot serve both God and money.
Scripture is very clear. In fact, the Bible talks more about money than heaven and hell combined. It’s so easy to settle into a 9-5, collect a paycheck, manicure the lawn, walk the dog, juggle the payments, and live in air-conditioned luxury.
Pray that your future spouse will never buy into that house of cards. Pray that they’ll never believe the lie that stuff will bring them fulfillment.
While most people settle for a career, Christ invites us into a higher calling – a vocation where our life speaks of who we are. Pray that your future spouse will enter the fullness of their calling – to do all they were created to do, and be all they were created to be.
What you need to do: Discover your giftings and strengths and spiritual gifts, and put them into action for a mission and purpose that extends far beyond your lifetime.
Chills. Can you sense how praying this for your future husband *and* praying that he's praying this about you can already make you esteem marriage, honor biblical standards and feel closer to him in the spirit realm (I Corinthians 2:14)?
Just think about it:
"God, please inspire my husband to pray for my purity tonight. I'm really tempted."
"God, please wake my husband to pray for my calling. I want ours to complement each other's."
"God, please ask my husband to praise for how selfish I can be. I want to do better."
We have to remember a promise that God has given us concerning prayer; something that Christ himself once said: " “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:19-21--NKJV) Marriage is spiritual. MARRIAGE. IS. SPIRITUAL. It's doing the relationship a *huge* disservice to think that you have to, or should, wait until you're united with someone physically in order for the union to hold value. Prayer can unite the two of you---even now.
Another awesome thing that happens?
In the article "How to Pray for Your Future Wife", the author shares this point:
“But wait,” you may say. “I don’t know who she is.”
But God does. He knows her name. He knows how you will meet her. He knows the moment you will propose. He knows the exact look (or how many tears) you’ll get in your eyes when you see her walk down the aisle. He knows every marital struggle you will face. He knows how, through marriage, you will learn to depend upon His grace even more. He knows precisely what He has in store for you and your wife.
Unfortunately, all too often, the average guy does not start thinking seriously about his future alongside one of God’s daughters until he actually meets her.
That is sad, both for the guy…and his future wife...
If you are growing in your love for Him, then you’ll want what He wants, and He wants certain things for your future wife even now. So why would you not go before Him now to ask Him to give her those things?
So ask Him, men.
Ask in His name (John 14:13).
Ask according to His will (1 John 5:14).
Ask (Matthew 7:7), and keep asking (Luke 18:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Let me assure you of one thing: if you start praying passionately for your future wife (or for anything else), all the powers of Hell will try to stop you. You will be tempted to distraction, discouragement or disappointment. The Enemy does not want you to pray. He wants you to remain silent, and he wants her, and you, to remain unchanged.
Don’t stop praying.
This is the woman who will share life with you, the one you’ll promise, before God, to love and honor until the end, and the woman with whom you will become one. God tells us to cherish our wives “just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:29). The word “cherish” means literally “to keep warm” (like a mother hen keeps her chicks safe and warm under her wings). You are called to reflect Jesus to your wife and treat her as a precious gift of God. One of the ways that Christ cherished the church was by praying for her (John 17:20-26).
You don’t have to wait until you know who she is to begin cherishing your wife. (And you don’t have to wait to ask her Heavenly Daddy for her hand.)
If you have the desire to be honorable, masculine, Christ-like and, yes, romantic…then be the leader, man up, go before Him, get on your knees and fight for her in prayer even now.
That’s what women want.
How do I know?
I asked them.
Again. Chills. Only a spiritually broken woman who doesn't understand the true value of marriage is a woman who would want a man who does not have a relationship with God. "Want" (because we all can be, and probably have been, tempted---I Corinthians 10:13) in these sense of seriously contemplating marriage with a person who is not in communication with the Lord *and* honors the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (I John 5:8). For one thing, it goes directly against biblical instruction because we are told to not unequally yoke ourselves with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:11-18). Secondly, spiritually whole women want to be with a spiritually whole man. And, one example of that kind of individual is a man who prays.
So, that's my prayerful recommendation...
That as you're going to God about marriage...
You'll pray that your future husband prays for you.
On surprising levels, it will bring peace and clarity to your spirit...
I promise you that!
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
"Do not give that which is holy (the sacred thing) to the dogs, and do not throw your pearls before hogs, lest they trample upon them with their feet and turn and tear you in pieces. Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened. "---Matthew 7:6-8(AMPC)
There was a time when I once struggled with this Scripture. Not the New King James Version, but this one: the Classic Amplified one. Only because it says to *keep* asking, seeking and knocking. I mean, since the Word tells us that God knows what we need, even before we ask him just a few verses down from all of this (verse 11, to be exact), why do we need to *keep* doing something?
Then it hit me. Asking, seeking and knocking often involves questioning, and as a wise man once said, wisdom lies in the questions more than the answers.
We're not to question God in the sense of questioning his authority....
We're to question God in the sense of seeking his wisdom and will on matters.
(James 1:5, I John 5:14-15).
And since his thoughts and ways are not our own...
That requires surrendering to a state of always seeking what he desires for us to know--as he reveals it to us based on his discernment of when we're ready to hear it.
(Isaiah 55:8-11, Proverbs 3:4-6)
And so, as I was thinking about this, I thought about two articles I've bookmarked...
And one that the Lord helped me to put together, just this morning.
If you are in a relationship and BOTH OF YOU are contemplating marriage, check out:
276 Questions to Ask Before You Marry
50 Conversations To Have Before You Get Married
I appreciate both of these pieces because trust me, I've sat in sessions with couples who found out stuff they knew *nothing about* prior to those questions. For instance, one couple had been together almost *15 years* before the husband knew his wife had been engaged before. Deceptive on her part? Kinda. Bigger than that, not asking the right questions can hinder you from not receiving the right answers. Things you most certainly need to know!
For instance, here are some questions from the first article that tend to go overlooked:
Are you working on your chosen field?
How many hours a week do you work?
Which (if any holidays do you believe are the most important to celebrate?
Do you enjoy traveling, or are you a homebody?
Have you ever felt deeply insecure in a relationship? Were you able to name your fear?
When was the first time you felt that you were in love with another person? What happened in that relationship, and how have you come to terms with it?
What is the longest relationship you have ever had prior to this one? Why did it end, and what lesson did you learn?
What sexual activities do you enjoy the most? Are there specific sexual acts that make you uncomfortable? Be specific! This is no time to hedge.
Do you feel comfortable initiating sex? If yes, why? If no, why?
What do you need in order to be in the mood for sex?
Have you ever been sexually abused or assaulted?
Do you believe it is a sacred responsibility to take care of yourself? Do you believe that taking care of your physical and mental health is a part of honoring your marriage vows?
Are there genetic diseases in your family or a history of cancer, heart disease, or chronic illness?
Do you have health insurance? Dental insurance?
Have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease?
Have you ever been treated for a mental disorder?
How important is it that you always look your best?
How important is your spouse's appearance? Do you have strong preferences about being with a particular physical type?
Would you feel unfulfilled if you were unable to have children?
Who is responsible for birth control? What would you do if there were an accidental pregnancy before you planned to have children?
What is your view of fertility treatments? Adoption? Would you adopt if you were unable to have a child naturally?
What is your view of abortion? Should a husband have an equal say in whether his wife has an abortion? Have you ever had an abortion?
Have you ever given birth to a child or fathered a child who was put up for adoption?
Do you have a difficult time setting limits with family?
Do you have a best friend?
Do you see a close friend or friends at least once a week? Do you speak to any of your friends on the phone every day?
Do you belong to a political party? Are you actively involved?
Is it important for you to be involved in your local community?
Which kind of charities do you like to support? How much of your annual income do you donate to charity?
Have you ever committed a crime? If yes, what was it?
Do you seek out media with diverse perspectives on the news?
Does your religion impose any behavioral restrictions (dietary, social, familial, sexual) that would affect your partner?
Does popular culture have an important impact on your life?
Whew! And I think that's only 35 of 'em.
The other piece? These kinds of questions are also *super important*:
How do you tend to try to hurt others when you feel hurt?
[When we feel cornered, we tend to aim to hurt others in the way that we would be most hurt by. Those who are most hurt by harsh criticism will be highly critical of others. Those who are most hurt by abandonment will try to make others feel abandoned. Those who are most threatened by being controlled will become very controlling. It's helpful to know what your partner's tendency is in this area so that you can recognize it when it arises, thus giving you more understanding into their mindset and giving you the opportunity to address their hurt. This is a habit your partner may not recognize in themselves offhand; you might find this out by observation, later.]
How do you deal with boundaries?
Do you have trouble saying “no” to certain (or all) people? Are you passive aggressive instead of direct? How do you react when people try to control you? Do you try to control others? Do you manipulate others? Do you let others say “no” to you without guilt or intimidation?
[Whether your partner lets others cross his or her boundaries, or he or she crosses others' boundaries, you should be aware of how they relate to boundaries in general. The boundaries they set for others and accept from others will give you a look at how they will set and accept them in your relationship. Again, this may something your partner is unaware of, unless they have already reflected on it.]
What can you not tolerate in other people?
What bothers you about people? What puts you past your limit? What do you think are bad traits to have?
[Just as it's important to know what your partner admires, it's also important to know what traits he or she disapproves of, so that you can again see where their values lie.]
How do you respond to stress?
Do you become angry? Perfectionistic? Withdrawn? Impulsive? Critical? Irresponsible? What kinds of things do you do or say?
[It's important to be able to recognize when your partner is acting under stress, so that you can be helpful and not hurtful to them.]
What makes you feel loved by others?
What things do people do that make you feel most appreciated or loved? What is the most loving thing someone has ever done for you? How do you know someone cares about you?
[Understanding your partner's "love language" will not only help you to keep your connection strong and help them feel loved, but it will also help you solve problems down the road when you may not be "speaking their language."]
What emotionally recharges you?
When you are mentally exhausted, what gives you energy again? Brainstorming new ideas? Making lists? Going to coffee with a friend? Doing something physical? What makes you feel like “yourself” again?
[It's so helpful to know how to help your partner recharge- especially if their way of recharging does not match up with yours.]
What emotionally drains you?
What wears you out fastest? Social events? Too many plans? Dealing with someone else’s emotions? Being alone for too long?
[If you know what will drain your partner, you can be sensitive to those situations and anticipate them needing some time to recharge afterwards.]
While people are out here trying to plan dates that mimic The Bachelor, what really needs to be happening is meeting in quiet spots where conversations featuring these questions can be taking place. NO JOKE.
And if you're not in a relationship, there are some questions that are well worth your time to ask God and yourself. Take yourself on a date, or at least go shopping to pick up a fresh journal:
25 Questions to Ask Yourself
Why do I want to get married?
What is God’s purpose for marriage?
Am I called to marriage?
What would make me a good wife?
What has my past relationships taught me?
How long have I been abstinent?
What did my parents’ marriage (or non-marriage) teach me?
Have I forgiven the men of my past?
Do I have healthy marriage mentors?
How often do I sow seeds into the marriages around me?
What part of the Love Chapter (I Corinthians 13:4-8) do I need to work on?
What parts of me are whole?
What parts of me are broken?
What can a husband do for me that I can’t do for myself?
How much time each week, in prayer, do I devote to my future marriage?
What do I know about submission?
Do I have healthy platonic male friendships?
What are my greatest attributes?
What are my greatest flaws?
Does my church have healthy marriages and a strong marriage ministry?
Am I spiritually mature?
Do I understand how spirituality and sexuality go hand-in-hand?
Do I have a wife mentor in my life?
Have I done everything that I can’t compromise in my marriage?
Am I at peace with God and myself?
The cool thing about asking questions is it's a *preventative measure*:
Question: a problem for discussion or under discussion; a matter for investigation; a matter of some uncertainty or difficulty; problem
Where you feel uncertain or you're struggling, don't worry (Matthew 6:25-34)...
ASK GOD QUESTIONS..
The more answers you have on the front end...
The healthier you and your marriage will be on the back end.
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...
"Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]."---I Corinthians 13:4-8(AMPC)
It's been a minute. There's a lot happening this season. Gonna post a few things today, though.
As I was praying for the "On Fire" women this morning, the title of this post is what came to my spirit. Some of you will probably get why off the rip. For those who aren't clear, here's what I discern the Father wants us to keep in mind.
Since last week was Valentine's Day and I do quite a bit of writing on relationships, I saw a few people talk about being single and also being ready for love. Something that hit me about that, though, is what people are usually saying, perhaps without even knowing it, is they believe they are ready for a RELATIONSHIP. If they literally meant that they were ready for LOVE, they could be in that now. Right now.
For one thing, God is love (I John 4:8&16) and he's *always* available and ready to teach us what we need to know about the love experience (Mark 12:30-31, Proverbs 3:5&6). Yet it goes even deeper than that.
As a marriage life coach, something that I see far too often are couples who didn't prepare themselves for love---they just wanted to get married. What I mean by that is they were so consumed with being with someone or having a spouse (or is it just "having biblically-legal sex"?!) that they didn't stop and think "Wait. Am I growing in the areas of love?"
How patient are you? With God, yourself and others?
How kind are you? Towards God, yourself and others?
Do you have jealousy issues or an ego problem?
Are you a control freak?
Do you surrender your path to God or are you always trying to steer him in your direction?
Are you selfish?
Do you have issues with forgiveness (resentful people tend to)?
Do you pursue truth or have a tendency to live in lies?
Do you quit things easily? *Love never fails*
If you really and truly believe that you're ready for love, that has very little to do with a man...
Being in a relationship is *evidence* and a *manifestation* of being ready for love, yet it is not love itself. Love is God. The Word tells us what his bar for love is. So, if you're really and truly "ready for love", then you spend consistent time in the Love Chapter so that God can teach you what love is about. 'Cause listen: Most of the couples who come at me talking about doing what God hates (which is divorce--Malachi 2:16), they do it because they know every little about the "first ingredient" in love. Patience. PATIENCE.
As singles, they didn't know how to be patient with themselves...
So, as spouses, they don't know how to be patient with one another.
God loves us *far too much* to put us in the position where we say "I love you" and "I'll stick with you until death parts us" when we don't even have a clue what we're really talking about. Patience alone is a doozy: "the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like".
If you can't wait *for* a man, how can you wait *on* a man? "On" in the sense of helping him (Genesis 2:18)? You don't think a man who needs your help is not a man who requires your patience?
Soul singer India.Arie sang about being ready for love many years ago...
If this is where you're at in your journey, I encourage you to alter your way of thinking....
Instead of saying "I'm ready for love. Where's my husband at?"
Instead say "I'm ready for love. Father, teach me what I need to learn about love today."
You'll be flat-out amazed by how much you'll learn (James 1:5)...
And your future husband will be THRILLED by how prepared you were for him. BEFOREHAND.
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...