On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord. Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command they would break camp and move on. Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses. Numbers 9:15-23 NLT
As we come into the new year it may seem as though everyone around us has such clarity of what this next year will look like. While you’re in a fog. The new year always brings some sense of hope, even to the most hopeless. A chance to start fresh. A resolve to make things right this time around. While at the same there can be a sense of uncertainty. But uncertainty does not have to be hopeless. We are able to go into the unknown without fear. Maybe you haven’t set your goals for the year or made a list of resolutions. Perhaps you’re at a crossroads, and you’ve been there a while. This entire season may be the culmination of your frustrations; waiting on a word from God to move one way or the other. He’s been telling you many other wonderful things…accept the direction you need to go. In this season the work in you is of greater importance than the work through you. If He hasn’t told you to move, maybe He wants you to dwell. The children of Israel did not move until first, the cloud moved. And when the cloud stayed, they continued their work or duty. Continue to be faithful in the work He has put in your hands. His silence is not His disappointment. He has not moved you into your desire because He is restructuring your desire. Your waiting on Him is an act of obedience. It says that you don’t want to be in a place that He is not. In this time are you waiting well; are you settling deep into His presence? Even though you want it to be a transition, are you allowing it to be a transformation? Until the fog lifts stay. Resolve to allow Him to change the way you think. Become the person He wants to move into great things. Be before you do.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:34 NLT
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT
Okay ladies, take a load off. You’re worth it. Here is why I write today. I’ve heard girls say they desire to be loved as Christ loves the church. They want to be a woman worthy of that kind of love. Do you realize what you’re asking of me as a man? And what your are requiring of yourself? Christ died for His love. That’s a tough one to chew on. From both the male and female perspective. It is a far to easy for the enemy to twist this.
For the women. You put this mantle on yourself that you have to be worthy of someone giving up their life for you. Now your worth is determined by what someone is willing to give, rather than what has already been given. Your worth is not determined by the value of a man’s sacrifice. You have to understand this. Christ came when we were still sinners. He chose the unworthy to be His only love. We are made worthy because of His love, not loved because we are worthy. So what happens when your man decides to be selfish? If your worth is tied up in his sacrifice, your going to have a bad day. You’ll be in constant need of sacrifice. Needy people aren’t fun to love. This is why Jesus was sent in the first place. God knew the daily sacrifices of Israel would never satisfy Him. And also why Israel turned away so much, they grew weary of sacrifice. But God, in the greatness of His love did not ask a sacrifice of us. Instead He gave Himself out of His love. Now we give ourselves freely to Him out of love through faith.
For the men. “Is she worth me giving my life up for?” Now we’ve put a standard on women that they feel they have to live up to. No wonder women have a tendency to have self worthy issues. We are on the lookout for the perfect Spirit filled Christian women, that is worthy our life. Is your life worth her perfection? Does your life satisfy the perfection of Christ? Lets say you find the perfect girl, and you give your life to her. What happens when you see her flaws? Now you’ve given your life to imperfection. What does that say about you? This girl you thought was worthy of your life is flawed, what worth does your life have now? Here the question we should ask. “Am I willing to give my life for this girl, flaws and all?” Our sacrifice should be out of love for the girl, not for what she brings to us. To give our life freely with no obligation. That is the goal.
Women, find your value in who you are not what a man gives you. Until you can receive without owing you’re not receiving, but in debt.
Men, find your value in who you are not what you can offer women. Until you can give something without obligation you’re not giving, but lending.
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?
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Phil 4:12-13 NLT
I keep hearing this phrase “I’m content”. It is usually said by people who really aren’t content with where they are. “I’m not where I want to be, but this is where God has me and a has bigger plans for me.” Well, why are we content with where we are when we know God has more? Walk out the bigger plans He has for you, quit being content to sit on you hands while your plans pass by. I wish we could be okay with being discontent. Why would a full person ask for more food? Why would you offer water to someone with an already full glass? Being content with where you are is like taking your half empty glass and pouring it into a smaller glass, instead of filling it up. We listen to lies of the enemy saying where you are is good enough. Do you really believe that God would give you a glass to only be filled half way? He’s not a half empty god, He is the God of filling up and overflowing. I warn you though, don’t simply become content with full glasses. He has bigger glasses He wants to fill for you. He doesn’t want you living off of full sippy cups, He’s got big gulps waiting on you.
Well, where do I find content? Find it in the Lord. In the simplicity of Him being Good. That He’s has promised eternal life to believers. Who or what you find contentment in is who or what you worship. Being content in eternity rather that your situation is where you’ll find peace. Being okay with life sucking while worshipping a good God. My promise bigger than the capacity of the cup I’m holding. Do everything through Christ and He will give you strength. I can drink of Christ and be eternally satisfied, I eat of the Word and be everlastingly full. Be content with the God who fills the glass, not the glass itself. We get a promise from God and we try to sustain ourselves on it, rather than the God who made it. Let us always put God before the promise.