Friday, March 25, 2011

Books and Covers and Stuff Like That

I wrote a recent blog post about one knows a tree by the fruit it bares. it dove specifically into Christian Dating from more then being on the superficial level. You know what I mean, having the physical attraction first then maybe seeing whether you like the inside or not. Many times having the eye candy is all that is desired until maturity sets in then the proverbial rose colored glasses comes off. What ensues there after is not pretty. Why do you suppose that is? Could it be because walking by sight rather then by faith has its disadvantages (Romans 8:5-14 AMP)?

Be as it may, I woke this morning thinking about a client I use to have some years ago. While finishing my last year of an undergrad degree, I was employed as a Youth Specialist. In our cottage, there were 12 at risk teen aged girls that I, along with 11 other Specialists, were to monitor and redirect behavior for them to be mainstreamed back into society. One in particular that I met when she was 12 years old but looked 18. She seemed like all of the other girls there and kept herself clean and presentable at all times. She tried my patience at times, but they all did. What intrigued me about her was when they had been given a gift where a group of special guests that coined themselves to be their mentors came once a month specifically for the girls. They treated the girls to many things that the girls would not otherwise been privy to. One of those privileges was getting an entire make over. When it was this one particular girl's turn, she was taken to the beauty salon. Normally this girl, we will call, Alice would have her hair pulled back in a pony tail. And as African American females do when using a pony tail these days, we also use a hair product to keep all wispy hairs in place. I use to call it shellac until I started using it too. When the beauty operator took the ponytail unloose from Alice's hair, she found that not only did Alice have longer hair then any of us knew but she had also brushed over and shellacked it down so much that it was a tangled mess underneath. The beauty operator had a job on her hands. When she was finished Alice looked like a different person. I rarely saw her in a ponytail after that.

Later that month when looking over how Alice blossomed after that make over, my colleagues and I realized something about Alice. She rarely showed her feet. Even when all of the girls were relaxed and looking at T.V. Alice always had shoes or many layers of socks on. I recall one of the other girls made mention of how Alice borrowed clothes from all of the other girls. It wasn't a big deal only that she borrowed shoes as well. Still I wasn't seeing the problem. But the other resident said that Alice borrowed her shoes. The resident was barely 5 feet tall. Alice towered at 5' 7". There was no way Alice could fit those shoes, yet for the last 3 days, it is what she did. She didn't walk as if her feet were hurting her. My supervisor called Alice into the office and asked for her to remove her shoes, then the many layers of socks. Alice's feet looked as if they had been bound for years. She had bunions like an elderly woman who had been wearing high heels for the majority of her life.

In all of that time while my colleagues and I were treating Alice for her to be a successful adult, none of us realized that the treatment was deeper then that. Alice couldn't see what was so wrong and why we were all astonished that she would abuse herself in this way. If we saw any signs of self mutilation, the child would have to be removed from the program and placed elsewhere to get a different sort of treatment. When we found this out about Alice she was well into her 16th year and soon to be discharged and mainstreamed. She has become a part of society where someone will meet her and think she is the perfect person to have a relationship with.

I bring this up because Alice was one that got out from under the radar with 12 accomplished and experienced Youth Specialists watching her daily. How many other homes with at risk teens that were discharged seeming to be as normal as anyone else? There were girls that argued for no reason, lied on a regular basis because drama was apart of her life style. There were those that stole cars to make extra money and those that sold themselves for the same reason. There were those that justified causing themselves harm stating that it was a means of escape and those that escaped the cottage because a safe haven was too strange for them to get use to. There was even a girl that seemed so talented to do whatever she desired to do but could not sit still long enough to learn how to develop her natural skills. And as you read this, you might think, well everyone has problems or that sounds like what most people are like these days...and it very well might be. Isn't that a shame?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Recognize The Wolf

I recently drew a poster I thought could be used for a movie advertisement; but upon close observation at the finished illustration, I thought about this deeper then what is in black and white. as many times as the children's story has been told, do we take those lessons and apply them in our Christian lives? This one screams of a moral and Spiritual ethical message. Its not understandable to me as to why I haven't heard it, other then the way the Lord is giving it to me now. Maybe some minister preached this message somewhere and I just wasn't there; this would not be true for you, I plan to keep this blog up for whomever is interested and needs to go back to it.

In the children's story the little girl felt it necessary to explain to the wolf where she was going and what she was doing. In the story, the little girl gave the wolf all of the information he needed to know to gain access to a two course meal (the little girl and her grandmother) that he wouldn't have had to work hard for at all. In the story when the wolf spoke to the little girl, he wasn't dressed as anything else but who he is - the wolf. How or why would a little girl then speak to something first that wasn't given the ability to speak and then tell all that she knew? Does this not sound like what the woman did with the serpent in the garden (Genesis 3:1-3 NIV)?

There is another passage in Job, actually the first chapter where the devil says to God what he has been doing, where is going and when given the information to consider His son Job, the answer given back is, "don't you have a hedge of protection around him (Job 1:8-9 NIV)?" This tells me several things:
1. The devil has nothing to do unless given place to do it (Ephesians 4:27 KJV).
2. God said what the devil's job is and he will do nothing else other then what God said for him to do (John 10:10 KJV) and (Job 1: 11:12 KJV).
3. The devil knows that the righteous are protected (Job 1:9-10 KJV).
4. The devil cannot see the righteous (Job 1:7-9 AMP).
5. God will not leave nor forsake His own even when being punished for wrong doing. He punishes those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6 AMP).

The lessons taught by these passages and others are given to us in our childhood stages of spiritual maturity so that we can truly enjoy the son-ship of abundant life. Though we might think that we should have this and that right now, one of the ways to recognize a wolf is first within yourself (Haggai 1:5 KJV). If you are being honest as to why you think you deserve anything, you would repent and be content in whatever state you are in (Philippians 4:11 MSG). Selah!

Now with others whether it being male or female, the wolf only comes to those that he is attracted to. Why then would he be attracted to you? Is there something that you didn't get right with God? As it has been already established that he cannot see the righteousness of God unless there is something that you have allowed in for him to gain access to you. I just cannot believe that a father that loves his children would allow for them to be in harm's way. Therefore, the Word tells us how can your father who is evil (born in sin) delight in giving his children good things would not our Heavenly Father do more so (Matthew 7:11 AMP)? Then why would He put us in a place where we would find hurt, harm, or danger? Don't we acknowledge Him in all of our ways for Him to direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6 KJV)? Do we not trust Him for us to have that peace that surpasses all understanding? Don't we love Him with all of heart, all of our mind, all of our strength (Luke 10:27 AMP)? Then why would a wolf be attracted to you of all people?

My son is studying to be a technical engineer after having been a certified mechanic for so many years. The Lord has blessed him with witty inventions and he was discussing with me about a piece of machinery he was working on. It was extremely technical but I was trying to understand as much of it as I could. One of the points that caught my attention was the use of magnets and the power that each one of them have. I recall in my own childhood playing with magnets that when you turned one in the opposite direction of the other, they repelled one another. He was telling me that if one magnet is stronger then the other it is difficult to get the other to do the same kind of movement with the other gadgets. While one can still attract the other, it won't hold onto it for long. I apply this same law and theory to the topic at hand because the scripture tells us what communion has light with darkness and for us not to be unequally yoked, it reinforces the question, why would a wolf be attracted to the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus?

Many of us believe that dogs can smell fear What if they do?  Its as if some are attracted to it. This is not just with wolves but their domestic counter parts - dogs. Dogs that are bred to fight hope that there is an element of fear. They have to, its when the attack will happens. An attack that if not intercepted will come to eminent hurt, harm and danger (death). Could this also be true for the Christian who worries about a matter that he/she cannot control? The mere idea of a matter that would cause concern would be that this brother or sister in the Lord has taken a matter away from God and decided to handle it on their own through worry - which does nothing but bring a stench in the air. A stench that must not be appealing to God. There is sweet smell that God savours. He enjoys a joyful noise of praise (Psalm 95:2 KJV). Its hard to do that and worry too. So who is smelling that stench (Ephesians 2:1-3 KJV)? Who is attracted to fear?

I recall the scripture when Jesus was in throngs of people and the woman with the issue of blood came. She had this issue for 12 years and there was nothing or no one that could help her but when she heard that Jesus was going to be on the scene she did all she could to be there. She continually said the words,  all she needed to do was touch the hem of His garment and she would be made whole. When she got to Him, she did what she said she was going to do. She touched the hem of His garment and when she did, Jesus stopped where He was going and asked, "who touched me (Luke 8:43-48 KJV)?" This tells me that when faith is in pursuit of Him, He listens, He is attentive, He inquires. There is an attraction and He does not ignore it. Its a strong a powerful attraction. The only way He loses His grip is if you turn the other way (and even then He still sees you in what you are doing and where you are going).

Bullies go after the weakling. He knows that he can reinforce the fear in many if he picks on someone smaller then himself. The more he terrorizes the small and weak the more others hear about the menace he is which also frightens those who never have seen him. It takes someone who is confident in knowing who he/she is and stands up to the terror of everyone else. The bully doesn't know what to do with someone who is as strong as he appears to be. The bully can either try to use what he has never used before (people have only heard the rumors) or he can take a pass and risk the reputation he had been building on (Psalm 37:1-24 KJV). Who is going to flinch first? Faith always overcomes fear always...always.

So you see the recognition of a wolf isn't at all what you thought. If you don't recognize those spots and wrinkles on your garment, how then will you recognize them on someone else when they approach for the sole reason of attraction. What is he/she attracted to? It should be Christ living on the inside of you and nothing else.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sex In The City

I am using this title to stimulate interest, to be honest, and for the subject matter. It is something that is not usually taught in a large forum of people and practically non-existent in church. Which leads "baby" Christians to do what they see others do that are not in the faith. It makes that Spiritual walk all the more difficult to maintain when "world" values are in place.

I don't quite have a handle on why it isn't something talked about in ministry other than old stodgy feelings of embarrassment, different positions that can be difficult to talk about, or the idea if you put a carpet over the pile of mess it will all go away. Its hard to pretend a lump isn't under the carpet when one keeps tripping over it. Just deal with it already!

I am going to make this as plain as I possibly can, in the name of Jesus. If there is no minister that will lay out the ground rules about sex, at least you can talk to each other and pray about the matter. The Holy Spirit will lead and guide you into all truth (John 16:13 KJV). Being honest about this subject will help to avoid so many misunderstandings and arguments later. Its not so much about the sexual past history (that is, unless it is a big deal to you) because God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 KJV). Getting all the skinny on whom was in his/her bed before you can get down to the real nitty-gritty of the matter between the two of you, would take the Wisdom of God to uncrack that egg and make sense of all of that scrambled mess. Let it be done.

There are matters that he/she has desires to do and because of what was considered not to be spoken of has caused people to be in extra-marital affairs with strangers who will do those unspoken things - for a price. This is why the conversation has to be between the two people considering marriage before asking a minister a bunch of things that he/she has no clue what you are either trying to say or hoping the minister can mentally decipher what you are afraid to talk about with your intended. Yeah, I thought ministers who counsel would have such insight by the Holy Spirit on matters that I wouldn't even have to ask - unfortunately, all ministers don't have that sort of gift and some are just there to get a paycheck or hear something they can talk about with the other clergy (1 Corinthians 12:27-31 KJV). Is that being cynical? No, a minister actually said this while in the middle of a sermon. I was surprised.

The truth is, sex is an extremely intimate part of a marriage and it is something that has no business to be spoken of amongst colleagues, friends, neighbors, and anyone else one tries to get an opinion from. Trying to get a percentage of how many times a couple has sex per week is childish. Asking men what do they do to keep from pre-ejaculating is lunacy. Trying to make sense of why women, who have been married for so many years, joke about their sex lives amongst each other rather than talking with their husbands would only hurt your own mind.

When a man asks another man about his sexual prowess or lack thereof, he has allowed someone else into his bedroom. He has given information to someone else who may or may not keep that information to himself. What makes you think that he didn't or may still have the same problem? Why would he not make a move on the wife of said man who now knows that she must not be satisfied and could be looking for satisfaction elsewhere? The women that joke about their sex lives are not doing what the Word tells them to do in reverencing their husbands (Ephesians 5:33 KJV). Because he isn't there listening to what she is saying, she still represents the basis of Christianity. Have nothing to do with the gathering of these women. They will not only influence poor behavior in your marriage but will also ask questions about your intimate life with your husband as well. You might feel obligated to answer them because they befriended you.

The Old Testament tells us that there is safety in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 11:14 KJV). The purpose of this verse is that if you ask enough professional people on a matter there will be a certain number of those counselors that will agree. That number of agreement is your answer. Then there is the New Testament where Jesus tells us to follow Him that His burden is easy and yoke is light (Matthew 11:29-30 NIV). He tells us that seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness is all of the answer we need (Matthew 6:33 KJV). Also if we ask for Wisdom, He gives it liberally and upbraids it not (James 1:5 KJV). It is a matter of where your faith is. How can you measure this? Well, if the idea of talking to your perspective mate about sex and the desires you have in the marital bed causes you anguish and fear - then it is best for you to go through talking to a multitude of counselors; which, by the way sounds grueling and will definitely get you out of the shy mode concerning sexual matters. On the other hand, if you already know why the Word tells us to put your trust in no man and can take it before the Lord knowing that He hears your prayers, then get busy in doing that before having that sit down with your intended.

The statistics for years is that men enjoy sex more then women, that women would rather talk and cuddle before and after intimacy, and that men use sex as his demonstration of how much he loves her. Knowing that we are not of the world and not live by their rules, why then would we believe these numbers. Who took this survey? Who did they ask? How many people did they ask? How much of the survey is assumption because of the number of actual people asked? What was the socio-economic status of these people? All of these are factors to consider when believing if the numbers are real or not.

Now for the nitty-gritty. The truth is we have all lived a certain kind of way before coming into the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-5 KJV). We all found things that we liked and have held off until marriage believing it is the right thing to do in the sight of God. This is not in dispute. What is disputable are the things we learned and believe we like while having that certain life style that has passed away, making all things a new (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV). So when he/she says what they find stimulating, please do not make a disgusted expression. Be patient and listen. You might have a question or two as to why and where did you learn that from. Can you see the reason for that prayer before having this discussion? Let's see, shall I list all of the sexual positions and link images for you to gain an idea of it or can you go put on your big boy pants or big girl panties on and purchase a book to gain some insight? Sounds too scary to do? Remember there are always those many, many counselors or you can just wait until your faith gets there.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

You Know A Tree By The Fruit

The Word tells us that we are like trees planted by the rivers of water, that our leaf shall not wither and whatsoever we touch shall prosper (Psalm 1:3 KJV). Though this is a metaphor - being like a tree, yet I still can not think about this verse without the verse where Jesus spoke to the woman at the well. He said that He had a drink that she could have where she would never thirst again. Recall that this is only after He told her about what she had been doing with so many men and the man she was with wasn't her husband either. Her personality was that she had an appetite for sexual contact anyway she could get it. It is why she had been with so many men and was with someone else's husband. back then the laws were is an adulterer was caught, she was stoned to death. She apparently believed her need was greater then being stoned. When Jesus told of what she had been doing, she was amazed. Notice that He did not degrade or berate her because of her past and the way she was thinking to continue to do what she had been doing. After He spoke, she was ready to put aside what she came to the well for and be a new (John 4:6-29 KJV). Her heart had changed because she was willing to do so.

When we accept the Jesus Christ as our Lord and Personal Savior, we have decided to live the abundant life that He came to give (John 10:9-11 KJV). We decided not to be held captive by the things of this world. We have nothing to be anxious for because provision has been made. We can enter into the rest of God because the toil that once was is no more. We chose life and all that comes with it including the benefits. Our productivity is because of our choices. We choose life!

So then, we find that with life there are so many benefits. There must be more then we know or can find because the description of life is abundant. In the Amplified Bible, abundance is defined as to the full, until it overflows. Scripture tells us that eye has not seen, nor ear has heard what God has for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV). If all of this is waiting for us to have, then why would there be a question? What must you do to know what all of this is? Of course, spend that time in the Word and in prayer to gain the Wisdom, revelation knowledge and understanding that God says He would give liberally and not upbraideth it not if you would only ask (James 1:5 KJV).

In comprehending this, I must put it all in the context of dating within the Christian circle. There is a language that we have. There is a walk that we have. There is a look that we have as we smile and not react in emotion the way that is expected for us to react by the world (Titus 2:14 KJV). In every given situation, it doesn't require the same reaction because people are different. We have yielded ourselves to the Holy Spirit, and people are watching to see if they should become believers as well. Therefore, it would be an opportunity of a great work to be able to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd to do and say what would be the perfect thing in that given moment.  You become more trustworthy to obtain more, and when there is a likelihood of a potential spouse that could be watching or could have heard what it is you did in that given moment - it is another profitable benefit. If thought about too long, it could all be so overwhelming. Understandably so to an immature believer. To the one whose heart and mind is stayed on Him, he will not be a lover of himself but know that being humble before Him is crucial in maintaining and continued obtaining.

Everyone comes to church services for one reason or another. There are some that have been loyal for years and have developed a regular routine in volunteering in some of the auxiliaries. Would this be the kind of fruit  to reveal the true source of his/her heart?

I went to the market to purchase some groceries. I didn't have any intentions on getting apples but in passing the produce section the red delicious apples looked so inviting. They were so big and ripe. I thought about my children and knew they would love them. I saw the bag of apples they had and thought there could be a bad one so I opted in getting the individual apples. I selected about a dozen. I looked at each one very carefully trying to spot for bruises or soft spots. All seemed firm, a uniform red color all around, and smelled fresh. It was all the criteria I needed in purchasing these apples. When I got home I put the groceries away and later when the apples were cold enough, I took one out of the refrigerator for myself. I washed it off before sitting to take a bite. I knew it would be as delicious as its name. My teeth pierced the crisp skin, as I expected it to do. As I continued to bite, I could taste the flesh of the apple. The sweetness was on my tongue, as I expected - but the texture of the apple was much like a sponge. I pulled the apple away from my mouth to examine it closer. Though the color appeared as if the fruit was fresh, the texture of the apple was as if it were rotten. It was disgusting. I didn't wish for my children to experience the same, but what if that was the only bad apple. What if the others were fine? I took another apple and cut if open. I pushed the flesh with my finger to see if firm or the spongy texture. It was the same as the first, and the third, and the fourth. I stopped testing after the fifth one believing they all came from the same tree. What happened to the production of this apple? Was it made to produce quicker by chemicals? Was it sprayed to have a longer shelf life? Why did it look one way on the outside deceiving what it really was on the inside?

I recall as a director of a learning center I had to do quite a few duties. One of them being to hire the staff when the turn over became too great. In so doing, I had to also be mindful that with working around children, there were crucial questions as well as drug testing and checking the criminal background. While everyone said the right words and did all that was expected, I still had to do the ground work myself. I found that people listed past employment with companies that no longer existed or with employers that were deceased. I even had an applicant who said all of the right things but wore flip--flops to the interview and had dirty feet. There was one applicant in particular when the owner was getting anxious, had insisted in hiring her. She seemed clean enough and had all of the right words to say but there was something about her I didn't like. She had yellow stains on her teeth and discoloration around her fingernails. I expressed my concerns with the owner. He decided to lecture me on his experiences and  ended with not judging a book by the cover. While the sentiment sounded as well as the applicants applying for the job, he had to trust what he hired me for and not to take the matters into his own hands; nevertheless, I did what he asked of me and hired the applicant before receiving both the criminal background check and the drug test. He was satisfied that she was not a convicted criminal and hired her. She was on time for the first few days and then the drug test came in. She tested positive. The owner just stared at me. He didn't say anything but that it was my task to terminate the new employee.

People change. The person we were in grade school isn't the person we are now. After salvation, we changed even more.  Some circumstances can cause people to change for the better while other events can cause issues in some where nothing but prayer can deliver them. Isn't it amazing how we all work to impress when we are trying to get something that we want. In a job interview, we dress up and even research to have the right answers for the interview. It is the responsibility of the interviewer to do his homework to get past all of the impressive clothes and words and get down to the truth of the matter. We also become dressed up, soft spoken and quite the mannerable person when we make up in our minds to start dating for the purposes of marriage. All of the things we were taught to do as children, we can't help but to recall all of them when turning on the charm. Why not maintain those manners and that charm throughout the rest of our lives? Is it too difficult to do?

When Jesus was about to be crucified He told Peter that he would deny Him three times (Luke 22:34 NIV). Peter said he never would having so much love for Jesus; yet, when the pressure was on, Peter did exactly what Jesus said He would do. Were we ever in the same situation, when the truth could have possibly caused more damage then just making something up? Is it alright to declare someone else's child as your own during tax season? Have you justified this as a means of helping someone else? Do you also gain from it? Would it have been less enticing if you did not gain a profit? Would you compromise your principles, values, ethics, and/or name if it meant you would receive a million dollars afterward? No? What about five million? Ten million? Honestly, it is an interesting dating question.

I watched an episode of, How I Met Your Mother. In this episode, the only married couple of the group was reminiscing about their wedding day. They decided that they were not going to use all of the cliches that so many other couples do. The intended bride made a list. One of the characters asked about the scripture in the bible that defined love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV). They all didn't know what the verse was. So the intended groom recited the verse and they all paused for a moment as if they were about to sigh hearing the beauty as we all know the Lord to be. After the pause they collectively said, "nah!"and added it among the list of cliches. Clich├ęd? They had no idea what love is or could be no matter how they felt before getting married. Even though a television show, someone wrote the script to make it as believable as possible. The canned laughter proceeded behind the expression as if people could not make up their own minds with what is and isn't funny.

Before Peter denied Jesus, one of the villagers looked at him and wondered if he was from Galilee as well. When Peter said he wasn't, the woman stopped him and said that Peter spoke like him. Peter had to really try hard to say and do other wise. Why was it so difficult? Because with all of the time spent in His presence, Peter couldn't help to be more like Him (Matthew 26:69-75 KJV). This would also be true in seeing if that potential spouse is the right one. As I have written many times before, he/she has no way of knowing what love is (even when reading it) unless time is spent with it and can do nothing but live it, speak it, walk it, and do it daily. It is the reason why evil cannot commune with it (2 Corinthians 6:14 KJV). It is the reason why other yokes cannot be bound with it. It is why blessings and provision surround it always. It is why the process makes it all the more sweet and therefore cannot be rushed. Love is patient - but you already knew that, right?