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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
“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.
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.
I’ve found myself lately putting greater value on certain sins than others. I have equated the value of the sin with the amount of shame that the enemy sends with it. The goal would be to not feel any shame, not to be confused with sorrow. To get to a place shame is not a factor in how we handle our sin. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16 (NLT) Why do we deny our healing just because we let some sin get in the way? With the “big” sins, like pornography or cheating on your taxes, there are incredible amounts of shame poured on you so you deny confession. With “little” sins, like a white lie or taking God’s name in vain, we feel little or no shame so we don’t even think to confess. In reality all sin is the same, whether you kill someone or you disobey your mom. It all separates us from God and is all equally important to confess. Your healing is far more valuable than the mask you think you’re hiding behind. Imagine how much easier your healing will be without heaps of shame on you, due to hiding and repetition. To be clear I’m not talking about physical healing, there are lots of non sin related factors that go into that. I’m talking about emotional and spiritual healing. Becoming one with the Father. Let’s not let the fear of our sins being exposed keep us from intimacy with God.
Most people don’t know this, but I was addicted to porn for 10 years. In fact I can only think of a maybe 25 people that did before this. Which in comparison is quite a lot considering most people will never tell anyone, sadly continuing their addiction as a result. I used to say to myself that I was grossly addicted to porn, but that is just too narrow of a word. Needless to say that porn is a gross perversion of a gift from God, this does not make the addict a gross person. It can if you let your addiction become your identity, this is what happened to me. I was voraciously addicted to it. The more I consumed it the more I wanted, I couldn’t get enough. What I didn’t know was that what I consumed was consuming me. In my mid teens I was a pretty witty kid, I am still today its just a bit dryer and sprinkled with dad jokes. But back then my ammunition was corse jokes, I became the master of “that’s what she said”. I got the laugh, but it came with a cost. I remember like it was yesterday. I was a part of a summer internship that my youth group facilitated. We were sitting in a technical college class room, when the girl behind me made a remark and I turned around cracked a corse joke. She didn’t laugh but gave me more of an “h’s are ew” response. I just turned around a thought to myself “yeah, I didn’t think it was that funny either.” Later that day I was in the restroom with a friend, no we didn’t intentionally go together. We were washing our hands when he looked over at me and asked “Conan, do you know what we call you?” “No, what?” Anticipating a positive remark. “We call you the pervert.” “Oh…why?” “Because of all your jokes.” My heart hit the soles of my feet. All that I thought I was instantly became a lie. Though I didn’t recognize at the time, the Father stepped in at that moment. I felt the tug on my heart, I knew exactly what I needed to change. The next youth service I found a guy that later became my first spiritual father. I walked right up to him and told him I needed to confess. We began to meet and my healing process began. I didn’t choose at random though, so be at peace. You don’t have to pick out of a hat who to seek help from and random guys likely won’t come confess to you. There was relational equity between us from serving together. Though it was not a lot of equity at the time it was enough. Always be building relationships no matter how lighthearted. My life was changed because of relationships.
As much as my addiction consumed me, so did my fight. My every thought became fight this massive sin. How I was going to beat it tomorrow. I was misguided where the fight really was. We are not fighting to beat evil, evil is already defeated. The fight is not to conquer sin, but to get in the presence of the Father. To be present with the Father is to be absent from sin, and vice versa. To surrender to His battle for my heart. Will you surrender to the God that has waged war for your heart. He has already beat your enemy. The battle is yours to win. Your battle is not with computer screens or magazines, but with principalities and spirits of darkness. His light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 (NLT) The Father has already extinguished the darkness, it is our choice to walk in the light.
What had kept me from the light the most was shame. “I can’t come to God with this filth on me.” Wake up, God can’t see sin. In the same way that parents refuse to see when there kids are making poor life choices, He refuses to see anything other than our true identity. But to deny the existence of the bad choices would be bad parenting, in the same way He does not deny your sinful nature. He just won’t call you by it. Would a good parent call you by your bad choices? “Drug addict come here.” “Hello my cutting daughter.” NO! Not only are you ashamed of yourself, mounds and mounds of shame are dumped on you that way. This where wounds come from. Daddy does not inflict wounds, He’s a healer. He simply cannot see you when you sin. Its impossible for Him to be with sin, therefore when you’re in it He cannot be with you. Have you ever been in a room with someone and they’re not there? They’re on the phone or lost in thought. You’re both in the room but you’re not in relationship. They’re denying your presence in the room. This is what it means when He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” God is always in the room, it is your choice to acknowledge His presence. To truly welcome Him in is to deny sins entry. When we sin we leave the room, the Father will be right there waiting anxiously for you to come back. But He still cannot see sin when you re-enter. He never sees sin enter the room, but sons and daughters. He sees righteousness and goodness and all the wonderful things He calls you. This is the first thing He says, “Where are the robes of righteousness I gave you? I had them tailor made for you.” Shame really does make you look fat, at least that’s how it makes you feel. When the prodigal son returned the father didn’t acknowledge the rags or the sin, but called for the best robe to be brought out. Grace is like the little black dress or tailor made suit. You look good in it and walk with that extra bit of confidence. One thing is required though, to put on the clothes you were designed for. You have to take off your bed clothes, take off the shame.
“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:20-14 (NIV)
You have to answer, why are you wearing shame? This question cannot be avoided if you want shame removed. This is how confession brings healing. This question is not for the sake of the Father, but for you. The truest answer I can think of is that we forget who we are. Shame is what keeps us from coming to ourselves. We sit in the pig pen because we have forgotten who we are and who our Father is. So get up and run to the Father. He will run to you. Become alive again. Let your sin nature die, don’t let it breath the air your spirit is supposed to. Then begin to celebrate.