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All posts for the month May, 2013

DAY 21: Are you the one or should I wait for another?

Published May 24, 2013 by lavoniartryon

day21

Memory Verse: Beware of false prophets (suitors) that come to you in sheep’s clothing (Gucci and Hugo Boss, smelling all good) but inwardly are raging wolves (only out for your goodies or to steal your favor). You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles.\? (Sooner or later their true nature will come to surface) Matthew 7:15-16 as interpreted by me

Psalm: 23

Challenge: What characteristics are necessary to determine whether this person is ‘the one’? What do you have to see or hear?

THE ELUSIVE ‘ONE’. I’ve spoken with many Christians and some believe that there is ‘that one’ person that they are destined to be with and that is it for them. Others believe that at different points in your life, you may be more compatible with different people, so there is maybe an ordained person for each season and you choose them by whether you are ready to be married. Both opinions are valid and I believe that they can work together. I believe that there is a person ordained for you, but I also believe in free will, so I believe your ordained person can choose to be disobedient and marry someone else—then where does that leave you? Single forever unless you choose to marry someone else too? I don’t think so. I believe that just as God raised Joshua to replace Moses and David to replace Saul-He can and will raise up another for you, ordained to complete your joint purpose.

But that’s not what this day is about. It’s about recognizing ‘the one’. How will you know if this is the one that God kept for you or if it is just another suitor that carries similar qualities that you are looking for? I believe a story in Luke involving Jesus and John the Baptist will give us key clues to recognize him or her when they come.

In Luke 7 and Matthew 11, John is in prison for the cause of Christ and he sends two of his messengers that are with him to ask Jesus ‘Are you the One who is to come or should we look for someone else?’. Jesus’ response is surprising here. He didn’t say, ‘I am the Christ, or ‘My Father and I are One’ or anything that would confirm His identity and deity. He simply challenged the disciples to go report what they had heard and seen. Apparently, John’s disciples were with Jesus during many of His miracles because Luke 7:18 says that John’s disciples told him (John) about all these things. So Jesus challenged them to go back to John and assure him, not through what Jesus said but what He DID. ‘The lame walk, the blind see, the captives have been set free, those once diseased are now made whole.’ From these signs, John the Baptist as well as his disciples could draw their own conclusions, but there could only be one logical answer: He is the Messiah.

What Jesus challenged them to do, I am challenging you to do. What have you seen in and heard from this potential suitor? Has she/he changed your circumstances for the better? Do they pray over and with you and things change? Can they lead you to the throne of Christ? Do they wash you and teach you the Word? These are things that should be evident in any Christian that is contemplating sharing their lives, earthly possessions, and vision with another. WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN?

There should be an outward manifestation of certain characteristics. John the Baptist had himself baptized Jesus into His ministry and saw the Spirit of God descend on Him, but yet He still had doubts. You will too, and they will be valid. Sharing your life with someone is so much more than just guilt free sex and a shared last name. This is serious and it shouldn’t be entered into lightly. While John was suffering, He needed confirmation. During your difficult times in relationships, that person’s actions should confirm their identity as ‘the one’.

INSIGHT: ‘Wow. This day is even more relevant the second time around. The things I saw and heard were clear indications that he was not ‘the one’, but I didn’t take heed of it. Many times the answer is clear, but we are too blind or attached to deal with it. During the difficult times, you should see your significant other as the safe place. You should feel valued and respected and free to share everything. If you don’t, then something is missing. Trust what you see; more than just words trust the actions that follow them.’

Actions speak louder than words. What do you see? What have you heard? The answer to your question if he or she is the one, lies in your response to these two preceding questions.

DAY 20: What being Single has taught me about getting Married

Published May 22, 2013 by lavoniartryon

day20

Memory verse: I charge you daughters of Jerusalem, Do not awaken love before it’s time. Song of Solomon 8:4

Psalm: 130

Challenge: What are some single perks that you aren’t quite ready to give up for marriage?

            This Challenge will be short and (somewhat) sweet. I’ve determined that this may be a bit self-centered, but I have also determined that I’m ok with that. What being Single has taught me about getting married is that: I LOVE BEING SINGLE RIGHT NOW!!!

I really do. Unashamed, uninhibited and most importantly unattached. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that when I get married I will LOVE being married, but I’m not there right now. I am more than ok with that. There is a certain freedom that comes with being Single. There is a certain luxury not afforded to marriage, as Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians 7 and as Jeremiah was commanded not to do in Jeremiah 2.

We have the freedom and liberty to not check in- USE IT! I have many friends that are married or seriously dating and before we make a last minute decision about a late night dinner, or going on a day trip to the San Marcos outlets- they have to call their significant other. Not necessarily to ask for permission, but just to inform them that they will be late home or unavailable for the day. I call, ummm….my bank to make sure I can shop the way I want to? My mom just in case I have a blowout on the freeway so someone knows where I am (and sometimes not even then)?  Some Singles see this as a sore spot to not have someone to check in with. NOT.ME. I realize everyone may not relate to this post, but I believe there is a remnant that will 😉

Recently I met a guy that was determined to take me out. He was a local delivery truck driver so he worked pretty standard shifts and informed me that when he gets off around 6 or so, he is free every evening, so the date was up to me. I was shocked and a bit turned off, I must admit. ‘You mean, you get off work and just go home? And do what? Watch tv, play PlayStation?’ I couldn’t understand that. Where is your vision, your goals, your life and why aren’t you busy working on them? I NEVER have days when I just come home and watch TV. I fit one into my schedule about once every 2-3 weeks just to keep my sanity, but even then I’m reading or working on my next 3 books. So, needless to say he couldn’t understand when I couldn’t ‘work him into’ my schedule as readily as he could me. Between my part-time job, my two businesses, my book(s), speaking engagements, Singles ministry and sorority- my days are pretty packed-so going to dinner and a movie with a guy that I might or might not be slightly interested in, is pretty low on the totem pole.

INSIGHT: ‘Man, this insights edition is hitting me square between the eyes. I am almost reluctant to admit that in October I wasn’t willing to fit this guy into a date, but I dated another guy shortly after this that had even more free time. This turned out to be a major hiccup in our relationship because he assumed that I should be as available as he was. He couldn’t understand that I had so many other things on my plate outside of our relationship, and that although he was a priority-he wasn’t my only priority. What this taught me was that I still have Single dreams, A LOT of Single dreams and right now I’m ok with chasing them-instead of being pursued. This will change at some point, maybe this year, maybe next-but right now ‘I’m doing me.’’

Maybe some of this comes from the residual effects of being engaged to an insecure, unsure of himself man. Yep, I was engaged-read the book (shameless plug). He wanted to know where I was going and who with. I felt obligated to keep him informed in decisions of my life, and I was no longer at liberty to be as free as I would like. This is not to say that every relationship will be or should be this way, but every relationship does have a level of responsibility to make decisions or at least include your significant other in them. Right now, I am rather enjoying my level of responsibility to only me and God.

INSIGHT: ‘Don’t become so bound in marriage mindedness that you miss the freedom of being Single.’

DAY 19: Too Close for (or due to) comfort: Stop playing with the line

Published May 21, 2013 by lavoniartryon

day19

Memory Verse: I have hidden your Word inside my Heart so that I might not sin against you

Psalm 119:11

Psalm: 76

Challenge: Think about that ‘line’ that you have been manipulating. Write it out and commit to pray over it specifically for the remainder of this challenge, asking God to give you strategies to resist it.

Read Judges 13-16 for the story of Samson. Use this as background for today’s challenge. We often talk about Samson just in light of Delilah and we will get to her, but I want to start before that. Samson was a  Nazirite- he was instructed not to drink alcoholic beverages, to not touch anything unclean, and never to cut his hair as a show of his vow to God. These three chapters are so full and rich (might be another book 😉 but I just want to touch a few components. The Bible records Samson breaking at least 2 out of 3 of these vows, before the covenant with God was broken.

Why did Samson do it? Was he not aware of the guidelines of his vow? Did he forget in the heat of the moment? I doubt it. I think Samson had gotten used to playing with the line. What does this mean? Samson was an Old Testament manifestation of Paul’s admonishment in Romans 6:1, ‘Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? Surely NOT!’ Samson had gotten used to breaking the covenant with the Lord with no ‘noticeable’ consequences, so he kept doing it. He first married a Philistine woman when up to this point, they were forbidden to intermarry with non-believers of the True God (Exodus 34:12-16). Then he killed a lion with his bare hands and on his journey back home, he ate honey from the dead carcass. As if that wasn’t enough, he then gave some to his parents without informing them where it was taken from forcing them (especially his mother because she had been commanded not to eat anything unclean in chapter 13) to participate in his sin with him. Next, he slept with a prostitute, which was defiling his temple. Then, finally since he had gone this far- he told Delilah the final vow that would break the covenant with the Lord that he had yet to break. And lo and behold, she used it against him. For money.

INSIGHT: ‘Where do I even start?! I remember when God first gave me this day and reading the story of Samson with my mouth hanging open. All I could think of was ‘Really, Samson, Really?!??’ Samson married an, as his mother called her, ‘uncircumcised Philistine’ because he wanted her. Singles, this is for us. Our desire for marriage is valid and may very well be from the Lord, but it is not without parameters. Whether you believe in ‘the one’ or not, you must understand that there is a very real command to not be ‘unequally yoked’. God desires you to marry to symbolize his covenent between Christ and the Church, to fulfill a purpose in the Kingdom and to birth and raise mighty children that will turn to Him and too make a Heavenly impact on this Earth. You CANNOT do that if you are dabbling in the ‘forbidden’ pool. Your marriage can’t symbolize the covenant of Christ, if BOTH of you are not in covenant with Christ in the first place. Samson knew this, and his parents reminded him of this, yet he allowed his fleshly desires to get him what he wanted and ignored what God knew he needed. And we can read these chapters and see how that worked out for him. Disastrous!’

This could be a lesson about Samson’s poor choices in relationships, but I want to talk about him playing with the line. Samson had ‘gotten away’ with sin for so long that he had begun to be insensitive to the Holy Spirit and stirrings of God. As you read the chapters, when Samson participated in sin, the spirit of God was not resting on him. What does this mean applicably? I believe we can allow unchecked and un-repented sin to separate us from hearing from God. We allow it to dull our spiritual ears and the quickening of the Holy Spirit (what others call conscience), so that we no longer call sin what it is…SIN. Samson had eaten from a dead carcass and nothing naturally happened. He slept with a prostitute and nothing naturally happened. So he was getting away with sin, right?! WRONG!! We must understand that when something naturally manifests on earth that it has already manifested spiritually (Thy Kingdom come, The Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven). It has already happened spiritually. Each time Samson sinned, I believed he spiritually weakened and quenched the Holy Spirit’s control on him a bit more. How often do we do this? Play with that line until determining what is permissible and beneficial is blurred, or continuing in a sin until we get ‘caught’?

INSIGHT: WOW! The insight is, if you didn’t get it in that last paragraph, read it again.

We have to more concerned with the spiritual consequences of sin-SEPERATION FROM GOD- then the natural consequences that we may or may not experience, due only to grace. Samson should have learned from his 1st wife that women would be his downfall, because she was lured away from him by money. His weakness was a pretty face, and unchecked it brought him to his ruin. With his wife and Delilah, he gave in due to their nagging and begging. He told them both his secrets and they used it against him. In the first scenario, God’s grace extended to him and Samson was not consumed.

But he did it again. WHY?!?!? Because many of us don’t learn from grace, we are only taught by justice. We are not spiritually sensitive enough to understand that grace is getting what we don’t deserve and mercy is not getting what we do. We never attribute God’s mercy in not allowing a physical consequence to manifest, we foolishly think we have gotten away with something. So we keep doing it. We get closer and closer to the line, until we don’t even know when we have crossed it.

INSIGHT: ‘We miss the mark of grace in our lives so much! We miss it by believing that ‘no one knows what we did’ or thinking we got away with it. We miss it. We forget that our heavenly Father sees all and knows all. We keep going until we do get caught, then we are so spiritually desensitized that we believe that the only consequence that we have faced for our fornication is an unplanned pregnancy. Then some of us try to cover up even that up with ending the child’s life by abortion. Lord help and forgive us. We miss it. We have grieved the Holy Spirit and made our relationship with the Lord nothing more than a carnal act of religion with no real relationship.’

Samson first told Delilah things that had no resemblance to the truth- the fresh ropes and bowstrings—in order to appease her. Now, PAUSE. Samson if you see that everything you tell her, she does to subdue you, why do you KEEP telling her? Why do you stay with her? Obviously she doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Just stupid. But don’t judge him too much; you have stupid moments too. Dating a guy that not only doesn’t respect your vow of chastity, he doesn’t even believe it-so he keeps pushing the boundary. And you continue to let him. Or you date a woman that has no respect for you or your vision with no intention of ever submitting to you nor ‘help’ing you ‘meet’ ANYTHING-but you keep her around because all your boys are amazed that you pulled someone that looks like her. Hollow, shallow, flesh-serving desires- LORD HELP US.

Samson then starts playing with fire. He tells her that his strength has something to do with his hair. TOO CLOSE SAMSON!!! You are getting too loose with your anointing. In 2013, this is manifested in those late night movie sessions, heavy kissing and making out, spending excessive time alone, when you have vowed to keep what rightfully belongs to your spouse sacred until your wedding day. Now you are tainting it. You are seeing how close you can get, instead of being focused on how pure you can stay. It was only a matter of time before Samson told her the truth, once he had gotten this close to it. And it’s only a matter of time before your clothes come off, once you have played with this line so much.

INSIGHT: ‘Read those last two paragraphs again.’

Learn from Samson’s life-don’t repeat it. Mercy is not a ‘get out of sin free card’, it is a by-pass so that you can get it right the next time. It’s God way of giving us another chance to prove to Him that our commitment is not based on outward manifestations but grounded in inward convictions.

Draw the line in every area- and commit to stay as far away from it as possible.

DAY 18: SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING

Published May 20, 2013 by lavoniartryon

DAY18

Memory Verse: A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.

 Proverb 22:3

Psalm: 17

Challenge: Think back to your last, a past relationship or even a potential suitor. What were some warning signs that this person might not have been/might not be ‘the one’ but you ignored them?

 

I’ve often heard the phrase, love is blind but marriage is a real eye opener. Of course, we Singles laugh at this (or at least this Single used to), but I don’t think we fully grasp what this means to a person in that situation. What I take from this statement is that, when you are busy falling in love and thinking this person’s dirty laundry doesn’t even stink, you are unaware of all the things that you should be taking notice of. As a result, you get in a committed relationship with a person, or even a marriage before you really get to know the nature of the person. This translates into those long crying sessions with your girlfriends or those intense basketball games with your boys-discussing how they are no longer the person you married or first met. I don’t believe this is completely true, I believe that IS the person you married, you just dated the representative and didn’t bother or was too ‘in the love bubble’ to dig deeper.

INSIGHT: ‘DEAR LORD. I ignored so many warning signs in my past relationships. The most recent one, I remember expressing doubt in my journal the FIRST WEEK that he didn’t seem like ‘the one’-that he didn’t treat me like ‘the one’ would, yet I stayed for another 5 months. Why? Because it became easier and easier to ignore those signs, or to rationalize them into ‘he’s trying.’ Please. There is a difference between not knowing what is wrong and needs to be fixed, and knowing it but refusing to deal with it. The latter was what I was dealing with, until I finally realized that I couldn’t deal with it.’

My previous Pastor used to say when you date you should have both eyes wide open, wear glasses, use a magnifying glass and a black light; then when you decide to marry this person-close one eye and dim the lights. What does this mean? The dating stage should be the time that you acknowledge those red flags or those discrepancies in the person, then when you decide to marry them, you don’t nag about the things that you tolerated while you were courting. Before you decide to spend the rest of your life with a person, you should burst the love bubble (we will talk about this next week) and really discuss things in perspective. Once you walk down the aisle, you can’t turn back around and run up it, because you didn’t know he had 60,000 of debt or that she doesn’t know how nor have a desire to submit.

INSIGHT: ‘This is truth. Ignoring those things that you are telling yourself are small in dating, will become fights over these things in marriage. If it is truly insignificant, then it won’t fly back into your head every time you disagree, it won’t keep you up at night, it won’t cause you more tears than joy. If it does, then stop lying to yourself-it’s very significant. I was there—my struggle, your lesson. You are not doing yourself or the person you are dating a favor by ignoring that key desires and needs are not being met in a relationship, You are only prolonging the inevitable, and causing yourself to become more attached so that when it is clear that you should walk away-it will be even harder.’

Those essential things that you aren’t seeing in the mate should be addressed. Never simply think that they will get better when you get married. They might get worse, because now you have to share everything with this person and what used to irritate you only on Monday, Wednesday and weekends, will be making your living conditions miserable every night of the week.

This message isn’t meant to say that a man or woman has to be perfect to earn your affections, just that you shouldn’t be so casual and careless with whom you give them away to. Snoring isn’t a deal-breaker, but jealousy or insecurity might be. You see what I mean?

The TSA now has this slogan that you will see all around the airport: ‘See Something, Say Something’. This campaign is admonishing travelers to be aware of their surroundings and don’t simply dismiss something that could be suspect, thinking it’s nothing. That ‘nothing’ could be the bomb that changes your life. Same scenario; but in a relationship. That ‘something’ that you keep looking over and dismissing might be the thing that puts additional strain on that relationship and eventually breaks it.

INSIGHT: ‘This day is so personal because this area is still a bit raw from my most recent relationship. From the beginning, I didn’t feel treasured or valued. I felt like an option. I made decisions with him in mind, but it seemed like he made plans and then told me about them, if he told me at all. He wasn’t considerate of me or my feelings and when I would mention it, the response would be ‘you are too sensitive, you need to toughen up’. What I refused to see was that I shouldn’t have to ‘toughen up’ where my boyfriend is concerned. Especially with a boyfriend that loves to talk about making me a wife. He should be the safe place, where I can take my emotions and insecurities and feel valued and special-not the cause of my insecurities. I realized that this wasn’t going to get better, that it wasn’t going to change, so my situation needed to change.’

SEE SOMETHING. SAY SOMETHING. Everything shouldn’t be an issue, but some things should be. Choose wisely, and determine to go into every relationship with your eyes (not just your nose) wide open. If Samson would have done this, his fate would have been very different. We will discuss his particular foolishness tomorrow.

My friend has a saying ‘Everyone has their own brand of crazy, you just have to find the person whose crazy is compatible with yours.’ True statement, truer application.

INSIGHT: ‘I can’t stress enough how much this simple truth can change the nature of your current and future relationships. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your mate that you aren’t comfortable-that’s a problem. If your needs aren’t being met and you are too scared of the consequences that will occur by voicing it (as I was), then I say with confidence and conviction- that person is not ‘the one’. The one will allow you to express your concerns in a safe and nonjudgmental place, and they will value your emotions because they value you. Doesn’t mean they agree, just means that if something isn’t working, they will work to fix it, not make you feel stupid about voicing it. Transparency moment: I felt this way. In fact, I was called stupid for some of the concerns that I had. I put up with double standards and not feeling valued and being treated as less significant than his female friends, YET I STAYED. Why, I’m still trying to figure out. I think it was because I saw potential. We will talk about the dangers of dating/marrying potential later in this challenge. The lesson is that although I stayed for much longer than I should have, I did leave. It was hard because I was so emotionally invested, but I realized that I was beginning to be comfortable with settling and I was beginning to tell myself that this was as good as it would get. The devil is a liar and so was he. I got out. Now that the fog has cleared, I realize that what I experienced was not even my imagined best, so it couldn’t be the Ephesians 3:20 that my God promises me. Don’t trick yourself to believe it is ‘no big deal’ when everything within you is screaming that it is.’

Day 17: Upgrade You(rself)

Published May 19, 2013 by lavoniartryon

day17

Memory Verse: So God created man and woman in His own image; He created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. Genesis 1: 27

Psalm: 45

Challenge: Do something to upgrade yourself today-that will then upgrade your spouse when you are connected-or just add value to your life. Read a book, study your craft, start your business plan for entrepreneurship, start writing your book, apply for a promotion or new position. Share what you did with someone that may need a nudge.

 

Ok, I don’t listen to a lot of Beyonce. Nothing personal, because I-like other people that either idolize or hate her, don’t know her personally- I’m just not a big fan. BUT-when UPGRADE U came out, I used to go in on this song. GO.IN. Not necessarily because of what she was saying, but the message that she was shooting for. The message that-with me I would add to your life, make your purpose easier, assist you in all endeavors. The message that-there are some things that will be unlocked just by me being by your side. That’s real and that’s a word. Let’s explore some of her lyrics. Now if you take out some (ok, most) of the superficial behind the song- her motive reminds me of another woman I read about…check this.

Don’t doubt yourself trust me you need me
U need a real woman in ur life(That’s a good look)

a]A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

 

Taking care of home and still fly(That’s a good look)

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

 

And I’ma help u build up ur account (That’s a good look, better yet a hood look)

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

 

(But ladies that’s a good look)Believe me
When ur in those big meetings for the mils(That’s a good look)

U take me just to compliment the deal(That’s a good look)

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

And anything u cop I split the bill(That’s a good look, better yet a hood look)

16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

 

I can do for u what Martin did for the people

20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

 

Ran by the man but the women keep the tempo

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

 

It’s very seldom that ur blessed to find ur equal

Still play my part and let u take the lead role, believe me
I’ll follow, this could be easy

I’ll be the help whenever u need me

I see ur hustle, with my hustle I can keep u

11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

Focused on ur focus, I can feed u

15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.


Just when u think u had it all

Picture ur life elevated with me

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”


It’s the little glimpse of light

That makes the diamond really shine
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

 Now see my heart behind this. I believe that there is something locked inside of every man that is ordained to get married, that only the ordained ‘helpmeet’ can unlock. Which means 2 things.

1. As a woman, we have to make sure we bring something to the table, and not just sit at it, looking all pretty. Remember verse 30 Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Oh, best believe you are fly Beautiful Woman of Virtue, but you must have character, drive, business savvy, intuition, a desire to see your mate and your household blessed, because in return YOU will be blessed. These are innate traits that your husband needs you to embody to help him reach the purpose that God calls you both to. In Proverbs 18:22, God says ‘A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. Just getting married, does not qualify you for the esteemed title of wife. Nor do you become a good thing ONCE you are found-. You are already a good thing, your husband’s eyes are just now opened to see it. Stop calling yourself a Proverbs 31 woman when you KNOW you only embody about 8 of those 21 scriptures. Be honest with yourself…say I got verses 12,13, 20, and 24 down, I’m still being perfected into the others… lol, no but seriously.

2.   As a man, you have to have something for her to help you ‘meet’. She is called your helpmeet for a reason, but if you haven’t taken the time to figure out your purpose, what is she helping you meet? Nothing?! Exactly! Being the head is much more than just being a male. Chromosomes make you a male, Character makes you a man. There’s a difference. You don’t just wake up one day knowing how to lead, protect, provide, care for, or spiritually, financially, emotionally and mentally cover your family. That takes work and time and dedication and humility to admit that you don’t know how to do it, and wisdom to find a man that does and go sit at his feet. There is no strength in struggling to be a leader but not asking for help. You can’t say you want a Proverbs 31 woman, when you aren’t embodying the Genesis 2 man. Adam had a purpose, a plan AND a house before God gave him Eve. He had intimate communion with God, a direct line of communication, he had ambition, drive, creativity, leadership-DOMINION. What are you ruling over? A Queen needs a King and a King needs a Kingdom. In order to sit at the city gates, you have to be an elder of the land- a leader. You gotta come up (and stay up) if you are trying to ‘find’ that good thing.

INSIGHT: This is such a powerful word. We are constantly talking about what we are looking for in a mate, but we never do a self-assessment to analyze ourselves. If someone was describing their potential mate, would they be listing the characteristics you embody RIGHT NOW? God will not give you something you aren’t prepared to handle. As much as it is up to you, seek to live a good life, work with your hands and leave at peace with your fellow man (Romans 12:18, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) Stop waiting on the perfect mate, and start being a perfected mate. Upgrade yourself by doing those things that you need to do now. Fix those broken pieces in your armor and your heart, so that you can be whole for the next season God is moving you toward.

Day 16: Age of Viability

Published May 18, 2013 by lavoniartryon

day16

Memory verse: Multiply there, do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city (season) I have sent you to. Pray to the LORD on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper. Jeremiah 29: 6b-7

Psalm: 133

Challenge: Take your age (your real one not what you tell everybody 😉 and write out that many things that the Lord has used you to accomplish or accomplished in you.

In honor of my turning 29 again for the first time, let’s talk about age. The age of Viability is the medical threshold of which a fetus should be able to survive outside of the womb. This is the safe zone that most pregnant families and doctors breathe a bit easier because the baby has such a greater chance of survival if the baby has to be born prematurely. Spiritually, Paul speaks of the Age of Accountability in Romans 7 as the age that he became aware of his sinful nature and His need for a Savior. At that point, he had to choose to accept Christ or continue to live his ‘life of death’.

I believe both of these ages can be translated figuratively into our Singleness. Now stay with me. The age of Viability is when we start to realize that we can survive, and not only survive but that we have thrived in some areas alone. It is at this time that we recognize and start living in our freedom to be used wholeheartedly by God without the strings of a family. This is in no way degrading the beauty of marriage, but it is a recognition of the wonder that is Singleness. It is a ‘coming into yourself’ stage. We should all aspire to get to this point, to discover all the treasures that God has for us in this time. Have you reached your age of Viability yet? Have you acknowledged what you can and have accomplished as a Single and set the path for what you still want to accomplish in this season? If not, today seems like a good day for it.

INSIGHT: Really make that list! It will change your perspective to know that the Lord has accomplished so many in and thru your life. At the age of viability you realize that you are sincerely enjoying this time as a Single. It’s a time of only stressing about your own demands, meeting your goals, chasing your dreams. Really enjoy this time-it’s all yours!

The age of accountability for Singleness is that time that you start taking responsibility for your Single state. It’s when you realize that you have been in some great relationships that could have lead you to the alter, but for whatever reason they didn’t. So now you realize that Singleness has now become your choice. For some it’s because you have more that you want to accomplish as a Single before you get married. For others, it’s because you refuse to settle for anyone other than ‘the one He kept for you’, so you wait. Your choice is to stay in God’s will and it’s not your time for marriage so you choose to build and grow in the season that you are in (Jeremiah 29).

This is a beautiful place. Grow here. Thrive here, and you will realize as you take responsibility for this season and what you do and don’t accomplish, you will either move into your next season with more than you came in with, or you will leave empty and wishing you would have chosen to live in this time.

DAY 15: Keeping Marriage in the Proper Perspective

Published May 17, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory Verse:  I am certain that God who began the good work in you will continue His work until it is finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns Philippians 1:6

Psalm: 130

Challenge: Go to a trusted married friend or family member and ask them to share some things that they wish they would have done before they got married and why. Then share one with us and how it will influence your Single season.

 

Marriage has to stay in its proper perspective. You become a defeated Christian single when you spend so much time being preoccupied with getting married, that you become ineffective in your Singleness. Don’t get so caught up in the bondage of married-mindedness that you miss the freedom of Singleness. There is a freedom that comes from having only to think on the things of the Lord right now. We lose that when we start dwelling on, “When I get married, I will…” or “My husband and I will…” News Flash! While you are busy planning your future, you are failing to live in your present! You are telling God this stage you are in isn’t worthy enough for you to actualize or develop in, so you will just bury it and wait on Him to return to get you out of it.

This viewpoint comes from only knowing of the Master and His plan, instead of spending the time really getting to know Him. In Matthew 25:14-28, Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents. One servant was given 5, one was given 2 and one was given 1, according to their ability. This statement here speaks of obedience and grace. The two servants that were given 5 and 2 talents respectfully, had earned the trust of the Master in order to be given a bigger portion, but the one only given 1 had not.  I would be daring enough to say that he had not shown himself to faithful with one talent but the Master was giving him simply another chance to get right what he had messed up so many times before. Each servant treated the talent in the way that he saw the Master, the two that invested it- knew the Master and must have had a personal relationship with Him because they sought to please Him by giving Him more than what they were left with. I believe the other servant only knew OF the Master, but didn’t really know the Master, because if he did, he would have been more intentional with the talent that he was given. What are you doing with your talent of Singleness? Are you investing it right now, so that when you move on to your next  stage whether marriage or a different level of purpose in your Singleness, you will be able to give more to your 1st Husband AND your spouse? Or is it buried just waiting on the Master to return and reclaim it, to move you on?

INSIGHT: ‘I have to admit that I might have been the servant given 5 talents at the beginning of this story, but I started to bury it towards the end. I got comfortable. I stopped investing it. Not that I stopped giving and sharing what God had shown me, but I stopped growing in it. I was content to share my wisdom, but I had gotten comfortable where I was. My desire to grow and expand more in this season had dwindled. Getting to do it all over, I’m now not only focused on pouring out, I am dedicated to being consistently poured into as well.’

We have to use our Single season to learn how to fit our lives around our time with God, not fitting God around our lives. In the first scenario, our agenda and plans are on the throne of our heart; in the latter Christ is. Singleness is a time to anchor, deadbolt, and superglue Christ to the top priority in our life because if He is not on the throne as a Single, He will not magically jump on it when we get married. The purpose of our Singleness is to be used for God’s glory. If He is not getting glory from our Single life, how can we imagine Him getting it from our married life? Jeremiah 29:11 says God knows the plans He has for us, of good and not of evil, to give us a hope and an expected end. So our Singleness is in His plan just as our marriage will be. If marriage is the “expected end” to this stage of our life, why not enjoy the journey getting there?

It’s been stated that a Single person once said, “I hope Jesus doesn’t come back before I get married.” Although maybe spoken in jest, it’s sad because many of us agree with this. We can’t allow earthly pleasures to take precedence over an eternal perspective. That you would even consider prolonging being in this world, in exchange for your heavenly home, shows signs of a deeper issue. Anything more important than being with your Heavenly King has become an idol—even marriage.

Once marriage becomes an idol the enemy has succeeded in distracting us, and a distracted Christian is an ineffective Christian. If you focus so much on the one tree that you can’t have, Eve, you will forget about every other tree that is at your disposal. I believe this is how she was lured away, by her own lust for what was forbidden. Satan convinced her that the only thing that she didn’t have was the one thing she couldn’t live without. He is still using the same trick on us today. Why? Because it is still working. He doesn’t have to change his M.O. because we are still falling for it. If he can get us to doubt God’s love and provision by making us feel like He is withholding something good, then he can get us to doubt everything else our faith has already proven.

Satan’s goal is not only to kill you. He understands the concept to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, so to kill you would only push you into the arms of your Creator. That wouldn’t benefit him at all and you are much more valuable to him being ineffective. An ineffective Christian is one that will get to Heaven, but won’t bring anyone else with him. It is one who is not growing in God, not performing His will, and not working for the Kingdom. Now this Christian—Satan can use. You are more valuable to him than a legion of his demons at this point because no one will expect you to be used by him, he can slip you in under the radar and infiltrate places that his demons would be recognized. Because you are so depressed in your Single state, you miss out on the wonderful blessings of this season and end up pulling down everyone connected to you. Don’t be the devil’s punk. Fight for your contentment and remember who you are and Whose you are. Don’t allow anything to distract you from using your Single talents to glorify the Master that has entrusted them to you, even the promise of marriage.

DAY 14: I BELIEVE (help my unbelief)

Published May 16, 2013 by lavoniartryon

 

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Memory Verse: For although we are walking in the flesh, we do not wage war in a fleshy way…taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Psalm (not a Psalm but read Isaiah 55)

Challenge: Write out 3 things that you sometimes or oftentimes doubt God in. What are you doing to combat this doubt? List out those things as you feel lead with scriptures that speak Truth to those doubts.

DOUBT. A little word that does big damage in our faith. Today’s lesson is Holy-Spirit Changed (my term for when you have something planned and the Spirit comes in and changes everything around). Transparency and in return Accountability moment: this is a weak spot in my armor. This is something that I struggle with almost daily, and that I have to constantly ‘take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 10:5). I don’t doubt that God CAN do anything, for I know that He is fully capable, but I doubt that He WILL do some things. I struggle to believe that I’m worthy, that I’m qualified, that I am even capable of being used in any significant way for the Kingdom. I doubt that if I give something to Him that He will give it back to me in the way that I want it, or if He will give it back at all. I struggle to believe that I’m capable of doing everything that He is calling me to do, and even in knowing that I am not capable alone, I struggle to believe that He will help me because I’ve messed up so many times. I struggle to believe that all the people that are looking to me for discipleship and leadership and to bring them a word, will see the doubt that I struggle with and count me as unworthy and unfit to lead. I didn’t say any of it is a logical doubt, but I still struggle with it. Many days I feel like Thomas and ask to put my hand in His side and see the scars in His hands, before I can fully believe what He is saying. My struggle is today your lesson.

Doubt is one of the biggest weapons of the enemy because he knows he can’t change the nature and truth of Who God is, but if he can just get you to not believe it, then he can change your VIEW of Who God is. This is the trick that worked on Eve. The devil knew that He couldn’t convince Eve that God wasn’t speaking directly to her and Adam. Nor could He get her to believe that God wasn’t giving them specific directions (guiding and ordering their steps), but he saw that if he could get her with the details, if he could get her to question her UNDERSTANDING of what God said, then he could exercise doubt and influence over her. Eve knew what God had said, but she started to question the ‘how’ of it. The enemy convinced her that God was holding out on her and that the only thing that she didn’t have, was the one thing she couldn’t live without it. With just that little seed of doubt, mankind fell.

When I allow God to take back His rightful place on the throne of my life and my heart, He reminds me that ‘no weapon formed against me shall prosper, and every tongue that rises up against me shall be condemned’ Isaiah 54:17. Then he clarifies even more that the weapon of doubt shall not prosper, and the tongue of my enemy, my adversary, the accuser of my soul shall be condemned. Then the peace that surpasses every thought (even mine and yours of doubt), shall continually guard (protects, safeguards, puts up a barrier against outside influences) my heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7. Oh, what peace.

When you feel like you are unworthy to lead, or that you have too many doubts and shortcomings to lead anyone at the place that you are in your life- I will share what the Lord comforts me with. 1 Samuel 22, David is running from Saul and King Achish of Gath and takes refuge in a cave. When it seemed like there was no hope in sight for David, I’m sure he was experiencing some serious doubt and fear of what was next, and may have even questioned His calling–something incredible happens. God sends 400 men for him to lead- men who were desperate, in debt and discontent- and DAVID BECAME THIER LEADER. This rested so powerfully in my spirit. While David was running for his life and struggling to keep his head above water, God saw fit to send him men that were in an even more fragile state of mind than he-to lead. God obviously saw something in David that he didn’t see in himself. God is peering into your (and my own) heart and saying, ‘there’s more in you, I PUT more in you’. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me going is knowing that someone else needs what’s inside of me, MORE than I need to hide it in a cave. In leading these men, David became accountable for their safety and had to push aside his doubts of suitability. God used leadership to push David out of wallowing in pity and into working for His people. My challenge for you is the same challenge that God has to give me more often than I will admit. ‘Get up, get out of your cave, and return to praise!’ (1 Samuel 22:5 Don’t stay in the stronghold. Leave and return to the land of Judah- Judah means praise.)

Matthew 21:21-22 I assure you; if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. FAITH WITHOUT DOUBT MOVES MOUNTAINS.  I know I have mountains that need to be moved and I’m daily strengthening my faith for that. What mountains do you doubt He will move?

I didn’t intend to share any of this, but God has different plans. If exposing my brokenness and need for a renewed mind daily will in turn spark a renewing of just one more believer’s- then God’s purpose has been accomplished. Be blessed. Be healed. Be made whole and set free.

INSIGHT: There is no insight for today. This Word was so powerful for me the day that I wrote and I remember it with tears in my eyes, because the Lord dealt with me seriously on this day. As I re-read it, I realize that I am in a better place, but I still struggle with doubt occasionally. I am reminded that just as God called David in his doubt, He is still calling me.

DAY 13: Losing Your Potentials

Published May 15, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory Verse: And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them Luke 6:31

Psalm: 1

Challenge: Evaluate every relationship that you have with a member of the opposite sex that has a blurred line. Set up a plan to black/white the relationship and set boundaries to not allow it to get blurred again.

            Potential- the act of having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future, the POSSIBILITY of becoming more than it presently is. A Potential in a relationship perspective is that person that is hanging around as more than just a friend, but without the commitment of a relationship. How is this relationship substantiated? That’s just it, it’s not. By not defining it, both parties are free to get what they desire out of the other without the messiness of being accountable for the other person’s feelings or emotions. ‘I mean, we said ‘nothing serious’ right?’ ‘It’s not my fault if they get involved deeper than I am, right?’ WRONG! True, the Bible does say for us to guard our own hearts, not to give it to someone else and pray they don’t break it. But it also speaks of us being accountable for each other and not causing one to stumble, fall into sin, and living at peace with everyone. These two truths don’t contradict, in fact they complement each other. We are to guard our own hearts, as we make sure not to take advantage of someone else’s.

I used to be caught heavy in the potential cycle, because I didn’t know the difference between being alone and lonely. My philosophy was ‘you don’t ride with four tires, you always keep a spare, and you never play the game with an empty bench’. Although I never exclusively dated more than one guy at a time, I had a string of guys that could say emotionally we both had more invested than just a platonic relationship. These were guys that I would hang out with, cook for, go to the movies with, etc- just to have the companionship of the opposite sex. I knew that most of them weren’t ready or worthy to be in an exclusive relationship with me, but we both kept hanging on.

This is a dangerous cycle to get caught in, because you are now emotionally attached to someone that is not meant for you. You are sharing intimate, personal emotions and feelings with someone that has no commitment or accountability to protect that kind of trust. If the shoe is flipped, then you are stealing someone’s emotions when you allow them to date you while you are only hanging out with them. If the lines of a mixed sex relationship are not clearly defined, then the potential to misconstrue intentions and to blur those lines is substantial. Friends don’t kiss, they don’t hold hands in the movies, and they don’t sleep in the same bed with each other-cuddling (with or without your clothes on).

Someone may get a bit irritated by this next statement-and that’s ok…Iron sharpens iron. Dull edges being rubbed off is not pleasant, in most case it’s downright uncomfortable.

You are not a friend if you know that someone has more than friendly feelings for you, and you don’t address it because you don’t want an awkward situation or to hurt their feelings. Understand that their feelings will get hurt if they are already invested, but it will hurt more when you string them along until you find someone that you really want to date, and introduce them. A friend loves at all times, and that is not love to refuse to address a situation that needs to be dealt with. That’s a coward. But don’t worry-we have all done this at some point, so you are not alone in this. The difference is now you know, so you are responsible to fix it.

If you are the potential, take back your power and move on. You deserve to be pursued as a woman and honored as a man. If this person does not feel the need to DTR (define the relationship), then they don’t deserve you. You deserve more, but you have to require it. A person will only treat you as bad as you allow, or as good as you demand. Take your worth and value back as we talked about last week, and treat yourself to better. A piece of a relationship is not better than no relationship, and until you recognize your value you may be tempted to believe this lie.

Un-blur those lines. Now. Before you or someone else gets emotionally attached and you have an even messier mess to deal with, and you possibly lose a friend.

INSIGHT: This whole day is so near. This is an area that God has really grown me from, and one that I daily have to renew my mind in order to keep in perspective. This cycle is so easy to get caught up in, but so hard to get out of. Once your emotions and feelings are attached, it gets easier to ignore those red flags and those things that you would have picked up on earlier. It’s comfortable to have ‘friends’ and to know that someone is thinking of you in this way. But it’s dangerous. For you, for them and for your future mates. No one tricks out a rental car. Why? Because they know that it doesn’t belong to them. That should be the same way we approach every relationship until the Lord says ‘That’s her/him.’ Treat it as a rental, it’s not yours and the Owner will come back to claim it. Look at every relationship as a vehicle to serve a purpose that the Owner has put in the manual. Be mindful of the person that may come behind you, and they deserve to get the best-not damaged goods because of your negligence. That’ll preach. Let it soak in. Good Word, Great God.

Day 12: Cast off into the Deep End

Published May 14, 2013 by lavoniartryon

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Memory Verse: Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

Psalm: 127

Challenge: Think of ‘your list’, those characteristics and traits that you believe your spouse MUST have. Concentrate on one of the most shallow ones that you have, then ask God to allow you to dig deeper. Replace it with a more significant trait, a deeper one.

THE LIST. Everyone has one, even if you won’t admit it, you have one. Those essentials characteristics that you want your spouse to have. Some of them are very valid points and desires, and I don’t think that there is anything necessarily wrong with having these kind of expectations. For example, I want my husband to have a great relationship with his father because I want to dance with him at our wedding and it would be nice to call someone ‘Dad’ after 15 years of rejection by my own. This is a noble desire, and one that I truly want the Lord to fulfill, but I am spiritually mature enough to know that if God does not grant it, it’s because He has a better plan for me, not because He is withholding something from me. Our Heavenly Father gives His children good gifts. If he does not fulfill a desire that is on my list, it’s because it does not coincide with a need that is already on His list for me.

In Luke 5:1-11, Christ calls His first disciples, Simon Peter, James and John as they were fishing. Jesus tells them to ‘put out into the deep water and let down their nets for a catch.’ Peter immediately questioned Christ (He was always questioning something, huh) and informed Him that they had been fishing all night long and still caught nothing. “But nevertheless,” Peter replied that at His word, he would cast the nets.

I don’t believe that Peter decided to follow Christ’s directions because he believed Him, I believe He initially did it to prove to Jesus that He was wrong. Peter and Zebedee’s sons (James and John) were fishermen by trade, they had been doing this for a while, so they knew all the tricks of the trade. They were experts, with two Olympic gold medals in fishing 😉 to show it. They didn’t need no ‘preacher’ telling them how to do their job; but yet Peter cast the net. Even in Peter’s doubts there was something about the nature of Jesus that made Him do what He said, even though he knew it wouldn’t work. And lo and behold, they caught more fish than they could haul in.

INSIGHT: How often do we consciously or subconsciously tell God we can pick a better mate for ourselves than God can? We do this by getting into a relationship that God has not ordained nor arranged, but one that we think meets the characteristics of our list, so we jump in. Then, we bring that relationship to God when it isn’t going the way we believe it should go and ask God to fix it. In my spiritual mindset I hear God saying ‘I didn’t give that to you, so I’m the reason it’s falling apart. I won’t fix something I didn’t ordain for you to have in the first place’. So we sit and watch our relationship crumble, and then we blame God for not bending to our will instead of repenting for not submitting to His. This ‘LIST’ has gotten me into some bad relationships and I have the healed scars to prove it. Even if you don’t think that the method God is taking you on is right, trust that He is right and as Psalm 119:68 says ‘The Lord is good and He does good’. He knows what he is talking about. He woo’d and captured your heart, didn’t He? You can trust Him to take that same care in orchestrating your union.’

I’m sure you can understand how this translates into relationships. Many of us have been dating for a while. I have labeled myself as a Reformed Serial Monogamist, because I was always in a relationship, coming out of one, going into another or had a least 3 ‘potentials’ floating around waiting on their chance. Thanks be to God for deliverance. We often think we know what we want in a mate, those essential characteristics that a spouse HAS TO HAVE in order for them to compatible for us. In a way, we are telling Christ that we can pick a better mate for ourselves, when we don’t consult with Him BEFORE we pick out the China patterns.

We often ask God to bless our choice, instead of waiting on Him to ordain the meeting. What does this mean? It means that we will find the best man or woman that fits the characteristics on our list (whether it is written or mental), and then ask God to bless that relationship, as opposed to asking God to ordain the meeting of our mate. If we would ask first, we wouldn’t need to come behind asking Him to bless our will, because we waited for His.

Vow to do this with your next relationship and see the difference. Allow God to orchestrate the initial meeting and follow His specific directions throughout the entire relationship, and see how ‘deeper’ the relationship is.

Dig in deeper, forget those things that you think you want and allow God to give you what you need. If you hold too tightly to your own agenda, your hand isn’t open for God to give you His Will. Don’t spend any more time as the early disciples did- fishing all night and not catching anything- use God’s Provisional System to direct you and then only ‘let down your net’ once more- to catch the fish that He has waiting for you.

INSIGHT: ‘You’ve tried it your way this long. How is that working out for you? Why not try it His way now?’

Blessings in this journey.

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