Do You Love You? (Sacred Sex Series Part VIII) 

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Do you love you? I know it may seem like a silly question, yet it is an important question. How we feel about ourselves impacts every relationship we have. 

We accept the love we feel we deserve. 

I am working on a book about insecurity. One of the issues with insecurity is it attracts poor treatment which causes feelings of rejection. These feelings of rejection lead to more insecurity that attracts poor treatment. The poor treatment creates wounds of rejection. The cycle continues. 

Insecurity is a lack of love for oneself. It is an image of self that is tainted and twisted. This tainted view can lead to fear, lack of proper boundaries, people pleasing, jealousy, control, being easily offended, enabling, abuse, codependency, accepting poor treatment, promiscuity, over indulging, gross selfishness, putting self or others down, shame, or overgiving/overinvesting. 

Insecurity is an issue that began in the Garden of Eden and has continued to plague mankind. There is a solution for insecurity that comes in relationship with God. He is pure love. His love casts out all fear, insecurity, and identity issues. 

True identity comes from knowing who God is and then who we are in Christ. The only sure and stable identity is in God. 

The truest love we will ever know comes from God. God love is pure/holy, not based on our merit or behavior, and fills us to overflowing. 

We must know God’s love for ourselves before we can love another or receive love from another. I will repeat this again…we must know God’s love for ourselves. 

My close friends have heard it over and over, it is not love God, then others, yourself last. I want to burn every t-shirt or meme with this statement enscribed there. The flow of love goes like this, “God so loved the world. We receive God’s love. Once we receive God’s love we love ourselves. We give the love God offers back to Him and love our neighbor AS we love ourselves.” 

We cannot love our neighbor as we love ourselves if we do not love ourselves. It will not happen! 

We can can only give what we possess and release what we carry. If you ask me for 10 dollars and I have no money, I can not give you any money. So, we are encouraged by Jesus to abide in the Vine (Him) and there would be abundant fruit (John 15:4-5). 

What does loving yourself look like? 

1. Finding your identity in God instead of things, people, relationships, looks, material things, or opinions of others. 

2. Forgiving yourself as God does. God does not bring up stuff we have repented of and laid before Him. As far as the east is from the west, that is how far He removes our transgressions from us. 

3. Speaking well of yourself. Putting ourselves down is not helpful. Speak life! If you need some help click here 110 Affirmations with Scriptures

4. Setting healthy boundaries. Are you allowing things in your life that are unhealthy, stress you out? Do you have people who put you down or treat you bad and you let them? Do you say yes to things you do not want to do? It’s a new year…you can start afresh with in tact boundaries. 

5. Taking care of your mind, body, spirit. Are you taking care of yourself? If you do not, who will? Yes God supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory. He also will not possess us to go to the gym, not binge eat, brush our teeth or hair, study the Bible, meditate on good things. We have to do those things. We are entrusted to take care of many aspects of our lives. 

6. Quit accepting toxic relationships. I believe we are called to love everyone. I do not believe we are called to be best friends or close friends with everyone. Why? Bad company corrupts good character. Who we connect with deeply impacts our lives. 

Is that person kind to you or do they put you down? 

Do you do all of the investing or do they invest too? 

Do they keep your confidences or are they the town gossip? 

How do they treat your friends and family? 

Is the relationship filled with peace, love, and joy or confusion, chaos, endless tears? 

Do you feel safe, valued, appreciated, seen, and heard? 

Is it about mutual investment or all about the other person? 

We should not enter relationships for what we can gain. We should also assess relationships that are mostly one sided or leave us in constant tears or confusion. We should assess relationships where we do not feel safe or genuinely cared for and loved. 

So I end this post asking, “Do you love you?” 


Love, 

Erin Lamb 

Do They Love You? (Sacred Sex Series Part VII) 

Morning Devotion (for the unmarried): Do they love you? What matters most in covenant is agape (God) love. 

Our culture praises fun, romance, sex, lust, and quick hookups. There is hyper focus on fantasy and eros love (sexual attraction/romantic love). 

There is little to no focus on agape love (unconditional, sacrificial, unselfish love). 

Agape love is the love Jesus demonstrates. He tells His followers the world would know them by this love. 

Some may say, “Agape belongs just between you and God or in church and not in marriage or friendship.” I strongly, strongly disagree. Why? Trials may hit your friendship or marriage. Eros (romantic love) or philia (brotherly love) or storage (family love) may jump ship or not hold up in testing and extreme trials. Why? Because when love hurts, when that person disappoints you, when they no longer can meet your needs, when the sparkle has fizzled, the flesh says, “Let’s ditch this zero and look for another fix.” 

I personally do not enjoy mistreatment, so there are some unrepentant people not a part of my circle. I still pray for them, would feed them if they were hungry, clothe them if naked, keep their confidences, and seek to do no harm. 

Only agape says, “Even in the worst of times, I still love you. I am praying for you. Even if it costs me greatly I am looking out for you. My love for you is unwavering, unyielding, stead fast, and will not be moved. In sickness, and in health. In good times, and in bad times. When you make my heart flutter and when you don’t. I will remain faithful in love for you.” This does not mean love fails to set boundaries (see paragraph above). Yet boundaries are for protection, not punishment or an excuse to withhold love. 

Agape love is covenant love. It will cost you. It is not based on feelings, it is a choice you make to show up and do right by someone even if they do not deserve it. It is the love that says, “Even if you have nothing to offer me or you loose it all. I am not going to abandon my covenant with you.” 

Agape love is what God demonstrated to Adam and Adam and Eve were supposed to demonstrate to each other. Agape is what Jesus tells us to demonstrate to the world, even our enemies, not just who we like.

So in navigating through the choices for a mate or a covenant friend, think, do they love you? Do they demonstrate the unselfish, sacrificial, unconditional love of God for you and others? Are they a servant or looking to be served? Are they in any way looking out for you, your best interests? Or are they looking for someone to bless them, care for them, be there for them? A deeply selfish person will hurt you. 

Lust vs. Love

Lust is selfish and can be mistaken for love. It is an intense feeling that wants to take from someone else for it’s own pleasure or personal gain. Lust will pursue to conquer. Lust will also abandon. Lust is never satisfied. 

Marriage goes not cure lust anymore than going to a bar cures alcoholism. Lust is a spirit and heart condition; Jesus can deliver anyone from lust. The natural condition for mankind is love, not lust. Lust came when sin came. Before lust there was blessing given by God for physical intimacy out of agape love. 

Love is looking for ways to give, add value, bless, empower, protect, and enhance. Love seeks to do things God’s way. Love is holy, pure, and eternal. 

Okay, you may be saying, “Love sounds hard. I just want to have fun!

Fun is great! I love to have fun. Yet just having fun does not make us covenant friends or marriage material. God and I have tons of fun; laughing parties, dancing, sharing dreams, life together. Yet we both know our love for the other is not dependent on having fun. There are times where He just had to hold me while I mourned. Times where I had to wait patiently on Him to finish what He started. Not always fun, yet we are in covenant. I love God even when walking with Him is challenging. He promises to never leave or forsake me. I know every day with me is not fun. Yet He stands in unwavering love. 

What about that spark, physical attraction? 

God is pro chemistry. Hormones were His idea. He was the Author of attraction, sex, and romance. Yep. God, not Hollywood. God’s version of romance leads to greater intimacy (knowing) in a safe environment. God seeks to protect hearts and bodies, not destroy them or use them. 

God created physical intimacy with boundaries. Those who live their lives based solely on what pleases the flesh will often find they are led by lust not love. What if your spouse can no longer meet your physical needs? Are you leaving? Cheating? Withholding love? Angry? What if that person loses their health, looks, or possessions? Lust says, “Go where your needs are going to be met.” Lust is selfish. Love is unselfish and faithful. 

In a world that says, “Do what feels good to you.” God offers something so much better, agape love. 

Does that potential mate or close, covenant friend love you? Really love you? Do they love anyone besides themselves, their family, and friends? What is their character and heart? 

If presented with the chance to be close friends or a spouse I am examining how the person loves. I have met many people in my lifetime who claimed to love me, I am their best friend or like family, and several men who said I was their choice for a wife, yet in the end they did not truly love me. Some loved the idea of me. Some loved the way I loved them or loved their families. Some loved or lusted after what was on the outside. Some evaluated how I could add value to their lives or business or church. Some just wanted to check their box, “Found me a wife or good friend.” Some were deeply selfish. And at the end of the day, I do not care how much money you have, or about titles or superficial things, how well do you love? 

Sweet friends, God loves you and wants you loved in return. One sided love is not a relationship, it’s charity. Charity (ministry) is great. Love without strings attached. Yet in covenant you will need someone willing to pour back the love you pour out. God set up relationships for mutual love and blessing. 

God bless you in your unmarried years and those who never wish to marry. Follow hard and fast after Jesus. God loves you and has incredible plans for your life, whether married or unmarried. He is your eternal covenant, stronger and better than any earthly covenant. He is the best Lover of your soul. You are so valuable to Him and SOooooooo deeply loved.

Choosing the Right Mate (Sacred Sex Series Part VI) 

  

  

Morning Devotion: God loves to pair people for mutual blessing and a catapulting of destiny. A look at Godly connections for marriage. 

Marriage is more than sex and fun, it’s a Kingdom partnership to help establish God’s Kingdom on earth. 

When people look for a car or to buy a house, they do some research. Most homebuyers do a home inspection. Car buyers may get a Carfax report. They examine the condition of the inside. Yet when people are thinking about marriage or even friendship, there can be minimal to no research on the character or inner workings of a person. There may be an assessment of 1. Do we have fun? 2. Do I like this person? 3. Am I attracted to what is on the outside? 

Here are some problems with ignoring what’s inside. 

1. When storms come and they do, pretty/handsome and fun mean nothing. Beauty fades. What happens if your significant other is injured, their beauty taken away, and you have to care for them. A shallow person may jump ship, abandon, or leave you hanging. Why? Challenges and storms are not fun. To be in a place to care for someone who can do nothing for you is not fun to the flesh. 

What happens if that person can no longer meet your physical needs? Will you abandon them to get your needs met someplace else. Covenant says, “For better or worse, in sickness and in health, I am going to love you and stand by you.” 

Our culture focuses so much on chemistry, sex, fun, and the flesh. I am so not against those things. Yet if they are the foundation, they are a very shaky foundation. 

The married couples I know who lasted 40-55 years focused on friendship, learning to love, forgiveness, compromise, and doing what was best for the other person. They sought to honor God through their interactions with the other person. Even when they did not like the other person, they chose love. 

Does the person you are interested in demonstrate noble character and unselfish love? Do they exhibit faithfulness? Are they loyal? How do they treat people who can do nothing for them? How do they love God? How do they handle finances? How do they spend their free time? How do they feel about themselves? 

If they are unloving, unkind to other people and loving to you, that is a red flag. If they only connect with God for what they can get, they will do the same to you. If they are unfaithful in other areas of their life, that’s something to investigate. 

The flesh will easily go along with what it thinks will please it. Flesh does not do so well when it is challenged, there is pain, delayed gratification, or challenges. The flesh tries to avoid pain or challenges. You will be surprised how many divorces or infidelity happen after a major sickness, trauma, or tragedy in a marriage. 

2. After all the hormones subside and the flesh is gratified, you are left to live with their character. 

When we first meet someone and we like them, hormones are high. If there is chemistry it makes a person feel on top of the world. The hormone high does not last. Scientists have studied the hormones involved in attraction. After a year, the intense high starts to lower. After 7 years your body becomes accustomed to them. Hence the phrase “The 7 year itch.” Then if you do not have real love, many jump ship for what’s new. The first year, after the 7th year, after kids, and after kids leave the nest are markers for marriage. If you only have lust and fun, your building will not stand. 

3. Destiny is not examined. 

Every person has a divine purpose for being born. Some seek God for destiny, some choose their own. Yet examining a potential life partner just for what’s outside and fun can lead to a wrong choice. 

Example (names changed): 

Lisa and John met. John loved her beauty and love for Jesus. Lisa married John. Lisa always felt called to teach and impact the world through teaching children. John after several years of marriage makes Lisa quit teaching school and stay home. They have over a half dozen children and it leads her to have a total mental breakdown. She recovers, yet feels her dreams are not even considered. They are not considered. John is about building his Kingdom. Lisa is there to serve him. She can do nothing without John’s approval. Lisa eventually dies. She was happy to die, she was tired of being drug around by her husband. 

Some may say this was a good marriage. I disagree. God looks to advance and enhance our destiny, not diminish our destiny. Lisa wanted to teach. She taught John many things. He, however, felt men are the only ones to work. He also felt headship meant boss instead of support/servant/the one who sacrifices the most. He modeled worldly dictatorship not the Christlike love of Jesus that seeks to elevate, sacrificially serve, empower. 

I believe Jesus would have empowered Lisa to teach, cheer for her dream, support her, and be her greatest support. Head also means source or support. Yet many use head to mean dictator, boss, parent. Jesus did (does) not model dictatorship. He modeled support, a source of life/encouragement, and sacrificial love. Jesus never tries to kill my dreams to benefit himself. Why? Jesus is not selfish nor insecure. 

I have had people try to push me into marrying a certain person, yet I know part of my destiny. When I was quite young God told me why I was born, some of the countries I would travel to, and my purpose. He has confirmed His words through many people and it matches my heart desires. When men come wanting to diminish who God says I am or negate what He told me to do, I say no. Why? A man is not more important than God. 

Any person who wants to diminish who you are is insecure and insecure people make relationships challenging and in many cases toxic or one sided. Insecurity is self focused, “What about me? Me! Me! Me!“. It’s fruits are jealousy, constantly needing affirmation/validation, easily offended, suspicion, selfishness, rejection/self rejection, emotional instability and can cause abuse (verbal, physical, or sexual). 

How can two be joined together lest they agree? I know part of my destiny involves global missions and actually going into other countries to share the Gospel, part of my destiny involves evangelism/teaching/and doing what Jesus did. 

Men who think women can not do those things is not for me. Men who believe women were only created to be their slaves and sex partners are not for me. Men who care nothing about who I am and focus only on their fleshly attraction are not for me. Men who do not truly love God and seek to honor Him are not for me. Men who are grossly selfish and do not care about the poor are not for me. My life is centered around a passionate love for God and intimacy with Him. My ministry in the world is seeking to heal, feed, deliver the oppressed, least, last, lost. 

May all the singles spend time with God when choosing a life partner. It is a more important decision than buying a car or house. Everything that glitters is not God. The flesh will say, “Pick the fun, super attractive one.” The Spirit will say, “Pay attention to their character. What will you build together?” 

May singles look with eyes of the Spirit. This person will either draw you closer to God and help catapult your destiny or diminish it. 

Unashamed (Sacred Sex Series Part II) 

  
This photo from wordswag is of two ballerinas, male and female dancing. They are wearing white leotards/tights. Just clarifying so no one freaks out. 🙂 

Here is the original (beautiful right?): 

  In the continuation of this series I have been thinking about Genesis 2:25. It reads: 

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

We know the word naked means without clothing. They were vulnerable. There was nothing they felt they needed to hide or airbrush away. 

Adam and Eve had no insecurities. They did not have body issues or body shame. They did not have lust issues. They did not pick each other apart, “Where are your six pack abs? Maybe a few runs around the Garden might help you out!” 

They were free to be who God created them to be; loved, seen, secure, and known in the boundary of covenant. 

They knew no shame. Carrying shame is not our friend. Repeat with me, “Carrying shame is not my friend.” Awesome, we are on the same page. Carrying shame leads to pain.

What on earth is shame some may ask? Let’s talk about shame. 

Shame:

a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.

synonyms:

humiliation, mortification, chagrin, ignominy, embarrassment, indignity, discomfort, guilt, remorse, contrition, compunction. 

Lets’s look at Genesis 3:6-13, when shame entered the equation. 

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.

And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The aftermath of the first sin was as follows: 

  • Feel uncovered/vulnerable
  • Cover up yourself/your vulnerability 
  • Fear 
  • Hide from God 
  • Blame 

After the fall, Adam and Eve realized they had no clothes-they realized their vulnerability and sin. They decided they would fix the problem by covering up their vulnerability and then hide from God. They, for the first time, knew sin. 

Adam blamed Eve. Eve goes on to blame the serpent and well it just spirals downward. Oh, the dreaded curses of the Fall. 

Before you check out because Adam and Eve’s sins brought pain, death, turmoil, shame, and heartache into humanity know Jesus was already a part of God’s plan to redeem humanity. Praise pause. 

God knew before creating humanity  we would mess up. I will maybe touch on that in another post. He also knew Adam was hiding. Interesting! 

Sin leads to hiding. Sin, untouched by the forgiveness of God, leads to shame-unless our sense of right and wrong is perverted/seared/numbed. 

Women and shame: 

Sometimes the shame comes not from the sins we have committed, but from the sins committed against us. I have prayed for and peer counseled women who have been sexually abused, sexually harassed, or verbally abused. They grew to hate their bodies, their sexuality, or sex altogether. Some were used by men for sex. Some gave themselves away. Some struggled with their desires, thought life. Why? Sin leads to shame. 

Women especially are judged by their physical appearance and sex appeal. I have heard men state, “Women are only good for one thing.” There are too many stats on rape, sexual abuse, pornography, the sexist images of women, and the exploitation of women to talk about it here. 

Just know God created women to be loved. He says, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” God likes who He created and woman was not just created simply to meet a physicial need for man. God gave woman a brain, a heart, and she was created in the image of God to be loved by God and by man. Love is not about taking or self gratification. Love is about giving. Agape love is not selfish. 

Men and shame:

Sexual and physical abuse hurts men too. I have not counseled men, so I have less experience in this area. I do know men are judged by how “manly” they can be. I hear them talk about this “man card.” So there is intense pressure to be validated by other men and I have seen men shame or humiliate other men who where not “masculine” enough. If you add in sexual abuse, especially by a another man that can lead to deep rooted shame. There can also be fear of not being man enough. 

I have heard men say they felt shame for their high desires for physical intimacy. Some run like the wind from any pretty woman. Others have secret lives of images they view on a screen or an inner world that lacks purity (some women do too).

Some struggle with same sex attraction (both genders) and feel deep fear and shame. 

Some do not know the difference between lust and God given attraction to the opposite sex. 

God’s plan (love, intimacy, covenant): 

Sex was God’s idea. His intention was physical intimacy inside the boundaries of commited love between a man and woman. Why? So they could be vulnerable, protected, loved, known, cared for, and unashamed. 

God is all about love and connection. He is relational. He also established the first family through procreation. 

When someone loves  unconditionally, truly loves, you can let your defenses down and be vulnerable. You are free to be who you are. Just as in the Garden, Adam and Eve were vulnerable and without shame (fear, hiding, humiliation, embarrassment). 

Every human being was created for intimacy (to be known and loved). Our world focuses so much on the physical aspect of intimacy. Yet God sees beyond the physical. 

We were created to be loved, respected, known, secure, and cared for. To God intimacy is about connection and not just pleasure. God created physical intimacy to connect two souls, bodies, spirits. It was designed for more than procreation and pleasure. 

He said, “I will give man and woman a way to be loved and known on a deep level. Two become one.” This does not mean you morph into one person. It means the connection joins two people. 

Those in Christ are joined with Him. We become one with the Lord. This does not mean God becomes us or we become God. It does not mean we lose our identity either. It means we are connected through an eternal covenant of love through faith; heart to heart, spirit to Spirit. 

Shame seeks to pervert love and destroy intimacy. The cycle of shame is filled with hiding, fear, feeling bad, sin-then hiding, fear, feeling bad, more sin…you get the picture. We were not designed for shame. We were made for agape love. We were not created to try to measure up to some magazine or movie standard. We were not created to be abused or treated like a disposable object. We were not created to hide or pretend, or blame or seek to cover ourselves. We were created for relationship with God then others. 

Jesus is the only One who can pay for our sins. He is the covering. So, no matter whether we have sinned or been sinned against-we seek a Savior. He is Jesus. All failures, insecurities, abuse, misplaced appetites, affections, desires for affection, all of it can be laid at His feet. Jesus paid it all. He took our shame so we could live unashamed! 

Father God for any person who is struggling tonight with shame, I ask for a washing in Your love and power. If there are things which require repentance and greater freedom, please bring them to light. Align minds with Yours. Lord Your loving light heals anything in the darkness. Only Your Son can cover. Your perfect love casts out fear. No more hiding. May everything be laid before You. You love us so. In Jesus powerful name. Amen. 

Setting Boundaries in Love (Relationship Series) 

  
Build a fence around your heart, not a wall. Therefore, people can see its beauty but only those invited can come inside.” 

I cannot recall who said the quote above, yet it’s a good one. Boundaries are the fences we put up to protect what’s of value. Boundaries set limits. 

God sets boundaries; much of the law was set up as boundaries to protect people. Do not steal. Do not murder…We are of infinite worth to God. Therefore, boundaries help protect us and others. 

Boundaries are supposed to be rooted in love, not fear. 

If we set boundaries with people out of fear, they are most likely to get hurt. Fear is a horrible motivator because the main objective is “Self.” When love is the motivation, the best interests of both parties are considered. 

It is possible to be kind, loving, and maintain boundaries. 

Different strokes for different folks…

Different people have different boundaries. I’m from a warm culture. It is not uncommon to smile, encourage, open the door to strangers, give gifts, or even embrace. It’s normal and considered friendly. 

I love traveling to parts of South America because the culture is similar in certain places. People will hug you, invite you for coffee. It’s not a date, flirting, or luring technique. It’s normal life. You may even receive a gift. My dad loves to give gifts. My Heavenly Father loves to give gifts. 

For some people they are not friendly if they don’t know you. They must get to know you before there’s an invitation to do anything. Some cultures are warm and friendly, some are quite reserved. 

So how do we establish boundaries? 

The first step is establishing what our boundaries are. 

  • What do you like and dislike?
  • What is comfortable? 
  • What makes you uncomfortable? 
  • What makes you feel violated, used, or abused?  
  • How do you want to be treated?

When our boundaries are not set or low, it leads to an uneasy feeling or mistreatment. When boundaries are violated, something feels wrong or off. 

Life Lessons:

I work in a mostly male environment. Sometimes the things they say are not appropriate. I tell them, “Please don’t discuss that around me.

If I don’t say anything, I can’t be upset by what they talk about. It’s my responsibility to either leave the room or tell them, “This isn’t okay.

We set our boundaries, not others. 

I also went through a period in my life where people wanted to tell me what to do. This was annoying and not what I wanted. I kindly told them, “I appreciate your concerns, yet I plan on taking this to God. I do not wish for any more counsel or feedback.” 

I’ve also learned I can unknowingly aggravate people’s boundaries. Mainly I don’t know what their boundaries are. I refrain now from being too kind or generous with people I don’t know, unless it’s secretly.  

Boundaries with the opposite sex/in ministry:

I don’t encourage or continually affirm men I don’t know unless it’s done publicly-with a witness (strong lesson learned). Even if your motive is simply to bless someone, it can be completely misunderstood. 

If I have something for a man who is married, it almost always goes through his wife unless it’s with colleagues about business. I’d rather just avoid any misunderstandings.

I don’t share deep intimate details of my life with men, or women I don’t know or trust. In ministry I share experiences, but not on a one on one intimate level with people I don’t know or trust. As I grow older the less I want people in my business. I have a small circle I trust. 

Basic boundary guidelines: 

1. Saying no to what’s breaking the law or violating your morals. 

2. Saying no without feeling guilty or obligated to say yes to please people. 

3. Refraining from touching people without asking for permission. 

If you’re from a warm culture, the other person may not be. The person with the highest boundary wins. 

Example: I hate people touching my hair. Random fact-Did you know when you touch hair with dirty hands you leave deposits?

4. Refraining from allowing people to touch you if you don’t want to be touched.

5. Refraining from emotional/physical/spiritual  closeness (intimacy) without commitment. This is quite important for members of the opposite sex. I’m not talking about family affection, a platonic hug. 

I highly recommend the book Choosing God’s Best. This book outlines some of the precautions to take with intimacy in relationships. 

Many affairs begin on an emotional and intellectual level before a physical act occurs. 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,~Proverbs 4:23. 

God intended for connections to be guarded. If we open up to people who are not committed to love us (I’m talking agape, friend love, family love-and sexual love), it can lead to heartache. 

Our hearts can become entangled with people by sharing our hearts, dreams, passions, fears, intimate things about ourselves. This creates a connection with another person. If you add to that physical intimacy (which God only condones with a man and woman in marriage), it can lead to heartache outside comittment. 

I know in ministry or spiritual family connections there’s sharing. I am not stating to be a brick wall with others, just thoughts on basic boundaries. 

6. Protecting the space, time, and relationships of other people. 

7. Refraining from asking intimate personal details about people you don’t know. 

There’s a time and place for these things. I will flat out tell people, “You don’t need to know.

8. Tell people what your boundaries are. If you don’t tell them, they don’t know. The first time a boundary is violated, say something. 

For more information on boundaries go to Guide to Psychology-Boundaries

If you struggle with saying no, I recommend The Best Yes by New York Time’s Bestseller Lysa TerKurst. 

Here are some sample scripts I’ve used. 

Unsolicited advice:

Thank you so much for taking the time to provide feedback. I plan on praying and seeking God’s will. I’d love for you to pray God’s will for me. 

Pushy people:

No. I won’t be needing or using (fill in the blank). 

Requests I cannot perform, or don’t feel called to do:

I am unable to (fill in the request), have you touched base with (alternative option)? 

Rude people: 

I ignore quite a bit of rudeness because it is simply a person who feels powerless trying to appear strong or powerful. If I must address it, then it goes a bit like this. 

I would love to connect or chat with you, yet not while you’re using that tone or treating me this way. 

We can love people and set boundaries. I may post more on boundaries next post. 

It Starts With Love (Worship Series Part 11)

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Photo Credit: online, original source unknown.

We worship what we love. We were made by Love, to be loved, to give love. When we worship something or someone, we are expressing our love for that person or object or ourselves. When we are worshipping something or someone other than God, I am convinced it’s because we don’t realize how much God loves us.

Money can’t save us.
Parents, spouses, or children can’t save us.
Being beautiful or fit cannot save us.
Physical pleasure cannot save us.
Having the biggest, most influential church or ministry cannot save us.
Food cannot save us.
Having the most material possessions cannot save us.
We cannot save ourselves.

You see no one other than Jesus saves. If we don’t obtain relationship with Him, in this life, we are doomed for all eternity.

God gave His best to the world out of love. For God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…John 3:16. He would’ve entered the world if you were the only person who needed salvation. He would’ve given His life for one. God’s love isn’t a blanket love that just covers the world. It’s individualized love. He knows every hair on your head, every tear you’ve cried, every pain you’ve suffered, your dreams written on His heart, He knows you and loves you. Psalm 139 says, “Before you were formed in your mother’s womb, God knew you!” What matters to you, matters to Him. He’s the Universe’s best Father.

God demonstrated His love for humanity on the cross. Jesus was innocent, yet marred beyond recognition to pay for our sins. He did not look human when they were done beating Him and ripping His flesh from His body. It’s graphic, yet I am so thankful someone loved us enough to die for us while we were still guilty.

No boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, parent, child, friend, job, pile of money, or anything else cares enough for us to endure what He did. There’s nothing and no one holy enough to be worshipped above God.

When we realize how much God loves us, worship of Him is the response.

Our idols reveal who and what we love. And though we don’t often admit it, we believe those idols love us or benefit us more than God.

Our world problems can be traced back to one thing; the absence of Godly love. People who don’t love who they are cannot love God, you, or anyone else. We can only give what we have first received. A naked person cannot give you a shirt. God continually pours out perfect love, yet it must be received. A gift still belongs to the giver if the recipient will not accept it. It’s only when we know God and abide in His love that we are able to love ourselves then others and worship Him fully. We tell people to love God & others & miss the most important step, receive love first from God. Those who do not love, have missed step 1.

The order of love: 1. receive God’s love, 2. Love God, 3. love yourself, 4. love your neighbor as yourself.

Where there’s an absence of love, there’s hatred, indifference, racism, sexism, bigotry, prejudice, murder, lust, greed, pride, selfishness, oppression, insecurity, control, manipulation, jealousy, envy, strife, lawlessness, perversion, idolatry, war, gluttony, casting off restraints, vanity, immorality, & chaos…

Sweet friends, as Paul prayed, may we know the height, the depth, the width, and the vast expanse of God’s love for us! On the heart level, not just the head level. In Jesus powerful name, Amen.

Believe, Know, Listen, & Follow (Intimacy with God)

This is from my book website ithoughtiknewwhatlovewas.com. I posted it this morning. I try not to post the same thing on both sites but felt led to. There are different followers on each site. I hope this encourages you to plunge the depths of God’s heart. He loves you!

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Photo credit: Son of God movie

John 10:25-30.

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

I recommend reading all of John 10. In this passage Jesus refers to Himself as the good Shepherd. Shepherds were overseers of flocks. Sheep are not the brightest animals. They will fall into ditches, see another sheep in a ditch and fall in…they can wonder off and be destroyed because they are not wise. Shepherds protected their sheep. They were invested in keeping them safe. They’d lay at the gate to prevent them from escaping. They spent time with the sheep. They rescued wayward sheep.

Jesus is the good Shepherd. We are like the sheep. He’s responsible to care for us, reveal who He is to us, and we are to know and follow Him. We are not an obligation to God. We are His dearly loved children.

In the verses above Jesus is responding to the questions of the Pharisees about who He is. Is He the Christ? I love His responses. He stated, “You do not believe, therefore you are not my sheep. My sheep know and follow me.

Intimacy with God starts with faith. It starts with belief.

Do you believe God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do?
It is not enough to simply believe there is a God or Jesus is the Son of God. Even the demons believe and tremble. (James 2:19), yet they are not saved. There’s no salvation for them. There is for humanity.

If you’re reading this and you’ve never confessed your sins before God, repented (made a decision to turn from sinning and turn to God), asked God to cleanse you of your sins, placed your faith in Jesus Christ as the appropriation for your sins, and asked Him to be your Lord and Savior, I invite you do so. There’s no salvation apart from Him. There’s no entrance to heaven without going through the Son. We can’t do enough good works to earn holiness or righteousness. Jesus did it for us. We by faith, receive what He’s done and accept His righteousness as our own.

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

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith,~Romans 3:23-25a.

If you invited God into your life, I would love to hear from you and provide more information to you.

The second step in intimacy with God is being with Him.

Sheep spent their time with the shepherd. They learned his voice, his smell, his mannerisms. It’s impossible to have intimacy (knowing) with someone and you never spend any time. If Sunday morning is the only time you spend with God, well your level of intimacy is not going to be high.

I am not stating you attend worship services all week, lock yourself in a room to pray and read the Bible all day. I am saying we can commune with God every day, as much as we’d like. One of my morning activities is to start the day with worship and thanksgiving. “Good morning God! I love you. Thank you for who you are and all you’ve done. I invite you to be a part of my day. What do you want to do? Who do you want to bless?” And there are days where I’m just listening. What is God doing? What is He saying? It’s not a ritual, it’s relationship.

Intimacy with God involves listening and knowing His voice.

The Bible says God speaks. There are some who teach He doesn’t and that does not align with scripture. God speaks to His children. If you had children and wrote an instruction manual for them, would you then say, “I refuse to speak to you. Go read the book I gave you.” That would seem insane. Yet some teach God only speaks to us through the Bible. God spoke to people in the Bible through dreams, visions, directly, through prophets, even through a donkey. Before you get too excited, let’s lay down some ground rules.

1. When God speaks He will not tell you to sin or violate His already written word.

I had someone tell me once the Holy Spirit told her not to read the Bible ever and only to listen to the voice she was hearing. That’s wrong and violates scripture.

I heard someone say God told them to leave their spouse for someone else. That’s wrong. It violates many scriptures.

Our culture says do whatever feels good for you and if it’s “love” or feels good, God must approve of it. That’s wrong. If there’s no place in scripture where God is condoning a behavior, you can’t condone it either and claim it’s God. There are some verses that seem to contradict each other which is why God gave His Holy Spirit to teach us.

We can’t toss out the Bible and rely on feelings, human wisdom, angelic visitations, or voices we believe are God.

2. All prophecy (speaking God’s word) is to be tested. Meaning the following:

Does it align with God’s word? Example, there are many false prophecies about when the world will end. Well, the Bible states the following:

“No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows,”~Matthew 24:36.

Does the prophecy fit the character of God?

I’ve had destructive words spoken over me. There was no life in them. God does give warnings. He also provides redemption. Those who repent can find hope and life in Him. Jesus came to save, not destroy. If people are destroyed, it will be because they refused the gift He offered and refused repentance.

Finally intimacy with God involves following Him.

We are called to obey God. It’s not a popular teaching, yet Jesus taught it often. Christianity is not simply praying a prayer, it’s following a person. That person is Jesus. We cannot claim to love God and live a life where we refuse to do what He says. He gives us grace and His Spirit to enable us to do His will. If we cease to obey, we will eventually cease to hear from Him. If He continues to speak, we are held accountable for what we know. So if you feel super disconnected from God, one thing to ask is , “Has He told me to do something I have not done?”

I will continue this series because I truly believe we perish for lack of knowledge of who God is. We are called to know Him, to be loved by Him, to love Him, and enjoy Him. God is not boring, cold, stern, a kill joy, or mean spirited. He is good, holy, exciting, adventurous, overflowing with love and joy. He’s beyond amazing. He’s generous, faithful, merciful, and forgiving. The evil one doesn’t want the world to know who God is and how good He is. Once you know Him, it’s almost impossible to resist Him.

Will you join me on this relentless pursuit of God’s heart? I hope so.

You’re continually in my thoughts, prayers, and you are deeply loved (John 3:16).

Love,

Erin