Saturday, January 11, 2014

Are You Spiritually Faithful?

So why do you cheat? Now before you go “uhm excuse me I’m no cheater!” let’s take the time and do a quick self-inventory and really search our hearts. Would you call yourself spiritually faithful? So many people have a relationship with God in the four walls of a church building but then they leave and flirt and mingle with the world. It’s so easy to look at people who cheat/commit adultery and turn our nose up and gasp at all their triflingness (yes I added a new word to the dictionary) but the gasps and finger pointing get a little quiet when you’re in the hot seat. Let’s have a quick heart to heart; what has caused you to step out on Christ? Is your relationship with the world overlapping with your relationship with Christ now? Remember we’re married to Christ and men because Christ has no gender ya’ll are included in that too FYI. Matthew 6:24 tells us that a person cannot serve two masters so that whole double dipping business is for the birds. The reality is if we're cheating on Christ with the world we've already decided who we really want to be with. You're not riding the fence, you've chosen the world. In order to acknowledge our spiritual adultery we must first identify why we are doing it. In the natural sense, people cheat for a number of reasons and although some may say they didn’t have a reason there is always a root to why people do what they do. So let’s apply this to our relationship with Christ and look at a few reasons why people cheat.

One of the reasons people cheat is because they are not really serious or committed to their relationship. Here’s the thing about our walk with Christ, if we are really committed to Him we are going to pursue Him and not sin point blank and the period. There are so many people who profess the name of Christian but the way they act, live, and speak confess more that they are not serious about their relationship with Christ. If you are really committed to Christ you are not going to be living it up with the things of this world. Bottom line, you cannot say you are serious about your relationship with Christ yet you condone things that are contrary to the will of God. First John 3:9 states that if we belong to God we will not continue in sin so what does that mean if we keep sinning? I’m not talking about occasional mess ups here and there, no I’m talking intentionally doing what we know is not the will of God. As long as you have not developed a reverent fear of the Lord you’re not going to be serious about your relationship with Him and you will continue to step outside of your marriage with Christ to indulge in the things of this world. We cannot pick and choose what parts of the bible we want to follow and ignore the parts the convict us of our hellish lifestyle. Let’s be real! In order to be a follower of Christ we have to deny ourselves. That means we realize that our life is not our own and we die to our flesh so that Christ can take over. So often people talk about the single season as being a time that you don’t have to check in with anyone and you can do whatever you want when you want. Not so, you still answer to Christ. Until we realize that we don’t do just do whatever we want but we do what is the will of our Father we have not truly committed ourselves in our relationship with Christ. 

Another reason people cheat is because they think they are missing out on something because they believe that there is something better outside of what they already have. In our walk with Christ it is so easy to be tempted by the things of this world. The devils job is to entice you and to trick you into thinking that the world has so much more to offer than what God has provided you with. The enemy often times likes to do this by getting us upset at how people who we know are not living for God appear to be getting blessed and yet we’re over here doing our part and it seems like we’re barely making it each day. Proverbs 23:17 tells us, “Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long” (KJV).  We have to get our eyes off of people and keep them on the Lord. The reality is that there will be people who live in the world who live it up and have a great life and die feeling as though they accomplished a lot and were successful. The other side of that reality is that if they did not have a relationship with Christ their soul went to hell and all their success in the world and the good time they had was temporary. Second Corinthians 4:18 says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (KJV). Our focus has to be on eternity and the true word of God not on the temporary things that this world has to offer that are nothing more than idols that will only fill voids temporarily and still leave us empty. 

We have to remember what the bible shows us in Matthew 4:1-11 when Jesus is tempted in the wilderness. The devil attempts to get Jesus to abandon His mission by tempting Christ with the things that the world has to offer. If Jesus would have stepped away from God to indulge in the things of this world we would’ve been in some serious trouble. What the devil was trying to tempt Him with all looked good, however, in comparison to what God had sent Christ to do it wasn’t worth it. What are the things that the devil is trying to use to tempt you to step outside of your marriage with Christ? In comparison to whatever it is that he is trying to offer to you it doesn’t even come close to the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Don’t take the bait! 

Some people cheat because of lack of communication and when they feel like they are not getting what they need from the relationship they are in they start to look for it elsewhere. How do you respond to God’s timing taking longer than you would like for it to? When your relationship with Christ is not perfect and you are facing different tests and trials how do you deal? So often our communication with Christ is so one-sided; we speak and say what we want to but we don’t allow Him to get two cents in and God forbid He says something we really don’t want to hear we just ignore it and contribute it to being gas from a big lunch. If we could be real with ourselves for a moment we would admit that after we gave our lives to Christ things were not always a beautiful day in the park. There were some days where we felt like we were treated unfair, we may have felt that different things happened that we didn’t think we deserved; we may have felt as though God allowed things to happen to us that He shouldn’t have. So what did we do? We gave Him the silent treatment like we would do in a relationship. Now we aren’t reading our bibles, we aren’t praying, we aren’t fasting, and we aren’t having quiet time….lack of communication. We have to realize that this is exactly what the enemy wants! He wants to harden your heart towards God and make you stop communicating with Him so that he can now come in and plant seeds of discontentment, anger, and bitterness so that you feel that God has left you out to dry. The devil wants to convince you that this whole salvation thing ain’t all that it’s cracked up to be and you’re not getting what you need from your relationship with Christ so come on back over here to the world….satan is like a pimp whispering sweet nothings in your ear trying to pimp you back into the world! Stop giving the enemy a door into your heart by your lack of communication with God. We have to learn how to communicate and we also have to learn how to listen!!! God is always speaking we however are not always listening. 

Psalm 84:11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will
give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly” (KJV). We have a tendency to spend so much time focusing on all the things that we think God is withholding from us that we can’t even see all the good that He has provided us with or what He has protected us from. If our eyes are not fully fixed on Christ it is easy to become jealous of the things of this world. It’s easy to look at people in the world and think that they’re having fun and they seem fulfilled because they have no cares. We can feel as though we’re trapped in a sense because they appear to have freedom and we feel stuck by living holy before God. Romans 6:22 tells us that we are free in Christ because we are no longer bound by the trap of sin and not only are we free but the benefit of this freedom is eternal life with the Father.  Stop convincing yourself otherwise like there is anything better in the world. We have to learn to communicate with Christ just as we would in any relationship when we are upset, when we are frustrated, etc. Oh and FYI, the one difference in our relationship with Christ compared to natural ones is that the problem isn’t with Him it’s always you…

Now what typically happens if a person takes a cheater back? They usually have a conversation about why they did it but then they also ask an important question; how do I know you won’t do it again? What are you going to do differently to make sure that you don’t go back to your adulteress ways? You cannot continue to do the same old same old and expect to get different results. Didn’t someone say that’s the definition of insanity? Just saying….but seriously! If you want to do better in your relationship with Christ, you have to do better and be better bottom line. Stop putting yourself in situations that you know will tempt you but also acknowledge the problems in your relationship so that you can identify the root and allow God to deal with that issue in your heart. Ask God to show you how to be faithful to Him and read up on people in the bible who exemplify faithfulness so that you can see what to mirror. If you don’t know who to start with Jesus is always a great One. 

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

That’s My Homie

Guest Blogger Reggie Stroble
Proverbs 13:20- Walk with wise men, and thou shalt be wise, but the companion of fools shall smite for it.

Hosea 4:6- My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because thou has rejected knowledge I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children.

The people that will have the most influence in your life are those who you choose to be in your inner circle.  If you hang around five foolish friends that are not helping you grow in your walk with Christ then you are heading down a path of destruction.  The bible gives us clear instructions in the book of proverbs that we are to walk with wise men so that we can gain more wisdom.  Men have you ever had a friend who always gives you advice about relationships, but they can’t seem to keep a woman? Or have you ever gotten advice from your homeboy about the special lady in your life when you know he has 5 chicks on the side, and he is not committed in his relationship?  Would you go to a veterinarian if you were having heart problems?  Or would you go to your mechanic if your dog were sick? Both of these situations sound crazy right?  Then why do we continue to reach out to our homeboys who have no spiritual wisdom?  When you are walking in the council of your ungodly homies, your spiritual growth will be hampered.  Some of your homeboys now are encouraging you now to have selfish ambition, seek pleasures of the flesh, and live a life not pleasing to God.  Today I want to encourage us Men to examine our male friendships.  God has called us to walk in the counsel of the Godly!  Men we are called to be leaders, and there are people who are depending on us to lead properly.  So the next time that you need advice about a spiritual matter, make sure that you are seeking Godly wisdom.  Our so-called homeboys will lead us astray and down a path of destruction!

Men I would love to connect with you on twitter, follow me @He_inspireyouth

Monday, January 6, 2014

Dear Woman: The Feminine Wife

Guest Blogger Anita McKaney
Dear woman,

Heard of the lyrics, "Dude look like a Lady"? Well, some wives look like the husband! It is becoming more popular in American culture to not be gender specific about anything. The appeal is to sex period, neither to male nor female. However,  God makes a difference - a big difference, between man and woman, husband and wife.

As a wife, her appeal to her husband lies in those differences. A real man wants a real woman. Her womanly curves, her smell, her sweet spirit and feminine ways distinguish her from his masculine muscle and grit. Many wives wonder why they are losing their husbands attention. Sometimes women are just too manly for them. I'm not suggesting that you incorporate helpless ignorance and having "blonde moments" in your marriage, I'm talking about embracing your God - given womanhood! When was the last time you wore a dress, did your nails, or bought perfume?

For some reason, wives tend to end up neglecting themselves once the newness of marriage (especially if you add kids) wears off. Read Songs of Solomon. What does the husband notice & admire about his bride? Her body in general of course. Her mouth is sweet. So ladies, brush floss and gargle. Let's be real! He also speaks of her hair, her breasts. She is soft, smells inviting and is happy to see her groom. She is also mature. Her body is mature and so is her spiritual life. Notice how often she reminds the younger women "Do not awake love until it pleases" (Song of Solomon 8:4). In other words, be spiritually developed enough to know that sex outside of marriage is wrong. A man of God wants a woman of God, not a little girl.

A wife's attitude and response to her husband shows where her relationship with Christ is. If she exhibits fruit of the Holy Spirit in her life like self-control and patience, she will be a light in her household. Jesus Christ working through us is attractive. He said, if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me (John 12:32). Not trying to be super spiritually deep, but think about that. The innocence, purity and selflessness of Christ Himself in YOU has drawing power, not to us, but to God. But guess what? Any husband drawn closer to God will automatically draw closer to his wife!

So smile, be pretty and grow up producing the fruit of the Spirit in your marriage. Be what God created you to be in its fullness - a woman!

Anita Mckaney

Winning Souls, Winning Marriages

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Can Men & Women Be Friends?

      Can men and women be friends? Yeah sure they can…but that’s not the right question. My pastor always says that you have to ask the right questions in order to get the right answers. The real question is can men and women be just friends or should they be friends? Do you want the quick and straight to the point answer? It’s NO, nope, no can do, nunca. Want to know why, just continue reading. I will be the first person to say that you are not going to find anywhere in the bible that says men cannot befriend thy women, God forbid! What I’m going to talk about in this blog is going to be my personal opinion from my experience and what I believe God has shown me throughout my relationships, friendships, etc. So now that that is clear let’s get to it!

1.      Define friendship:  That’s going to be a determining factor in whether or not you think men and women can be just friends. People throw around the term friend so loosely these days it’s lost some of its meaning because everybody they meet is their new bestie. When I think of the word friend I don’t think of someone I say hi and bye to and keep it moving. I’m thinking of someone who I talk to on a pretty regular basis, and I mean like in depth meaningful conversations, someone that I hang out with, someone that I share things about me with, etc. Now this is very surface level general stuff I’m talking about but obviously you can go deeper than that and talk about loyalty, trust, and things of that nature but hopefully you get the idea. When I say men and women can’t be friends I’m talking about real friendships that go beyond a happy birthday post on facebook. So let’s be real for a moment; God didn’t create Eve for Adam to be his friend. He created her to be his wife, his helpmate. Does this mean that every single person is created to be a husband or wife? No, but the point is there was purpose for them yoking up. All your relationships and friendships should have purpose at the end of the day. When it comes to friendships, what purpose do you have with the opposite sex? Just something to think about; and before anyone wants to throw out the whole brother and sister in Christ line, I’m going to get to that later.

2.      Good ole attachments: Okay so what is the big deal then with women and men doing things that they would do with friends of the same sex like talking on the phone, hanging out and stuff? It’s a little/big thing called attachments. The more time you spend with a person the more attached you are going to get to them. If I’m talking to you on the phone all the time and we’re hanging out all the time you’re not my friend, we go together. Okay I’m joking…kinda not really. Of course there are going to be those people who say I can be friends with a man or a woman without catching feelings or getting attached. Can we play a quick game? Sure we can! How many of those people of the opposite sex that you were “just friends” with did you end up having feelings for them or they ended up catching feelings for you or always had feelings from the get go? Just saying….Just because you put a person in the friend zone that does not mean that they wanted to be there. Believe it or not people will settle to be your friend because it’s the closest they can get to “being with you” so they’ll settle for that instead of being nothing to you at all. Emotional attachments are real folks. This may sound bad, but just because you may not be physically attracted to a person the more you get to know them you may find yourself attracted to them because of their personality or they’re a good person to talk to. Just because you thought initially you would never be interested in them or vice versa things can change the more you get to know a person.

3.      The set up…for failure: I’m not trying to toot my own horn none whatsoever but every single guy that I’ve ever been friends with at some point liked me and I liked the attention because I needed someone to validate me for whatever reason. So I had these guy friends that I kept around because it was great to have a male perspective, I could talk to them about my boyfriend problems, and even better, I always had someone to talk to and take me out whether I was single or not. Can I lay my dirty laundry out for a minute? When I was dating in the world, I had a really bad habit of going to other men when I was upset with my little boyfriend at the time. I always had guy “best friends” to talk to about my relationship problems or for us to go out on what really weren’t dates (sarcasm) or to talk to on the phone…the games that you play and your actions while dating/courting are going to pour over into your marriage if you don’t correct that mess. I don’t know why people think that their bad habits from when they were single are just going to disappear simply because you put a ring on it. Yeah…no…not going to happen if you don’t correct it beforehand. 

For those of you who hope to pursue marriage at some point, your spouse is going to be your best friend. You do not want to open up the door for adultery to happen because you have friends of the opposite sex that you want to hang on to. I know somebody is reading this thinking now Angel that is extreme. I’ll admit I’m one of those people that tend to look at things from the end result of the worst case scenario before jumping into it but just hear me out. I always hear married couples talk about how difficult marriage is and I can only imagine. Think of this…you and your spouse have a fight and you go to your friend of the opposite sex to talk about it to get a different perspective. That friend doesn’t nag you like your wife does or he doesn’t ignore you like your husband does and before you know it, you start comparing them. You wish your spouse was more like your friend who just seems to get it, understands you, doesn’t give you problems, and doesn’t fight with you. So now when your friend is trying to comfort you the two of you end up kissing, oops. You end up having sex, oops. You end up committing adultery, you have soul ties, you have a baby with this person, your family is broken…oops, oops, oops, and oops. But I thought y’all were just friends. People think that is extreme…until it happens and it happens all the time and not just in movies.

Can I be honest? I was supposed to write this a long time ago…like I could have written this a year ago… and I didn’t. Partially because I believe there was more that God was trying to show me and also because I didn’t want to share this story…the story of how I came across Heather Lindsey and the pinky promise movement. Someone on twitter retweeted a blog of hers called Can Guys & Girls Be Just Friends? and this just so happened to be the same day that I had planned on having a “heart to heart” with my guy friend…who was getting married…about how I didn’t want us to stop being friends just because he was going to have a wife now…who wasn’t me. I kept telling myself that I didn’t want to lose our friendship because he was a great friend and a great guy and I loved him and we could still be friends even though he was getting married. *Insert violins and dramatic sad song* The truth was at some point he liked me and at some point I liked him just never at the same time. His soon to be wife had never met me although we were "friends", him and I talked on the phone, went out to eat together, and everything. The reality was I didn’t want him to get married and I wanted him to always want to be with me (I had some issues lol) but I wasn’t going to break up a soon to be marriage so I tried to keep the friend card. The truth is ugly ain’t it? The harsh reality is that I set myself up for failure and the potential of being a side chick. Sidenote: don't interfere with people's relationships whether they're married, courting, dating, or whatever just don't do it.

4. The Brother/Sister in Christ: It would be so lovely to say that as the body of Christ we see each other as literally relatives in Christ and there is no attraction because it would be as if I like my sibling…Come on Christians let’s be honest. You can be saved, sanctified, filled with the Holy Ghost and find your brother or sister in Christ attractive even when you know that person is not your Adam or your Eve. (As I was writing this it made me think of this funny clip) It is easy to be attracted to the Christ you see in a person even though you have no intentions of pursuing that person. So many people don’t want to admit that but you deal with things by acknowledging it but that’s a different blog so I digress. Anywho I say all that to say this is why it is important to establish boundaries! Even with your group of saved friends you still need to have boundaries when it comes to the opposite sex. I have a great church family that I love but I don’t consider any of the guys I go to church with my friends. They are my brothers in Christ and we don’t go out on 1:1 lunches, dinners, or anything else. We don’t talk on the phone for long periods if at all really and if we’re doing things it’s typically focused around church and in a group setting. As brothers and sisters in Christ we’re there to push each other to Christ and encourage one another in our walk and I’m definitely not saying that men and women can’t do that, however, there still needs to be boundaries created.  Don’t kid yourself and think that the devil will not try to tempt you with one of your brothers or sisters in Christ. I’m not having any 1:1 bible studies, prayer time, or anything else on an individual basis with any of my brothers in Christ. Nothing personal against any of them at all but you have to create boundaries and be wise enough to not put yourself in situations that the devil can use as an opportunity to tempt you. 

As I stated earlier, this is my personal opinion that I came too based off of experience and what God has shown me throughout my walk. I’ve read different perspectives on this topic but I had to come to this conclusion for myself as far as what works for me. For me personally, creating these boundaries with men is a means of making sure that the relationships and friendships I create with people are honoring God and that when I eventually get married my husband will not have any questions regarding the men in my life. The reality is this, men and women do have the option to be friends but here's another reality to consider: 1 Corinthians 10:23, You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is good for you. You say, "I am allowed to do anything"--but not everything is beneficial (NLT).

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