God desires to be with us so much so that when Jesus went to heaven to He still made sure a part of himself was with us (Holy Spirit). The whole point of His death on the cross was to restore the relationship and communication line between us and Him. Although He planned for us to come spend eternity with Him, it wasn’t enough, He couldn’t wait. We spend our life learning of Him, with Him showing His benefits and courting us, to prepare us for the ultimate marriage with Him.
God created life to be simple. Everything is supposed to be within reach. Since God is the one with the ability to provide all and do all, our only responsibility is to be close to Him and He will give all we in its time. He knows what and when we need something. Adam and Eve didn’t need faith because God took care of everything, but once they stepped out of pure and complete reliance on God, they were introduced to a new way of life; life without God. A harder way of life. Now we battle with the understanding of God’s place in our life.We know who He is according to His word but we don’t completely believe it right away, because our minds also understand the other possible outcome of each life situation (Knowledge of good and evil.) Now life is difficult and things don’t come as easily as they could. We have to fight and deny ourselves just for our minds to get to the place to believe God can do something simple, that He wants us to have anyway.
Why I Think Certain Marriage Advice is Pointless.
People are so obsessed with preparation. In the Christian community it’s all about ‘the process’. I just think at some point there’s only so much you can learn about something you have yet to experience. All these marriage trainings and conferences, things are getting out of hand. This is more so in relation to singles who run to every marriage prep event they can find. Honestly, how much can you learn about your future marriage from a married couple? I just believe there is a fine line between wisdom and unnecessary information. In reality, listening to a couple share their story just makes you an expert on THEIR relationship. If you are not in a relationship when you attend these workshops, how do you expect to apply some of these techniques if you don’t even know your spouse yet? Some things you just have to learn when they happen. I am not bashing couples who do ministry based on their love story because some of them truly do teach on the ultimate life process which is becoming more like Jesus. But when it comes to relationships and marriage, you just don’t know what you’re going to face until you’re looking them square in the face. Once you’re courting, engaged or married, I absolutely support gleaning from a married couple because at that point you actually have a relationship to apply the information to and you can receive specialized advice for your relationship specifically.
My concern is that many will go to every workshop and conference and have all these notes and get in their marriage and still be lost. You’ll think you have mastered how to be married and how to be a proper wife, when in reality you haven’t mastered how to be a selfless person in any other relationship, which is the key to marriage. Marriage is not about techniques, it’s about love and patience. It’s about caring for a person and doing what you can to authentically support them while they also become a better person. It’s about sticking it out, being honest, learning to forgive faster, being supportive.
The major issue here is that we have adopted this mindset that we need to prepare to ‘wear another hat’ so to speak. So when we want to be married we try to get all this advice that we think will help us find a spouse and stay married. Or if we want children, we read all these books and listen to all these parenting stories thinking that it will help us have a problem free child rearing experience. As simple as it sounds, just live. Engage in every moment you find yourself in because those are the moments that shape you into a better, more selfless you.
At one point in my life, I didn’t believe that platonic same gender friendships could be preparation for marriage. But in one particular friendship, I learned that through all the friends I’ve ever had, I had never let anyone this close before. I had never let anyone know me so intimately and I realized then, I needed some work. There comes a point where you evaluate all your interactions and altercations and recognize parts that need to grow in you. I wanted to think that friendship with a girl was different than a relationship with a guy, and it may have been in the shallow relationships I had been in in the past, but now that I know more about marriage and long term friendships, I can say that this friendship has truly changed my life and that is the change that prepares you for marriage. I’ve learned to accept people for who they are, not trying to change them, but really be the change I want to see in them, I’ve learned to take initiative and most of all learned to forgive and not hold grudges.
I repeat JUST LIVE. Engage in every aspect of your life, whether it be at your job, in your family, at church or a grocery store encounter. Let life interactions change you and you’ll be prepared for any major life event.
The Weight of Your Request
There are a lot of nice things to see and have in this world. Some things we may never see or experience in a lifetime, because of financial limitations. For that reason, many people spend their life wishing, hoping and sometimes praying for God to “bless” them with an abundance of money. I won’t deny that it would be great for nothing to be out of my reach financially, there would be nothing I’d have to deny myself. But there is one thing I don’t think we consider immediately, and that is the weight of that request.
There is a story in the Bible about a rich ruler who sees Jesus and decides to find out what it takes to have eternal life. Jesus gives him the run down of the commandments he should keep and the ruler says “Well, I’ve been doing that, what else?” Then Jesus tells him to give away everything he owns to the poor and that he’ll get a reward for it in heaven. The ruler didn’t respond, he just went away sad knowing that he had a lot of possessions. After that Jesus says “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:16-23, paraphrased)
So when your desire is to be wealthy, you must realize the risk you run of not making it to heaven. That’s seems kind of extreme, but it’s really that serious. Matthew 6:24 says “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
There are countless other scriptures in the Bible pertaining to money, which further supports how big of a deal it is to ask for and have a large amount of it. The thing is that like I stated before, in this world money can get you everything you want. And on the flip side, many think that they can’t get what they want without it. Because of the “liberty” and access that large amounts of money makes available, it is easy to fall into trusting and hoping in money over trusting and hoping in God. He refuses to be replaced and second to anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that anyone should desire to be poor, because God definitely is not. The earth belongs to him and everything in it too, and since we belong to Him, we can have access to His possessions, therefore, we need not worry about being taken care of. But what I am saying is that if you are praying a prayer to be wealthy, also ask for an extremely close relationship with God. If you’re in your right mind, you wouldn’t want to “ball out” on earth and have everything your heart desired, if you knew that once this life was over, you’d be burning for an eternity. Eternity is forever, which can’t be calculated. It just continues and you never die. So, is having a bunch of stuff, that you’ll leave here when you die, worth having only to suffer for a very long time? I would hope your answer is no. It isn’t worth it at all. Of course God wants us to enjoy his creation and see everything he made for our enjoyment, but at some point your desire has to match His, which means that if He gives you a large amount of money, you would feel moved to donate it or use it to be a blessing to someone who does not have. Like I mentioned before, money gives you access to things, so why not share your access with someone who needs it, instead of using it to please and serve only yourself.
Don’t get caught up in the things of this world. If you aren’t careful, they will snatch you from your eternal destiny, which is heaven and what God has in mind for us all. He doesn’t want to send us away, He wants us to return to and remain in Him. So if you feel God has called you to steward a lot of money in your lifetime, stay in constant communion with Him. Hear what He would have you to do with the money and always be willing to give. I am so glad God knows what’s best for us and He saves us from our naive and mindless desires which could lead us away from Him.
Focus on a strong and close relationship with God, so that you are prepared to handle the great wealth He will give you. You don’t want to be dragged away by your youthful lusts and be found displeasing to God because of your love for money.
What Happened to you?
Today I watched “God’s Not Dead” which inspired the title of this post and it’s content. Without spoiling the movie for you , basically a Christian meets a wholehearted atheist who tries to persuade others that God is dead. This Christian takes the challenge of standing up for God. In one of their last debates, the Christian asks the atheist what happened to him. Then it is revealed that when the athiest was five, his mother died of cancer, after him having plead God to heal her. He said that a God that would allow that to happen is not worth believing in. Although that is not everyone’s case or circumstance, many times there is that one situation that has hindered one’s growth in Christ. We can’t always find reason for the bad stuff we experience, especially when it’s still fresh and God has not yet shown a deeper purpose for it. While this may be the case, it was never God’s intention to drive us away from Him when these things happen. His desire is for us to run to Him for comfort in those times.
Just because God allowed it does not mean He doesn’t care about you or the situation. What we need is a greater understanding of God’s ways. James 1:5 says that if any man lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. The dictionary describes Wisdom as ‘knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action’. Religion tells us “Don’t question God.” Yet we find ourselves wanting to understand and having a broken relationship with the Lord because we’ve basically been told we don’t have the right to ask God what’s really going on. The Bible tells us we can ask AND that God finds no fault in us asking. If you can be open enough to receive God’s explanation for your situation, you’ll be better. God’s intent is to draw us nearer to Him when things happen. He wants us to realize that HE is our source of strength, peace, love, etc.
I encourage you to be honest with God. Tell him how life situations have hurt you. I pray that you believe that He is for you and not against you so that you may receive healing and closure from Him.
Love in Humility
Recently my pastor was teaching on love and some of its aspects. One of the aspects that stuck out to me was love in humility. This is the type of love that is not seen by all. It’s the behind the scenes action of which not many can testify. I had been learning and growing in this area without being able to categorize it. Now that I’ve experienced it, I must say, it takes quite a bit of self denial. But it is natural to desire recognition for doing selfless acts because they are rarely seen, in addition to feeling unappreciated by the person receiving. I am also reminded of 1 Corinthians 13 which says that love is not boastful. Until recently, I thought that verse only referred to boasting about material things or just making a big deal about your own personal accomplishments and such; but I realized love doesn’t boast about loving either. It does not point out how much and how often you pray for the one you love or how you’ve fasted for their breakthrough, or how you’ve neglected to pray for yourself because you’ve been “so busy” caring (worrying) about them. The truth I’ve found is that God always takes care of you when you are about His business. If He puts it on your heart to cover someone in prayer and to really commit to it and bear their burden for that moment, know that your needs will be met in return for your obedience. Might I also add as a side note that if you begin to complain about your “assignment” to pray for someone, you may need to check your own intentions. You may not be praying from a place of love but rather judgment, frustration, or obligation, because love is always willing to believe and bear all things. So no matter how long it takes for that person to come out or be delivered, the love you have helps you to continue to persevere on their behalf, no matter the obstacles.
The truth is that love is humble. If we consider that God is love and look at the way He loves us in the scriptures and even in our lives, there’s no amount of selfishness in it. Everything He does is for us. He’s so awesome that He can get glory out of what He does but we benefit from everything, even His commandments. You may feel confined trying to obey God’s commandments, but everything is for your good. God isn’t power hungry or manipulative. He already has all power so He doesn’t have to fight for that. He’s sovereign, so things go the way He pleases every time. He’s holy, but we have sinful nature and that’s the friction we experience. It is the reason we oppose the idea of denying ourselves of things that please us but not God. But through relationship with Him, we find His image in us, which makes it easier for us to be more like Him.
Love and care for others without needing applause. Do things for others without expecting to be reciprocated. Jesus loved us before we even were born and no matter what we do, He has plans to continue to love us. Instead He intercedes to the Father on our behalf that He might have mercy on us and draw us in. His perfect love is difficult to fathom at times because there’s nothing like it but it is real nonetheless. Therefore if He lives within us, we are capable of allowing His love to move through us and touch someone else.
Trophy Wife versus The Rib
The other day I was reflecting on one of my past relationships and how I felt being with that guy. Although he was a great guy and I know he cared about me, there was this one thing that I didn’t like. He really focused on my physical appearance and it was clear that he wanted to show me off. Because we were intimate, he was very well aware of my shape and he would often tell me to wear clothes that really accentuated it. He would say things like “There are girls out there who would kill for your body, you should show it off.” That didn’t mean anything to me. I mean it was great to have a nice body and no one wants to be fat, but to me, it wasn’t an opportunity to show the world how God made me. I am conservative by nature. I don’t show much skin or wear very tight clothes because I’ve been shapely from a young age and have despised the physical attention I attracted unintentionally. To him, I was something to show off to the eyes of the world but to me, I was (and am) much more. Now that I am in a deeper place spiritually, and have found even more value within myself, I refuse to simply be something to look at and lust over. From my young age I have battled with accepting who I am because the world tells you you’ve made it if your physically attractive but what they don’t tell you about is the huge void that comes with that territory; The emptiness that comes with shallow connections and being misunderstood. Many people stop at the outside and take you for what they see and insult your intelligence because of their stereotype of a beautiful girl. But I have depth and I enjoy thought provoking conversations but unfortunately, it took a while for ME to even realize that about myself because I allowed people to stop at what they saw on the outside.
There is a term that is used to describe a wife who seems to only have physical worth; she is the Trophy Wife. This woman is always on point, dressed to the tee, hair and nails always done, never seen without a full face of make up and she is in shape. She makes her husband look good when she’s on his arm. She’s the topic of discussion in her husband’s friend circle as the men covet her and fish for intimate details of their relationship. Sadly though, many of those types of wives only contribute to how their husbands LOOKS. She doesn’t speak to his character, she doesn’t help him grow or push him to his untapped potential. Although this type of woman is the jackpot in some man’s fantasy, this is never what God intended for the wife.
Genesis 2:21-22 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
Eve was created from Adam’s rib. A rib is an internal bone structure that protects the fragile organs within the abdominal area. I believe there is a definitely a reason why God chose Adam’s rib from which to make Eve to metaphorically describe the function of a wife.
If you look at a reasonably healthy person, their ribs are not usually bursting through their skin or shirt. Although the ribs are there and serving their purpose they are not always visible. I believe that a wife should be like that in some aspect. Yes, a husband should be proud to have her and cherish her, but highlighting only her physical appearance is not the only way to “show her off”. Usually the only time you see someone’s ribs is when they are frail and mostly likely that is because of some sickness. In that same way, a wife should be most visible when her husband needs her the most. Those are the times he should be bragging on how much of a support system she has been for him. Those are the attributes that should be emphasized in a conversation about a man’s wife, the value she adds to him and not how they look together as a couple.
Although it is a man’s natural instinct to protect a woman, wives protect their husband in a different way. Men do the physical protecting while wives take care of the mental and spiritual protection. Women protect men from illogical moves and bad decisions. Men are the leaders, which gives them control but they are also risk takers and will do things that may not pan out well because they don’t always think that far ahead. Men are definitely intelligent but sometimes women have to talk some sense into them and no one has that access after a mother except a wife. A wife has access to the intimate places; she sees him in his most vulnerable moments and knows how to minister to him in a way to build him back up. A husband should be able to trust that a wife won’t advise him in the wrong direction, take advantage of him or forget that he’s not superman and help him even when he forgets himself.
Women: by all means, keep yourself up and look your best. You don’t have to be at home in “comfortable clothes” all days cleaning and praying (unless that’s what you get into). Just remember when you get home, the things that really count take place. Know who you are to your husband, you’re more than sex, dinner and a clean house. He needs you; you get him, you believe in him and you support him.
Romans 12:2 says “And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is that good, perfect and acceptable will of God.”
Today a new lesson was revealed to me about this verse that keys in on the renewal of your mind. If you think about a contract, subscription or even a lease, if you do not renew it, the benefits and allowances of it expire. You can no longer receive the things that were in the terms you agreed upon. Likewise I believe that our minds are that way. We will not continue to have the mind of Christ if we don’t renew it with God’s words and promises, therefore we will not see the changes God is trying to implement in our lives. This part to me seemed familiar and therefore easy to grasp so I wondered how the ‘be not conformed to this world’ part played a role in this lesson as well. Holy Spirit then revealed to me the danger of a tendency of the mind, which is to gather information and form conclusions. This process is natural and by no means bad, however that same process is done in research in order to form statistics or projected outcomes of a certain repeated event. While statistics many times are accurate and proven, we can not think like the world and wholly trust in the continued results of past occurrences. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean to your own understanding.” Your own understanding is the conclusion that you’ve drawn about that situation that has always ended in a negative way. For instance, since grade school you’ve been a “bad test taker” so now that you’ve made it to college and you’re testing for a certification, you’ve already counted yourself out because the material is dense and you “just know” that once you get there and the nerves set in there’s no way you’ll be able to make it through. But, as a believer in the all powerful God, you are not allowed to use the statistics of your past test taking experiences to measure your ability in this current moment. Renew your mind, stop calling yourself a bad test taker first, then do what it takes to change the outcome. We’ve got to expect that God can and will do exceedingly and abundantly above what we can ask or THINK! That means if you think you’re going to fail, believe that God will not only allow you to pass but he’ll lead you to study and help you to retain the necessary knowledge for that exam.
A form of pity parties comes in us trying to prove to everyone and God that its impossible, we can’t do it and it will never change. But really you’re hurting God and selling yourself short. Of course it’s difficult to stretch your faith when you’ve seen things go wrong time and time again but hope is a fruit of the spirit and Romans 5:5 says that hope does not disappoint. All of life’s situations come in order for God to tighten us up in all the areas that make us more like Him. So before you build your case, with all your evidence from the day you were born up until this current moment, seek God and find out what he’s working on in the garage of your heart. Then ask Him to lead you to a scripture passage that will help to renew your mind in that area, like: “In all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)!
Don’t wait until the last minute or rock bottom to decide to change your way of thinking. Renew your mind daily so that you will have space in your mind to perceive the impossible when God does it!
No Holding Back
One of the hardest things to do is be completely and truly unconditional in action. More specifically, being able to give and do for a person without receiving any reciprocation. It’s not uncommon to see a man give and do for a woman he intends to be with, but in his mind he’s expecting something in return at some point. In fact, all of that is done in order to elicit a response from her; for her to feel that he is worth her time and emotional effort. It is most likely that he will not continue to do these things if she doesn’t give an indication that she plans to give anything in return, be it material or emotional. Many people will draw the conclusion that all of what he did is now a waste of time and money since he didn’t get out of it what he was expecting, but I believe I have an opposing argument. All of his efforts should not be considered useless just because he did not get out what he was expecting if his actions were connected to the true sentiment of his heart, which was a genuine interest in the woman. Many take an approach to love that says “My actions are contingent upon the reactions I receive” or “Whatever you do to me, I will do that or even less in return” because in our mind it has to be ‘even’. People don’t always verbalize this perspective but its exhibited in one way or another.
What’s wrong with giving more? What is it that makes us feel “cheated” for giving more to someone than they give us? Of course the answer has to do with our human nature and natural propensity to think of our own feelings as most important. I’ve heard it called self preservation. However, in my quest to understand God’s heart, I’ve been faced with the hard lesson of learning to love unconditionally. This is undoubtedly the most vulnerable place to be emotionally. The common misconception is that being unconditional has to do with accepting a person as who they are. While that is a part of the definition there is so much more. The aspect of unconditional that I’ve become acquainted with lately has been continuing to give 100% even without reciprocation and not regretting it. I never thought I would have to admit to myself that I love someone who I wasn’t sure felt the same way. But when it comes down to it, I can’t deny the truth just because I am unsure of the other party’s sentiments. The reality is that God loved and loves us before we did things that please Him. He loves us all before we confess that we love Him and He doesn’t withhold his confession or acts of love from us until we turn to Him. In fact He goes to great lengths to show us how much He loves us. The epitome of unconditional is when you don’t allow the conditions of the relationship to determine how you express your true feelings. What I have come to understand is that it is pointless to hold back. God has pushed me past the place of contingent love, which I’m sure will come in handy when I get married. Love can be sweet but it can also hurt. A time will come when it’s difficult to love your spouse but since you’ve made a vow before God you cannot choose when you will or will not exhibit your love for them.
Love with no regrets.
This Love Is Beyond Me.
Love is such an abstract idea and is therefore expressed and felt differently. I won’t say that there’s a right or wrong way to love or that there are definite signs of whether or not it is “real” love, but I think I’ve recently experienced the true essence of love.
For a long time I would believe I was in love with someone based on how they made me feel. When they would give me the right amount of attention and do nice things for me, when I knew they were thinking about me and wanted to be with me all the time, those things made me love a person. Recently though, I have a new understanding of love. This love is selfless, my love is no longer based on the attention I receive, but it is now tied to the well being of the person I love. I never knew you could love someone who you don’t spend much time with, but here I am, loving someone from afar. They have not done anything for me, yet I love them. I am constantly concerned about how they are doing. In fact, there are times that I am unhappy knowing that they are discontent. In true love, you are affected by the condition of the person you love. Love hurts sometimes, and not only when someone breaks up with you. It is a risk to attach yourself to someone and allow yourself to love them because once you’re in, it’s hard to disconnect yourself. And since you can’t disconnect yourself what happens is you end up bearing the pains and sufferings of that person. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that love is patient and kind. The New King James version says that love suffers long. The situation may not always last for a long time, but when you love someone you should be willing to suffer as long as it takes for the situation to change. You can’t only love someone and be there for them when things are good, love is truly exhibited in those hard times. In fact, a person may claim that you don’t love them based on the fact that you weren’t there when they needed you the most. And if you aren’t willing to be there when they need you the most, it’s quite possible you may need to grow in the love department. The Bible says that love bears up under all things. This is why traditional wedding vows are so important. (One should probably read and meditate on the words of wedding vows, prior to the wedding, to get a real sense of what they are agreeing to.) When you say those vows, you are stating that no circumstance can or will change your commitment to that person. Love should be unwavering and unconditional.
In relationships I say that I don’t want to say ‘I love you’ to my significant other until I’ve had the opportunity not to love them, but I still chose to. In saying that I mean that I don’t want to get caught up and say I love you during the wonderful bliss of a new relationship when everything seems to be perfect and we enjoying being around each other, etc. Rather when the truth comes out and we start to see the ugly parts of one another, that’s when the decision is made to accept them completely for who they are and therefore commit to loving all of them.
Also at that moment, it is important to love them for who they are at that time. Many people fall in love with or stay with potential in hopes that the person will become who they want them to be. That is an unrealistic trap because if they never change, they aren’t to blame for your unhappiness with them because you formed unrealistic expectations in your head. What should happen is when you’ve observed them in many instances, you should evaluate them as a partner. If you feel the ugly parts of them are things you can’t see yourself overlooking for the rest of you all’s lives, nor does the person see it necessary or feasible to change those things, the next step is to evaluate whether it is worth making a fuss over and if you feel it is, you should consider ending the relationship. That seems very cut and dry, but the problem most people have is that they agree to something they know drives them crazy and then later they can’t figure out what the problem is. The problem is that they hoped they could force change on someone over time when that person never planned on changing and now they’re stuck with something they can’t stand.
All in all, love is more than just saying “I love you”, it’s not a feeling but rather an action. Love is best exemplified by our Heavenly Father who loved us enough to forgive us eternally for any sin we would commit, just so that we could have a personal relationship with Him. Love isn’t only good times, hugs and kisses it is also found in tears and truth. Allow yourself to love unconditionally as our savior loves us, suffer with those you love and rejoice with them as well. It’s all in love and it’s all worth it.