Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Don't Like ....

Let's just hope that the finishing of that statement is something that is not human.

Even the world finds it ominous for people to use hate in describing someone. Its just too harsh of a word and two steps of causing someone harm, although there are still a few stragglers that use the hate word along with someone's name. The point is, we are not of the world and yet they have modified using the hate word with, "I just don't like so and so," and that is socially accepted. Is it acceptable with the church and in the eyes of God? Can we just not like someone and then quickly say afterwards," but I love such and such because the bible says I have to (Matthew 22:37-40 KJV)?"

Oh lets be honest already! Haven't you said it before? I have and thought it was alright because I still added that I loved them. But when put to the test, would you comply? Would you bless that person if God told you to? Do you bless people that you like? The Word says to bless those that spitefully uses you. You know the ones you feel deserves punishment for the wrong they have done you yet you see them being blessed all of the time. There is a reason for that.... they have done a lot of Christian people wrong, but God is not mocked - just do what He tells you. You don't have to see their punishment.

Enough of that, instead let's put this wrongly used phrase in perspective. Hm, let's take a look at your body. Is it perfect? Are there parts that you cover up? Have you ever taken off all of your clothes and looked in a full length mirror? Do you like what you see? Did you use to? If you did, what happened? Why don't you like what you see anymore? Do you make fun of yourself? Do you call yourself names? Do you get depressed because you don't look as you would like? If God asked if you liked yourself, what would you say?

In becoming a Christian, it was a struggle. My only reference was a girl older than me in Junior High School. She was the best dressed girl in school - as a sinner! Every girl in the school wished we had her wardrobe. And she was pretty to boot! For a little while, no one saw her. We assumed that she moved, instead she returned looking like a beatnik! No one knew what happened to her and where are all of her clothes? She explained that she became a born again believer. I didn't know what that was - all I figured to do was get away from her before she had me thinking the same way. Oddly enough, it was during this same time, someone witnessed to my mother and invited her to their church. It was the strangest thing I ever saw. All of the praising and worshiping, with as many churches as I had been to in my life time I never saw such praise. I didn't understand until this same girl came to the Sunday School for teens. Oh I knew I was never going to be apart of what they did to her and they asked. I immediately said, "no. I like me just the way I am." I was doing all I could to convince my mother to buy me some blue jeans much less take away the clothes I do have. They could not convince me to become what they did to her. They all appeared sad. I didn't know why and no one explained it to me. All I knew, change was not going to take place here - no, no, no it wasn't. I said, NO!

Long story short, someone prayed. God made those changes once I understood what happened. It took years for me to see what others knew and kept to themselves. That girl gave away all of her stuff because to her, they were her possessions and the root of her personality. She liked being the most popular and envied by all. In order for God to make those wonderful works in her come forth, she had to get rid of the barriers that kept her candle from shining.

I didn't know how mean I was until one of the church members had a conversation with me about careers. She had already established herself and I was in my first year of college. We were discussing advancement, and I said something I had thought of but never heard myself say out loud. I knew how much I desired success, it had been in me for as long as I could remember. But when she asked me how I was going to get there, something as simple as an ordinary plan could have been sufficient. Instead of me saying that I recall stating something along the lines of, "oh I will get there, no matter what I have to do. Even if it means stepping on the throat of someone who gets in my way." With that last part, I recalled gritting my teeth. The conversation trailed like the last flickers of a light bulb needing to be changed. While any Christian listening could have felt uncomfortable, I had no problems with that statement at the time. It sounded ruthless and it was good to be that way for a career woman. But how good was it to be as a Christian?

That was the beginning of me discovering personality traits that I didn't like in myself, but it was only when I saw them in others and those that gravitated towards me. The very people I didn't like, I either felt sorry for or tried to avoid. I didn't think I was obnoxious, but an obnoxious person would say or do something I agreed with and so I listened to other things he or she would have to say. Those other things made me overlook the things I didn't like. People that knew me didn't understand why I would attach myself to someone so unlikeable, but that was okay I convinced myself that as a Christian we don't have to do the things that people understand. Eventually, if one changes and the other refuses to do so, we grow apart and develop new friendships while others stay attached for years enjoying the other's company.

These different friendships made me see what I know I didn't see as a junior high school teenager thinking I had it all together and knowing it all. I certainly didn't see things clearly as a college student about to embark in the corporate world with stilletos, a briefcase, and a quick wit to rip apart the strongest of men. It wasn't my marriage (and the failure of it), my children and their academic careers, nor was it the many people I have met along the way - but it was the combination of them all and using the Word of God. He allowed me to see in all of it my fallacies and the necessary changes I had to make. He showed me how imperfect I had been and how much more I needed to change.

With the inside far more spiritually healthier than it has ever been before, I took a look at the outside - what people have seen and how I am quickly judged. The stress of the years and struggling through school, a marriage, children, a career and not having ample time to do what I needed to for my physical body could easily be seen. Covering helped until my children asked for me to go with them to the pool gathering. That's right, wearing a swim suit. Yikes!!! Could I lose a few pounds, a questionnaire asked on a website? I chuckled to myself - a few?

And then it came back around full circle. Who can say what we like and not like about someone else? The personality traits that we would rather not be around as if people are clamoring to be around you. How can we judge what someone has on or the odd thing someone said and place them in a category, never having been there ourselves? It is a humbling experience when we look at ourselves first to make comparisons as to why someone acts or looks a certain way. It makes it easier to bless someone who doesn't like you when we see our own shortcomings first (Galatians 6:4-8 AMP). How dare I say who I like and don't like. How lovable have I been? Breaking it down in this manner, we can see the childishness that we still have to put away and keep practicing to do so until it is a life style change.

Jesus! What a difference those years have made! I saw who I was. Look at me now!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ladies, Could This Ever Happen To You?

Over the years of counseling and seeing the behavior of many couples, now and again I think about them and say a prayer over them, hoping that all turned out well and whatever the issue that was revealed never comes back. Usually the issue came from the root of selfishness. Once revealed there was a collective sigh of relief, but without the practice of the love God commands from us all, the issue will return and with a vengeance (Luke 11:21-26 KJV). Why? Because God is not mocked (Galatians 6:7 KJV).

Nevertheless, when writing this blog, I had to narrow the scenario to one to make it a clear vision for not only you but for men to view as well. It can be a warning or a means to have that discerning eye so not to fall in the same trap.

A young couple married and were so in love when they did. Nothing could come between them. They didn't wait to create their family and as usual with a couple of impatience, there comes financial difficulty. They had a plan where they would both work, but neither had an education further then high school. No longer do people say that their love will carry them through. It now sounds so hippy and relatively stupid - especially if your kind of love isn't the God kind of love (1 Corinthians 13:3-8 AMP). Be as it were, the economy got the best of them. Downsizing was happening everywhere and by this time they had five small children. He had been terminated from so many jobs but still managed to find something. She, had the plan to be a teacher but because of the children, decided to stay home and be a Mom. Money became so tight that there wasn't enough to pay the rent and car that they both (supposedly needed). He drove a kluncker and she had the new mini van for all of her children.

To keep both cars, he decided to do the only thing he could think of and move back in with his mother. His mother accepted him and his family but didn't like it at all. It didn't take long before he was in the middle of so many arguments between his mother and his wife. It got to be so tormenting for him that he pushed his wife out of his way and left them all there to sort it out for themselves.

The mother had a field day with her daughter in law so much so, without her husband to take the brunt of all of the nagging, she had to leave. She and her children moved to a shelter. She explained to whomever would listen that she didn't know why her husband left, but if he didn't return soon, she would be filing for a divorce. Her husband and she did talk on the phone to patch things up. They even sought marital counseling. At the end, the husband agreed for the divorce even though she was bluffing. His reasoning was that his wife was just a nasty woman. She never did anything. The reason why she never went to get that teaching degree was that she expected to be taken care of. She never had a plan for a career. Her career was in his plan.

She was embarrassed at what her husband revealed. She didn't care to hear anymore of it. She gathered her children and headed for the parking lot fussing all of the way. He watched her, not moving or caring that she was leaving. As she unlocked and opened the sliding door to place her youngest in the car seat, an inordinate amount of garbage spilled out. She continued to fuss as she buckled the child in with one hand, picked up the refuse with the other, and packed it back in the floor of the van. "What?" she exclaimed,  "everyone who has children has a little mess to clean up!"

Gentlemen, Did You Ever Think This Would Happen To You?

I went to a church service that I formerly attended years ago. The people looked so different. Some gained weight while others just looked so old. Some cut their hair really short and others just lost their hair completely. When I stepped into the building there were several that remembered me and extended themselves to give me a hug. Others I expected to give hugs and they avoided me completely. I saw married couples that came to services in separate cars and sat on the opposites sides of the church. The only couple that sat together was my son and his girlfriend and the pastor and his wife. I found it sort of sad as I scoped all of the people I remembered from way back when.

The purpose for me coming back to this ministry was because it was the place where my son and his girlfriend attended. He was going to the military and was asking for prayer from all of the members. They were sending him off with a going away party. I watched this particular couple. I remembered the man from those way back years how he expressed that he had to be married. It was upper most on his mind. He was not going to keep being single. He just isn't the type to do it, he would tell me over and over. He finally found the perfect person for him. After the pleasantries were over, there was a rockie beginning but both were determined to make the best of it. Illness of the both of them, financial turmoil, children from previous relationships and every other thing that could come against the marriage came. There were reportedly many arguments that had the pastor coming and going from home visits to appointments in the office. He was annoying to her and he made no apologies for the harsh words he said to her when she frustrated him.

They sat together during church services, but when the amens were said they couldn't get away from each other fast enough. If he was in front of the church talking to someone, she was in the back or outside. They came in their own cars. When getting to the party, they were on opposite sides of the room. They ate separately. They didn't make eye contact. I made the mistake to ask, why don't they sit together. There was a long pause and I was no longer getting eye contact from the person I asked. "Its just better this way. No one needs to hear about what bill hasn't been paid and what is the next thing about to be shut off." I said nothing else. It just seemed so sad to me.

When does a happy, joy filled relationship become a collaboration of convenience? How is it that both parties agree to marry for what ever the reason and then within a few years, wish the other never existed? What happened? Marriage being a happy occasion even though there is a lot of money involved in preparing for a wedding - it is still a union with the families coming together. There is an agreement and a unit becoming even stronger then before. Not one can reckon with a family in agreement. it is what men hope for. It is their inheritance to have children that behave much like themselves. Men choose wives that agree with the vision so she can raise his children to carry on the vision. Does that still happen or is it archaic now?

Does sex have a place with water, air, food, and shelter? Does sex have such a precedence that it  takes at least one failed marriage to get it right?  Is it thought of, who is more devastated then the other? Does a man think he should have the provision at hand before he incorporates a life in with his meager earnings? What was on a man's mind when you see the newlywed struggling with all aspects of life? Was that his plan when he asked his wife to marry him? Did she know that sex was the only plan he was thinking about and if she did, would she have married him? Why didn't he give her that option? Was he deceiving her (Proverbs 20:17 KJV)? How do you see it? Now how does God see it?

I pose this to you men. You have seen much just as I described above (for some, there could have been more), what have you learned from what you saw? It is said for the younger to tell the older, but if they don't, you should still have a discerning eye to see what isn't being said. I have learned to treat myself better, not to settle for anything less than what I expect, and to always keep my faith strong just by listening to derogatory conversations from the elderly. They're intention wasn't to give me a life's lesson but to just harp and complain (Proverbs 18:20-21 KJV). It is my job to find the good from it - glory be to God, that I did. What good have you learned from this? It is a life lesson - carry it on and go tell someone else.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Lower Nature

I have been studying Paul's writing for quite sometime. There were many passages that left me in a quandary and I either went back over them to meditate on or just left it alone until I could grow up in the Spirit for a better understanding. Marriage was one of those quandaries by which my inner response was, "how could Paul teach something that he has no experience and no knowledge of what the institution consists of?" His rules seemed too strict and bordered on contradiction of the original text (Old Testament). Tried as I could, I still liked my own ideals more than what Paul was trying to teach.

The rules that began frustrating me had nothing to do with if you don't have a wife don't try to find one (1 Corinthians 7:27 KJV). Nor was it that if you do marry, you didn't sin; though when you put the two verses together your entire expression would be a question mark. The problem I was having was if I marry I would no longer try to be pleasing to God but my mind would be on matters of the world. How could this be when he wrote that marrying would not be a sin and we know to be friends with the world is being an enemy to God? Why would marriage have my mind on worldly matters (1 Corinthians 7:26-28 AMP)?

I scowled for months leaving that verse to study something else but there is no getting away from Paul's writing when studying scriptures. So how does one advance, grow up and be mature negating vital verses in the bible? It just doesn't happen! One must be able to rightly divide the Word in order to answer every man's question for him to have a true understanding as well. It must be the Truth.

The Word tells us to be pure and delivered from sexual vice (1 Thessalonians 4:2-4 AMP). I haven't heard much teaching on this because it would mean for believers to stop meandering around what we all know not to do. A vice becomes acceptable when there is more than 10 that has the same need. The reasoning behind the acceptance is that it hurts no one and the individual likes seeking that sort of release. The TLC Network ran a story about a woman who had a condition where she experienced involuntary orgasms daily and often. She narrated how her life had to change because of her condition and she made it sound as if it was so horrible as she sought medical attention for her condition. She couldn't work or function as most others would, she claimed. Then one day she was offered an opportunity to go on a vacation with her friend. She knew she would be flying so she went to her doctor to get a prescription for air sickness. When she got to her destination and within hours of the trip she realized that her condition had subsided. Through trial and error she found that the air sick medication was the cure that alleviated her from her so called horrible condition. You would think her prayers were answered. Instead, she stopped taking the meds to resume the condition she had complained about for so long. She made her condition her sexual vice. It started off innocent, but according to the scripture - it is no longer.

So wouldn't we all be at a cross road? Who doesn't like having sex, talking about sex, learning more about sex, and in so doing being aroused? What do you do single Christian when you are aroused?

There is a Christian website that teaches women about various sexual positions for the purpose of enjoying their own husbands, as the scripture states. I was fascinated that there was such a venue - one that is much needed in the body of Christ. But then I read a portion of the site that condoned masturbation. I had to stop and think about what they were actually trying to tell believers to do. How could they tell their readers that it was alright to masturbate? Though some wouldn't think it was a Selah moment, I still had to pause and think about it.

The website is promoted for married couples... this is the difference. I asked the question to you  - single believer. What do you do when the lower nature is speaking to you. I have received a variety of answers and some are sort of funny. I heard one woman tell me that a cold shower doesn't work but taking a bath with the water on full force does help. I was in my early 20's when she said this to me. I had no idea what she was talking about. When I did understand her, years later, I thought it was sort of sad, seeing she is a married woman to a pastor. Still, it really doesn't answer the question. We are looking for that good and acceptable behavior. Something that is only pleasing to God. What could it be?

Could it be as simple as trusting in God (Isaiah 26:3 AMP)? How is it that when the finances get low, or the children act as if they were playing in the devil's pit all the live long day, or the boss tries to rip you a new one, or when the bills get overwhelming, or when anything else happens that is outside of our realm of righteousness, we can go before God and use that faith knowing God will do what He said, but when it has to do with sex and our desire for it, we seek ways that has nothing to do with faith? A pastor said in a sermon that God gave us sexual desire and it is good. Alright, but when you are single, how good is it then (Romans 13 :14 AMP)?

Here is the only practical resolve I know. If you never had chocolate in your life, would you ever crave it? If you never had to purchase anything because it was always given to you and you always had an ample supply, would you ever have the desire to go shopping? What are you doing, watching, saying, and listening to? If you didn't allow sex or sexual things to be apart of your life, would it still be a stronghold on your mind? If you stop watering a plant, won't it die? If you stop feeding an animal, won't it ceased to exist. If you stop watching television programs and movies that have sexual innuendo or blatant acts would you crave it all the more? Examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5 AMP). 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Stir Up The Gift...Not The Dust

In the dating process, we will eventually come to a point of wondering why continue with dating this particular person. Naturally we make assessments. Spiritually, by which we walk, we seek peace with God. This would be the mature thing to do; however, there are those times where we think this is our personal sitcom acting as if we are doing them a favor by even spending our time with the person we are dating. This is arrogance and in that state where arrogance takes over. The conversation changes where questions that arise to ask might very well be suggestions much like the first woman dealt with while residing in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-13 KJV).

The suggestions, whether you consider the Garden of Eden or in what is asked on a date, is indicative of not trusting in God. So watch and pray before speaking (Mark 14:38 KJV). Yes, that's right, this is a warning! You have no idea what hornets nest you will be swatting at when asking such probing matter that has either been forgiven and/or forgotten about.

First, let's deal with what you are thinking in order for any suggestive matter to be squashed before the wrong thing is said. I suppose it is natural to see what kind of temperament the person has so you won't be surprised later. So when asking questions about past relationships from the other person, do you hope to see the truth about who this person really is? Will there be follow up questions about the past? And are you willing to answer the same questions about failed relationships? Afterwards, will you be satisfied? Can you then assess who is at fault with the demise of that past relationship? Based on the information that you received from all of that probing matter can you foresee what not to do or are you reconsidering if the person is for you? Can you see where the trust issue you have in God just burrowed a hole in a relationship had you not entertained the suggestive matter?

A woman who had been through an emotional divorce decided not to date for quite sometime. She concentrated on raising her children and obtained a degree. While in the midst of her career, she met a man who seemed to be interested in her. They spoke briefly and then decided to date. She was so pleased with his behavior and how he treated her she reconsidered the possibility of marriage. Both are Christians and maturity level of their faith is about equal. They truly enjoyed each other's company. In their conversations over a given period of time, he found that she wasn't very experienced with having too many relationships and found it unusual in this day and age. It also intrigued him that such a woman with high standards didn't stay married. He began asking more questions about her previous relationship. The dates which were usually amusing and a highlight of her day, were now losing its flavor with all of the questions he came at her with. She started not to accept his phone calls and if she happened to see him coming her way in a market or mall, she avoided him completely.

Why would this happen? Why didn't she find it appealing with him trying to know all he could about her? Is there enough information in the scenario? Do we really have to know the questions he asked? Isn't it enough that she had an emotional divorce and had to reconsider ever to get married again. Wasn't that enough? Why wasn't it enough for him?

If it were you asking the questions, what would you do with the answers? Would you compare the answers with your past relationships or to see if this person would do the same thing with you? Would you be as forth coming with answers when the questions are directed to you? And now can the person be as judgmental as you are with the answers you received (Luke 6:37 KJV)?

What skeletons do you have in your closet? Let's dig all that mess up. What will we find? Did you clean up before starting a relationship?

I believe if we were to look at this phrase of skeletons in a closet from the perspective of a Christian we would see things differently. We know that there is a prayer closet we go to, to pray and speak to God about matters that we would not tell anyone else. We confess our faults there and then when we come out it is with a better understanding, revelation knowledge or just feeling better having been able to vent some things that only God could hear. We close the closet not thinking of those matters anymore. They were confessed, forgiven, and placed in a sea never to relive again. But what if, someone was able to go to that closet and see all of the stuff that was confessed? All of those sins and fleshly desires that were thought of, said, or acted upon? All of those things that you wished you never did in your life time? None of which you would like for your mother to know about... hm? What if God left them there for others to discover? Well, isn't that what we are asking when we try to probe in matters that the other is not willing to talk about?

While you are pondering on that, let's re-examine the purpose of going on a date. I have stated many times that as unromantic as it may sound, a date is an interview. There is no other reason two Christian people date other than for the purpose of marriage.  The interview is usually clouded with other things like baubles, compliments, dinners and a movie; but for all intents and purposes the conversation should lead along the lines to whether both heard the same thing from God and are both in agreement. That's it! The rest is gravy. Anything else comes with hearing the gifts that each have in enhancing the other person's life. She comes to help him with his vision and he provides her with all she needs to do the task. She has honed in on her skills (whether domestic or in a career) and it all works together to get the task done. How did this all get screwed up?

Its that pesky dust by which the flesh was created. Once we get the will to walk in the Spirit, the screwing up process ceases. (2 Timothy 1:5-7 AMP)