Tag Archives: faithful

I Want Out but There’s No Bench

I was on the road home from the shop talking to God about my business. The stresses of paperwork and accounting mostly. To some that may be a piece of cake, but for me it takes tremendous effort. “Father can I just give it up? Take a tent into the woods and be a hermit for the rest of my life. To permanently assume the fetal position.” To which He responded with a no and the quintessential affirmation that I am His son. It was in that moment I realized that I had been under spiritual attack. And I was allowing myself to lose. Anytime I have desired to assume the fetal position I have heard God say rise and walk. Most would say when you feel that way you should crawl into the Father’s arms and be loved by Him. Yet we are told to enter boldly into His presence. When we feel this way is when God goes into “tough love” mode. When He pours out identity on you, and you are forced to believe it or drown with what you’re holding onto. The Father’s arms are a place for comfort and rest, but He loves you too much to coddle you through life. He will not keep you from growth. These are also the times when the enemy is most prevalent in pouring out lies. Like “God is not with you through this.” I was reminded of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and my eyes were opened to the greater application than just a children’s story.

Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy.So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.”So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius!We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions. Daniel 6:3-7 NLT

Even though he did he everything right and had incredible character traits, his enemies found reason to hate him. And perverted the law to kill him. There will soon be, if not already, laws like the ones that these administrators and high officials made. Designed solely to find you at fault for your faith. This will not be a time where we need to be coddled in the Father arms, but a time to stand in confidence of who you are. Remember this, Daniel did not search for a way around the law of the land. He continued in the discipline of his relationship with God. Seeking His guidance, while not hiding to appease the law.

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God. Daniel 6:10 NLT

Why did God not honor Daniel’s faithfulness and not allow him to go to the lions den? We often highlight the end of the story of Daniel surviving the lions den. But we forget that Daniel still was put in a lions den. We believe God will save us from the lions den, yet when we get in it we get devoured. Forgetting the faith we had to be saved from it to get through it. We try to bend God’s will to our circumstance, rather than our circumstance to God’s will. We want to be saved from the very thing that will strengthen our trust in God. A hypothetical faith that has not been tested cannot be proven. A faith that says you will be saved from every storm is no faith at all. But a faith that says that God has complete control through the storm is mighty.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

God is not the author of bad things. The administrators and high officers authored the law that put Daniel in the lion’s den. You see Daniel’s purpose was greater than his circumstance. This is how we must face every lion’s den, with the purpose God has set for our lives. You wonder why you keep getting devoured in the den. When you let the den define who you are then the den determines the outcome. But when you let your purpose define who you are then the den has no power. God used Daniel’s den to expedite the purpose He had for him.

Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! “I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel. For he is the living God, and he will endure forever. His kingdom will never be destroyed, and his rule will never end. He rescues and saves his people;he performs miraculous signs and wonders in the heavens and on earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:25-28 NLT

So often we are unwilling to walk through the den to the miracle. As I titled this, there is no bench in this life. You can either walk in such a way that you avoid the lions dens of this world and see very little miracles, or you can charge forward into the dark places and see miracles illuminate your path?

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Easter the Great Love Story

“Dad, I’m in love and I want her to be my bride.” “Tell me about her.” I remember the first conversation I had with my Father about you. It’s a moment that has never diminished in excitement for me. I look back and laugh at the fact that I am more in love with you now than I was then. “Well Dad, I must admit she’s not perfect. Actually, she’s dying and will never be able to reach me. But I can’t stop thinking about her. The very thought of our separation consumes me. How do I win her over Dad?” “I know who you speak of, they are as dear to me as they are to you. There is only one way. You have to bear the very thing that is separating the two of you. You have to give your life in place of their’s. Son, to take on all of this mean to be separated from me.” When I heard these two things I realized, the breadth of this task and that you were worth all of it. To be separated from my Father. I always knew what this meant, but the reality of the agony is beyond comparison. Even greater was this pain to being beaten. You have to understand the intimacy of my Father and me. I have be with Him from the beginning, when He started I was there, and when He finishes I will be there also. We never do anything apart from each other, and I had to be forsaken by Him. The one thing that got me through it was the thought of you. I look back on those three days with pure joy, because I knew that I would be able to invite you into what my Father is doing. That you would be able to do greater works than I ever could. “Son, the only way for this to work is for you to overcome death.” “I know. I have a plan for that too.”

Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning,just at sunrise, they went to the tomb.On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” Mark 16:1-3 NLT

The plan to win your heart has been in place for eons, and it’s never changed. To become everything that is keeping you from His Love. To take what you deserve and replace it with what you can never earn. Today you may feel the Jesus wooing your heart, but there is something in the way. Here is the truth when they went to the tomb, they also wondered who would move the obstacle in their way. Just as the stone was rolled away for them, so also is anything you may feel is in your way. You don’t have to be good enough or straighten up. This is Love, ready to fight for your heart before you have reciprocated. He is inviting you in. Not into just an empty tomb, but resurrection power. All you need to do is invite Him in. Admit that you have a sin in your life and repent. Believe that Jesus is your savior. Confess that He is Lord of your life. Don’t worry about the all rules. Love and be loved, and listen to His voice and obey it.
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Love you…Like the Church

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Joy Through the Promise

What does Joy look, sound and feel like? It’s not simply putting on a smile and singing happy songs. I can do that and still be depressed or bitter about one thing or another. Does happiness equal joy? I wrestled with this thought for awhile. I know that Joy is our strength, but does that mean we simply grin though trails? Whether that be temptation or painful circumstances. For Joy to get us through something, it has to be something tangible that we can hold onto. A strong point that we can tie off to when the winds and the waves come crashing in. The essence of Joy beyond the feeling of elation it is an unshakable trust. Trust is the backbone of Joy. Being able to rejoice in what is not seen. Everything we do and say stems from this core. What the enemy does is attack it with fear and doubt. Getting us out of alignment. When we are out of alignment we respond from a misaligned place. We respond through pain and not through Joy. We have to get ourselves back into alignment. Fear says you can’t and doubt says it wouldn’t matter if you did. The truth is you can and it matters that you do. Joy is not birthed from a the result of an action. Joy comes from being able to do what God is asking no matter the outcome. Not putting our faith in the outcome, but in the God who controls the outcome. Joy is knowing that you are delighted in no matter if you fail or not. Joy is a little boy walking up to a tee with the strut of a MLB player. He is not confident in his stats, he has none because he’s eight. His confidence is in his father that is sitting in the stands. He knows that no matter if he hits it out of the park or fouls it, his father is cheering him on. His dad is not delighted that his son performs well, but simply because he is on the field and he is his son. We put so much confidence in our performance that when we fail we think God is disappointed. We hide behind our stats, when they go down we think His delight in us goes down as well. Eventually it will take us out. We won’t even want to play anymore. 

Often we try to avoid the juggling act. We want to keep everything up in the air and balanced. But we miss understand juggling. It’s not an act of keeping things in the air, but throwing things up and letting them fall. It’s the rise and the fall that gives the illusion of things suspended in the air. We expect everything to stay up, that is why we fumble. We want it all to stay up, we throw it all in the air expecting it to stay. When it falls we frantically try to pick it up and in that process everything else falls. Then we say, let it all fall and God will take care of it. I just won’t even try to juggle. Stop, just stop. Letting things fall apart is not trusting God. Trusting God is being unafraid to catch what is coming your way and unafraid to let go of what needs to be tossed to God. Juggling is misunderstood because we think we have to keep our eyes on our hands to be successful. In actuality you have to keep your eyes up to juggle well. Knowing where your hands are you see the ball at it’s peak and you know where it will land. An awareness of where everything is. If we were to translate this into our lives. One hand would be you and the other God. The ball would be trials, opportunity, or blessings. Know where you are and know where God is, and keep your eyes on eternity. See what God is tossing your way and how it affects eternity then catch it. The most important part of catching is having an open hand to do so. To have an open hand you have to release what you’re holding on to now. Toss it up, watch as it arcs across your eternal perspective. But when it leaves your line of sight, trust that God is going to catch. So often we perceive God through our mistakes, if I fumble the ball surely God will fumble it too. We have it backwards, we are made in His image not He in ours. We need to perceive ourselves through His perfection, He doesn’t fumble the ball so I am capable of not fumbling it. We try to watch it all the way into God’s hand to see what He does with it and we lose perspective. When we lose perspective, things seem as though they fall apart.

So much I’ve tried to figure out. How will this journey end what will it look like? What am I missing trying figure out the future? We often step out in faith with this big picture in mind of what God is going to do with this step. Mid way through it the questions begin. If we were to put a twist in the juggling analogy for a bit, and say that the ball is our perspective. We are nestled in God’s hand and He whispers, “Hey I want you to do something great.” Then we step out in faith, He tosses up. At the peak of the arc we see the big picture and become filled Joy for what He is going to do. Then we catch the ball, we are walking out what was asked of us. But where is God, what is He doing? We want God to be doing the big picture things right now, right in front of us. Well He is doing those things, maybe not right in front of us. This is where Joy comes in. Being able to trust what God is doing with what you have let go of. Remembering the elation of being in His hand. Avoid being caught up with the results or the stats. So often we search for the results of the promise given and we forget the one who gave the promise. Even the greatest examples of faith didn’t hold onto what was promised, but who promised. All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. Hebrew 11:13 Long for heaven but don’t long for the end. Welcome the promise, don’t worship the promise. Want for God, not what He can provide.

Will we be like Abram and try to conceive the promise through his doubt. Which has caused much turmoil for many generations. The size of the promise will be the size of the problem if we try to conceive it in our own time. Or will we be like Joseph and trust the promise is coming, outside of his timing inside a prison. I’m sure Joseph had his doubts, the difference is he never acted on those doubts. Rest assured that no matter how we wait on the promise or what doubts we act on, God always comes through. God gave Abram a new name and followed through with the promise.

He’s preparing us for the promise: Joseph learned the Egyptian language and how to manage both a household and a prison.

He’s putting purpose to the promise: Joseph came to terms and forgave his brothers, and saved his nation.

He’s pulling our pretexting from the promise: God showed Joseph his dreams were about more than being worshiped. 

Let’s get back to tee ball. Your Father wants to see you on the field. Whether you hit a home run or strike out, He is there to cheer you on. Your performance doesn’t change the outcome of the game. We are playing in a game that has already been won. How much we win by is up to us.

(Don’t take this as me advocating the “everyone’s a winner” philosophy. Every game has a loser. It’s just not us when it comes to eternity)
Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Gifting Without Boldness

How often do we have the gift but lack the boldness to use it? We know we have gifts, but we don’t believe in ourselves enough to use it. Boldness is being able to put your gifting into action. There’s a big difference in having a gift and using a gift. It is like having a gift card and leaving it in your wallet. You know the value of it and what you can get with it, but unless its used it is just a plastic card in your wallet. The greatness that God has put in you is only limited by your expression of it.

Boldness does not come from training and education. The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 (NLT) Boldness comes from ordinary people who have been with Jesus. When we depend on training we will only do what we’ve been trained to. We will never innovate or do anything new, and when training fails us we will have nothing to lean on. When we lean on Jesus for the leverage we need, that is when breakthrough happens. We are able to push past the boundaries of the situation and allow Glory to shine on it.

Boldness is a necessity for growth. And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:29-31 (NLT) You may have to do something bold before you see any growth, by may I mean you will. Every breakthrough you have and will ask for is the conduit that God will use to have His Word preached. His Word is necessary for your breakthrough, in the same way your breakthrough is necessary for His Word to be preached. Without your breakthrough His Word is void, and His Word does not return void. Without your breakthrough His Word is not preached, for it is through the word of our testimony that the Word is spread. Through His blood and our testimony is the only way those around you will see breakthrough. We need boldness to share our testimony, that boldness comes from our breakthroughs. We so often expect God to stretch out His hand on our behalf when we have yet to stretch out our own. It’s a beautiful cycle. Be bold, God moves, in turn He gives us more boldness.

It is now up to us what we do with the new found boldness. Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (NLT) We cannot leave breakthrough veiled, for that will leave hearts hardened towards God. We have to be masterful with our boldness. Using it to soften the hearts of men. Boldness without a breakthrough is false confidence and will hurt people. For you are not gaining boldness from a place of truth. When people push against your false confidence it will crumble and people will get hurt. It is cockiness birthed from pride. When boldness comes from a place of breakthrough, you understand what it takes for that breakthrough to happen. Boldness from breakthrough insights confidence to those that see it. They see that you understand what they are going through, because you have been there before. Don’t hide behind timid Christianity because of lack of confidence. Ask for the boldness to do what He is asking you to do. Christ came so that we can be very bold. Let us not deny the gift He has given us. Your gifts are what show strength and beauty at the same time. Be bold with who you are and your gifting will shine bright.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I Am Flawed, He is Faithful

My first car was a Mercury Grand Marquis. I had big plans for this car. My granddad gave it to me, it was light blue and got terrible gas mileage. My first project was changing out the stereo to a retrofit iPad stand, to eliminate the need for the cassette tape to aux cord convertor. Sadly, just before I was to get this started I totaled it. To testify to the beastliness of this car, it damaged the three cars in front of me. Its safe to say my insurance rate never got very low after that. Yet, this was not the first of my many accidents. My first accident was immediately after I got my permit, due failing the driving test. We won’t go into that. After getting my permit we went straight downtown, my mom thought it would be a great idea for me to parallel park. I must admit that I was fairly confident in my ability to do this, also I’m very proficient at it now. In the middle of my 7th or 8th point in the turn a bicycle cop tapped on my window. I rolled down my window *gulp* me:”Yes sir?” Cop:”You know you just hit that car in front of you?”. Luckily he just had me leave a note on their car since they were from out of state. Out of my five years of driving, I’ve had at least 11 wrecks. From small bumps to total losses. A majority of which were in my latest vehicle, a 2005 Ford F150. It was the work truck of all work trucks. It goes without saying that I desired something better. I wanted power windows and locks, and just maybe an aux cord. Thru out my ownership of this truck I had this verse come to mind multiple times. If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10 NLT  To be honest I would beat myself up about it. I would see how other people would take care of their vehicles. I would compare myself with them and I would fall short. I wouldn’t keep my truck as clean as theirs, or keep my bumper on for as long as they would. I would disqualify myself for God to trust me with more. I replaced faithfulness with comparison. I wasn’t being asked to keep their standard of faithfulness. My truck totaled a Ford Ranger and a Honda Accord before it was taken out. This was my first accident to be determined not at fault, I sense I’m turning a new leaf. As I waited to hear back from the adjustor, God whispered two things to me. God’s faithfulness is not determined by my faithfulness, and faithfulness is not flawlessness. He showed me how He cares for me no matter my performance. Also He began to show me where I was faithful with my truck. I kept the gas tank full and kept up with regular maintenance. It was used on many outreaches and helped several people move. In the end insurance paid out 87% of what I paid originally for it and 33% more than I could have sold it for. God was faithful thru all of my shortcomings. I am now able to use the money from my truck for what God has trusted me with next.

What has God trusted you with, that you have set a man’s standard of faithfulness for?
What effort have you put towards pleasing man, where God has only asked you to trust Him?
Tagged , , , , , , ,