Devotion (Single & Following Jesus)

Devotion: The model of love given by Jesus. Women were created by love, to be loved, not purchased servants. Men and women were created to be loved, not worshipped (Notes on marriage and dating).

This is my note to unmarried males and females. Women are not servants you purchase, nor created to be slaves. God loves women and asks that they be loved. God goes farther to say, “Pursue loving your wife the way Jesus loves the church.”

Provision is more than money. Jesus does more than provide for the church financially, He infuses the church with life, empowers, cares for, lays His life down, forsakes selfishness, and Jesus is loyal. Jesus is a best friend, a confidant, trustworthy, faithful, sacrificial, a servant, pure, and has the best interests of the Father and the church at heart. Jesus is not seeking to be served primarily, He comes to serve. He does not come to control, dominate, elevate Himself above anyone. He took the lowest place so we could be elevated to sit in heavenly places next to Him.

Jesus leads by serving and love. What is love? Let’s look at Jesus. Love looks like Jesus.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,~Mark 10:45.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,~John 15:13.

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her,~Ephesians 5:25.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them,~John 13:12-17.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law,~Romans 13:8-10.

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant,~Matthew 23:11.

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening],~1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

God did not instruct men to be Jesus-become the God of his wife or it would be idolatry. He states plainly be imitators of Christ. Look at your role model and do what you see Him doing.

God did not instruct wives to worship their husbands, nor be the actual Body of Christ. Women are part of the Body which encompasses billions of believers. God gave a picture so we could understand. Christ and the church is not equal to husband and wife. They are to look to the picture to gain a greater understanding of agape love.

Followers of Jesus are to pursue agape (God love-sacrificial/unselfish) love, not just Eros (romantic/sexual love), storage (family love), of philia (friendship love). Jesus stated His disciples would be recognizable by their agape love. Love does not treat others objects to be purchased for selfish means. We becomes friends of God and serve Him out of love. We love because He first loves us.

Over the years I have had several men try to purchase me for selfish means. They came with their wife list and as long as I met the criteria (attractive/loves Jesus were top of the list) they wanted to demonstrate how much money they had thinking I would just jump on ship. They focused on what they wanted and needed. They had little to no interest in what I wanted or needed. I was like a car they walked up on that they wanted to purchase. I am not for sale. My Papa God does a great job of providing everything needed. I know if I ever married He would send someone actually interested in loving like Jesus who fit the call He has on my life. Some men do not want you doing anything ministry related that is not their ministry. Well, I founded and oversee two ministries. I am not interested in being controlled. I have a mission to complete for Jesus that can be done successfully as an unmarried person.

I am more interested in the heart of a person than their wallet. I am more interested in the way a person loves than their resume. I am not pursuing anyone other than Jesus and understand I am not an object to be purchased; I am a person to be loved. Ladies, look at who you let choose you. Do they love like Jesus (not perfect, yet growing in this area)? Looks can fade, money can be lost, do they know how to love? Are they a good friend to you? Check these things out before saying I do. Are they headed the same direction-you have something in common besides Jesus?

Men, is she after your wallet or just to check the box of “single no more,” of does she love you? How does she treat your family and friends? Can you grow with her? Is she grossly selfish? Looks fade. She can be smoking hot today and a hot mess tomorrow. Do you love who she is on the inside? Is she a good friend to you? Is she trustworthy? Think about what’s beneath the surface, beyond external. Would you be willing to lay your life down for her?

For those dating, is the objective to be a blessing to the other person or be blessed? Is it to add value to someone’s life or have them add to yours? Is the objective to overflow of come with a bucket of needs? Is the heart to give or consume? Is the pursuit out of loneliness and desperation or a heart to love fiercely?

The biggest component is love, yet compatibility, common ground, etc….matter too. May we see every relationship as an opportunity to grow in loving like Jesus. Without love we are just making noise. #dating #marriage

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Seek to Add Value (Single & Following Jesus Part XII)

What does it mean to add value?

We live in a world of gimmie and bless me and serve me. In an ideal world, one with Jesus at the center, there would be lots of, “How can I serve you? How can I bless you? What about you?

If we all looked out for each other, every person would come into relationships looking for ways to help and bless the other person. There would be no one sided relationships, abuse, infidelity, dishonesty, selfishness, consumers in relationships, gross hurt or unnecessary pain. Utopia right?

The only perfection this side of eternity is found in Jesus. We are not perfect, He is. We can pursue abiding in His love so others around us are blessed.

When you and I set our minds on being a blessing it gives us the opportunity to love. Love is not selfish.

Love serves. Jesus did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom.

The example of Jesus does not mean we offer up to everyone endless pouring out. Why? The one who gives the most is the one who ends up attached and loving.

It is important to use wisdom with our attachments. Though we are encouraged to just give and give, pour out and pour out…if you do not use wisdom you can end up having your heart shredded.

God intended for relationships to be reciprocal and involve commitment, not be one sided. God intended for both people to be loved and stewarded well. Love is supposed to be safe.

The level of access someone has to us should increase with the level of commitment.

Adding value is not giving everyone equal access to your heart.

Before you give your heart away, is the other person trustworthy to steward your heart. What is this person’s commitment to you? Casual, then their access should reflect that. Growing, they show you they are trustworthy, then a bit more knowing. Closeness/committed, then a bit more with the deepest intimacy (emotional, spiritual, or physical) happening inside of marriage. Some share way too much while dating to have their hearts broken. Engagement implies commitment, it is not marriage. Dating is not engagement. How much are you giving away?

Adding value is not sex outside marriage!

Some give their bodies away with zero commitment thinking giving without commitment will lead to love. Well, giving your body, the temple of the Holy Spirit away without an eternal covenant (commitment) is actually sin and not demonstrating self value. It’s like having a 1,000,000 car and giving people free rides. They have no plan on caring for the car, they just enjoy the ride. Our bodies are MORE valuable than a car. Would you give someone you just met a billion dollars? Probably not if you do not know someone. Yet movies show people climbing in and out of bed like it’s nothing.

Sex is more than a physical act, it joins two people in the soulish and spiritual realm. You are saying, “Whatever is in you, I invite into me.” Two people link in body, soul, flesh. God designed sex to unite people for life. His motivation was love (giving, knowing, intimacy), not lust (taking, self pleasure). The only closer connection is between God and born again believers where His Spirit lives in us.

Why use boundaries with giving or giving everyone equal access to us? The giver has the most invested. This means you do not treat boyfriends and girlfriends like husbands and wives. There are certain parts of our lives that are off limits. There are boundaries we need to have in place to prevent heart entanglements without commitment, emotional attachment too soon, over-giving, oversharing, etc. There is wisdom in what we give to friends as well.

The goal is to look at each relationship and see what you can bring to add value. This can consist of:

  • Encouragement
  • Listening
  • Kindness
  • Asking, “How are you?” and caring about the answer
  • Being honest
  • Being present
  • Devoting some time (texting and emails are not the same as quality time in person)
  • Inquiring about another person’s life
  • Caring about what interests the other person
  • Offering to help with something
  • Supporting something they care about
  • Loyalty
  • Initiating instead allowing all contact to be one sided
  • Being honest about what you like and don’t like
  • Not pretending (some pretend while getting to know someone that they like certain things or they are someone else-be the real you!)

If we ask God, He will show us ways to add value. Different people have different likes and dislikes. I may love something that someone else dislikes. The goal is to be on the lookout for what blesses someone else.

Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others,~Phil 2:4.

This means we also do not go into relationships as consumers. Over the years I have met several men who came with their wife list. They were checking off boxes. They were not looking for how to be a blessing, they were looking to be blessed. They were not looking to serve, they were seeking to be served. It was not about love; it was about selfishness. As long as I appealed to their flesh and met a few criteria I could (in their minds) be wooed or bought into relationship. Like a car they saw something they wanted and desired to purchase. If they could flash enough money or try to charm me, then magically I would fall for them and sign up for a life of servanthood. Ummmmm no. They had little plans to serve or love like Jesus.

Marriage is supposed to be about two people loving and serving each other. People are not objects we buy to please us. Our world suffers greatly because things are being loved and people used. People are to be loved. Love seeks to serve, help, support, give, invest, and add value. Does your person of interest care about adding value or are you an object they seek to obtain to please them? Do they take any interest in your life? Or is it all about them?

Let me tell you an important truth, selfish people hurt others. If you have grossly selfish friends or a grossly selfish mate you will experience pain and deep hurt. Do NOT think if they are selfish in the beginning you are going to change that. God changes selfish hearts, we are not God.

My encouragement to every person is to seek to add value and look for those who add value. It is not selfish to wish for a mate who actually cares about you, for who you are-not because they are lonely, lusting, trying to fill a void. Adding value is not about money, it’s about genuine love. You and I were created to be loved!

Love,

Erin Lamb

Are They A Great Friend? (Single & Following Jesus Part XI)

I believe in the power of friendship. Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. He modeled and models genuine friendship.

Our culture places romance before friendship. I believe this is a crucial mistake. Hormones falter, chemistry can fade, attraction can waiver, yet friendship is a building block that can grow over time.

A friend seeks to give and love, not take and consume. A true friend is loyal. A true friend wants the best for you. A godly friend wants God’s best for you, this means they do not want to lead you into sin or moral compromise.

What is your relationship foundation?

Every engineer (that’s my trade) is taught the foundation is important. The focus is to be on what will hold together your structure. If the foundation is cracked or unstable, your building will not survive the test of time nor weather the storms. Your structure will crumble when the storms come or come down over time due to the impact of gravity.

The foundation matters.

Just as former President Clinton stated, “It’s the economy stupid!” I say to every unmarried person, “Make friendship your firm foundation.

Over the years I have seen people marry because they both loved Jesus and they were smitten (caught up in emotions/hormones). Yet love for Jesus and fading hormones could not save their Titanic marriage. They were not great friends, nor did they cultivate trust, service, nor seek to investigate compatibility. They followed their attraction instead of building a foundation of friendship.

Does this mean checking all romance at the door until you are great friends? Some say yes, some say no. I simply ask, “Is this person you are pursuing or pursuing you a great friend to you? Would you want them as just a friend?

I believe it’s vital to move past hormones to think of building a life with someone. Does this person genuinely care about you as a person, not just what they gain by connection with you? Do they possess characteristics you would want in life partner? Can you trust them? Is there anything that looks like Jesus coming from them to you?

I knew a man who attended church regularly tell me he only told women what he thought they wanted to hear to take advantage of them. He used women. He pretended to be someone he wasn’t. He went to church on Sunday and praised and spent his weekend nights taking advantage of vulnerable women who took his statement of , “I am a Christian,” to mean giving themselves away would lead to marriage.

He did not marry any of those women. He took their innocence, feasted on their being gullible, and continued his life as a predator. I found out what he was doing, confronted him and well, he did not change until years later. Grace, by the way, is not a license to sin of hurt people. Sin leads to death.

His actions were of the devil though he professed Jesus. Look at the fruit of someone’s life. If they claim Jesus yet try to get you to sin, they are not following Jesus, nor are they your friend. This man was grossly selfish and not being a friend to God nor anyone else.

Look deeper than skin deep

Marriage is more than physical intimacy. It is building a life with someone. Who better than a great friend who loves God, genuinely loves you, wants the best for you, you desire the best for them, they are trustworthy/full of integrity, and there is attraction? If the butterflies or looks fade, you still have a strong foundation.

I have had a few associates who’s spouses committed adultery. Their cheating spouse’s excuse was, “My spouse was not doing it for me anymore. My physical needs were not being met,” or “I met someone who excites me and pleases me physically or emotionally.”

If someone chooses you just based on their physical attraction or selfish reasons, you can not be certain if you are injured, your looks fade, you fail to meet their expectations, etc…they will not jump ship for something they deem better, more appealing, that will meet their needs.

Lust is grossly selfish and looking to be pleased. Love is unselfish and sacrificial. A true friend who loves you will not cheat nor seek to abandon you because they found someone better. Someone just in it for the butterflies, will follow the butterflies.

Scripture says this about friendship:

Proverbs 22:11

Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend. (NLT)

Proverbs 20:6

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? (NLT)

Proverbs 18:24

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (NLT)

Proverbs 22:24–25

Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.

(NLT)

Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (NLT)

Ecclesiastes 4:9–12

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (NLT)

John 15:13–15

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. (NLT)

The model of friendship in the Bible is marked by unselfish, radical, pure, compassionate, loyal, faithful, mutually invested love.

EXAMPLES OF GOOD FRIENDS IN THE BIBLE (source thoughtco.com)

David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-3, 20:17, 42; 2 Samuel 1:26)

King David and Abiathar (1 Samuel 22:23)

David and Nahash (2 Samuel 10:2)

David and Hushai (2 Samuel 15:32–37)

Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:2)

Job’s Friends (Job 2:11)

Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17)

Paul’s Ministry Friends (Romans 16:3-5; 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; Philippians 2:25; Colossians 4:7, 14; 2 Timothy 1:2-4; 1 Philemon)

Someone told me a story of a man that impressed me. He told his future wife, “Do not marry me if I am not going to add value to your life.” What a beautiful token of love and friendship. Love seeks to add value. Love seeks to be a friend. Love is who God is. Is the person you are pursuing or pursuing you a great friend to God and to you? If you take away, “She’s smoking hot,” or “He’s dreamy,” what do you have? If you look at the two of your lives, can you be great friends? If not, caution. How they treat you during dating or courting is an indication of your future. Normally efforts lower after marriage not ramp up; people tend to put their best foot forward before they say “I do.”

If they are a horrible friend during dating or courting, why anticipate a great friend after you marry?

We do not change people. God loves perfectly and we still have crazy acting people walking the earth. We are not greater than God. Also if the goal is to change people, they are our projects-not the objects of our love. Love is a gift we give out of the overflow of our hearts, not a tool to mold people into who we want them to be.

Papa God, help us to be a great friend to you and others. May we add value. May we be wise with who we choose to date, court, let into our hearts. May our lives overflow with your goodness, love, peace, joy, hope, integrity, passion, compassion, and insight. May the choices we make be fueled by wisdom. May we love ourselves enough to say no to bad friends, poor relationship choices. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin L. Lamb

Proper Reasons to Marry (Single & Following Jesus Series Part X)

Sometimes people tell me they are eager to marry and I ask why? Why do you want to be married so badly? Physical intimacy tops the list, as well as “I am tired of being alone,” or “I really want kids.” All of those reasons are primarily self focused.

Marriage is not supposed to be self focused. It is supposed to be team focused.

I can not tell you how many men I have met who have rattled off their list of what they wanted, needed, and never asked about me at all. As long as I looked good on the outside and loved Jesus, well sign them up. They did not care who I was as a person. They had their needs list and I was supposed to meet it. Some were driven by a desire to check the box, “Found a wife, now I have someone to serve me.” Ummmmm…no are we in the dark ages?

Marriage is supposed to be a picture of God love. God serves, loves; we serve and love God. It is not a one sided relationship.

Getting married is not supposed to be about finding someone to meet our needs bucket. It is supposed to be about loving and serving another person. Yes! I know the romantic comedies make it about the wedding and sex. Yet once the honeymoon is over, you are left to build a life with that person. Can you build a life together?…And not just one person lays their life down to build someone else’s empire. Both people are to come to the table with the objective of loving and serving the other.

Jesus shows us how relationships are supposed to work.

…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many,~Matthew 20:28.

Greater love has no one than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends,~John 15:13.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him,~John 13:3-5.

Jesus focused on loving and serving, not coming to others to force them to meet His needs. He does not even come to the church with a bucket of needs. Jesus shows up to serve and our response to His love and grace is to love Him in return. We love because He first loves and serves us. God gives the most in the relationship. God has no need bucket. He is sufficient in Himself.

God does not need us, He wants us. God wants to love us. My true belief is marriage is supposed to be a desire to love someone the way God loves them.

Love is not selfish. Nor is love lustful. Lust is rooted in selfishness. Lust screams, “Please me.”

Love is not rude; it is not self-seeking,~from 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Love seeks to give. Love comes to the table saying, “I come bringing my very best. I want the best for you. I want to see God’s best for you, I am pursuing God’s best for you.” Both people get to come offering their very best. Perfection, no. The best they have to offer, yes. Why? Love wants what is best for the other.

Proper reasons to pursue marriage:

  • To love someone as God does (committed, loyal, steadfast, enduring love).
  • To bring your very best to the table and form a team.
  • To serve another.
  • To build the Kingdom of God together.
  • To honor another for life.

Yes, it’s great to have butterflies and intense chemistry. Yet if the pursuit of marriage is just for what can be personally gained, it is a set up for disappointment. What if that spouse does not meet that need? What if they end up paralyzed and cannot meet the physical needs? What if there’s conflict? What then? A selfish person may seek to meet their needs outside of the covenant or abandon the relationship all together.

I have seen over the years in peer counseling people cheat or divorce because their “needs” were not being met. They came into marriage for what they could gain instead of give or they married a selfish person thinking they were going to change that person. No! What you see is what you get. If they are rude or selfish during dating, then guess what-you married a rude selfish person. Unless they yield to God, you took home that rude/selfish person til death do you part. If they won’t change for God, why do humans think they are going to change them? This has baffled me for years.

Lastly, peer pressure, desire to fit in, hormones, social status are not great reasons to marry. It’s a huge commitment that requires personal investment. I truly believe focusing on being a great friend to God is the best way to live. God knows the desires of the heart and is the BEST matchmaker. When our heart is to love and serve another, God sets up connections. Sure we can find people without including God at all…yet those relationships do not always work out.

I am not saying, pray and never leave the house. I am not saying don’t date and just pray in your closet. I am saying include God and check heart motives. Is the motive to fill a need only God can fulfill; identity, unfailing love? Humans will never succeed at filling God sized voids.

If your hormones are going nuts, prayer is powerful. Choosing marriage just to calm hormones does not work. Just as going to bar does not cure alcoholism, getting married does not cure lust. Lust is a heart condition and spirit. Deliverance from lust is available through Jesus and Holy Spirit. God created sex for love and intimacy, not lust. Paul’s instruction of it’s better to marry than burn was about passion. Those who sincerely desire marriage, go for it. He was not saying marriage cures lust.

Papa I pray for everyone who reads this to be wrecked by your unfailing love. I ask for each heart to be drenched in agape love. Love that overflows to others. I pray any pressure to marry, internal or external be removed. I bind all lies of marriage will cure loneliness or fulfill deep needs or fix everything be broken. Any idols of marriage or spouse come down. I ask for proper motivations to marry and the same for their future spouse. God you long to give your very best to those who love you! In Jesus powerful name, amen.

P.S if you are dating…my favorite prayer is, “God show me this person’s heart towards me and their true character.” He will. Pay attention. Character and heart matter.

Love,

Erin Lamb

Breaking Cycles of Dysfunction in Relationships (Single and Following Jesus Series Part IX)

Have you been in a cycle of repeated bad relationships or you see your friends in those same dysfunctional relationships? Today is a day of breaking free.

I have asked the same questions about friendships or casual relationships, “Why is this type of person attracted to me? They have no qualities that match up.” That may seem harsh yet let me give some examples for clarity.

My nature is encouraging, supportive, and I pursue kindness. I want to see you win. I will be the most vocal cheerleader for you.

I wondered why those who were negative, critical, mean spirited, unsupportive, and hateful were drawn to me and why they turned their negativity on me.

I am going to tell you why. Are you ready?

1. Opposites Sometimes Do Attract.

You may be giving and attract a taker. You may be kind and attract someone rude. It is not always true that we attract who we are. You may be loving and attract someone critical, rude, mean.

2. Poor Boundaries.

People treat us the way we let them treat us. Some see meekness (strength under control) as weakness. If we do not set a boundary, “You may not treat me that way, you may not talk to me that way, no this is not okay,” then we invite disrespect. It’s a conversation that must start early, not months into the relationship.

I had a lady tell me once (long ago), “I know no matter how bad I treat you, you will always be there for me.” I thought to myself, “What kind of crazy have I signed up for.”

Loving someone does not mean you let them treat you poorly. That is called enabling. It is a form of codependency. Some think God is this way. He is not. His love does not change. He is not cheering when we misbehave. God sets boundaries-“If you do this, this is the result.” God allows natural consequences. He does not remove every consequence this side of heaven.

So with this lady, I pulled back from being her default when she had no boyfriend, the person who answered her calls in crisis. I removed myself from being a doormat under the umbrella of false love.

More examples:

I have an associate who is negative. This person loves to complain and focus on what is wrong. It drains me. I told the person this week, “I would love when we talk for it to be about something positive, goals, good things. What’s going right? There is enough crazy in the world, let’s be the change we wish to see.” I set a boundary. Please keep your constant complaining in your yard. Do I love this person, yes. Do I want to listen to hours of doom, gloom, negativity, gossip, he said/she said…no. I am not a garbage can.

I had a gentleman pursuing me who always wanted to wait until the last minute to set dates. I told him I would appreciate advance notice (not all the time-yet it was considerate to give others notice); texting me Friday afternoon to meet Friday night is a no go for constant meet ups. I set a boundary. He did not listen. So often he’d texted on Friday or Saturday afternoon and I was busy.

My female friend said it was a game to see if I was seeing other people. I am an adult. I only play games with actual children. Some may have thought that was cute. I did not. Maybe if we were a couple and had been dating awhile, yet not for someone I do not know well this was a no go and setting dates signifies value. Yes, be spontaneous…Also take the time to plan something. Gentlemen say, “I would love to see you Friday night, do you have plans?” That conversation happens before Friday. I am not clearing every weekend hoping a guy messages me. I have things to do.

If you make yourself so available to everyone, they will treat you like you have no value. If you do not value your time, value yourself, why should they? I am not saying play hard to get nor play games. I am saying if you do not respect and value your own time, others will not either.

Place God at the center. Would God want me treated this way? If not, why are you allowing it? How much time do I need to invest in this relationship? How much of my heart can they steward well? God knows.

If you have poor or low boundaries, then you will find disorder and dysfunction and poor treatment.

3. Quick to Trust and Dismissing Relational Red Flags.

I consider myself trustworthy. Therefore, I give people the benefit of the doubt. I have learned to pay attention. Watch people. Watch how they treat people. Watch how they talk about others. Do they tell everyone else’s business? They are not trustworthy with your business. Do they only show up when they need something? You are most likely a convenience. Do you make all the effort? You are in a one sided relationship. If they destroy others, do not think they will not do it to you.

Many times red flags are ignored under the, “I am a loving Christian.” Okay, be a loving Christian with wisdom. Wisdom says, “Bad company corrupts good character.” Wisdom says, “How can two be joined unless they agree?” Wisdom says, “Do not make partners with an angry person.” These are all in the Bible right along with love your neighbor. You can love someone without dating them, being close friends, being business or ministry partners, or marrying them.

One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou is as follows, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” Unless they want to change or God changes them, that is what you are dealing with in a partner or friend.

4. You Are Pulling All the Relational Weight

I love giving. I love giving with no expectation of return. Yet there is wisdom required in giving as well. Too much time spent together, too much closeness without commitment, too much investment without any investment back is a set up for dysfunction.

Jesus loves perfectly and in exchange for our freedom He gave His life. When we enter into covenant, God asks for our life. Please understand God is not just giving, giving, giving and expecting nothing. He asks for our entire lives. It’s a bigger commitment than an earthly marriage.

This thought that selfless giving is to lead to one sided relationships is not covenant love. Relationships were designed to be give and take. If one person is doing all the work, it’s not love. Both people are to pursue the best interests of the other.

I have seen overgiving lead to abuse; it attracts narcissists and abusive people. Why? They thrive on taking. Selfless givers with no boundaries are easy targets.

A person who loves you will want to bless you too.

I have met so many people angry because they trusted too quickly, fell in love with the idea of someone, ignored red flags, and were burned poorly in a relationship. If you pay attention, people show you who they are. Their mouth speaks what their heart is full of and their actions, if you watch closely, manifest their heart and how they feel about you.

Placing God at the center can save us loads of heartache.

God help me to choose the right associates, friends, confidants, mate. Help me to set godly boundaries and respect those of others. I want to be the best friend I can be to someone and want that in return. Help me to not only be a blessing, but to cease settling for less than what you would offer. Break every cycle of dysfunction in my life and relationships. The common denominator is me. Show me what I am allowing or the poor or low boundaries. Help me to stay centered in you and have the best relationships possible. God help me to be healthy in my soul and attract and maintain relationships with healthy people. Jesus break cycles of dysfunction and it starts with me. Change me so I guard my heart and live out of wisdom and love! In Jesus powerful name.

Pursue Jesus and Use Wisdom (Single & Following Jesus Series Part VIII)

For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly,~Psalm 84:11.

“Get [skillful and godly] wisdom! Acquire understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation]!

Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not turn away from her (Wisdom) and she will guard and protect you;

Love her, and she will watch over you,”~Proverbs 4:5-6.

Wisdom is so vital in all of life.

Believers are encouraged to follow Jesus and acquire wisdom. The pursuit of wisdom is not for demonic wisdom; the wisdom of this age is not always in alignment with God.

Godly wisdom is pure, full of truth, love, and has the best interests of everyone involved considered. Godly wisdom is holy; it is without sin.

Our culture promotes immorality and sensuality. It is ungodly. The movies and tv promote immorality without ever truly showing the depths of the consequences for immoral choices.

Our culture also promotes the lie that sex or marriage will complete a person.

As stated last post, casual sex is promoted. Not only is casual sex promoted so is love at first sight, magical/mystical/over romanced/over sexualized relationships. Many of these relationships disregard wisdom, true God love, or God’s truths. They sound good, may look good, yet they do not hold onto goodness as you fast forward to when reality sets into the picture.

Ex: Henry and Julie who fell in love find out a year later after the honeymoon period is over that they have nothing in common that’s not physical, they the thrill is gone, they fight over money, they hate each other’s families, and they are miserable. This scenario rarely makes it to the big screen. Henry and Julie maybe pursued lust/feelings over wisdom and love. Then we see them break up (if unmarried) or divorce.

Follow Jesus:

Jesus is love, therefore pursuing God is pursuing love. God helps us to love ourselves and others. When God is first, the voids in our lives are filled by God. We then make decisions out of unselfish, sacrificial love not lust (which is about pleasing self), selfishness, desperation, or loneliness. God fills all the empty places so we enter relationships prepared to give, not with our hands out to receive or be made whole by an imperfect human. Only God can completely fill the voids of the soul and spirit. God solidifies identity, not a mate.

When God is first, He can bring in an equal complement/companion. Otherwise there may be a temptation to pursue a match that is less that God’s best. There are no perfect people, there are God matches that are better together than apart.

Wisdom says, “Will the relationship add value for both people? Is God at the center? Can we grow together? Is there mutual effort? Are we headed the same direction? How does this person handle life, conflict, money? Would God or my close friends/family choose this person for me? Is this person even interested in a lifelong partnership with me? Can we be allies? Are we friends?

If things do not work out, are we leaving the person in better shape than they were before they met us? Or are they in need of deep inner healing after connecting to us? Seriously think about what you bring to the table. Is it good? Does it add value?

The people who engage in sex outside of marriage are robbing a future spouse of intimacy with that person and their own future spouse. The one who engages in pornography is robbing themselves of deep intimacy and understanding of what God intended with sex. His design was always about love; unselfish, committed, holy, powerful, intimate, sacrificial love. The devil invites people to cheapen the most intimate act between a man and woman.

Love is willing to slow down and pray. Love is willing to evaluate the situation and relationship with God. Love wants to keep God in first place. Love pursues purity. Love is willing to set boundaries that offer protection of both people. Love is who God is.

Pursue Wisdom:

Let’s venture into another part of process, pursuing wisdom. I have met many people hurt because they forsook wisdom.

Ex: Susie likes John so she starts having dreams that he is the one. Obviously God speaks in dreams, so she should grab ahold to that dream and start planning their wedding in her head (not wisdom). Hit the mega pause button. I have seen women do this and ignore the actions of John. John is a jerk and mistreats everyone, yet there is this dream/prophetic word-so Susie holds on for dear life only to find out later John never wanted to marry her, or worse they get married and he’s an abuser.

Red Alert: Every dream, vision, prophetic word needs tested. Every single one. Do not just run with a “word” or “impression” or “dream” without testing it to see if it’s truly God. I do not care who the prophet was who gave that word, it needs tested and confirmed. The devil speaks and can invade dreams, impressions, visions.

If you think you heard from God about someone, pray and put that word on the shelf. I recommend praying, “God show me who this person really is,” and watching them. How do they treat you? Do you always initiate contact? Do they invest in you at all? How does being with this person impact your life? Are you constantly confused about where you stand with that person? Are they controlling, mean, unloving? Do they treat you with love, respect, honor?

Too many times people fall for who they want someone to be instead of who they really are. Would you let your best friend marry someone like the person you are interested in? If not, why are you in that relationship?

I have seen women chase men like they are Jesus then end up disappointed they are rejected. Relationships are not mean to be like the animal kingdom; chase, pursue, conquer. They are supposed to be about love. Love involves mutual pursuit.

Evaluate your relationship:

Is your relationship life giving? Or are you in tears or upset most of the time? God wants His very best for you, for everyone. God ordained matchups still have challenges, they should not be loaded with confusion, uncertainty, abuse, pain, and suffering.

I have also seen both men and women cling to the idea that someone loves them or is interested in them who will not commit to them nor express their intentions.

Ex: Karla has been into Jerry for years. Jerry flirts and is nice yet has never asked her on a date, never expressed interest, and does nothing to initiate contact or getting to know each other. Karla is convinced his flirting when he sees her is more than it is.

I work in a predominately male environment and they have told me, “We flirt because it’s fun. It makes us feel good.” Therefore there is no intention of a relationship. For the unsaved person there may be an intention of a hook up, but not marriage or a serious relationship.

Get Wisdom! Ask for discernment.

“Discernment is more than the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. It is the ability to differentiate between right and almost right.”

Wisdom looks at the future as well as the present. Wisdom prays and seeks godly counsel. Wisdom is a life preserver. Wisdom says, “Where is God in this situation? Are we are good match? Spiritually are we on the same page? Can we grow together? Is this someone God would choose for me? Are my God expectations on this person when they should be on God? How does this person treat people, including me? Does this person demonstrate any of the fruit of the Spirit?”

Papa God I pray every unmarried person pursues Jesus and wisdom. I bind any spirits of impatience, deception, selfishness, lust, false dreams/false prophecies, and declare soul health. Come Lord Jesus and fill every soul with your love, peace, joy, and purity. Fill every person to overflowing. Impart godly wisdom and truth. Help each person make wise decisions about relationships. Prepare each person for what you have for them. Heal all past relational wounding, in Jesus powerful name. Amen.

Live in Reality (Single & Following Jesus Series Part VII)

Aloha friends.

Today I wanted to chat about living in reality and being realistic.

We live in a world of reality tv which does not always represent reality. We live in a world that promotes fantasy (what feels good to you, act that out).

God invites us into reality with Him. Why? God’s reality is rooted in truth, His wisdom, and holiness.

Fantasy is often rooted in seduction, lust, and deception.

Imagination is God given and can be holy; fantasy is normally rooted in pretending.

God invites us into His truth and holiness. Believing God’s truth sets us free. Believing the devil leads to bondage.

Culture vs. God’s Kingdom:

You see movies of two people falling instantly in love then bed together. They sleep together and live happily ever after right? They do not show you the people dumped after a one night stand, the pregnancies and abortions after one night stands, the sexually transmitted diseases contracted, the new demonic spirits transferred between two people, the tears on the soul, nor the decreased ability to bond to another person after casual sex. The devil never talks to people about negative consequences of stepping outside God’s boundaries. He presents something that seems good, will bring temporary pleasure, yet will not bring lasting joy and satisfaction.

The same goes with pornography. It was not until recently studies popped up showing the detriment of this activity. Fantasy in this area leads to lack of genuine love, decreased genuine intimacy with a real human, and is often the gateway for more illicit choices. Many who later participate in human trafficking (buying slaves or engaging in prostitution/abuse) started with pornography; it devalues humans and reduces them to objects instead of people.

What is Reality?

Reality is God highly values all people and they are not objects to be used for pleasure, they are people to be loved.

Godly love involves commitment, protection, and stewarding the heart of another person well. It is a love that says, “I want to honor you so I am willing to do things God’s way. I will safe guard this relationship so it brings God glory and honors you. I will not take from you without committing to you, for that is stealing what I am unwilling to cherish for life. I want to steward the gifts you are offering me of your time, resources, body, heart, and life. I want to be in covenant with you which is bound by a commitment to sacrificial, unselfish, God given love.”

Let’s talk about another form of fantasy. It happens when people start planning their marriage before their first date or idolizing someone they just met. Why is this dangerous? The person you may end up marrying may not be that person you made up in your head or the person sitting across from you at coffee. Pursuing a fantasy relationship (the made up one in the head) leads to gross disappointment when facing reality.

The made up John may cook, clean, leave roses and romantic cards. The real life John may just take out the trash.

I have seen way too many people fall in love with the idea or marriage or the idea of a person and end up grossly disappointed with reality.

Reality is until that person says, “I do,” they are not your spouse. In your head you can paint a wild, vivid fantasy that amounts to nothing. Why? Until they say, “I do,” they can still choose to walk away from the situation.

Reality is what that person shows you is what you are dealing with and have to take home. People are not projects. I have heard so many women say they will change their husband only to find out they (their spouse) has zero desire to change. They envisioned John the romantic. The reality is they got John the couch potato. In their fantasy they would marry John and make him like the Señor Suave in their head. Reality was John had zero desire to be what the fantasy was so he refused. I still tell people to pray God shows you before you say, “I do,” what you are dealing with in a partner.

Reality is marriage requires work. It as painted as an every day, all day love fest. Yet get some couples as friends who have been married awhile. They will tell you that it requires some work. Get more than just your parents who may withhold some of the deep challenges.

Reality is treating that other person like a brother or sister in the Lord or friend until their is a level of commitment. Giving yourself away, being too available/vulnerable, not setting great boundaries (including emotional/physical), and treating someone not your spouse like a spouse is the set up for heartache. We were not intended to bond with dozens of people then break up. God set up bonding and intimacy so we could form life long bonds. If you take two pieces of paper and glue them together then rip them apart, there is tearing. Neither piece remains whole.

Reality is being single is not a curse nor indication of being inferior/rejected. Jesus had no earthly wife. Paul had no wife. Mother Teresa had no husband. I would not say any of these people were cursed, without purpose, nor inferior beings. They went about doing the will of the Father. Desiring marriage is not a bad thing. Thinking it somehow improves your worth is a bad thing.

I do not know the exact map of my life nor the map of others. I do know God is good. Time can be wasted worrying or stressing over what is not happening verses enjoying who God is. In the presence of God is fullness of joy. I do know fantasy robs us of experiencing the joy of the Lord.

Papa God, for anyone who reads this that is caught up in fantasy instead of reality, I ask for your Holy Spirit to wash over them from the tops of their heads to the soles of their feet. I bind any and all seducing spirits and spirits of lust. I ask you would loose your love, peace, joy, and power. Reveal every lie they have come into agreement with that is blocking freedom. Every idol come crashing down. Holy Spirit of truth permeate every part of their being. Every addiction be bound. I ask you Lord for total freedom, inner healing, and deliverance by the power of your anointing. I decree and declare freedom from living outside Godly reality. In Jesus powerful name. Amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin