Relational Lessons Learned Part II

Lessons learned on dealing with the opposite sex.

I am also including information from years of peer counseling, having female friends, talking to those divorced, talking to those in good relationships, working with mostly males, talking to men, and doing soul healing sessions with the abused. I hope this helps someone.

1. Seek God in prayer not only over female friendships, but those with men or men who want to pursue you for dating or marriage. I pray, “God show me who this person really is. What is their heart like and what is their motivation for connection?”

Some men are looking for something pretty and shiny to play with, you are not a toy.

Some are looking for a trophy to display their ability to snag something pretty/shiny, you are not an object.

Some are driven by hormones or lust, not genuine agape love, you are not a pleasure center-you are a person.

Some are lonely or trying to fill a void for their lost girlfriend, dead wife, divorce-you are not the back up plan.

Some actually want to attempt to love you the way Jesus loves you. This is what you want. You won’t know if there is no inquiry from God.

People are trained to put their best foot forward to get what they want, then the act stops once they acquire their target. Men around me have confirmed they put forth mega effort to win a woman over, some pretended to like what she liked, faked interest in her hopes/dreams and after I do or physical relationship they stopped the pretending. One guy said, “Yeah, I got her now. Those flowers and dates were to get her.”

2. If a man or person wants to be with you or connect with you, they will not let you do all the work or initiation. Level of interest is directly tied to level of effort. Zero effort (you do all the work), minimal interest. Just enough effort to keep you lingering, minimal interest. Those who desire connection, pursue connection.

I grow tired of, “I think he likes me but I never hear from him, or he fell off the grid.” Ummmm…he’s not that into you. If he were interested, ignoring you would not be an option.

3. If you are kind, some men view this as an invitation to date or interest or flirting.

God tells us to treat men like brothers in Christ, so this can be challenging if you are just trying to obey the Lord and he is thinking, “She wants me.” So, I try to limit kindness to men to what is:

1. Public (and not frequent).

2. Neutral, not too affirming.

3. What includes others so they see they are not singled out.

4. Group activities, not one on one.

If a guy is married, the boundaries are even higher. If I have a gift or encouragement it goes through their wife. If I do not know their wife, I seek to know her. I do not go on lunches or meet ups with married men. I do not have long conversations about my inner world nor let them talk to me about their marriage or inner world. They have a wife. I am not interested in anyone’s husband.

4. When they show you who they are, believe them. Watch what they DO, not just what they SAY.

Lots of abusive men show red flags before they act out. Women are sometimes conditioned wrongly that they can change a man or their love will change him. No! No! No! I repeat again NO!

It is not our job to try to change anyone! That’s control and manipulation. What he shows you, especially if you follow step one (ask God to show you who he is) is what you are dealing with, so act accordingly.

I had a guy pursuing me once who had a great resume on paper. We seemed perfect for each other. Then I put prayer on him. His mask fell off and God showed me how everything he did was an act. He was one person at church and someone else outside church. I talked to him and he confessed out of his own mouth that he just put on an act and religious show for women to hopefully get them to fall for him and compromise. Ummmmm no! No man is worth compromise. I thanked God for answering my prayer and sent him packing. I did not stay in that situation and try to make him my project. Nope! Bye Feliciano…praying for you from a distance.

5. Men are people, not projects. They were created to loved, respected, and not a Jesus substitute.

The only perfect man is Jesus…pause for my heart to swoon. To expect a human man to be Jesus is ludicrous. Christian men are called to abide in Jesus and imitate Jesus, not be Jesus. The only Savior and Lord is Jesus. Wrong teaching of husband as the head (some is just plain idolatry masked in religious terms) has made men to be like demi gods to women. This leads to gross disappointment and does not please God. God is God, you shall have no others gods beside Him.

It is also not a woman’s job to try to make a man Jesus. Let Jesus be Jesus, let God mold man into His image. God is better at being God than we are.

6. Pay attention to his interactions with you. Does he inquire of you or just talk about himself or what you can do for him? Selfish people make horrible partners. HORRIBLE!

If he only talks about himself, how you can bless or serve him, and how pretty you are…RED flag. You may be the pretty/shiny toy he is looking to play with or a trophy. Love involves inquiry of the other person and listening. Love involves caring about the other person, not just yourself. Love involves giving, not consuming.

The root of all sin is selfishness. I becomes greater than God. If a man is grossly selfish, he will hurt you because his greatest concern is himself.

7. Let God hold your heart until is is wise to give it away.

Maybe we all have met the girl or woman who goes on one date and starts planning her wedding. Pause speedy Gonzalez! Who is this person? Talk to God. Put the brakes on creating a fantasy relationship with someone because you must live with the REALITY of them. Not every guy needs access to your heart or all your time. What is easy is not usually appreciated.

8. If you see abuse of others, you are not the special one he won’t abuse. How did he treat other women? How does he treat his mother? Servers? Those who can do nothing for him.

Pay attention! Walk in love and wisdom. If you see him abusing animals, cursing people out, having fits of rage, punching walls, picking fights, disrespecting his mother or other women-you may be next.

Men, people in general, with low self esteem can be very abusive. They can not love you as they love themselves if they hate themselves. If he struggles with healthy love of self, you won’t be loved either.

9. Don’t isolate your friends and family from your life.

Sometimes those connected to you see what you don’t see. Isolation is a key tool of abusers. Get the person away from anyone who may see the mistreatment and try to get the abuse victim help. Stay connected to people who truly know you and love you; pray and listen.

10. You are NOT responsible for his sin or lust.

I believe in modesty, just for me. I do not have my chest out, wear skimpy clothes, etc…I also understand if someone has a lust problem, you can be covered from head to toe and they find something to lust over. Women are not responsible for the actions of men. Our culture blames women and it’s wrong.

If he cheats on you, it was his choice.

If he hits you, it was his choice.

If he rapes someone, it was his choice.

If he abandons his responsibilities, it was his choice.

Since the Garden of Eden women have been blamed for the choices of men. Well no. She made me sin does not fly with Jesus. So ladies, yes use wisdom, act godly…yet know you are not to blame for the choices of other people.

11. Beware of sneak a date or those who use “God told me you’re my spouse.”

God is not manipulative, nor the author of confusion. God tells the truth. Often the sneak a date is, “I will pretend I need something, want something, or just want to be friends when the motives are otherwise.” This can be deception. Honesty says, “I like you. I want to get to know you better. Would you be interested in that?” Adults communicate their intentions.

If God did say, “This would be a great spouse for you.” God is smart enough to tell the other person and it will benefit both people-not just one. God also lets us choose.

I have had several guys try the sneak a date or God told me. No. I am not going that road. I pray and if God says no, I say no. Why? God knows the end from the beginning. If God says no there is reason.

12. “Prophecy” is not a good standard for picking a spouse, look at how they treat you.

Over the years met several women given words about their spouse and that guy was a complete jerk to them. God is not cruel nor a poor matchmaker. If it is truly a word from God, His choice, that person won’t treat you like garbage. God is GOOD. There is a misunderstanding that God wants us in bad relationships. He does not!

I have been given at least a dozen words about “This is your husband,” mainly from women. All from women who want me to be married because it is a social club in Christianity. None of those men were right for me. Not one! Run Forrest RUN!!!

If you are having dreams or impressions about one particular guy, you may have a soul tie with them. Break the soul tie and heart entanglement.

If he is treating you poorly and you keep having words he is the one, examine the voice speaking to you. God is not the author of confusion or mistreatment. Demonic spirits can try to set up bad unions. Test every voice and see if it’s of God.

13. Understand you marry into a family, not just that person.

If they have kids, a broken family, they become your family. You are not just marrying a person, you get their family too.

14. If you are interested in marriage, talk about money (is their credit jacked up), gender roles (some in Christian culture have some special ideas about gender roles), expectations, destiny, calling, raising kids, etc…

Focusing on chemistry is silly considering you are partnering with someone to build a life. He’s so hot or she’s so hot doesn’t fly when they don’t pay the bills on time, are a slob, have bad credit…

15. Men have feelings too and some deep fears of rejection.

It is sometimes masked with anger, yet men have all the feelings women have and some more deeply. Men are sometimes conditioned not to feel. Our actions as women wound and hurt men. Treat them how you want to be treated. If he steps out to pursue and you are not interested, treat him with respect, honor, and dignity.

16. There are some amazing men out there.

I have met them, have some as friends, and even dated a few. Yes there are some bad apples. There are some great ones too.

17. Pray for men.

Our culture bombards men with images that are ungodly that tell them manhood is about control, power, violence, and sexual immorality. Truly manhood was and is best represented in Jesus; love, humility, purity, service, kindness, and compassion.

18. Be a good friend to men and set boundaries.

It is possible to have a friendship with someone of the opposite sex. Understand though the time and sharing can create a bond in the soul. Use wisdom.

19. If you desire marriage, examine is this person really good friend to me. Friendship lasts longer than butterflies.

20. If he does not respect your boundaries, he does not respect you.

If you say no, don’t do that, or I don’t like that…and he keeps doing it or pressing the envelope, he does not respect or love you. Love respects a no. It does not pressure for more. Satan is pushy. God is respectful.

21. Men respond to actions.

I have noticed this at work. Nagging is futile. Saying, “If this is not done by this time or this follows,” and following through with actions is far more effective.

22. Men were created to serve, not be served.

Found many men like to help, they are wired to help and serve. All followers of Jesus are to serve. When women do everything for a man, it is more crippling than empowering. Let him help. Let him serve. Let him work it out without trying to be Jehovah jr.. Let him problem solve and provide input.

I have heard women say, “The more I do for him, the worse he treats me,” well you took his opportunity away to be a blessing. Our culture has reversed the roles so women do everything and men are served. This does not cultivate love. The one who invests the most, gives the most is the one who begins to love deeply. If women invest too much, they end up entangled. Both are to serve. So let him serve.

Hope this helps someone, somewhere.

Love in Christ,

Erin Lamb

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Relational Lessons Learned Part I

Morning Devotion: Some things are a blessing, others are a lesson. God desires we have mutually loving, respectful, and life giving connections.

Over the years in ministry, life, and relationships I gathered some lessons learned. I shared some of these these with a buddy yesterday. I hope they bless someone else.

In Christian culture it is taught quite a bit to love others, put others first, love God. Not as much time is spent talking about healthy boundaries, how to guard your heart, what obstacles you will face as a leader or in relationships, what to do with abusive people (and no just pretending they are not violating love does not work-they need boundaries and consequences), or that God wants you loved well too.

Relational Lessons Learned:

1. Watch people for a year and put prayer on them (God show me their heart towards me-when God does, pay attention).

2. When people show you who they are, believe them.

3. Limit your inner circle to those you have prayed over and seen them demonstrate God love.

4. Understand at any time your inner circle can change.

5. Place all faith in God not people.

6. Place all confidence in God not people.

7. When someone shows you they do not care about you, believe them, do not look at words-look at actions.

8. Trust your instincts and listen to Holy Spirit.

9. Some relationships are for just a season and you need to understand when they are over they were just temporary.

10. Don’t try to make an associate into a friend; don’t assume a ministry assignment is a real friendship.

11. Don’t be quick to call everyone friend, examine them first.

12. Don’t let people just have free reign of your schedule. I did this with A few people. When they got busy it was like, “See ya!” This was my fault. I should have guarded my time better and NOT given them so much access to my life, thoughts, etc…they should have been need to know only people.

13. Understand it’s not always wisdom to lead your friends in ministry, some are better suited under someone they do not view as a peer. The greatest dishonor I have experienced in ministry has come from those who claimed to be my friend. Strangers often treat you better.

14. Don’t expect your friends to stick up for you, you stick up for yourself (set boundaries), and ask God for help.

15. Guard your heart, and don’t let everyone inside it. If someone is wreckless, you can love them without giving them full access to you. Use wisdom.

16. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

17. Understand that not everyone wants you to win, and if you become successful, some may turn on you.

18. Understand culture says people of color should be at the bottom, so if you rise, there are haters.

19. Keep God as your best friend.

20. Pursue God for all needs and wants and relationships.

21. Understand only those who have received God’s love for themselves can love you.

22. When or if people attack you, understand their greatest inner turmoil is within and attacking you is a means to handle low self worth, insecurity, and a flawed attempt to feel more powerful.

23. Understand just because a person is gifted, anointed, and can flow with Holy Spirit sometimes does not mean they possess the character of Jesus. Character is costly and involves intimacy with God.

24. Understand everyone is in process, even you. God is at work in those yielded to Him. Someone can buck God and walk in the flesh. In the flesh there is no holiness. Extend grace and walk in wisdom.

25. Loving difficult people does NOT mean you need to be best friends with them or give them VIP access. Use wisdom.

26. People make time for what they value. If they value you, they will make time-even if it’s a 15 second text message. Do not buy into the lie of busy. For some you may be the back up plan or on call prayer buddy. When they have a crisis they come find you. They value what you do, not you personally. Don’t mistake being needed for being loved. Love gives.

27. Value yourself the way God does and you will attract more people who value you too.

28. Ask God for His best yes in friendships, relationships.

29. Trust is developed over time. Don’t let people try to force you into trusting them when they have not demonstrated they are trustworthy.

30. Ask God for wisdom and discernment. Wisdom is a life preserver. Discernment lets you know what is right and almost right.

Once again I hope this helps someone. Some things I wish someone had told me instead of having to walk it out and learn the hard way.

Don’t Settle

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The best relationships evolve when two people know their own worth.

God places a high value on each human being. We are called to live at peace with all people, if possible. This does not mean that we are suitable for every person. Some relationships are not the best matchup for us. We can try to force them, waste years praying for change, or use wisdom and cease settling.

I would like to break this down…

I am a direct communicator and do not enjoy games, flakiness, hot then cold, nonsense. I mean what I say. I am not unstable, flakey, nor do I play games. I am not a good fit for unstable people. I am not a great fit for grossly insecure people. I actually like who I am in Christ and have zero desire to diminish who I am to appeal to those with low self esteem. God invited me to love myself, then love my neighbor as I love myself.

I have had numerous people tell me to settle in romantic relationships and friendships. I do not wish to because of what I know of God.

Scripture tells me the following:

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen,~Ephesians 3:20-21.

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”~Luke 11:11-13.

The only perfect person and perfect relationship is with Jesus. There are synergy relationships and divine alignments that bring out the best in us, not the worst. There are relationships that complement us and add value. There are relationships that are Godsends. Then there are those that seem to be aligned with hell.

If we seek God before we date, before we become best friends, before taking the job, before the business or ministry alignment-it can save us loads of heartache. Will everything be perfect, no. Can we bypass some hell on earth by asking God to align us with Ephesians 3:20 relationships, yes.

The people I know who are divorced or in abusive or not so great relationships either settled, rushed in because of peer pressure-desire for sex-age-desperation, or did not seriously seek God about their choices. Hormones are not to be trusted. God can be trusted. Lonliness is a very poor decision making tool. It is far better to be alone with God than partnered with the wrong people.

God withholds nothing good from us according to Psalm 84.

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.

God is good. God withholds nothing good. If we are not seeking the manifestation of good in relationships we may either not be ready, choosing poorly, or not understanding the timing of God.

God exists outside of time and is patient. We as humans can be impatient. Impatience can lead to poor choices.

Settling for less than God’s best does not leave us fulfilled. It leaves us hungry and depleted. Dating out of lonliness or desperation can lead to devastation. Choosing someone just for physical intimacy or to meet a need is selfish. Nothing good springs from selfishness. Marrying someone just to check a box and fit into Christian culture is not prudent. Settling for crumbs does not leave us full. It leaves up empty.

God intended to meet our primary needs for love, security, identity, and intimacy. If God is first and we know who we are in Him, we will not settle for less than His most excellent best. It is not arrogance, it is alignment with what is God sent.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,~James 1:17.

There are still some great men and women in the world! If a person seeks God, they can be set up by God for divine friendships, divine marriages. Why settle for what we can get on our own when God offers custom relationships?

The more we love ourselves and stand confident in who God created us to be, the more we attract people with the same confidence and value for us. Those who do not love themselves cannot love others. We attract what we believe and manifest. Manifest low self esteem, attract those with low self esteem. One of the greatest gifts is actually choosing to believe what God has said about us.

Biblical examples of divine alignments…

Johnathan and David had a divine relationship. Ruth and Naomi had a divine relationship. Ruth and Boaz had a divine marriage. Those who seek God are blessed.

Papa God I bind all settling and seeking relationships with the wrong people. Help us also to set boundaries ad see ourselves as you do. Protect each person on this blog from choosing unwisely. Heal soul wounds from bad choices and bad relationships. Help each one not to settle for less than your most excellent best! Set up divine appointments for your best friendships, best relationships. Highlight destiny people and destiny relationships. Block the counterfeits. In Jesus powerful name, Jesus.

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

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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

Put Prayer On It (Single & Following Jesus Part VI)

Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?~Amos 3:3.

This was my devotion yesterday on Facebook, yet thought it may bless singles here. Here is the link to my author site if you wish to connect there Erin Lamb Author Page. I post devotions, encouraging words almost daily.

Before you date, court, pursue a business deal, say yes, sign up for that ministry thing, ask God before connecting/partnering with other people. God sees the heart and true motivation.

One of my favorite prayers is, "God show me who this person really is."

It's easy for people to smile, do the Christian nice thing (some are not even nice), or go along when there is something they want. Yet God sees the heart. God sees the core of us, even the things we do not see.

I give people about a year before I truly let my guard down and during that time I pray, "God do I need to be connected to this person? Please reveal their heart." Sometimes what flows out of them during that year is unloving, unkind, grossly selfish, etc…I thank God for the reveal. I am simply watching and assessing how they treat me and other people. Someone who is kind to those they deem important and rude to those they do not feel are important is not a kind person.

I love all, trust few, and am close friends with few. Why? My inner circle is reserved for people who genuinely care about me and treat me and others with respect, honor, dignity.

Our actions are always screaming over our words. Our words reveal our heart. Sometimes people are nice to everyone else and hateful to me. Why? I ask God to reveal their heart. God goes, "Here, this is what you are dealing with, you decide how to proceed."

I love all people, I am not friends or partners with all people. Some, I love and the information in my life is guarded from them. Why? They are not trustworthy. The Bible says, "You will know a tree by it's fruit." It is wisdom to seek God over friendships, dating, partnership, business, and even ministry. How can two be joined together lest they agree?

A Tree and It's Fruit

"Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [appearing gentle and innocent], but inwardly are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them [that is, by their contrived doctrine and self-focus]. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the unhealthy tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruit you will recognize them [as false prophets],~Jesus (Matthew 7:15-20).

My core values are:

  1. Love, respect, honor of all people not just those deemed important.
  2. Build people up instead of tear them down.
  3. Represent (re present) Jesus to those around me; reveal the Fathers heart.
  4. Honesty and integrity.
  5. Seeking to do no harm to anyone.
  6. Caring about others.
  7. Releasing who lives inside (Holy Spirit)

Connection with likeminded people brings forth greater fruit. It helps us to grow stronger. Those who build us up in love are so beneficial. Those who repeadily tear us down are not. Sometimes our mental, emotional, and physical health is compromised due to our associations and friendships.

Papa God, guard our hearts and lives from sheep in wolves clothing. Protect us from linking arms with those who do not love well or seek our harm. Help us to walk in wisdom, love, peace, and joy. You know who is best to be a part of our lives and who is not. Protect us from the wrong associations, the wrong friendships, the wrong partnerships. Help us to be connected to those who will love us like Jesus. Bring in the right friends, associates, partners. Give us eyes that examine fruit, not judge, yet see fruit. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin Lamb

Community (Single & Following Jesus Series Part I)


As promised, embarking on this journey of loving life as an unmarried person. 

I know this is foreign to some, yet you can be blissfully happy with just God and friends. People ask me, “When are you going to settle down? Don’t you want kids? We do not want you to miss out!” 

I think to myself I do not base contentment or happiness off marriage or having kids. My joy comes from God. Life with God is the most incredible adventure.  If I never marry, you will find me in roaring laughter with God, probably rocking orphans in my arms. 

Redefine Success: 

Our culture sees marriage as attaining status or success. God sees success as being faithful and fruitful where He plants you. 

I worked my way through two engineering degrees, founded/run a community service (outreach to the poor) with God, serve the poor, mentor/disciple women, and oversee 7 ministries. My time with God, friends, family is awesome. I have been all over the world and have freedom with God to do anything! I am content. I am quite content. God is amazing. 

Yeah right? Some say. Yet I have met numerous couples miserable and married. Despite the love stories on tv, Hallmark cards, or Disney movies, not every story leads to happliy ever after. 

Relationships require effort. When you combine two imperfect people there can be some conflict. There is also a divided focus: family and ministry. Family is to be the primary ministry. The ability to just pick and go is not as easy. Fasting means talking to your spouse. 

An unmarried person has one focus-please the Lord. 

Paul’s word to the unmarried: 1 Corinthians 7:25-38

But Marriage was God’s Idea!!:

Covenant and community was (is) God’s idea. God has great ideas. The first relationship God showed us was the Godhead. In the beginning they were together. Then we see Adam and God, God and Eve…then Adam and Eve. God had community before mankind was created. God is our community. God also adopts us into His family so we have billions of siblings in Christ. God deposits His Spirit so we have 24/7 companionship. We have full access to God 24/7. 

We are never truly alone. 

I desire for unmarried believers to enjoy life, instead of waiting to enjoy life if/when a mate shows up. I am not against marriage. I am pro enjoying God and living life to the fullest. 

We need community. 

Community does not have to be a spouse and children, though it can be. 

I have several unmarried friends without families. For holidays, we celebrate together. Yes, I spend time with my natural born family too. I make time for those who have nowhere to go on holidays. I believe God intended for the church (believers) to invite others into their families. My parents taught us believers are family.Family includes others. 

We are kind champions, “You can sit with us.” 


Finding a tribe (community) that treats you and loves you like Jesus is worth the investment. I repeat over and over, you are not alone. There are supposedly 2.2 billion Christians on this planet…Over half are unmarried. There is a community out there for you. You can also cultivate your own; hobby group, bible study, fitness pals. 

God sets the lonely in families, His very own family (from Psalm 68:6). 

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure,~Ephesians 1:5. 

Papa thank You for giving us Jesus and Holy Spirit. Thank You we are never alone. Thank You that You include us in Your family. We were chosen, adopted, loved! We are so deeply loved by You. I pray this series helps so many who feel like outcasts or lonely or misunderstood to feel Your great love for them. I ask for healthy, loving community to be a part of their lives. For those desiring marriage, I ask for contentment in You until it comes. I ask for hearts and lives prepared for all you have to offer! In Jesus powerful name. Amen. 

You are so deeply loved! 

Erin Lamb 

We are Family (Identity in Christ Part 20)

 

Young Couple with Two Children (8-12) Walking on the Beach

God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing, ~Psalm 68:6a.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father,” ~Romans 8:15.

What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir, ~Galatians 4:1-7.

The picture above is what we normally think of when we think of a family. We have a father, a mother, and children. If this is our only view of family, we will be disappointed if our family does not look like the one above. In today’s society you find single parent homes. You find widows and orphans. You find childless couples. You find millions of singles who may never marry. So, where is their family?

God sets the lonely in families. We were not intended to become His child and neglect other believers. We are family. It’s a challenging and difficult concept. We are not only called to care for our blood related family, we are called to care for our spiritual family. Some of our relatives we may not see again in heaven (though I’d hope so). There will be no marriage in heaven (Matt 22:30). There will be no having children there. We will all be like the angels. One big happy family.

Why is it so difficult to function as a family in church?

1. We don’t see the benefits of unity.Read previous post about the members of the Body. Division and independence weakens us. A divided force is a weak one. God is a God of unity. We need each other.

2.We live in a self focused society. We can go to church and not invest in anyone. We go, get our needs met, and go home. It’s about us, not necessarily others.

3.Our worship gatherings attract broken, hurting, and some really messed up people. Just like our natural families there are some awkward people we are related to. We are probably someone’s awkward person. It tests our love and patience to deal with people who don’t always act like Jesus or we have nothing other than Jesus in common with.

4. We are taught to care for our natural families, not our spiritual family. However, the Bible says, “Mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice,” Romans 12:15. We read in Philippians 2:4, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

5. We are too busy. I don’t know about you, but getting to know people takes time, energy, and resources. We have to make time for people. It can be tiring. We are not called to strive, but to make an effort to bless other believers.

6. It can be messy. If you’ve been a Christian long enough, you’ve probably been hurt by another believer. It’s painful for we expect people who are Christians to act like Jesus. That is not always the case. Hurt feelings, offense, betrayal, it can can happen. We learn boundaries with our natural families, and we need boundaries with our spiritual family. Some relationships can be damaging, toxic, or unhealthy. Wisdom, boundaries, and counsel may be needed in dealing with people.

Personal Experience:

Have you ever been to someone else’s family gatherings? I have. My family has been disinterested in celebrating holidays since my mum passed. So, year after year I have either hosted my own gathering with people from church or been invited to other people’s homes. Some are welcoming. Others though the intentions are good, have left me to feel like the stray someone picked up and it’s a pity meal. You don’t really fit. You don’t really belong. You are a guest. You don’t have the same privileges as the regular family and it’s awkward. God intentionally set us in a big church family. So, no person is a misfit. No person in His family is to feel like a stray. Every believer in Christ is an equal heir to Christ’s inheritance. There are only adopted children, each one wanted, cherished, and desired.

I love the movie The Blind Side. Micheal became a real member of their family. He wasn’t a guest, a pity case, but a loved child. He was chosen to be a part of a family. They treated him the same way they did their other children. God did that with us. He calls us to do the same for others.

Final Notes:

If you are a part of a community believers, I encourage you to start investing in the lives of the people around you. Get to know them and treat them like family. If you see a person who’s lonely, be a friend. If you’re a married couple with kids, I encourage you to befriend singles and not just other couples with kids. If you’re a single person, reach out to married couples. We are supposed to be a family. Protect each other. Encourage each other. Mourn with each other. Rejoice with one another. Don’t simply look out for your own interests, but the interests of others. Ask God who you can bless and be on the lookout for opportunities to be like Jesus to those around you.

P.S My friend Virginia wrote an excellent book called Single Not Separate, How to make church more like a family. Check it out. http://www.amazon.com/Single-Not-Separate-makethe-church/dp/0884199290

 

 

The Single Reality (Part 9)

Is Our House Divided?

A house divided against itself cannot stand, Mark 3:25

Today, I wanted to talk about something that touches my heart- Division within the Body of Christ. We learn from childhood to separate things into categories and lump things that are similar together. It is engrained into our minds to put labels on people and to associate with people who are similar. Our eyes have been trained to separate what is different. It can be a detrimental thing, for a house divided against itself cannot stand. Division is a way to destroy something or minimize its strength. Unity is powerful. One of the reasons I started this series was due to numerous blogs for married couples, engaged couples, those dating, and I could find very few that focused on single life as a Christian. If I did find one, they were geared towards getting a person to the altar instead of living a fulfilled life as a single person.

We Are In This Together….

As part of one race, the human race, we are all connected and sharing a planet. As part of Christ’s body, we are all connected by God’s Spirit. We belong to one another. In relation to single people versus married people we have some obstacles to overcome.

1. Separate Fellowship. Single and married people are to fellowship together within the body. God never intended for singles to only interact with singles and married people to only interact with other married people. He has a view of unity and community where His entire church body comes together and works together to give the world a picture of what He is like. Both groups are equal in His eyes. He sees one body, not a divided one. One is not more important that the other. They are to work together to display His Glory.

2. Isolation. I’ve met many single people who feel more and more isolated as their friends get married. Some lose their friends. Some have no community or family of their own. God never intended for anyone to feel left out, isolated, or without community. Check out the verses below from the church in Acts.

The Fellowship of the Believers

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved, Acts 2:42-47.

The church was unified and they grew. They helped each other and supported one another. This is a true picture of a house undivided.

3. My Status Is Better Than Your Status. What a great way to keep us from loving one another than to create a world of, “My status is better than your status.” Our identity cannot be rooted in our status. Our  identity is to rooted in Christ. If our identity is rooted in Christ then we view others as a part of our spiritual family. In His eyes, we are all His children, all heirs; no status is more valuable or important. There is no “us” versus “them”. Neither status makes us greater in God’s eyes.

4. My Family Versus God’s Family. Having our own families, caring for them, and making them a priority is important. However, there is God’s family that we are called to invest in as well. Investing in His family can include serving, volunteering, making disciples, and/or developing friendships. In God’s eyes all who are in Christ are family.  We may not want to invest in anyone other than our own biological family, but we have another family as well, our spiritual family.

Prayer:

Abba, I pray that our identities are rooted in You. May we be unified and not divided. Help us to see each other through Your eyes. Help us to view single life or married life the way You do. May our eyes be fixed on You. In Jesus name, Amen.

The Single Reality (Part 5)

Overcoming the Challenges of Being Single

My dear friends. Soon we will have some guest authors submitting posts for you. How exciting! I hope you are enjoying the posts. Here are some of the challenges of being single that I have heard people speak of and some ways to overcome them.

1. What about my needs? I thought we would start with talking about the media’s favorite subjects love and sex.  God made humans with the desire for love and sex. Our media does not portray it the way God intended, but the desires to mate are not sinful.  The problem comes when there is no outlet for unmet needs. People rush to the altar to have those needs met instead of asking God for peace in the current state of being without someone. Should you get married for those reasons? I am not here to judge. To each his/her own. However, if you don’t have someone and want to follow Jesus, then sex outside of marriage is against His will. So, what do you do?

a. Pray. Ask God to calm your desires until love arrives or give you the ability to not be perpetually frustrated. God is able to keep those who want to be kept. Jesus lived without a spouse, so did Paul and many others. It can be done. God’s Spirit is able to calm the fiercest drives. Many have prayed for contentment unless God led them to marry.

b.Pay Attention to What You Read/Watch/Listen To. Our books, music, and movies glorify sex outside of committment. Sometimes they throw a sultry scene in the middle of a movie with no point at all. The same goes for romance movies/books. If you are saturated with scenes, images, etc…of what you don’t have and can’t do, you will be frustrated. What you take in does matter. I am not saying you can’t go to the movies, etc…I am saying if you are struggling, it may not be helping out.

c. What You Feed Grows. What You Starve Dies. Our appetites are tied to what we are feeding. Whatever we indulge in is what we will crave. Those who struggle with lust are not cured by marriage. Lust is a hungry beast that is never satisfied.

2. Married and Engaged Couples. Some of your lovely friends are headed to the chapel. And you aren’t. You are happy for them, but they are not thinking about you. They are thinking about themselves, how happy they are. They say things like, “I am so glad I am not single anymore.” Or, “We need to find you someone.” Or, “Your day will come.” Aside from being a different category, you may notice that you lose friends as they get married. Their focus turns towards their families. So, what do you do.

a. Be Happy for Others and Understand Happy People Can Be Insensitive. I have heard married people say ridiculous things to singles. I have heard them brag, boast, and even talk about their sex lives. Try not to take it personal. It seems in the church the only things people are allowed to brag about are their significant others or children. It’s socially acceptable. Even unhappy people brag and can be insensitive. Let it roll off. If people insist on asking you about your love life or lack of one, limit time with people like that or tell them you don’t want to discuss your personal life.

3. Wanting a Family. For those who don’t have a close family, family members are dead, or want kids, the wait or prospect of not having a family is disheartening. How to deal.

a. Pray. God hears your prayers. If you want a family, pray for one. In the meantime try to connect with a church, others who share the same interests, neighbors, and community service activities. Invest in others. God will send you people who can be a substitute family. If you want people to ask about your life, start engaging with others about their lives. Also don’t limit yourself to people in your church. I have a single friend who met amazing people within a hiking group. There are still good people in the world, waiting to meet you!

b. Kick Your Biological Clock. Today people are able to have children later in life. Heck, in the Bible people had children later in life. God is not limited by time or anything. He called the Universe into being.

4. Social Activities. Wedding invitations are flooded to your inbox and couples are everywhere. You don’t want to go alone or be the third wheel. You want a travel buddy.

a. Make friends with members of the opposite sex. It may be awkward, but men and women can be friends. If that doesn’t work you can always see if another friend you know is available to go. It’s easier said than done, but it’s a way to get over the hurdle of people asking you why you aren’t with someone. You are a treasure and just because someone hasn’t noticed, doesn’t take away from your value. A diamond is a diamond, whether it’s on someone’s finger or perfectly polished on the shelf.

Lastly my friends, no matter what you face God is with you and for you. You are not alone or without help or hope. You are a valued, treasure and God sees the desires of you heart. You are in my thoughts and prayers. 🙂

The Single Reality (Part 4)

Dear friends,

Here’s some mid week encouragement. One of the challenges of single life is sometimes there are seasons of feeling lonely. Even married people have seasons of loneliness.

If there’s no one to ask about your day or invest in your life. If you are without strong community, or are experiencing loneliness, this prayer is for you.

Abba, I pray for every person who reads this blog to have an encounter with You. Fill their hearts with Your love, encouragement, hope, joy, and peace. Provide them with family here on earth, a strong community of people who will love them as you do. May they never feel lonely, outcast, or insignificant. Give them blessings they have no room to contain. Shield their ears from those who speak negatively. Fill their minds with Your words. They are loved, cherished, cared for, and the apples of Your eye.

You are deeply loved…:)