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

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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.

Heart Abandoned (Worship Series Part 6)

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Photo: Pinterest Lyric: Joel Houston (The Stand)

It’s around 5 am here. I’ve been waking up between 4 and 5 am the past few weeks. I mention this because it is the time of the most sweet fellowship with God. What does it mean to love God? What does it mean to worship in spirit and in truth? How does one foster relationship with the Creator of the Universe?

Well let’s start with the basics for the non Christian. Unlike what you hear on talk shows, there’s one way to God. It’s through faith in His Son Jesus.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6.

We believe Jesus is the Son of God, born of a virgin, was crucified for all sin, and rose again. We confess our sins before God (for all but God have sinned), we receive forgiveness, we are baptized in water and filled with His Spirit…

Jesus gives us access to the Father. His righteousness covers us. God is holy. There’s no sin in Him. We cannot remove our sin. Someone who never sinned had to pay for us. The cross represents perfect love and justice. The penalty for sin is death. Jesus paid for our sins with His life. He died as us and rose so we could have life eternal. It’s like someone sitting on death row for a crime and Jesus walks in and says, “I know someone has to pay, I will pay for this. Let this person go free.”

What does this have to do with worship?

Glad you asked!

I believe we sometimes forget what God paid for. When we begin to worship things other than God, we’ve forgotten the great lengths God went through to save us and call us His own. I can’t name one person in my life who would die for me if I were guilty. Forget guilty. I can’t name one who’d die for me if I was innocent. Maybe my mom, yet the way Jesus suffered is beyond comprehension. He was marred beyond recognition. Films can’t capture how badly He was beaten. His flesh was ripped off His body.

The cross reminds me of how good God is and how deadly sin is. To choose to worship anyone or anything above Him is ludicrous. He gave everything for a world that gives Him the scraps off the table. “Here God, here’s my Sunday morning attendance and offering. Please don’t ask for anything else.”

God doesn’t ask for part of our lives or part of our devotion. He asks for everything!

He’s worthy of whole hearted devotion. If my conversion and following Christ does not lead me to love Him more and more with each passing day, I must go back to the cross. If my love for Him does not lead me to want to do what He says, I must go back to the cross.

The cross…
Where Jesus took what I deserved.
The cross…
Where love was poured out so we would never have to experience the tragedy of eternity in hell and separation from God.
The cross…
Where God’s wrath for sin was targeted at His Son so forgiveness and grace could be appropriated to us by faith.

It cost God greatly to redeem us. He passionately pursues us. He gave and gives His best to us. Yet He often receives so little love in return. He’s the One people blame in crisis or they don’t get their way or is sought out only in times of trouble.

Sweet friends, God is SO much better than anything or anyone He created! We do not know how to worship until we know His love. We do not know His love until we know His Son. We can’t love Him until we first receive His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness for us.


Father forgive us for worshipping created things. Forgive us for making You an obligation or our genie in a bottle. Forgive us for being consumed by this world and not putting You first. Help us to reflect on the cross. Help us to know Jesus, know You, know the Holy Spirit. May we know the height, depth, width, and vast expanse of Your great love for us. Help us to receive the fullness of what You paid for. In Jesus powerful name, Amen!

The Idol of the Church, Spiritual Gifts, & People God Uses (Worship Series Part 5)

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“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments,~Exodus 20:2-6.

Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved,“~Acts 4:10-12.

God is quite serious about being the only One we worship. I’ve been following Jesus for a long time. I can say with great confidence there’s an idol in Christian circles we find acceptable to worship, it’s His church, the people He uses, and the gifts of the Spirit.

The church in the context I’m using it is the corporate body of believers.

I’ve been in services where people walked out if they didn’t have their favorite pastor preaching, their favorite worship leader leading, or they left a church to follow a mega pastor.

I’ve gone to conferences where people have refused prayer from the people around them to seek out the big name person with a healing ministry to pray for them.

I’ve seen people worship their “church” or the people God is using in their “church.” Instead of cultivating their own relationship with God, they sought out what they believed to be more “spiritual” people to feed them continually.

I’ve seen people shake their fists at God if He didn’t perform the miracle they wanted or needed.

I’ve seen all over social media where big name churches have boasted about their members, conferences, and the well known pastors they have coming through their church.

I’ve seen the fans and groupies of major worship artists. They exalt the bands, groups, and individuals to a god like status.

I’ve heard people say you should never criticize the church because she’s Christ’s Bride. Almost like Bridezilla at times, the Bride becomes the focus-she can do no wrong, she must have her way, she’s exalted above the Groom. Some love “church-worship gatherings” more than God. The weekend service or church attendance is the only time they meet with God.

Certain churches or pastors have had their bad behavior excused not by grace, but under the lie that the church is not to be held accountable for their wrongdoing. Example pastors molesting children and it’s hidden from the public.

I can say with earnest conviction and Biblical backing, there’s no place in scripture where God exalts anyone above Him. Christ raises us up to sit in heavenly places with Him, not above Him. God loves people. He loves to give good gifts. He loves His Bride. He never longs for anything or anyone to be exalted above Him. We (humans) were not created to be worshipped. We cannot save anyone. Without God, we can do nothing (John 15:5). There’s only one who is infallible, Christ alone.

Your pastor, priest, rabbi, worship leader, or spiritual leader is human. Meaning they were created not the Creator.

The desire to be worshipped and worshipped above God is what caused Lucifer to be cast out of heaven.

When we worship the created or the gifts of God, we are idolaters. It’s a harsh but true word.

There’s no pastor, teacher, prophet, evangelist, apostle, singer, worship leader, Christian celebrity, healer, etcetera…who can save anyone. Nor are people all powerful. We get into trouble when we make ourselves or others demigods.

Those who worship idols have no place in God’s Kingdom.

You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world,~Ephesians 5:5.

We are also not to worship the gifts. It’s great that God enables us to participate in His Kingdom building. We are not to exalt the gifts. See how Jesus instructs the disciples.

don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven,~Luke 10:20.

Paul also gives us insight on proper view of the gifts.


If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love,~1 Cor 13:1-7.

Jesus provides even more insight about the gifts.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’~Matthew 7:21-23.

The gifts are not an indication of right standing with God. Nor are they to be worshipped. Many will be deceived by the antichrist because he will be able to perform miracles, signs, and wonders. Read Revelations.

This does not mean we do not honor God’s people, love them, or say thanks for the gifts of God. It does mean we don’t ever elevate anyone or anything above Him. God alone is worthy.

Father, please forgive us for worshipping anyone or anything other than You! Please purify our hearts and help us to place You first in all things. Thank You for all You are. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

Relationship or Fellowship

The church I have been attending has been doing a series on 1 John called Walking in the Light.  It’s been a great series. Here are some thoughts from the teachings and teaching points.
 
What is the ultimate cause of the church?

God’s greatest cause is His Glory (His reputation) which is revealed through Christ.  We exist to bring God Glory. We also glorify God when we fellowship with His Body (other believers).

Fellowship or Relationship?

Relationship is different from fellowship. A person can have a child and be related to them, but have no fellowship with that child. We can be related to one another in the body of Christ by His Spirit and have no fellowship with each other.

What is Fellowship: Fellowship involves trust, intimacy, transparency (no masks or pretense), vulnerability, investment, common purpose, communion, submission, looking out for another person’s best interests, speaking the truth, correction and rebuking, edification, encouragement, and affirmation, and helping another person become more like Christ, mourning with those who mourn, and rejoicing with those who rejoice. Fellowship often involves covenant commitment. Fellowship involves mutual serving. Fellowship is a heart to heart connection, not just a face to face connection.

Fellowship has a purpose and is not a aimless activity. 

Many will claim relationship or being related to God who have no fellowship with Him.  We claim fellowship with one another in Christ, but are we simply relating and having aimless relationships and not fellowship?

Christian love is the act of serving each other and helping each other to become more like Christ. The purpose of Christian discipleship is intentional time spent to point each other back to the gospel. What does God’s word say? What is God speaking? Are we pointing people to Jesus, helping them become all that they can for Him, or are we simply spending time? Are we watching a person self destruct to for fear of man, or are we willing to tell a person that God’s plan is so much better? The pastor told the story of having spinach in his teeth. He said a person who loves you will tell you that your teeth are filled with spinach. They won’t let you walk around with gunk in your teeth. The same goes for us. If we can watch each other suffer, hurt, sin, and not help, we are guilty of not walking in love.

Summary:

I believe there is tremendous fruit when the purpose for being with someone is known, when the vision is shared, when there is a heart to heart connection, when the common purpose is glorifying God. I believe that fellowship was and is God’s design, not relationships as we have them. I believe God meant for us to do life together and point each other to Him. I believe He intended for us to serve one another continually, not just be served.  I believe that a church built on mutual love, service, accountability, unity, common purpose, and Jesus centered relationships will change the world. I believe we can change the world if we continue to ask the questions, “

How can I help this person be more like Jesus? How can I encourage this person to be more like Jesus? How can I pray for this person to be more like Jesus? Who does God want my heart connected to? Who does God want me to invest in for the Kingdom? Where and with whom should I spend my time serving? Is God being glorified by my relationships and how I spend time?”

 

Abba I pray that You would bring believers into our lives that we can grow with. Partner us up with others to have heart to heart connections and not just face to face encounters. Send people our way who will continually point to You and encourage us to be more like You. Send us people who will love as You love, speak as You speak, and those who help fulfill Your purposes for our lives. Help us to have God centered fellowship. Help us to use our time to be the most impactful for the Kingdom. Use us and spend us like Your spare change. Keep the focus on what You want to do in and though us. Help us to serve. Help us to love. Help us to disciple each other and the nations. Thanks for all You’ve done. Amen.

 

Have a wonderful week. You are deeply loved.