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Day 31: Relationships are Contracts, Marriages are Covenants-BIG DIFFERENCE

Published May 31, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Psalm 90

Challenge: Evaluate the difference between a contract and a covenant. Make a written contract with yourself based on the 30 day Challenge, analyzing your readiness for the covenant of marriage.

            Listening to a sermon about a week ago, the Pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas (I’m so visiting there!), Jimmy Evans, spoke about marriage. He made the statement that ‘relationships are contracts, but marriages are covenants’ and I was speechless. He didn’t really expound on it, but just that one line blew me away. So being me, I started researching. What is the difference between contract and covenant and how does it relate to relationships and marriage? I’m glad you asked. Let’s go…

Contract is defined as a written and/or spoken agreement amongst two or more people with guidelines, stipulations, and/or consequences upon breech. A covenant is defined as a binding agreement that usually involves exchanged promises between two or more parties, never intended to be broken. So by these two definitions, I extract that a contract is an agreement that is made with consequences if the terms aren’t fulfilled. But a covenant is different; it’s never meant to be broken. The stakes are much higher in this agreement.

So how does this relate to relationships? Stay with me now, cause we’re going somewhere (that’s my preacher plug). I completely agree with Pastor Jimmy Evans statement that relationships SHOULD be contracts and marriages SHOULD be covenants-but sadly, I don’t think this is always the case. I believe sometimes we treat relationships more like the covenant and then look at marriage as the contract. Ouch.

Let me explain. IF we were to treat relationships as contracts, then if a person does not live up to their end of the bargain: i.e. a man treating the woman as the prize, the woman honoring the man, mutual respect, open communication and consideration, etc., there should be consequences.  If we encounter a breech, then we would address it as such and understand that contracts can be broken. In a relationship, we should be willing to make sure that we are getting what we need, and we should understand that we are NOT in a covenant yet, and if we do experience deal-breakers then we can call ‘breech’ and get out.

So often, this is not the case. We get into relationships and we treat them as covenants, afraid to accept that the answer to this courtship may be no, and risk starting all over again. Who wants to do that? So, we will just stay in the relationship and pretend like everything is great, because our ultimate goal is to get to the altar. We put up with things that we wouldn’t, excuse things that we shouldn’t, and ignore things that we can’t-because we see this as leading us to what will make us happy-which is marriage. What we just can’t get through our tunnel vision heads is that if we are not happy in the relationship, we will be miserable in the marriage. Many of us do this, but no one wants to be the first to admit it, so I just did. Now, we can move on and do better.

Treating a relationship as a covenant confuses us and our motives. We are no longer guarding our hearts, in fact we have wrapped it in a pretty bow and handed it over to our mate. Now we are emotionally invested, so it becomes EVEN HARDER to let go because now we ‘love him so much’. Lord, help us.

If this were all, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, (never mind-it still would be), but we don’t stop there. If the relationship is the covenant than by process of elimination, that makes marriage the contract. We enter into what God has established as an everlasting covenant, with the mindset of ‘if this doesn’t work out.’ The biggest example of this is a pre-nuptial agreement. This post will not address why or why not it could be a good idea in the event that ‘something happens’, because that again would be perpetuating the view that marriage is a contract.

Once we get THRU the altar, we realize that marriage is not just fairytales and butterflies, and somehow our prince in shining armor, has lost his suit and the white horse he rode in on mysteriously died. Now doubt is setting in. Those things that you overlooked, or wrote off as ‘no big deal’ when you were in your covenantal relationship, are now very big deals because this person NEVER LEAVES. The inconsideration for your time and opinion in the relationship, has now become a spouse that makes decisions without regard for you, or at the best, just without you. The harsh words that he would speak, and the hitting below the belt that she would often do-have now become your only form of communication. Now, you are ready to call ‘breech of contract’ and you are looking for a way out. If only you would have sought that way, BEFORE you got in.

Honestly, evaluate your view of relationships, current and future. Only use the past ones, to realize your mistakes and grow from them. There is no point on dwelling on what the mate did wrong in a past relationship, because of course you are going to remember that you were perfect and they were the spawn of satan. Don’t do that to yourself, because it will taint your realistic view of your future.

Scared of being that real? Ok, I’ll start. My most relationship was a prime example of how I began to view it as a covenant and not a contract. I recall writing in my journal within the first two weeks of meeting him, that he didn’t treat me like I believed I should be treated. I also remember rationalizing it to mean that we just ‘needed to get to know each other better’. He made decisions without me even those that directly affected me, but ‘we weren’t married yet, right?’ He discounted my feelings and actually told me they were stupid, but I excused it as ‘I’m being too sensitive’. Do you get this?! This was all within the two months of the relationship, but I still stayed with him for four more! Just stupid! No, not stupid, just foolishly attached and not wanting to go through the heartache of snatching my heart back from a man that should have never had it. I laid my pearls before swine (this is not a dig at him, only a realization that he should have been off limits), then I was shocked when he didn’t know what to do with them. We even went to look at rings, to further dig my roots in, so there was no way I was leaving after that.

Eventually I woke up-or better yet God gut-punched me to get my attention. I am so grateful that He did, before I entered into our marriage ‘contract’. Because that is exactly what it would have been. And I would have gotten out, eventually because God wouldn’t have allowed the favor that He placed on me to be stamped out. My purpose is too great—and so is yours. I’m eternally grateful that I’ve been an ex-girlfriend, and even an ex-fiancé, but the Lord has spared me the title of ex-WIFE.

Take this very real struggle of mine and use it as your front-seat lesson. Stop entering covenant relationships, and save that title for what it is meant to be: Marriage.

Thank you for sharing these 31 Days with me. May God continue to bless us all as we continue to journey together.

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DAY 30: Characteristics of a Godly Relationship

Published May 31, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory Verse: But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God,” Ruth 1:16

Psalm: 4

Challenge: Which of the characteristics are the hardest for you to accept, wait for, and/or do? Why and how do you remedy it?

            To wrap up this challenge, I believe it fitting to discuss courtship, since many if not all participating in this 30 days desire for our Single Season to end in marriage. This is an honorable desire and will be honored when and if God’s Will aligns with it. Let’s discuss what to look for when it does come. I remember reading a book by a Christian couple and they stated that the purpose of courtship is to decide if you are to be married. Then they stated that the answer could and often times will be yes, but it’s not so rare to hear no. This blew me away, because I used to think that the once we got to courtship, all was left was picking the ring, date and dress. However, upon consideration it makes sense. Courtship is defined as a period during which a couple develop a romantic relationship with marriage being the goal. By this definition, everyone that courts has marriage as the goal ideally, but reality says that many don’t make it there. What went wrong? I don’t know if I will describe it as what went wrong more than simply receiving an answer that we didn’t prepare for.

Many prayers and petitions that we send to God are requests for fulfillment of our own will and not an expression of submission to His. We have to understand that as Christians when we pray the answer can and will often be ‘no.’ David was told ‘NO’ about building the temple, Paul was told ‘NO’ about removing the thorn. Are you prepared for that? You have to be. If you enter into a dating/courting relationship- continue to guard your heart until God gives you His answer.

The story of Ruth is often only told in light of her being found by Boaz, but there is so much more we need to know about this relationship. Let’s continue dissecting God’s Word to better understand what we should be looking for, and also howwe should carry ourselves. Take a look at these characteristics and see how you may be able to apply them within your life.

1.      Commitment: When Ruth is introduced in this book, the first thing noticed about her is her commitment to both God and to Naomi. She forsook her desires for the Lord’s direction. She gave up her family and entire life as she knew it, to follow God. This is the epitome of commitment. Naomi had nothing to offer her but a life serving the God that Ruth had been introduced to thru her, and that was enough. Christ doesn’t owe us anything; we are saved from hell because of His commitment to love us, not saved to receive the provisions of His hand. He calls for our commitment not because he can provide for us, but simply because He is the Way, and all of our provisions come from staying in His shadow. His favor and His blessings are added promises from Him along the way.

a.      Application: What’s your commitment level? Are you committed to serve God even if and when the answer could be ‘NO’?

2.      Character: Ruth’s character preceded her. Before Boaz even spoke a word to her, he inquired about her. Whomever he asked, they spoke highly about her, even though she was a foreigner in a strange land. Because of her commitment, her character was evident in everything that she did. She was gleaning in fields to take on the responsibility that she could have walked away from, like her sister-in-law. Ruth’s motive was to care for her mother- in-law, not to be seen or recognized for what she was doing.

b.     Application: What would people hear about you if they ask someone who has been watching? In courting/dating it is vital to gain insight from others about this person. This does not mean that what you learn will be a deal breaker, but don’t be so ‘googly-eyed’ to realize that a person can play a role for you and be an entirely different person when you aren’t around.

3.      Communication: Ruth was committed to appropriate communication. She was open, honest, accountable, and submissive to her mentor and confidant. Many times we don’t seek accountability because we don’t want to tell everyone all the hard issues we face. I challenge you to fight this perception because it is not biblical. We were created to hold each other accountable, to rebuke, to restore and revive within the Word of God. Ruth gave clear information to her mentor and didn’t hide the details. When asked where she had gleaned, she didn’t just say, “Oh, well down the street.” Give good communication, because the purpose of a mentor is to lead and guide you down paths that they have probably traveled. You never know what someone can add to the information you have gathered. Again, when dating (or deciding to date), ask around about your potential. You shouldn’t base your sole decision on the information you gather, but how the person is perceived may reveal something about their character.

c.      Application: How are your communication and accountability skills? Pray over areas that you need to communicate more in and use them with your ‘counsel’ that you will be seeking.

4.      Counsel: The Bible states that a man is wise who seeks wise counsel. Ruth trusted Naomi’s countenance enough to listen and heed her advice. She recognized her mentor had more experience than she possessed and wanted to learn from her. Don’t seek wise counsel if you aren’t going to use it. Find someone who is in the position you want to be in (strong in character, commitment, communication, and Christ), then commit to sit at their feet and glean from them.

d.     Application: Do you have a mentor? Why or why not? The Bible says that ‘he is wise who seeks wise counsel’. Pray and be lead to mentors-spiritually, financially, vocationally, male/female- etc- it’s favorable to have at least one person from each area of your life pouring into you and guiding you in the ways of the Lord.

5.      Courage: Ruth took a huge risk by going to present herself at the threshing floor. If someone else would have seen her or mistook her intentions, this could have hurt her witness and brought doubt to her virtue. When we submit to God, we have to risk everything we know to gain all that He will give us. Because she trusted her counsel, she had the courage to know it was sound advice and then act on it. Be cautious of your counsel and know that if God is your Chief Advisor, He will not direct you outside the safety of His plan.

e.      Application: Be strong and courageous for I, Your God is with you-Joshua 1:1-9. What areas of your life do you need God to give you courage to perform and endure?

6.      Courtship: Boaz made his intentions clear from the beginning. Ruth didn’t have to guess his feelings or what the next steps would be. He was very clear on the direction of the relationship, and he acted as the head. He protected her virtue. A man ready for courtship will protect your virtue and favor above his own desires. He covers her. As a man you should provide a shelter to your mate, and as a woman you should always feel protected and safe with your mate. He will “fight” for what is his and will contend with anyone or anything that stands between them. Remember love always hopes and protects. If your potential mate is encouraging you to do ungodly stuff, that might not be love, but lust.

f.       Application: What is the difference between courting and dating? Which are you ready for, are you participating in?

7.      Covenant: we will actually discuss this in the next challenge, so it has been taken out and expounded on for the next day.

Use these 7 (number of completion) characteristics to evaluate and model your current and future romantic relationships. If it doesn’t add up- you are too valuable to add yourself to it.

DAY 29: Platonic Friends? How many of us have them?

Published May 30, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory verse: So Jonathan made a pledge of mutual loyalty with David because he loved him as much as he loved himself. 1 Samuel 18:3

Psalm: 122

Challenge: Think of one opposite gender platonic friend. What boundaries (spoken and unspoken) are in place to make sure the line doesn’t become blurred?

            We discussed on Day 12 the Potential Cycle- those people that we have allowed the lines of friendship to become blurred and how we can resolve it. I think we should discuss how to prevent it, especially if we anticipate a relationship/courtship/ marriage-ship in the not so distant future. Platonic relationships can exist if you want them to, but you have to fight to keep those lines clear.

When or where does the line get blurred? It usually becomes a matter of- I don’t want you as long as no one else does, but when someone does-then we have a situation. I have had that friend with whom I was OK with being only a ‘friend’, just as long as there was no one else in the picture I had to share him with. It’s easy to lose perspective of how entangled you can become emotionally with “just a friend” when there is no competition, although it becomes painfully clear when that friend gains a love interest, and it’s not you.

Why is this? I believe that because we failed to set boundaries as we discussed earlier, the line was already blurred. I started dating you, but you were only hanging out with me. This happens when those talks are avoided; when you would rather ignore the signs that one or both of you are starting to feel the pull of strings, than to risk bringing it up and facing rejection or an awkward situation.

We become free to see the person as a pseudo- relationship and even fantasize about the ‘relationship’ being disguised as a friendship. Women rationalize, “I’m not his girlfriend, but no one else is either.” Men may start thinking, “This is safe; I can handle her introducing me as a friend because she doesn’t have another man in her life. I’m the one she calls when she wants to go to the movies, or needs her curtains hung, or when she needs a bug killed in the house. She depends on me and depending on me is pretty close to needing me, so it’s just a matter of time before she realizes that she loves me.” Don’t mock the situation. Many of you won’t admit it, but you have been here too.

If you are in this situation, what boundaries have been placed on your heart? Are you allowing yourself to become emotionally used in this position? Are you emotionally using the other person? Many times we don’t know how deeply we are tied to a person until that string is stretched by another individual. Your hold on the bond is determined by how you handle this situation: whether you decide to bow out, claiming your designated role as a friend, or if you try to hijack the situation by planting negative seeds about the new person of interest, staking your claim as more than a friend. This situation usually gets ugly pretty fast, and only in movies have I seen the emotionally attached friend win the guy over the new love interest. Not saying it can’t happen, just saying it’s probably a long shot. If you have been together as friends this long, and he hasn’t “found” you, it may be because you’re not what he’s looking for.

Keep the line drawn! You may have to take a step back if you realize you want more than the other person is willing or ready to give. Remember the Bible says to guard your own heart, not give it up to someone else and hope they protect it. We end up getting our feelings hurt because we lie, not only to others, but to ourselves saying we can handle it, but in reality we are doing anything but.

Have random “just friends” tests of your emotions, and anytime you feel that your feelings are changing, or the other person’s actions are more than friendly, speak up. A friend will address it, before it grows to be the elephant in the room. Only a coward would avoid this conversation with someone you call a friend. Remember a friend loves at all times, and it’s not love to know someone you only desire a friendship with is becoming more attached to you, yet you avoid it because you don’t want to hurt their feelings.. It’s better to gently rectify the situation now, than to do it by introducing them to your fiancé. If you are not willing to do this, you might want to reevaluate your own standard of being a friend.

“Flattery will get you everywhere” the saying goes, but I believe it will get your feelings hurt if you are not careful. Flattery is one of those reasons people keep holding on when you have stated that you don’t want a relationship. Yet, you are still entertaining their company, knowing that they want something you can’t or aren’t willing to give.

So where does the hurt come in? It occurs when you allow the flattery to lead yourself on. Yep, that’s said right—when you lead yourself on. A woman leads herself on when the man says he doesn’t want a relationship, but she continues to try and woo him. She begins to believe she can somehow do enough, give enough, be enough, or sadly, even sex enough to make him realize that he really wants to be with her. Then she’s hurt because he finds someone else and she finally realizes that she was just a placeholder.

A man leads himself on in the same way. Just because a guy can buy for a woman things she has never had, does not mean she will make him a permanent fixture in her life; it may just mean she will keep him around until either the well runs dry, or she finds something she wants more than his money. Hard lessons; take the advice and learn from someone else’s pain.

Guard your heart, for out of it flows the issues of life. Don’t find yourself caught up in the emotional bond of a relationship with only the commitment level of a friendship. You would do well to realize that kisses aren’t commitments and words are only as good as the action that follow them. Don’t make someone a priority that only chooses you as an option.

When a man or woman tells you that they are too busy with school, work, or life to pursue a relationship right now, it’s usually only a half truth. What they really mean is that they don’t see enough potential to make you a priority. If your “once in a lifetime” comes into your life, I doubt you will turn them down because you are in graduate school. You will have them hold the flash cards and quiz you. What am I saying? If you meet a potential that you would like to manifest into something permanent, you will do what it takes to make it happen. If the person isn’t willing to do the same, that may be your cue to move on. Don’t waste your life fighting for something that isn’t worth winning.

If a man or woman is looking over you, then they are either not for you, or it’s not your time.

INSIGHT: Keep the lines drawn and know that friends, are just friends. Keep them in perspective, because you would hate to be emotionally attached to someone that only holds the role as a friend; then you aren’t available for the person who is looking at you for the role of mate.

DAY 28: WATCH YOUR MOUTH: KISSING YOU?

Published May 30, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory Verse: Life and Death lie in the power of the tongue, and those that love it will eat of its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

Psalm: 85

Challenge: Think about the last person that you kissed. How long did the relationship last? Was there even a relationship? Can you recall how many people you have shared this act? After reading this challenge; re-evaluate your view of kissing and ask the Lord to help you set and follow His standards.

            Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Now imagine doing that with someone directly in your face. What happens? Your inhaled oxygen is drawn from their exhaled carbon dioxide. Intimate, huh? (And a bit humbling to think that what someone doesn’t need, is vital to your existence.) This is what happens when we kiss another person. We are sharing vital elements with a person, even if only for a moment. This alone should make you re-evaluate how careless and callous you are with your kisses, but if not-let’s continue.

In my last real relationship (there were some minor distractions afterwards) we not only shared a vow of abstinence until marriage, we never even kissed. Now originally this wasn’t my idea, but after listening to his explanation of why he didn’t kiss, and experiencing the difference first hand-I’m now not only in total agreement with his theory, I am forming my own. He believed that kissing was intimate and he wanted to honor his future wife, whomever she may be, by not giving away something that rightfully belonged to her. And he wanted to respect the husband of any woman that he happened to date, by not stealing from that unknown man what he deserved. I.WAS.FLOORED. Wow! This was honor and respect how I had never seen it.

So we didn’t kiss. He would seldom kiss me on my forehead, and I would kiss him on his cheek but that was the extent of it. Now for some people they may think that this relationship would lack something because of the absence of the physical, but I assure you this was THE MOST intimate relationship I have ever been in. Because we didn’t confuse ourselves and emotions with the pseudo feelings caused by intense physical intimacy, we bonded on a whole ‘nother level emotionally and spiritually. This was more of a connection than a physical bond because we spent the time that I had usually spent hugging and kissing and playing with the purity line- we spent it talking, and going out and reading and discussing our Word. We realized without the pressure of sexual tension we were free to tap into the relationship on a more intimate spectrum.

INSIGHT: ‘Well, this is definitely a ‘once-more’ challenge for me. I fell on this one in the relationship that I was in since this Challenge. Looking back and analyzing (because we should never compare one relationship to the other), I realize we used kissing to substitute and cover up for the lack of emotional intimacy in the relationship. Although we stayed pure by what most people call pure, for me-there was a huge difference. I realized that we didn’t connect emotionally, or even really spiritually (ouch), but we were both physically attracted to each other, so we used it to not deal with the fact that when we weren’t kissing or holding hands-we just didn’t fit. It’s interesting, because towards the end of the relationship- the physical intimacy had dwindled and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. According to this challenge, I guess I couldn’t. I had given him things that were vital to my existence, but what he gave me back was the things he didn’t need. (He exhaled and I inhaled it) Man, that stings to admit-but it’s true. I wouldn’t be who I am and I won’t get to where I’m going by sugarcoating. There is healing in transparency-once I admit it to you, just maybe you’ll get the strength to admit it to yourself.’

Kissing. When does it stop there? It definitely can, but if you are doing it right, you usually don’t want it to. Chaste kissing, leads to tongue kissing, which leads to hands roaming more than on my back, (cover the babies’ eyes) until your shirt is off and my pants are unzipped. Physical intimacy when not protected by the sacred bonds of marriage, is a gateway to sexual immorality/impurity. I’m not saying that every relationship that decides to kiss leads to premarital sex, but I am saying that every relationship that decides to not even get that close to the line, is that much closer to purity. And that is our goal, right?

Kissing is intimate and kissing is powerful. It’s designed to be. With a kiss, Abraham blessed his sons, Jacob declared his love for Rachel, Esau forgave Jacob for stealing his birthright, it anointed Saul for Kingship, it signifies the Christian brotherhood, it showed Mary’s devotion to Jesus and sealed Judas’ betrayal to the same Man. Yet in this society and in our own watered down Christian lives, we have weakened it to a fleshly act, because we feel a jolt of electricity and/or lust for a stranger. Heaven help us.

INSIGHT: OUCH!!! If you didn’t feel it, read that paragraph again.

The Power of life and Death are in the tongue. If you were to take this verse figuratively it means that we will either speak life or call death into any situation. If we take it literally, I translate it to mean that the kisses that you are so callous with are either adding life to someone or something, or bringing about death to your own circumstances. You are choosing to give away at the most or share at the least, your life giving, death conquering power with a cute face?! Give yourself more credit than that. Cherish your kisses and use them for what they were intended for, not what society and the world has deemed acceptable. Remember we can’t be conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2) because we are not of it (John 15:19).

INSIGHT: ‘I am so convicted with reading this Challenge again. I strayed away, but I’m back. I forgot the life giving power that God had breathed into me, and I became casual with giving it away. Never again. My next kiss will be at the altar, with my husband. He deserves to be only man that I allow to breathe his life into me-because he is me- and I am him. I’ll wait. You can have this world and all that’s in it. My goal is to please Christ and to honor His favor- including His kisses-that He has deposited into me only for my husband.’ Now that I have shared that with you, I pray that you hold me accountable to it, but I ultimately pray that it will challenge you to re-consider who you are giving your kisses to.

Will you join me? It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

DAY 27: God’s Plan is Best

Published May 30, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory Verse: “Now this is what the Lord says, the One who created you Jacob, and the One who formed you Israel. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name, YOU ARE MINE. I will be with you when you pass through the waters and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire and the flame will not burn you.” Isaiah 43:1-3

Psalm: 62

Challenge: Think of some of the plans that you had for your life that haven’t been actualized. Now counter those with what God has accomplished because that plan hasn’t come. (i.e. I thought I would be married by now, but because I’m NOT I have written ‘NOT Another Singles Book’, working on 3 more and started this Singles Movement)

INSIGHT: The only insight I can offer for this day, is to truly seek His plan first. Ask God to orchestrate your life, instead of begging him to bless your choices.

  God’s plan is best. How do we know this? How do we establish this? Do we even believe this? Our first natural, almost programmed answer is yes, but if we were to honestly evaluate our past decisions and situations, our answer may become a bit blurred.

I recently studied 2 Samuel for a workshop I was ministering. In preparing for this session, I was so encouraged by reading this book. I went back and intensively studied 1 Samuel as well, so that I could have a reference point for 2 Samuel. Following the path of David and his journey from anointment to appointment as King, and then his struggles and triumphs as King of a united Israel, gave me hope and insight into God’s plan for me. As a Single, many times we doubt or question God’s plan for us, and only the strong and/or transparent will admit that. I know I often spent countless nights praying, crying, snotting, asking God ‘where did I go wrong?’ ‘How did I get so off track- did I miss it or Him somewhere?’ Only as recent as about 2-3 years ago, did I allow God to change my perspective. I say allow God to change my perspective, because He never gave me that idea in the first place. My friends, my family, my own insecurities and even sadly, my church helped shape the view that as a Single I was missing out on something. I would read books, attend seminars, listen to sermons and they were all  geared towards ‘getting out’ of Singleness, but very few about what to do while in it. So, in reading 2 Samuel I was encouraged through David’s life to further embrace God’s timing and His calling in this season.

2 Samuel opens with Saul being dead and David taking his rightful place on the throne. I want to briefly reference 1 Samuel. David was anointed around the age of 15-16 as King. 1 Samuel 16 is the story of David’s anointing and we know that story. Verse 1: How long will you mourn for Saul when I have rejected him. Isn’t this a word for Singles? We mourn past relationships, things we could have done differently, should have done differently, and spend so much valuable time wasted on what ‘could have been’, when God has another manifestation waiting for us. We will miss David in the fields, if we continue to focus on Saul in the palace. Although Saul still had the position of King, he no longer had the anointment of King. That’ll PREACH!! How many times do we allow a relationship ‘Saul’ to sit on the throne of our hearts, when God’s spirit has left from it? Saul stayed in his position for at least 10-15 years after God’s spirit left. How long will you hold on to a past or current (ouch!) relationship and YOU KNOW God’s spirit is no longer blessing it?

It is so vital to understand this when we are discussing God’s plan for our lives. We often think we know how our lives should pan out; what we should do and how it needs to be done. But many times God has a different plan. We just have to take our eyes off ours to see His.

So How do we get to God’s Plan? Glad you asked!

1. Seeking God’s Plan-

In 2 Samuel David is King. If you know anything about David, he was a man after God’s heart. He sought God about every decision that he made- He not only sought God but He listened and then acted. How do we measure up to this standard? I believe we will often ask God for forgiveness instead of asking for permission. We will ask Him as Balaam did in Numbers 22, already knowing what we want Him to say. But, God is looking for some people that will seek Him as Jeremiah says in 29:12 ‘You will call to me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you.’ God is waiting for you to seek Him first, and all these things will be added to you Matthew 6:33- it’s so hard to seek Him and not worry about the things that we want added to us.

God’s plan will take time to seek. For some it may come quickly- God told Noah to build the Ark, Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, Joshua to walk around the walls of Jericho. Divine guidance only comes to prepared hearts. You have to spend the time with God asking for His plan and will for your life. He wants to fulfill it.

2. Seeing/Hearing God’s Plan

As David sought the Lord, you must do the same. Habakkuk 2: 2-4 talks about climbing up to the watchtower to see what God would say. How do you see what God says? God will reveal Himself to you in vision. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. It’s hard to see God at work when you are going through the situation, but if you can just take your eyes off self- vision will come. Go back to the top and read Isaiah 4:1-3 He created you Jacob, but He formed you Israel. What does this mean? That where you start is not where you will finish. Jacob was a trickster, but Israel is God’s chosen nation. Jacob was created in his mother’s womb, Israel was formed through the shaping of God’s hands. Meaning, the situations that you are going through are not meant to break you, but are forming you into God’s perfect image of you. Don’t get so focused on how you THINK He will bring it to pass, that you miss how He does bring it to past.

God told David that He would bless his life and the life of his descendants, but He did not tell him that he would face His own son trying to take his throne, civil war, adultery and murder with Bathsheba, etc. Talk about omission! When this happened, I’m sure David was doubting God and the promise that he had received. He had to understand that God does not have to operate in Chronos (our timing) but that He exists in Chiros (God’s timing)-so His timing is always perfect, even when ours is off.

3. Letting Go of our Plan to Receive His

In order to receive God’s plan, we have to let go of our own. Can you let go of your plan and where you think you should be? When all your friends are getting married and you aren’t–Do you rejoice outwardly with them, but inwardly envy them? Envy tells God that we don’t like the plan that He has for our life and we want another one. This is an insult to the author and perfector (finisher) of our faith. As Mary stated ‘I am your servant, do as you wish’- may this be our hearts cry as well! In chapter 6 of 2 Samuel, we see what seemed like a ruthless act by God. They are transporting the ark of the covenant back home and they sought to bring it back on a cart pulled by oxen. The instructions to transport the ark were given in Numbers 4, it was only to be carried by Levites and touched by Aaronic priests. David being a king, knew this yet he decided to take the easy route and it cost a man his life. Deciding to follow our own plans instead of waiting for God’s to manifest will cause us to reap a dead Uzzah, a rebellious Ishmael and crushed foot and close encounter with death (Balaam).

Pride comes before a fall. In Chapter 11, David was supposed to be at war, but yet he was home chillen’ on the roof. What does this say? He was not where He was ordained to be. Whenever we don’t take the time to seek out God’s plan, or we seek it but refuse to follow it, we will always end up seeing things we shouldn’t, doing things we normally wouldn’t, and trying to cover up what we can’t. What does this translate into singleness? Dating, marrying the wrong person because we aren’t in the lane God has called us to be in. Casual dating, and ending up with emotional soul ties, or premarital sex and intimacy soul ties. But even in our disobedience, God can’t lie, so he has stated that ALL things work out for the good.

God is building character in you right now. He is preparing you for what He has in your future. What you go through now, will give you the strength you need to face what is coming. Maybe marriage…dundundun (scary music playing 😉

Seek Him while He can be found.

DAY 26: Emotions make you ‘lie’ sometimes

Published May 29, 2013 by lavoniartryon

day26

Memory Verse: For the heart is exceedingly wicked and deceitful, who can know it Jeremiah 17:9

Psalm: 146

Challenge: Be intentional about defining emotions today and the root cause. When you feel anger, fear, anxiety, happy, love- then determine what the stimulating cause is and group those two together. (example: I was happy because I found $20 in the dryer this morning) Share a couple of them in your journal.

 

            H-town (if you are actually from H-Town you will remember the group and possibly the song) a local RnB group, made a song entitled ‘Emotions make you cry sometimes’. The lyrics take you through the stages of life and how different scenarios cause different emotions, but the ultimate point is that ‘emotions make you fall in love’. Destiny’s Child comes out with a song a couple years later about emotions. There is also a Mariah Carey and Conya Doss song by the same title. So apparently, emotions are something that we need to discuss, since they are such an important determining part of relationships. Right?

             Emotions as defined by Webster- ‘a conscious mental reaction (as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object (or person) and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body’. For example, fear may cause you to sweat and your heartbeat to increase, or anger may make you sweat or cause your head to ache. By this definition, emotions are a secondary response and never the initial cause. This is important to understand for today’s challenge.

            Emotions aren’t and can’t be used as an initial cause, but so many times in this life we allow them to determine our actions and reactions. We never take the time to get to the root of the cause and deal with that to determine why we are feeling a certain emotion, we just take the emotion and run with it. I think this is a surface reason why God instructs and allows us to ‘Be angry, yet sin not’ Ephesians 4:26. God understands that we are fickle humans that are controlled by our emotions, instead of controlling them.

Understanding your emotions and determining the root cause of them is a key concept taught in psychology and being a Certified Counselor, it is something that I often will instruct my clients/students to tap into. ‘Ok, you are angry-but why? You are sad-when did you start feeling this way?’ If we can get to the answer of these questions we can determine what to do with those emotions as well as understand if they are even valid emotions. To determine if an emotion is valid, you take the root stimulating cause, and determine if the emotional feeling coincides as a logical response to the cause. But who has the time to do that?! It’s so much easier to allow our emotions to rule us and go with the first response that ‘feels right’ with the emotion.

H-Town said emotions make you cry sometimes, but I challenge to say-Emotions make you LIE sometimes. Have you ever found yourself starting to ‘feel something’ about a person after you have spent an extended amount of time with them? Or if you are like me, you have allowed someone else to plant the seed in your head of a ‘perfect bond’ between you and another person and then you find yourself thinking about this person more and ‘feeling something’ that you didn’t initially feel. This is typically a simulated emotion, and has no validity in its determining cause. If you would take the time to step back from the situation and truly evaluate it, you would realize that these ‘emotions’ aren’t real and you could move on.

INSIGHT: ‘This happened with my best friend and me. We have known each other more than 12 years, and never even contemplated dating, but with a few whispered, ill-placed comments from well-meaning mutual friends-our emotions made us question ‘why weren’t we together’. After a few awkward months and even more awkward heartfelt conversations, we came to the same conclusion that we had before, we were friends-that’s it. Don’t allow someone else to dictate what you ‘should’ be feeling about another person.’

What about the emotions of sadness, longing, and devastation that comes from a broken relationship, as we discussed earlier in this challenge? I believe that these emotions are valid, but you have to determine how long you will dwell on them. You need to learn from them and move on- or decide if you are going to allow them to control you and poison your current state and possibly your future relationships. The last serious relationship that tore my heart out, the emotions I felt at the time I truly believed were valid. However, the fact that I still feel some of them 2 years later, is not! If I were to research the root cause, it would be determined that I feel the sadness when I ‘happen’ to cross his facebook page, or I frequent a spot that was coined ‘our spot’ or I read an old letter or email that I just so happened to find (but never threw away). This is an example of emotions controlling us, and if we are to live free in this season, this can’t be the case.

Then we get to love. H-town says that emotions make you fall in love. I don’t believe this, or wait maybe I do. Falling is accidental and something that we can’t control once it starts. If we are led by our emotions, then this is a true statement. But I have determined to not ‘fall in love’ anymore. I have now taken control of my emotions and I realize that I can decide to love and when I do I will consciously leap into love. Someone asked me to describe what it felt like to be in love and all I could come up with were actions. My conclusion: love is not butterflies; it’s the choice of a commitment that drives you to perform actions that in turn induce those butterflies in the one who has captured your affections. As a result, this causes you to feel the same “flutterings” in response.

Love has to be decided and calculated. Read 1 Corinthians 13. There is NO WAY that we can express love in that way off of our fickle, ever changing emotions. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son’ that had to be a decision on God’s part. He didn’t on a whim, just say ‘JESUS, COME HERE! SO THIS IS WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO TODAY!!’ Come on, now! If we continue to allow our emotions to control us, we have reduced ourselves to mere babies that hit people because they make us mad. Pre-teens that don’t speak to each other because they didn’t smile at us when getting on the bus. Teenagers that don’t like a person because our best friend of the week doesn’t like them. Give yourself more credit. You have to be more mature than that.

            Mariah says something powerful- ‘I don’t know if you are real, but I like the way I feel inside’. IF this is all you are after ‘a feeling’, then by all means skip today’s (and tomorrow’s) challenge and join us again on the next. BUT if you are determined to take back control of your emotions and not allow someone or something to ‘make you feel’ anything that you haven’t decided to feel-then as Captain Planet says ‘THE POWER IS YOURS!’

INSIGHT: ‘Man, man, MAN!! If I could write in tongues, I probably would! Lol, but seriously. This is such a powerful and personal challenge. We make decision each and every day based on emotions, and not the root cause of those emotions. We join churches and LEAVE churches, based on how we ‘feel’, not on the will of God. We choose to worship or read our Bible based on whether we ‘feel’ like it that day or not. We choose to pursue relationships based on how that person makes us ‘feel’, instead of evaluating the relationship and deciding if this person will push us forward in the Kingdom or turn our hearts to worshiping false ‘gods’. We MUST get control of our emotions and stop allowing them to control us.’

Will you control your emotions or still allow them to control you today?

DAY 25: I never danced with my father

Published May 29, 2013 by lavoniartryon

day25

Memory verse: When my mother and father forsake me then the Lord shall take me up Psalm 27:10

Psalm: 27

Challenge: Briefly describe the relationship with your father and how you believe it has affected your romantic relationships. If your father is in your life in any way call, text, email or tweet him just to tell him you care.

Daddy’s lil girl. Every young lady longs to be one, but the reality of over 50% of African American children being born out of wedlock and raised by a single mother, or even the grandparents- makes this a far-fetched dream for many of us. I was that dreamer. For over half of my life, my father was a stranger to me; I knew his name and face, but not much else. At the ripe, impressionable age of 15, my father told me never to call him again, then changed his number and moved to Virginia just in case I didn’t get the message. That was over 15 years ago. His brother, my uncle, tracked me down in 2011 and told me that he had passed away. With the recent passing of my father, God showed me that I was still holding on to some areas that I never knew I had. Because I now realize how it affected every relationship that I was ever in, and how it would have affected every other relationship that I would ever begin, until I had dealt with it–I think it’s important to share within this challenge. There may be a man or woman dealing with Daddy issues, who needs to hear how to gain the courage to face and fix them.

INSIGHT: ‘My Daddy Issues ran deep. And they ran rampant. They controlled so much of me, but the most troubling part was that I didn’t know that I had them. This is what made them dangerous, because they tainted all of my relationships, all of my interactions with males without my knowledge. I faced abandonment issues, insecurity issues, and self-image issues. I was a mess, and it takes a lot out of me to be this transparent. His choice as a man, affected the woman that I would become. I don’t believe men truly understand the damage that they can inflict on their children when they decide to leave. It leaves a wound that only God can heal, but that many don’t suspect is there, so they will never get the healing they need.’

Man or woman, no matter how much we may try to downplay or minimize the role, we all need to feel the love of a father. This is not meant to slight the love of a mother because her love is incomparable, but I believe that the father’s role in our lives may in some ways have a more direct impact on how we grow up to have other relationships.

A father is the first person that chooses you in your life. There is never doubt of the maternity of a baby because a mother physically carries it—it can’t be denied because she gave birth. However, the father has the unique choice to acknowledge that the child is his, verbally and by action, before a test is given. I believe this is what gives the dynamics of the relationship with the father a different perspective. Whether you have ever thought of it this way or not; if your father is in your life, was in your life, or has ever acknowledged you without proof, then this is the first earthly example you have of a man choosing you because he wanted you, not because he couldn’t deny you. This is vital in the foundation of how you view relationships, whether you are male or female. As a female, a standard (even if you are unaware) has been set for the way you will relate with men and how they should treat you. As a male, it plants the seed of responsibility and leadership in your female relationships. Because you chose her, you love and accept her out of free will, not obligation.

So what happens if you didn’t have an earthly father to choose you? I believe it manifests in different ways in different people, but I wholeheartedly believe that it will manifest somehow. In a man, maybe it rises up when he finds it a bit easier to deny his own child or how the negatively treat the women in his life. On the other hand, hemay choose to use it as an example of what not to do. He may become the protector of his mother, treating every woman the way she should be treated because he refuses to be like his father. For a woman, it may subconsciously affect her trust in men or cause her to be bitter towards men without realizing the cause. She may seek to find the acknowledgement and acceptance she never received from her father, in any man she can find to fill the void.

INSIGHT: ‘I was the latter. I searched for acceptance in men specifically, and in people generally. I didn’t know how to be myself, because I never got a true definition of what that meant. I was taking care of two kids at the age of 16, while my mother worked nights and slept days and my father wasn’t there. My younger siblings needed me, so I worked full time throughout my high school years to pay bills and buy groceries. I don’t use this as an excuse or a ploy for pity; it’s simply fact. I grew up fast, and without a self-image. Even at a younger age, I remember dating older men-I guess I was looking for that father figure even then. I tried to fill that void with being everything to everyone, I needed to be liked-I craved acceptance, because I had been so starved for it.’

Up until recently, I would tell people that I never had a father in my life. But that’s a lie. I did have a father until about the age of 15. He wasn’t much in the way that I now know what fatherhood is, but he was mine. Because I was his only daughter, I thought that made me special, and for a while I believed without a doubt that I was. So the devastation was all the more real when the one man that was supposed to love and cherish and protect me, the only man that couldn’t have a hidden agenda in loving me because his own blood ran through my veins, told me he didn’t want me anymore.

Because of his rejection, I never had a man that made sure any other man who sought my affections was worthy of my attention. I didn’t know there should be a standard. I didn’t know that I shouldn’t and didn’t have to waste time kissing all these frogs, because one day my prince would come. How can someone learn unless there is someone willing to teach? They say ‘what you don’t know can’t hurt you’, I disagree. What I didn’t know DID hurt me. The love and affection I should have gotten from my daddy, I desperately sought in men. And when they couldn’t live up to that role or fulfill the hole I had, I would move on to the next one. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t be what I needed them to be, so once I drained them, I would move on to my next victim, I mean relationship.

INSIGHT: ‘As a Single, ESPECIALLY a Single woman you need to examine your own relationship with your father, or lack thereof. Don’t let it go neglected, because it will manifest at some point, and I can tell you from experience that its timing SUCKS. Get to the root issues and allow God to replace your rejection with His Son’s acceptance. As a Single man, don’t allow your father’s mistakes to make every woman you date, your victim. Use your experiences to heal, not to further wound. A woman that had a daddy to teach her the value she has, won’t accept your issues, especially if you aren’t willing to work on them. Allow God to heal and restore during this Single season, so that you don’t go into your marriage looking for your mate to repair a fatal wound, that will eventually kill if not fixed by the Master Physician. Healing is available, but only to those that ask for it. Many of Christ’s healings required the person to first acknowledge what needed to be healed. He’s still healing, but you have to ask the question: ‘What do I need to be healed?’

My healing is here. It was and still is a long process, but God is healing my wound, because I need to be whole for my purpose. He can’t allow that rejection to interfere with His Son’s acceptance. I’ve completely forgiven my father, because I’ve been completely forgiven by My Father. If you have Daddy issues, I encourage you to seek to resolve them and not give them the power of controlling any more relationships in your future.

I now know a Father’s love.

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