Leadership, Godly Submission, and Jesus

Morning Devotion: Leader means servant in God’s eyes, not dictator or boss. Dissecting the leadership model of Jesus and wrong teachings on submission. Submit=Be willing to yield to what honors God (possess humility), not obey or blindly obey people.

I am sometimes confused when people state they are the leader when their function is simply being served and telling others what to do. They are exalted and they have a hierarchy system so their needs, desires, wishes are served or met. Or they define great leadership by the number of people following them; Hitler had lots of followers under his demonic leadership it did not mean God thought he was a great leader.

I have had men tell me and women too that the husband is the leader in the family yet the wife does 80-90% of the serving, helping, loving, getting low in humility to empower her family. It is not the model Jesus laid out nor lived of leadership.

The one laying their life down, sacrificially loving, and serving is imitating Jesus and leading.

The disciples at one point became self important and argued over who would be the greatest among them. The desire to be great in the eyes of man is of the carnal nature (flesh).

Pride does not flow from God, it flows from Satan. Pride, self importance, was the principle sin of Lucifer. He wanted to be worshipped and exalted above God. Lucifer wanted to be served, not serve.

This was the response of Jesus to the arguing disciples:

Jesus, knowing their thoughts, called them to his side and said, “Kings and those with great authority in this world rule oppressively over their subjects, like tyrants. But this is not your calling. You will lead by a completely different model. The greatest one among you will live as the one who is called to serve others, because the greatest honor and authority is reserved for the one with the heart of a servant. For even the Son of Man did not come expecting to be served by everyone, but to serve everyone, and to give his life in exchange for the salvation of many,”~Matthew 20:25-28.

Jesus came with an upside down model of leadership. He came and served. He came and washed feet. He came and empowered others. He came and died to free others. He came and got low so we could be seated in heavenly places with Him, joint heirs and copartners. The value Jesus placed and places on humanity is high.

Jesus was and is perfect-He is the model for all things Christian. He selected disciples who were not yet enlightened. He walked with them, talked with them, served them, and empowered them to do what they saw Him doing. Great leadership is empowering others to reach their highest potential. Jesus did not show up and say, “Now look here peasants, God created you for Me so let’s get this straight, when I say jump, you say how high. These are my demands, meet them daily or else.”

Jesus had no pride, ego, or what they call male ego. Knowing He was worthy of worship, He got low and served others.

Phillipians tells us the following about following the example of Jesus:

Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. Abandon every display of selfishness. Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests. And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation.

The Example of Jesus Christ

He existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize. Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient. He was a perfect example, even in his death—a criminal’s death by crucifixion!~Phillipians 2:3-8.

Love is destroyed by pride. Love and pride cannot occupy the same spaces. One will dominate and overpower the other. God commissions and empowers us to love. So when someone says, “I am called to lead you,” if they are following Jesus this means, “I am called to serve you, not seek to be served by you.”

I have met numerous “leaders” and men in my day who told me they were called to lead me. Yet what that meant was they felt empowered to tell me what to do and wanted to be served. This is NOT godly leadership at all, it’s worldly leadership.

I have had single men tell me all the ways I could benefit their lives because to them a wife is servant to meet their needs. They could have cared less about loving me, treating me the way Jesus would. My dreams, calling from God, desires were completely insignificant. They saw someone unmarried and pretty (their words not mine) they wanted to purchase (flash their money, paycheck at) to serve them.

Women are not objects or slaves to be purchased to serve the whims of men then be replaced when she fails to meet a need, cheated on when she cannot meet his pleasures, or used for her body. God did NOT create a system of selfishness nor objectification. God created a family that is supposed to be fueled by love. God says, “Husbands forsake all others and cleave to your one wife. Love her the way Jesus loves the church. He was willing to die for the church. Jesus got low and served. Jesus empowers and leads by love and example. Jesus walks in purity not lust. Jesus cares about every single detail…follow My Son Jesus. Be an imitator of Him.”

The verse that says wives be subject to your husbands as unto the Lord in the original text means be wholly devoted in love-this means she is monogymous and not enganged with other lovers, she has eyes for her husband, single vision. It does NOT mean he becomes her god and she must obey him.

Husband is not the same as God. If it were so, then God is the author of confusion because He plainly says, “You shall have no other god besides me,” and “You are a slave to whomever you obey.” If the texts about husbands and wives meant the husband has the final authority, if he told his wife to betray God she would have to obey her spouse over God. No! She will be held accountable to God for obeying God not man. God is the final authority.

Example:

In inner healing class we had a lady who’s husband was molesting his granddaughter. The wife was submitting to his perverted leadership and holding a pillow over the child’s head during the violation. Was she honoring her husband by submitting to his perversion? Was she a good wife? No! She was a bad wife. She will spend a long time in jail like him for harming this child. The lady who was molested over and over was a testimony of healing in the class, her grandparents were not in the class.

Part of intimate relationship is revealing the righteousness of God to those connected to us. Her role as his wife and sister in Christ was to point her husband to righteousness. We do not yield to what is ungodly. No no no no! Ephesians 5:21 tells all followers of Jesus to be willing to yield (submit, possess humility) in reverence for the Lord. Being willing to yield is NOT the same word as obey.

Culture focuses on the wife submitting while ignoring the verse before it that says men and women, all believers submit to each other and choose humility. Culture also ignores the verses that tell husbands to go even further than that to love their wives the way Jesus loves the church (die to selfishness, pride, ego, immorality). Point highlighted again, we are NOT to yield to what is ungodly and violates our relationship with God. Nor are we puppets to be led on strings by whims of others.

Those led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. If your boss at work, pastor, mentor, parent, spouse or anyone claiming authority over you tells you to do something wicked, say no. That is not rebellion, it is honoring God. Godly leaders point to what honors the Lord and people. God will not lead anyone into sin, nor is God a slave driver who does not care about the needs, desires, or dreams of those He leads.

May we lead like Jesus which is counter cultural to this world. The greatest in the Kingdom of God has a heart of a servant, it is one who loves and looks out for the best interests of others.

Papa God help us to see leadership through the lenses of Jesus. You gave us a perfect model in your Son. Jesus was not a bully, dictator, abuser, nor did He use His status to Lord over people. He got low and served. He took the lowest place and you exalted Him to the highest place. Jesus is perfect theology. Jesus is the perfect spouse model. Jesus is the perfect leader; He seeks to look out for the best interests of those connected to Him. Jesus perfectly loves. Jesus does not use people He partners with them. Jesus, beautiful Jesus. May we abide in Jesus and lead like Jesus. In Your powerful name, amen.

Love in Christ,

Erin Lamb

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

What does it mean to add value?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adding value is not sex outside marriage!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,

Erin Lamb

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Opposites Sometimes Do Attract.

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

2. Poor Boundaries.

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

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

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

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

More examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Quick to Trust and Dismissing Relational Red Flags.

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

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

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

4. You Are Pulling All the Relational Weight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wisdom is so vital in all of life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Jesus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pursue Wisdom:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evaluate your relationship:

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

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

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

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

Get Wisdom! Ask for discernment.

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

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

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

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

Aloha friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Culture vs. God’s Kingdom:

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

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

What is Reality?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love in Christ,

Erin

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.

Allow God to Meet Your Needs (Sacred Sex Series Part V)

  
Good morning beautiful people. 

You are loved! 

Today I wanted to chat with you about needs. We, as humans, have needs. Those needs left unmet can lead to soul wounds, despair, discouragement, hurt, unhealthy relationships, or addictions. 

What are our basic needs. Well, other than food and water, we need: 

  • Affection
  • Affirmation
  • Encouragement
  • Family (does not have to be natural) 
  • Sense of Belonging 
  • Unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial (Agape) Love: we were created by love, to be loved, and to love.

God is the primary Source of these things. If we bypass Him to try to get those needs met by others, well it brings problems. God loves purely. There is no bias. 

God is stable, consistent, and will not love you today and withhold love tomorrow. God comes to give and not consume. God comes with a heart of pure unconditional, sacrificial, and lavish love. 

People, substances, and things were never created to replace our need for God. When they replace Him, unhealthy habits, and unhealthy relationships form. It also leads to great disappointment. 

In our culture we have people looking for love in all the wrong places, with all the wrong faces, in an attempt to fill a void only God can fill. 

So how do we deal? The world offers so many opportunities to get needs met in unhealthy ways. God offers healthy ways.

  1. Start with God. 
  2. Seek healthy community 
  3. Set boundaries for weaknesses

God tells us the following in His word. 

  • Mt 6:8…”your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
  • Ps 34:10…”…those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”
  • Ps 24:1…”The earth is the Lord’s, and all it’s fullness,…”
  • Ps 50:10…”…every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.”
  • Gen 18:14…”Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
  • Mt 7:7…”Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
  • Rom 8:32…”He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with Him also freely give us all things?”

The love God has for us is pure, genuine, overflowing, and good. 

He is available 24/7 to provide love, encouragement, hope, joy, peace, and His goodness. He provides affirmation, healing, and affection. 

When we start with God we have a better idea of what genuine love is and what it is not. When we start with God, we leave full and have something to offer others. We enter relationships not out of great need, but to be a blessing. 

Community: 

We were designed to live and thrive in community. Community provides an outlet for family. God’s design was for everyone to have a family. Unfortunately our culture has models of brokeness. Some people are not loved by their natural families. 

God designed the Body of Christ to be a source of family for people. We are still working out the kinks of family in church, yet that was God’s design. 

Pray for God to place you in a family if you do not have one. He excels at divine connections. 

Family provides a safe place for some of those needs. A God given family is a blessing. 

Set Boundaries: 

Where do you turn when there is a need? To food, alcohol, the internet, a person? Knowing your triggers helps to prevent sin. If I know I am feeling down, where do I turn? God or people? 

I have found people are nice, but sometimes they make me feel worse. They offer scripture bandaids that often are not helpful. Or they have zero compassion or offer judgement. Or they blow me off because they are concerned about themselves. So, for the most part, I go to God. My boundary is set with “I will spend time with God, not seek help from people.” 

There are times I will solicite help from people, yet many learning bumps later I have seen and continue to see my best bet is God.

Your boundary may be different. It may be, “When I am hurting or in need, I turn to this person or thing.” You may need to set a boundary of, “I will not seek to connect with anyone before I connect with God.” 

You and I were designed for intimacy (knowing others and being known). We were created to be loved, affirmed, encouraged, and to have affection. Those needs are normal. The way we get those needs met is what leads us on a path of purity or unhealthy living. 

I bless you friends. You are prayed for and deeply loved. 

Love in Christ, 

Erin Lamb