Tag Archives: Boldness

Patient Bravery

“Do you trust me?” Those seem to be my waking words from God lately. I answer yes, but I still question my answer. Of course I trust God, where else can I go? But do I enough to deny the premature fulfillment of the promises of God from an enemy who can’t fulfill them? I’m not even completely sure if I’m in a place to write about trusting God. Then again where there is the greatest potential is where we are attacked the most. In my weakness He is shown strong, and my weakness brings Him glory.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:14 NKJV
 
Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 NLT
 

I read this passage first in the NLT and it hit me. Patience takes courage. My steps toward the promise are no more powerful than my waiting on the promise. I am believing for a promise right now. I have taken what I thought would be smart moves toward it, but have yet to make any significant headway. Have the steps hindered progress, I doubt it. Here’s why, my belief is not in a promise being kept, but in the keeper of the promise. He is faithful to fulfill all that He promises. If the outcome is not what I perceived it to be, it is not because I screwed it up. For if I could screw it up, I would be able to make it right. So if things are not turning out the way I believe they should be, there are two possibilities. The promise I’m believing for is a pose from the enemy, like when satan tempted Jesus with the nations. Or I am not yet prepared for the promise. Believe in a big God, not just for big promises. When we put Our faith in God and not the promise, we give the enemy less room to work with. We put our faith in the promise and the enemy comes in with options of fulfillment. “Surely you won’t die, God is keeping this from you.” But when we put our faith in God the enemy has one option. “God is not God.” If your faith is in God then there is no power in this phrase. Sadly this does work on many people. Maybe not the same words. It could be “God is not listening” or “God doesn’t care”. Which are all lies. We need to find the agreements we have made to allow us to believe those lies. God is God, and He cares, He listens, He sees, and He moves on our behalf. Trust in Him, He is faithful to fulfill all that He promises. In writing this I read the passage again in the NKJV, He said to me I strengthen the heart of those that wait. Again I say it is our weakness that brings Him glory. I must admit that in my waiting I have not been strong, and Holy Spirit gently reminds me. “I am strengthening you to hold the promise you are waiting for. My promises are unbreakable, but they can break those that aren’t ready to hold the fruit. The purpose of my promise is to build you up and for you to stand on. Stand on my promises and you will see the fruit that you are believing for.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about myweaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

Genesis 3:1-7 The Fall of Man
Matthew 4:1-11 The Temptation of Jesus.
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Open Letter to Singles

Stop writing open letters to your future spouse. You marry the person so you can share things that you can’t share with the rest of the world. If you’re willing to share these thoughts intended for your future spouse with the world, what else are you willing to share? As we wait on the gift of being able to share here’s is how I would aim to be single. There are two types of single people. Single and loving it or single and hating it. If you’re single and loving it, then I write to you in hopes that you’re loving it for the right reasons. If you’re single and hating it, then I write to give you hope. You are single for a reason. Learn that reason and have a happier life. There is selfishness in our life that we tend to ignore. We don’t want to let those parts of our flesh die. What I’ve learned from being in relationships (dating, post-dating, friendship and family) is that they will draw those things out of us. In a healthy relationship, those things get called out of and you have help in the battle. Your selfishness will kill your relationships. This is especially true with marriage and children. Now my point is not to make your goal in life to be “marriage material”, but to live up to who God has called you to be. Yes, singleness is a gift, but it’s not an excuse. If your friends have seen your worst and not called you higher, then you need better friends. They are not being friends, but being tolerant. If you feel called to be single, be willing to make people jealous of your singleness. Be a great example to others of how to love well. Jesus was single, but He was also desirable. He is the greatest example of who a husband should be. Clearly He knew how to navigate thirsty people without hurting them. There are wells inside each of us that need to be filled. There is one that thirst for eternity and Jesus is the living water that satisfies its thirst. But there are other wells for relationship and purpose. The well of purpose is only filled by you doing what you’re designed to do. The well of relationship is filled with friendship and family. And a well especially to be filled by your spouse. The depth of these wells are up to you, and being single is your chance dig deep the well of your marriage’s beginning. As unmarried christians we tend view singleness as the season of finding the right person. A wise man told me that dating without intent is practice for divorce. Without intent you get together until the benefits run out then you go your separate ways. I would add that dating with too much intent is practicing for divorce as well. I was ready to marry every girl I was interested in. I thought I was being honorable in doing so. Honorable to the girl, maybe so. Honorable to God and the call He placed on my life, not so much. I was fully committed to girls that I was not supposed to be committed to. The gift of singleness is not happiness up until you find a date or marriage, but to fully engage with what God has placed before you. It is being able to go to coffee without planning the wedding. It is being able to lead and serve without expectation. It’s being able to genuinely tell the opposite sex that you love them without them thinking it’s weird or you want something. Where the motives of your actions come from love and not manipulation. You don’t need to impress someone for them to really love you. Dating should be an invitation to join with you in what God is already doing. Willingness to risk rejection to make the invite can only come from the security of sonship. Don’t wait until you’re married to stop being selfish. Who you are before marriage will be who you bring into it. The truest gift of singleness is preparation for marriage, whether on this side of eternity of the next. The gift of singleness is not a ticket out of marriage. Don’t miss your opportunity to get yourself together before you multiply or step into eternity. The gift of singleness is something you offer your spouse at the altar. What have you saved and prepared to offer them, and ultimately Jesus. Thus the gift of singleness is the sacrifice of marriage without the benefits. Do you still accept this gift? What we need to be asking ourselves daily is, how can I be a living sacrifice today? Blameless and holy, worthy to present myself at the altar. We will all present ourselves to Christ, but some will also present themselves at the altar to a spouse. I know what I offer will never measure up to what I receive, but all the more I will cherish the gift. For I aim to offer my very best. The best I have is all of me, seeking to become more like Christ.

1 John 4:10
1 Corinthians 7:7
Ephesians 1:4

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Harvest Time

Today I harvested olives for the first time in my life. On a hillside in Marcellina, Italy. Some might romanticize the idea of picking olives in Italy. There was nothing romantic about the experience, it was hard work. Let me first say that an experience doesn’t need to be romantic to be fun. This was not a light day of picking olives, but a harvest. And I am going to do it again tomorrow, because it beats walking around looking at monuments in Rome. While I was harvesting today these thoughts came to my mind. As christians we tend to separate our lives into terms of seasons. “I’m in a planting season right now.” or “This is my season of pruning.” (which is actually during or after harvest BTW) But as we all know when we say those things, we are longing to be in our harvest season. To which we think will be our season of rest and receiving. We fail to realize that that harvest season is one of the busiest times. And a good harvest requires hard work, even sometimes specialized equipment. In my work the passage in Matthew 9 came to mind.

Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields.”
Matt 9:35-38 NLT

I thought to myself, why would someone not want to be a part of this great harvest? The reality is we don’t want to be a part of the harvest, but we do want the fruit from it. We want to sit back drink our cappuccino and post cool photos with the perfect scripture. All in hopes that someone’s life will be changed from it. Let me be clear that I am not saying to neglect your social media influence for the cause. What I am saying is, that’s not enough. Jesus said we will do greater works than He had done. If Jesus had social media, first of all He’d have so many followers that Socality would manage his account. Secondly, His ministry would not depend solely on it. Why then would yours? You can’t plant seeds, expect them to bear fruit and expect the fruit to simply appear in your hands one day. When fruit falls off the tree on its own, it has ripened beyond its peak flavor. Social media is a great seed planter, but a bad harvester. You know when a post is planting a seed or sharing bad fruit. A harvest requires workers. All the testimonies I have seen and been a part of from social media went far beyond the reach of post. The harvest of the seed can only be reached face to face. Be the worker that answers the prayer that Jesus prayed in this passage. Go into the fields announce the Good News, heal the sick, teach the confused and helpless. These are His fields and knows which fruit is ready for harvest. Will Jesus be your foreman?

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Self-Service

Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. John 13:3-5 NLT 
 
Self worth is the beginning of seeing value in others. You can’t truly understand the worth of someone else until you see the worth in yourself. Have you ever tried to win a battle for the sake someone else? No matter how hard you try you keep losing. And we try to make their value higher than our own, but the enemy comes in and says you don’t deserve them anyway just give in. Until you find yourself worthy of victory, you will never win. We try to devalue ourselves for the sake of others. We need to first see our own value to understand the value of others. When we see our value and know that all were created equal, we will begin to see the value of others. We can begin to put higher value on others. Knowing your worth and putting and on the shelf for the sake of others is far greater than feeling worthless and putting that on the shelf. If you think low of yourself and you are giving of yourself, you’re not giving very much. You’re saying I’m already down here I might as well serve, you’re then serving to feel better about yourself. Which is self serving. When you have high self worth, you have high value service. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples He wasn’t lowering His value to do so. True servanthood comes from authority, not striving. Service should never come from a place of need, but to a place of need. We’ve all been in the place where our identity is tied up in how much we serve. Instead we need to serve out of who we are, rather than determine who we are out of service. If you stopped serving who would you be? You must first have something, before you can offer something.

When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” John 13:6-8 NLT

Here is a phrase that will go against the grain of cultural Christianity. One of the greatest ways you can honor your leader is to allow yourself to be served by them. The only way you will gain a sense of belonging is to be served. Until you belong you’re not serving, but striving. If you want those you are leading to be servants, then you need to serve them. Service upward is easily turned to brown nosing. While service to the least of these will never turn to that. Until you can receive without obligation, you will not be able to give without it. As a leader my greatest desire is not that those under me serve me, but they serve those under them. If we are only in leadership to receive from those under us, then we are not leading. Serve to create a place of belonging, belonging creates ownership, and ownership breeds a servants heart. We all know that servants make the greatest leaders. Great leaders have nothing to gain, but to benefit those they are leading. Serve your leaders in this way, by serving those below you.

Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” John 13:9-11 NLT
 
True service is never more than it needs to be. To serve beyond someone’s need runs the risk of entitlement. Now let me clarify what I mean by honoring your leader by being served by them. When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples He purposely did not wash more than their feet. He knew exactly how He needed to serve them. He did not take away what was their responsibility. By being served by your leader, I mean that you are submitted to them. When you come under their authority you are allowing them to wash your feet. You are not asking them to take on what is your responsibility. As you walk your feet are going to get dirty. If you’re not making a few mistakes or even failing big time, you’re not moving very much. Not every mistake is a sin. Maybe it’s a process that you’ve never done before and you miss a step. A leader serves you by stepping and showing you where you fell short and how to do better moving forward. A great leader will show your where they fell short and how they moved forward, so you don’t have to. They come down to say how deep that puddle was when they stepped in it, or what potholes to avoid when you turn down certain paths. To come under leadership you need to have prepared yourself to be under that leadership, where they are only needing to wash your feet along your walk with them.

Learn to bathe yourself. Make assessments on your own. This is what I have to offer and this is where I need to clean up. A leader that sets unnecessary criteria for you to belong, an oatmeal bath maybe, is not a leader you want to be under. As a leader you may need to show people how to bathe, but you’re not the one bathing them. You are a feet washer, showing those under you where and how to walk. Empowering them to get their feet dirty, or the better term get their feet wet. Feet get wet from washing. If your feet are dirty, but still dry you may want to ask why. As a leader your greatest pleasure should be washing your followers feet. If feet need washing, then people are going somewhere. Ministry is moving forward.
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Complexity of Modern-day Christianity (Simplified)

How should we respond to refugees, politics, the fallacies on Facebook, my misguided christian friends on social media, my non-christian friends social media, and so on. I’m sure as a bible believing christian you have an answer for all those things. What to say and how to say it. (oh yeah this one, how to navigate the misery of being a single christian) I’m sure what we have to say is valid. But have we over complicated it all? Christianity was not meant to give you the ability to simply be right. If you can win an argument, what have you lost in return? Are we in relationship with Jesus so we can be right on Facebook? What did christians do before Facebook? I know for a fact that I served a lot more than I cared how people responded to a post. Stop posting about what christians should be doing and go be one. (I would put an exclamation point, but that might seem harsh) Stop asking for permission from your followers, and walk in authority from your Father.

John 14 (read it)

Stop worrying about whether or not you have a place. You have been left with the gift of peace of mind and heart. (peace of heart is for the singles) Know Jesus and know the Father. Do good because of your love for the Father, not to be better than the next christian. This is christianity, know Jesus and be Jesus. You should be known for your love, not your knowledge. Be willing to ask anything. You are born to do greater works than status updates. Let your platform be a place of testimony. He has revealed Himself to you and not to the world. Now He lives in you, so reveal yourself to the world and your are revealing Jesus. Share your story not your opinions. I love how this chapter ends. Jesus knew his mission. Even knowing the difficulties of what was set before Him, He still set His mind to do it. That is peace of mind. Knowing what is before you and trusting God through it. Even unto death. “Come, let’s be going.” Let us be known for going, not for knowing and doing nothing except updating our friends on what we know.
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Master of Peace

Every step you take is a step into power. Can this be true? Can I really step out in faith and there be power behind it? The biggest deterrent to stepping out in faith is the doubt that it will even make a difference. The second step may be harder than the first. Every step you take in faith changes you and changes the world around you. We sometimes forget that we stepped out in faith, that is when our feet fail us. When Peter walked on water every step he took literally changed the physics of the world around him. We see Jesus out in a storm and everything in us says get out to where Jesus is. But we forget that Jesus is standing in the midst of a storm. We head His way and all is good, then we look around and think well….this is a storm. We expect Jesus to stop the storm before we make it out him, but He didn’t calm the storm until He was back at the boat. He took Peter through the storm before He calmed the storm. I hate that. I want to walk on water, but calm water. No one wants to walk through a storm. We often mistake the demeanor of Jesus as the condition of the call. In the same respect we should not let the condition of the call determine our own demeanor. We want our step to be what changes the conditions. Peace is the condition of your heart, a raging sea is only a condition of your circumstance. Jesus walked in peace, with every step He took He created peace. But walking in peace is different than walking through a peaceful place. You can walk in peace and be walking through a storm. Two interesting things about peace. One, you can’t walk in peace until you’ve walked through a storm. Two, peace cannot be walked through. Peace is a strong tower. Peace is authority. Peace cannot be shaken. Peace is a position we, as Christians, are entitled to. We are adopted into the inheritance of Christ, and He is the Prince of Peace. He has mastered peace, therefore we also should master peace amidst the storm.

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Persona and Platform in Perspective

I’ve had a few things come up recently that got me thinking. One was an interview of a guy, who had a popular show that I personally didn’t care for. In the interview I discovered that this guy has a tremendous Spirit filled relationship with Jesus. Instantly I became more interested in the show. Another was a TED talk from a guy who has a very different belief system than I do. He started his talk stating some parts of his belief system and how it pertained to his talk. I was very interested in his talk and it was very insightful. But I was tempted to dismiss what he had to say because of his first stated beliefs. Holy Spirit urged me not to dismiss or devalue what he had to say simply for believing differently. I observed these two instances in the midst of the @socalitybarbie increase of popularity. Authenticity and real community have quickly become the height of most conversations, and very much a part of my internal conversation. I viewed my interaction with these two guys in a very unique way.

In our nature we have the proclivity to judge people in one of two ways. We either judge them by their performance or persona, by the image they put out there. The other way we judge is by their beliefs. A persons performance is not necessarily a bad thing. It simply may be the image that the character they are playing has. Someone my host a show as a character and be a totally different person in reality. We see actors do it all the time, they play the role of the protagonist and we don’t hold it against them. The second is a bit more dangerous. We know their belief system and we judge everything they do or say through that lens. Whether or not what they have to say has value, we blow it off because what they believe goes against our beliefs. We let what we disagree with become the thing that comes between what we do agree on. As a follower of Christ, I believe certain things are sin that a non believer will not count as sin. Until they become a follower as well, I cannot hold them the standard I hold myself to. Are they still in sin, yes. Are they acting against their beliefs, no. My job is not to point out how bad their sin is, it is be kind and lead them to the Christ I follow. When someone begins to act against their belief, that is when we can call people out. Jesus didn’t go through a casino and turn over the tables, He went into the church where they were using religion to steal money. Stealing is wrong in both places, but one is structured around taking people’s money. Until the casino believes that taking people’s money is wrong it will continue to take it. Let’s be honest though, if a casino gets your money it’s your own fault. We’re getting into legal vs. moral issues now. The reverse is also true. Someone may present something we wholeheartedly believe in, but at the core you have very different beliefs. My warning is to not let the fact that someone is presenting a single mutual ideal lead you to believe that you are kinsmen. See people in their wholeness and their hurt. The masks that people hide behind are only a reflection of their pain. Whether you believe the same thing or not, don’t let it get in the way of enjoying each others company. Live by your convictions and lead your friends to Christ through your love for them.

This is where @socalitybarbie comes in. Her account is based on the following. Instagammers are posting photos that are or seem to be staged with tags such as #liveauthentic or #adventure. Her frustration, some of these grams are not authentic and staged. Her solution, call out the inauthentic by making fun of it and being exaggeratedly inauthentic. She now has the popularity of all the accounts she makes fun of thru this exaggerated inauthenticity. I ask this of @socalitybarbie, to steward her influence well. She is now heard, and what she has to say can either keep people in check or simply become inauthentic. She must remember her beliefs and why she started. She got me thinking about the point of all the social platforms. It reminded what exactly they are, social platforms. In the same way someone can have their own show or share a TED talk, social media is your platform to share your beliefs and your persona. The original intent of social media was to keep people connected, but is has become so much more than that. My human brain can only keep a handful of healthy relationship before some begin to fall off. No computer program can help me with that. No matter how much of someone’s status I see, our relationship is my responsibility. Relationships are maintained through communication not status updates. Social platforms really have very little to do with real relationships. They are the platform for which people watch their friend’s personas. If you stage a photo, this doesn’t mean your whole life is staged. This is the way you choose to use your platform. If you don’t share all your darkest moments, this doesn’t mean all your days have to be primrose and daisies. The greater your platform the more cherished your privacy. You’re not going to tell the world what you tell your closest friends. That comes against the intimacy needed for healthy relationships. Don’t let the fear of being inauthentic keep you from expression. Don’t live life through your platform, live life through real relationships. Use your platform to share what you love. Whether that’s pictures of your kids or of your Kinfolk magazine. Remember this, everything you do sends a message whether you share it or not. If you have 100 or 100k, people are listening to you. Jesus only sought to influence 12 men, yet He changed the world.

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Love the Adventure

So you want to go out and change the world? Have you changed the place you’re leaving? We want to go on great adventures and make an impact on the people we come in contact with. We want to give prophetic words and heal people. But have you loved? Can those you’re in touch with now say they’ve been loved by you? We think healing and prophesy is hard when it’s not. When you love, those come easy. It’s loving that is hard. To love someone is to give yourself to that person. To love God is to give your life up to Him, and to love another is to give what He has given you. We love only because He first loved us. We expect there to be a change when we leave one place for another. But unless we are first changed we are never really leave a place. And places where you experienced change never really leave you. Two things that travel with you, your pain and your love. The key is to choose what to do with them. We have to carry one and face the other. The one we face causes us to carry the other. What you carry is what you offer. Until we carry Love we cannot face the pain of others. Are you offering them pain or Love? When we face our pain, Love is placed upon us. When we carry our pain, Love gets in our face. Love will not let you carry your pain, for Love desires to be carried. Every place you go, Love wants to go with you. Until you come face to face with your pain, no matter where you go you will experience it there. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love goes with you where you carry your pain. Staring you in the face not with shame or guilt, but with the desire to see your pain healed. Love wants to see your pain, and turn it into compassion. Where you’ve experienced healing, take it to the hurting. Dive into the adventure that is Love. Adventure is all around, not just around the globe. Don’t miss out on the adventure of who is in front of you. The where of adventure will always be there, but the who of adventure may not be. See the sights, but neglect to give sight to the blind. Desire to prophesy, but first love. Change the world one heart at a time.

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Dating Strangers

When I was 22 I got this idea, I wanted to go on a date with a complete stranger. I set out on a mission, find a girl I don’t know that’s not crazy and ask her out. It’s harder than its sounds. All the sain ones usually don’t date strangers. So the key was to ask without being creepy. It’s difficult when you’re up against stranger danger engrained in people by their parents. I found someone though. She was on Instagram, I followed her for a while (creepy right?) and she seemed to be a cool person. I saw that she was going steady with God and she lived close by. So I gathered the courage to ask, I sent her the message (while trying to sound the least creepy). I explained what I was trying to do and left it in her hands. It turned out she had a boyfriend…..whatever (at least post a picture of him). Well, that was that. My little dream of dating a stranger was gone. Oh how little I knew of God’s faithfulness. Not two months after that I was caught by surprise. I met another strange girl (that didn’t come out right). We met after church and hit it off immediately. I asked her to coffee the next night. We ended up not even getting coffee, we got pizza and popsicles instead (pizza is a bad choice for a first date by the way). I didn’t realize till the end of the night, but I was on a date with a stranger. It’s turns out it’s much easier than it sounds.

As christians we put a massive weight on dating. We don’t want to date anyone unless we are going to marry them. If that is true, I hope you’re ready. You’ve got one shot to make this right. It’s not impossible. You will have to make sure that your heart is ready and have really good timing. I know of a few people who have been able to do so, but I can’t say they weren’t interested in other people up until they met that person. When they did meet, they were ready to make a move. But not everyone is like that, in fact most of us aren’t. We want to date only one person ever, but how do we know unless we know you know? We don’t have to listen to the christian faux pas that dating more than one person in your lifetime is shameful. Because if you date them you have to marry them. I’m sure that’s in Leviticus somewhere. The truth is it’s okay to date people, learn from these relationships. Here’s another fun fact, you don’t have to only have dating relationships with the opposite sex. You need those key friends that are the opposite gender, learn from these relationships. Men and women think and understand differently…..mind blown! Do you really expect to enter into your first dating relationship, marry the person and not run into differences? Especially if you only hang out with the same sex as you, and then you enter that relationship. For all you know the signals you’re reading from that person are completely opposite of what you think they are. Some people really do just want to be friends with you, be open to that. Go ahead date some people, but don’t date everyone. Dating is risky business though, and there are safe ways to take those risk.

Four days/dates after our first date I asked her to take a risk with me and be my girlfriend. At first she said she wasn’t sure. I got a text later that night that she was in. I was elated, I found my wife! Four days in and I’m ready for forever. We ended up dating for 3 months, and they were good. Definitely one of the better things I’ve done in my life. We had a lot of fun together and had lots of really awesome conversations. We both learned (me more than her) how to take each other out boxes that were created by past relationships. Everyone thought we were going to get married. We would’ve and been very content to do so. I really liked her and she liked me. Much to our surprise God had a better plan. All of our friends were very surprised as well. Why then would this seemingly good thing, that everyone was for, need to end? From the very beginning I knew we weren’t supposed to be more than friends, but I wanted more. I dove right in and I pursued her to the best of my ability. I believed my plan was better than the plan God had for me. It was good why wouldn’t it be God’s plan? So I ignored what I felt God was saying and we kept dating. The night before we broke up we had a worship night at church. I went to the back to get alone with God and he reminded me again that I needed to let her go. I told God “I surrender everything. But her.” STOP….wait did I just say that? Immediately I knew that wasn’t right. So I commenced to figuring out how to surrender to God and keep the girl. “Well, if I submit her to God and allow Him to lead her through me, then I’ll be more self-sacrificing and serve her more…yeah that’ll work. Okay God I’ve surrendered her to you.”

Alrighty then! To start, God doesn’t need me to lead her, He needs me to be obedient. I can’t lead her if I’m not obedient. She doesn’t need me for her to be led by God. God chooses who He leads through and as a man you don’t have to date a girl to lead her. Lead in obedience, if you’re not going where God wants you to go you’re going the wrong direction. Whoever is following you is going to go the same direction you are. Also, God doesn’t need more self-sacrificing people, He needs obedient people. How serving would I be if I led her down a path where the end goal was to keep her? I was willing to give up the plan God has for me to keep the girl. Obeying God doesn’t equal sacrifice, it may require a sacrifice but the result is victory. “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22 NLT) Will you let go of what you’re holding onto, to let God give you what He is holding for you? Good things are not always God things, and just because everyone is for it doesn’t make God for it. She is an awesome person and was an awesome girlfriend to me. Even so, she couldn’t be who I needed her to be, and I couldn’t be who she needed me to be. My walk is different from hers. Our paths collided yes, but they were not meant to merge. This is why there is so much bad traffic. All the right signals are being sent, but your destinations are different. When you assume someone is going the same place you are and you try to make them go that way, traffic jams happen. You have relational rubber necking. Your on your journey and someone catches your attention on the service road. You want them to get on the highway with you, when they really need to get to the store on that exit. Have you ever been in the car and you see someone cute drive by? They get in your lane and you little heart cries “DESTINY!” Well, the only way you’re going to meet them is to rear end them. Unless, of course you’re going to the same place. That’s a different story, and somewhat to my point. Just because you have similar driving patterns doesn’t mean you have the same destination. Unless everyone is going to the same destination you’re unable to carpool. Also no matter how good your destination is, does not mean everybody is meant to go there with you. Let not your heart be troubled, someone out there really wants to go where you’re going. Will you be going there or simply be on the side of the road waiting on someone to be your spare tire? No one wants to be driven all over. Get some fresh tires and get on the road. People will only join the journey that’s going somewhere. If a relationship is your destination let it be with God, not a guy or a girl. Don’t let gas money be the first thing you ask for in a relationship.

Your relationships are meant to raise the bar not lower your standards, both for yourself and those you’re in relationship with. When we broke up one thing she said to me was, “You certainly raised the standard for the guys I date.” Mission accomplished! If that cannot be said in the break up, its begs the question of why you’re dating. Not all dating relationship you have will be your spouse. In that case, you are simply a part of that persons journey before they meet their spouse. Be a force that pushes that person forward. I would much rather my wife date ten guys that treated her with purity and helped her grow, than one guy that does the opposite. A friend once told me that we to often pursue relationship for our own sake and forget to offer anything in return. What if we pursued relationships for the sake of the other person? If we put the other person first from the beginning, how much pain could we avoid? Are you willing to play the role God has for you in that person’s life without benefiting from it?

You choose who gets to hurt you. Guard your heart, but you have to let people in at the same time. You have to be willing to show yourself knowing full well that this person can crush your heart. The key is finding someone who will guard your heart as well as you do. This means taking a risk, letting someone take your heart and hold it for a while. Will you do it intentionally? If you purposely let that person hold your heart you can more easily take it back. If you do it unintentionally that person will slowly get a tighter grip on you, and when you try to leave you’ll break it trying to pry it out of their hands. This is why it’s so dangerous to fall in love, who knows who’s going to steal your heart. If you feel as though you heart has been stolen and not won, then go get it back quick before they run off. Don’t fall in love, walk into love. Make the conscious decision. You don’t even have to be dating the person for them to have a grip on your heart. One thing I hate is the phrase “We’re talking.” What are yall talking about? Come on! Chances are you’re just buttering the other person up, either to get them to say yes when you ask them out or give them a reason to ask you out. Ladies if you have to convince him to ask you out, wait just a little longer for someone who can see you for who you are and still muster the courage to ask you out. Gentlemen if you’re not sure she’ll say yes, ask yourself “Is she worth the risk?” Quit talking about it and go on a date already. Don’t string the other person along, you’re stealing their heart and you don’t even know it. If someone has a grip on your heart and they have no idea who you are, let them go! Who has the tighter grip, God or someone else? When God has the grip on your heart you can trust Him. He has the most firm and gentle hands. He can hold you close and hold the enemy back. He’ll always pursue you and never pressure you. If you spend your time trying to convince them of who you are then your trying to win their heart by what you’re doing and not by what God’s doing. Have a little faith that God is doing a work in them that you can’t. And remember that God is working in your heart as well. It’s not always them that needs to make the change. The reason things aren’t going well and you’re not making headway, just might be that God is wanting to make some headway in your heart first.

Keep it a mystery ladies. The more I know about your body the less I want to know about your heart. You expect guys to want your heart but you offer your body first. If he can’t pursue the heart without the enticement of the body then he’s not really after your heart. You expect us to have clear vision and be leading you, yet you’re clouding the view. Trust me your body is fine, you don’t have to show me. The heart is the goal, it’s beauty surpasses the body. The body will fall apart but the heart grows in beauty daily. Men don’t want to commit to a body, they want to commit to a heart. This is why porn easily gains a hold in our lives, it negates the need to commit to a single person. We begin to not even see the heart when it walks by. Gentlemen, leave it a mystery. Be okay with not knowing what’s behind the curtain. What you take from her you’re stealing from her husband. Whether she’s a porn star or your neighbor, it being on the internet does not give you the rights to it. Even if you know your going to marry her, you’re not until you are. You have no rights to anything until you make a covenant. If you go with the intent to get behind the curtain, you’ll lose every time. Every time you walk away a piece of your heart is left behind the curtain. Don’t try to feel whats behind it either, until you can lift the veil don’t touch the curtain. The trouble comes when we commit to a body and later the heart is revealed. We’ve committed to something that will fall apart and so goes the relationship. I say this not to pigeon-hole the ladies into khaki skirts and turtle necks. But to let the beauty of your heart more exposed than your body. Guys, don’t let your heart be stolen by overexposed bodies. There’s hearts to be won, are you will to fight for them? Let’s talk about first. First are way better than agains. My first kiss gone, given to my first girlfriend. I don’t get it back. The more first you give away the less you get to share with your last. First are a precious commodity. They’re low supply and high in demand. The enemy is hungry to steal your first, he knows the more you give away the less you have to offer at the altar. Let me be clear, I’m not just talking about sex. Remember when you were an adolescent and thinking how awesome it would be to hold their hand? I’m talking about every first, first hand you hold, first kiss, first time to that one restaurant in that quaint part of town, and of course first time to have sex. The last one is the most precious of all, and the only one that falls under sin out of wedlock. Could you imagine being fully committed to someone, and someone has already stolen what you have the right to? We’re the ones stealing it! The more you give away, the more you take from your spouse. The only way can keep it all safe is not by locking it up, but by committing it to God. Trusting Him with everything, so when He says don’t give them that you listen.

We did break up after three months, but we kept the loss to a minimum. We were able to walk away from the potential rights of a covenant and into a continued friendship. We kept the heart the main goal, and when the trajectory of our hearts didn’t align we walked our separate ways. Still able to see each other and cheer for the other person as walk their path. This did not mean complete absence of heartbreak. Anytime you separate from someone on your journey they are going to take a piece of your heart with them. The key is what part of your heart do they walk away with and can they steward it well. Let people walk hand in hand with your heart, not walk all over your heart. Everyone is a stranger before you meet them. Will you introduce yourself?

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Love You…Like a Sister..

“Lord I pray for my future husband” I’m sure most single women have prayed that. The single lady’s prayer. To be honest us single men need it, cause prayer changes things and Lord knows we need to be more self-aware. Especially if we want to woman we’re praying for. The prayers normally will go towards character or loving kids. If we’re really serious about it, we’ll pray the we would the perfect person for them. Deflection at its finest. The honest prayer is that they’d be physically fit, be mature, and make enough money to go on adventures…but not too much money. Don’t want to be over zealous. Here’s some thoughts from a guy that might fit what you asking for, but hasn’t asked you out yet. Don’t worry he’ll ask, don’t be afraid to say yes. Also, he’ll ask. If he’s holding something in front of you that he’s not ready to offer you completely, walk away you’re worth more than that. The interest of a guy is not a reflection of your worth. Just because I see incredible value in you does not mean I want to date you. I’m not interested in giving half of my heart to someone. So I will not peak your interest beyond friendship unless I’m ready to go to the end of that street. If he can’t see your worth, is he worth your time? Cuteness does not stand on its own.

We’ve all heard the phrase, at least if you’ve been in the church world long enough, “You have to love her as a sister before you can love her as a girlfriend.” Well, I heard it a few times. It really didn’t make sense to me for a long time. First off, I don’t want to make out with my sister! Also I’m almost 101% sure my sisters don’t want to date me. So, I asked God what He thought about this thought process. I was walking in my backyard when He answered with these questions, “Conan, would you want your sisters to date a guy like you, and can you be a reflection of the type of guy you want them to date and eventually marry?” Talk about stopping in my tracks and really disliking those questions. But at the same time loving them. He wasn’t saying I disapprove your current position in your character, but I want you to advance your position into my character. Character development is not destroying who you are to be like Christ, but coming into the realization that you are Christ. His character is your character, development is letting your flesh that died when you came to Christ decompose. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) I had begun to come the realization that loving someone has nothing to do with sex. Bringing me back to the question of loving as a sister from a new angle. Can I love, pursue, and care for my sisters as I would do so for a girl that I wanted to date?

This came at a critical time for me and my youngest sister Juliette. I was a bad brother to her. Everything she did would get on my last nerve. This was because I only had a last nerve. I was mad at the world and took it out on her. I’m still not complete sure what was mad about, but that day in the backyard God stepped in to say don’t take it out on my daughter. I wasn’t a perfect brother right then, but God began to give me more nerves. I began to show fruit from the part of me that He was bringing to life. Bad fruit is a reflection of the dead parts of your old self that are breathing your air. Let God trim the decay, so your spirit can breathe life. I began to step outside of myself when I interacted with my sister. Seeing the situations from a new angle. No longer letting my frustration interact with her frustration. Seeing her for who she is in Christ and not as an annoying sister. Allowing me to call out Christ in her. Thus bringing clarity and not more frustration. When frustration is met with frustration the reaction in repelling. Which will destroy your relationships. When frustration is met with Christ, the reaction is conductive, or a transmission of impulses along nerves. You are able to transmit the impulse of Christ, where two different temperances meet to create the greatest possible reaction. Learning this lesson has brought a consistency in my temperance and helped with so many relationships, both with friends and girlfriends alike.

I lived with my middle sister Lacy for just over two years. We got along much better than Ju and I did. But getting along isn’t a reflection of the health of the relationship. My conviction on this came many years after the backyard. I found that I was sharing so much of myself with my friends, and almost nothing with the sister I was living with. This part of me was much simpler to bring to life. It was a placement of value that needed to be adjusted. Creating equal quality of time spent with her that I was giving to my friends. I say quality and not amount on purpose. A minute of refined time if worth hours of un-mined time. You can spend hours with a person still know nothing about them. These are the people you meet for the second time and you forget you met them, even though you spent the day together. The blame lies on the person who forgets, because you neglected to put any value on the time you spent with them. Value can only be put on time in the moment. With my sister it was allowing myself to be present in the moments we had together. Like the one night a week I was home or the few weekends I didn’t have plans. It’s saying you have value in my life, so I choose to make you a part of my social schedule. Not filling every moment that I was not alone with only my friends. Allowing her to see aspects of me that I was sharing with others. It is so easy to say, she’s my sister and she knows me, so I don’t need to share myself with her. But you only share what your willing to tell. I cannot make investments in my friends that I’m not willing make in my sister. Also allowing the moments for her to share herself. Not letting the community spaces of our apartment to be only filled with a community of one. This is a recipe for getting locked out, like the time she was locked out for 30 minutes because I was reading in my room. She got a doorbell after that. Separation creates space for isolation. Time spent together creates room for communication.

Through my oldest sister, Harmony, I learned the value of showing appreciation. She is a hella good cook and the most caring person I know. I remember having a conversation her when I was 17 or 18 about my struggles with porn. She didn’t skip a beat, she didn’t allow shame into the conversation and poured out the Love and Grace of the Father. Though I was a recipient of these things, it didn’t mean I received them well. Accepting a gift is not the same as receiving a gift, and saying thanks is not always showing appreciation. Being able to say what you appreciate is just as important as showing. What you offer in return is just as important as receiving it. When she has put time and effort into the care given, she has put a value on that time. How you receive will either enrich or devalue what is given. For me it was simply breaking the silence. Not only eating the food, but offering a compliment to the food. At the very least an honest opinion about it. Along with this, offering my talent to her as well. Being willing to hang her pictures and mow her lawn without expectations. Hopefully communicating to her that she is worth taking care of. I must apologize to her future husband, I’m pretty sure I set the bar pretty high. As well as for my other sisters, sorry guys.

As for my sister-in-law. I really didn’t like her at first, which made for quite the hilarious best man speech. There’s no such thing an irreconcilable difference. Yes we may approach things differently, but it boils down to whether or not the approach really matters to goal. Plus there may have been a sense of her stealing my bother I had to get over. The presence of difference is not a loss of love. You don’t have to win to come to a place of understanding. Her and my brother are one now, and if she was not around their would be a part of our family missing. In fact I only include the in-law part to help the you the reader understand. Loving her is loving my brother, and vice versa.

All of these lessons in turn have helped with my relationship with women overall. Being able to offer love without an expectation. As well as being able to make investments, offer strength, and be a brother without having to date them. Dating is not a requirement for loving. Saying you love a girl is not saying you want to marry her. Also the words “I love you” don’t need to be said for them to be communicated, neither is saying it communicating it.* Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 (ASV) The goal in loving the women in your life should not be to marry one of them, but to raise their bar of what it looks like for a man to love. Communicating the care a husband is supposed to give. Make it easy for the sisters in your life to recognize if a man if worth spending the rest of their life with. If you can love a woman without any expectation of sex, how much easier will that make your marriage. For then you will not be showing the signs of love for sex, but actually loving your wife. Plus you’re wife is more than just the person you sleep with, why would you only love her for that. If sex is all you’re looking for in showing love, then you will never be satisfied. Then you are loving sex, and sex is not meant to be loved. But to be an expression of love. And abstaining from it before marriage expresses love just as much, if not more, as it does having it within marriage. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. ‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭25-30‬ (NLT) Christ gave up His life before He received His bride.

To my sisters, as you pray for your husbands. Ask that he loves his own body, especially those around him. That those around him are loved by him. If a man is despised by his friends, then he’s not worth your time. You will only like him as much as his friends do. Look for the man who will lay down his life for his friends, if he won’t do it for them he won’t for you. And you’re worth dying for.

To my brothers, give your life up already. Be bold and ask the girl you’re interested in out, you won’t get a yes until you ask.

*when you say “I love you” to a girl you crossing into emotionville. It’s a crazy town with lots a of one way streets and no u turns. Make sure both parties know how to navigate the map before you say anything. And know which roads are closed. How you say it is just as important as saying anything at all.

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