Honor-A Way of Royalty (Identity in Christ Part 18)

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Made Alive in Christ-Ephesians 2:1-10

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

However, you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people who belong to God. You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, 1 Peter 2:9.

And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering, Romans 8:17.

Hello beautiful people. As we journey on this investigation of our identity in Christ I wanted to talk about honor. It is a way of royalty. I wrote about honor several months back, but wanted to touch on it again. Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. If you read the news, watch the news, or even engage with people you will find our culture lacks honor. Gossip, back biting, disrespect, bad mouthing, slander, put downs, sarcasm, unconstructive criticisms plague our airways and conversations. Honor is something everyone wants. Honor is not something everyone wants to give.

What is honor?

Honor: to regard with high respect or esteem, to treat with dignity.

Honor is a component of love. It is something all follows of Jesus are called to. It’s not just for some people or leaders. It’s something we are all to do. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” Jesus (John 13:34-35).

There are those who say, “We can abolish the commandments of Jesus because we are no longer under the law, but under grace.” We are under grace. Grace does not by any means take away from us doing what God has asked us to do. Grace says, “You are not made right by keeping the law, it’s by faith.” Grace also says, “If you are living under grace you will have a desire to do what is right.” We spoke a few posts ago about abiding in Christ. We will not be able to honor others without the help of the Holy Spirit. We may be able to honor people who treat us well, but we will not be able to honor those who treat us poorly. Without God, we can not do what He asks us to do (John 15:5).

By nature, humans are selfish and self-centered. We are born desiring the world to revolve around us. With God’s help we learn to be other focused and to give honor away instead of wanting it for ourselves.

When we know who we are in Christ, as the verses above tell us, we can walk in confidence. We do not have to demand anything from anyone, for we know who our Daddy is and who we belong to. We are heirs with Christ. We are not the scum on the bottom of God’s shoe. He adopted us into His family. We are a Royal Priesthood, set apart to do great things for Him. When we know who we are in Him, we can’t help but honor others. We did not deserve His love, or the gifts given us through Jesus. We are blessed beyond measure.

I don’t ascribe to the philosophy that we must focus on how awful and sinful we are to be humble. It’s actually another form of pride. It is a focus on self instead of a focus on Christ and what He has done. God has good things to say about us. He never agrees with our sin, but He does not seek to belittle us to no esteem at all. He wants us to have Christ centered esteem, clinging to His words about us. As His children, we are not scum. We are His Beloved. Also a person who does not like themselves or understand God’s personal love for them, cannot and will not be able to love or honor others. We cannot give away what we have not received.

What honor is not:

Honor is to not agree with what is wrong. Honor is to respect a person as someone valued by God. We can disagree with someone or something and still give honor. It is not a yes man or yes women mentality. It is a, “I will speak to you and about you the same way I wish for someone to do for me. I will treat you the way God would treat you.

We can fight against injustice without dishonoring others. We can teach, preach, and share the Gospel without dishonoring people. Our culture has made honor being politically correct, that is not the true definition of honor. Honor does not say what is wrong is right and what is right is wrong. Honor chooses not to humiliate, hurt, harm, harass, condemn, or destroy others. Jesus modeled honor for us. For the woman caught in adultery He said, “I do not condemn you, go and sin no more,” (John 8:11).

We are also not called to seek to control people or force them to ascribe to our belief system. Honoring others means that we allow people to make choices for themselves. God allows us the right to refuse Him. We have to give people the right to refuse us without disrespecting them or mistreating them.

I have had to ask myself the questions as a quick spot check for honor:

Would I want this said to me or about me?

Is this helping someone or hurting them?

Will the other person walk away with hope or despair?

If the person knew I said this, would they be hurt, damaged, or encouraged?

Do I treat all people like they are important to God?

Does my behavior reflect the heart of God?

The questions are not to be introspective or condemn, but to ponder if my actions or words are aligning with the heart of Jesus. I have failed at times to honor everyone; I am thankful for the grace and forgiveness of God. I know honor is something God wants to grow in all His children. I also know what it’s like to have insults hurled at me, to be disrespected, dishonored, criticized, and treated like gum on someone’s shoe. God does not treat me that way. I do not wish to do those things to others.

Every person we meet is someone Jesus died for. May we know our place in His heart and walk in our true identity as royal heirs in His Kingdom.

Final Prayer:

Father, forgive us for any ways we have not walked in love or have not honored others. Help us to abide in Your love so we are beacons of light in this dark world. Remove any negative thoughts about You, ourselves, or others. We are valuable to You. May we know it in our hearts and seek to give that love, respect, and honor to others. In Jesus precious name, Amen.

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Healthy Relationships

Are your relationships healthy?

It’s easy while in a dysfunctional relationship to think that it is healthy. There is nothing to compare it to. It seems normal, so it must be normal. Lynne Foote, MA, LPC stated that a healthy relationship is built on respect, friendship, and trust. In her article Creating the Foundation for Healthy Relationships, she lays out some important information. I’d like to build upon what she wrote.

Respect: Honoring another person even if they disagree with you. We live in a society where we are quick to verbally annihilate anyone who does not think the same way we do. We are trained to defend our positions, and our pride says, “I am right.” In order to respect other people there comes a time where we have to agree to disagree, and honor another person even if they are not agreeing with us. Respect is rooted in honor.

Friendship: Friends are people who have something in common, but not all friendships are created equal. A friend is someone who looks out for your best interest. A person who loves you, in spite of you. A person who gives you the freedom to be who you are, but is willing to tell you when you’re headed for disaster. A friend is someone you can rely on in good times and bad times. Friendship is like a garden, it grows because someone is tending to it.

Trust: Trust is the glue that holds it all together. When you trust someone, you feel safe with them. You know that your heart is safe with them. Trust is something that grows over time. If it is broken, it takes awhile to rebuild and sometimes it is never fully repaired.

Here are some other things that I have found over the years that have been a good indication of health in a relationship.

1. Free of control and manipulation. The desire to control people isn’t godly. God gives people free will. He does not try to control or manipulate. If you’re with someone and they try to control or manipulate you, it’s not a good sign.

2. Free of verbal abuse or abuse of any kind. Any person who puts you down, uses excessive sarcasm, hits you, or any form of abuse is unhealthy. Get out and seek help if necessary.

3. Free of blame shifting. In a healthy relationship each person takes responsibility for their actions. They don’t blame others or make excuses. They take full responsibility and ownership for their parts of the problem.

4. Free of co-dependence. Each person is responsible for themselves. In co-dependency there is normally one enabler/care-giver and one person who is continually being rescued or excuses made for them. Instead of two independent people, there’s co-dependency.

5. Free of gossip. A person you can not trust to keep your private matters private is not a friend. If a person gossips to you, they will gossip about you.

6. Keeps their word. The person who says they will be there for you and never is, is probably not the best choice of a friend. If their yes is yes until something better comes along, then investigate the relationship.

7. Free of gross selfishness. All relationships have some level of self focus. However, if you are with someone and they are only concerned about themselves, then it’s not healthy. Relationships are supposed to be give and take. A one-sided relationship is one normally shared between a parent and small child and not an adult to adult, unless the other person simply cannot give anything due to mental illness or physical illness.

8. Full of forgiveness and grace. It’s inevitable when you’re in a relationship with another person that they will do something to hurt you and sometimes unknowingly. We are always called to forgive. Restoration may take time depending on the damage done.

9. Does what the other person likes. This one is my favorite. It’s great to have people to spend time with, but there is something about the person who will do what they know you like. That person is a keeper. It’s easy to do the bare minimum in relationships and coast through them, so, the person willing to go the extra mile is appreciated.

10. Is filled with love. Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy or boast. Love is not proud, selfish, or self-seeking. Love rejoices with the truth. Love protects. Love never fails… 1 Cor. 13. Love as the world defines it or most people define it, is not how God defines it. A healthy relationship is rooted in love.

I wrote this post because over the years my friend Joi has mocked me because she’s said, “All your ‘friends’ are not your friends. You are a good friend to people, but how many of those people would you consider a really good friend? If I don’t trust a person enough to have my bank account information, they are not in my friend circle.” While she exaggerates, as I have a few good friends, I still have far more people who call me their best friend than I would return the statement. She also minimal to no relationship drama as the people she interacts with love her purely and vice versa. I’ve learned the hard way that not all relationships are healthy or good, and I must do my part to be healthy and cultivate healthy ones. I hope your relationships are built on love, respect, friendship, and trust. Mostly, I hope God is at the center of them, for without Him it’s far more challenging. Love, Erin.

The Single Reality (Part 10)

To Date or Not to Date, That is The Question?

Today we will tackle the topic of Christian dating? Who’s excited? I hope you are. First let me say that much of what will be sharing is based on my own experiences and experiences of people I know. You have to decide on your own with God what’s best for you.  The Bible doesn’t talk much about courtship in how to (the 10 commandments of dating). Paul did encourage those who were burning with desire to marry instead of simply hook-up. Well, not exactly his words, but you get what I am saying. We are told what not to do, but what about what we are supposed to do.

Here’s my top 10 dating tips:

1. Find out who you are alone first. It’s easy to try find another person to validate or fill a void. However, if you date to heal low self-esteem you will attract another person with low self-esteem and insecurities. Two insecure people makes for a roller coaster relationship. Trust me on this one. Let God heal you; love, respect, and accept yourself, and then add another person.

2. Keep pursuing Jesus! God knows where you are and will most likely align your life with someone headed in the same direction. He brings people together who compliment each other and can help one another. Some of the happiest couples I’ve met have met each other while serving God. Their paths crossed and they built a friendship. Their friendship evolved into a romantic relationship. They weren’t looking; God had their paths cross.

3. Leave the house. Some people like the online dating sites. I have no opinion on them. Pray and decide what’s best for you. I know people who have met their spouse online and they are happy. Some people have had no luck. With that said, if you never leave the house, you’re probably not going to meet anyone. I am not advocating making yourself super busy to meet someone. I am advocating living! Find things you like to do and do them. Join a gym, take a class, join a group, get going. I’ve found angels don’t deliver people to your doorstep, though I’ve never asked so who knows. I doubt though that God will FedEx your spouse to you. 🙂

4. Find out about that person’s walk with Jesus. Many people go to church who do not know Jesus. They know of Him, but they have no deep relationship with Him. Where are you in your walk with God? Do you want someone to spur you on, challenge you to grow stronger in your faith, pray and interceed for you, someone who loves like Jesus? Those qualities come from abiding in Christ. If the person you’re interested in isn’t passionate about Jesus, then why would you want to hitch your life to them?

5. Build a friendship, wait for romance and too much intimacy. Movies make it romantic and glamorous to fall in love in 20 seconds and live happily ever after. Well, that works in the movies, it does not always work in real life. People immediately want to kiss, hold hands, share their soul and deepest thoughts. There is nothing wrong with those activities. However, if friendship (platonic) is not the first thing built, then your foundation is not as solid. Friendship is what will hold your relationship together when the romance has subsided. The sooner you introduce physical or emotional intimacy, the more difficult it is to get out of the relationship if it isn’t right. It also makes it more difficult to see the flaws in the other person, things you may need to address before your heart is entangled. God created us to link up and join with people forming strong bonds. Intimacy fortifies (strengthens) those bonds. Once they are formed, it’s not easy to walk away. Also, if someone cannot be a good friend to you, do you want to have a romantic relationship with them?

6. Trust your gut. Sometimes we know someone is not right for us, but we continue on in a relationship just to be in one. Well, if we know it isn’t right we are wasting another persons time and our time. I dated someone who on paper looked great, but something in my gut said, “Red Flag. Abort…He’s not the right person for you.” I prayed and asked God to show me who this guy really was. Glad I asked. There were several deal breakers, and I saved myself from future heartache.

7. Set boundaries, have accountability. We are not immune to temptation. So plan ahead for it. Don’t simply go with flow and think you’ll able to make the right choice. In the moment you may not be able to. It’s better to prepare ahead of time and tell the other person what your boundaries are, than to fall into temptation or sin. It’s good to have a trustworthy friend you can confide in and seek counsel from as well. Someone who won’t go blabbing your business to everyone.

8. Please don’t date if you don’t want to get married. A non-Christian can get away with this. Most Christian singles date to find a mate. So, if you know you aren’t ready, don’t want to, or don’t see yourself marrying the person interested in you, don’t date. I’ve made this mistake before. I dated people with no intention of ever marrying them or anyone. I was more interested in traveling, following passions and dreams, etc…I had no desire at all to be married, yet I was dating people. I told them I wasn’t interested in marriage at the time, and I think some thought I’d change my mind or something. Then things just got awkward and people were disappointed when they realized I meant what I said. I liked the people I was spending time with and the friendship was good. However, I did not want to be married and we are to be good stewards of people’s hearts. I was doing a horrible job.

9. Dont just get to know the person, get to know their friends and family. A person who cannot sustain any healthy friendships with other Christians is a big red flag. There needs to be someone who knows the person and can vouch for them. It’s easy to hide crazy. However, people are more themselves around their closest friends and family. If they cannot build a healthy relationship with someone who they are not romantically involved with, then be concerned.

10. Take your time. Everything in our society is fast paced. People are always in a hurry. However, when it comes to your future, you have the right to take your time. Marriage is supposed to be until death. That’s a long time. Imagine 50 years with someone you can’t stand. People also put their best foot forward the first year or two they know you. I’m not saying you need to date for 5 years then get married. I am saying that people are out to impress when they first meet you. It takes time to know who they really are. Ask questions. Find out how they handle stress, money, life…get to know the person. Goes back to numbers 5, 6, and 9.

Lastly, God said that He does exceedingly and abundantly above all we could ask or imagine. Don’t settle for so-so, or okay, or good enough if you want exceptional. Exceptional doesn’t mean perfect, but it means perfect for you. The person who compliments you. The person who’s an amazing person to you. The person who’s inner beauty is more radiant than their outer beauty. A person you could imagine growing old and sharing everything with… You’re worth it!!!!