The Cross, Transformation

My First Mission Trip

Last week on Wednesday, I boarded a plane at about 6am for Phoenix with people from my church, most of whom I didn’t know well. I didn’t have many expectations only to work hard and sacrifice my introvert time! We arrived in Phoenix safely and were off to the Phoenix Dream Center in no time! Once we arrived, we were greeted and put to work right away.

DC1

Myself and roommates were given the task to deep clean the Hacienda, a room used for children’s church and women’s morning devotions. A bit later we put together discipleship binders that the men use for their program. I can’t tell you how many times we tried to create a smooth process to put the right forms behind the right tabs just like the example binder. There were seven of us (4 missionaries, 3 female program leaders) and just as it was turning into a lunch break we finally found an efficient process! Now I can put together those binders in my sleep! The rest of the day is a blur as we were kept busy until 9pm, cleaning and painting rooms.

Thursday morning we woke up around 4am for a 5am hike at The Phoenix Mountain Reserve. I was not enthusiastic and chose the “easier” path when offered. Soon I renamed the “easier” path as the “actually moderate for me” path. It was a mental challenge because I did not know the path or where it was leading or when it would be over! I kept my negative thoughts to myself and continued on like everyone else. Maybe it was my short attention span taking over, my untrained body shocked or my stubborn will deciding “so what’s the point?” We came to another crossroads our leaders told us: we could hike up a very steep hill to see a beautiful view or walk back towards the parking lot. I said PARKING LOT immediately, but as most of my peers decided to take the challenge, I succumbed to their lead. Guess what? It was a very beautiful view and yes I did feel accomplished having done the harder thing. After that I did look forward to our Saturday morning hike at another location but the night before it got cancelled and we were scheduled to do a different project.

hike

20190620_062108.jpg

A task we were given on Friday afternoon was to clean the 3rd floor railings with rags and a bucket of cleaning solution water. I never imagined I would be cleaning the railings of re-purposed hotel but there I was. The rooms of The Phoenix Dream Center all face an open courtyard where birds are free to fly so there’s no lack of bird droppings on the railings. Cleaning the railings gave plenty of time for people to talk and share their stories with one another. This was my view looking up from the 3rd floor.

IMG_20190621_122520_407.jpg

Friday evening, we went to an outreach to a neighborhood park to play with the neighborhood kids. Every Friday program students facilitate this outreach, they bring food and clothing, music and usually share the Gospel. A boy named, Nick, who was about 10 years old asked us if a certain woman was with us but we told him she did not come with us, he opened a pocket size bible and showed us that she signed her name in it. He explained that he had been waiting to see her again. He also asked if she had sent the bags of clothes she promised, which she had. I was amazed at the relationships that were being built there in the park on Friday nights.

Friday night, we gathered as a very large group to pray before we headed out onto the bar district of Tempe, AZ. It is an outreach they do every Friday night. We broke into smaller groups to walk around and pass out bible tracts or pray. I held a sign that read, “Jesus Forgives.” It was something I wouldn’t ever do at home. We walked by a lot of people enjoying themselves at the bars or restaurants, most ignored us. However, some did not ignore us. They mocked us or mocked our signs, someone from a balcony shouted “hail satan” repeatedly as we crossed a street. The Discipleship students that were with us did a great job of initiating conversations or just greeting passersby. They asked if they could pray for them and accepted whatever response they got back. Although this was all new to me, the students do this outreach every Friday night. I wondered if what I was feeling was what the Apostle Paul felt when he spent time preaching and writing letters to the believers in cities like Corinth. He knew the believers would need encouragement as they lived in a place known for lasciviousness. Most of us do live in a Christian bubble. Most of us don’t spend our Friday nights getting drunk at clubs anymore and so we are removed from the people that never left. I realized it is going to be an important part of ministry to put myself in places I would usually stick my nose up at. The night ended at their traditional spot, Jack in the Box. The only complaint I had that day was Jack in the Box was all out of chicken salads! Seriously, all I wanted was a salad.

Saturday was the day we went to the Gila River Reservation. We were part of a similar style outreach for the kids there. Hot dogs were grilled, basketball was played [ not by me LOL], there was bible trivia and candy. I had my first experience with “rez” dogs, dogs I’ve only heard about on the internet.

In the afternoon, we gathered again for another outreach in an apartment complex parking lot. Discipleship students and some of our group members walked through the apartment buildings to gather the kids. We served hot dogs and cookies, sorted through donated produces to make take home boxes for the kids. Some little girls got their face painted. I played Connect 4 with a 8 year old boy until it was time for the bible story and quiz. There was a water fight. There was am irate man that threatened to call the police on us if we didn’t leave, although the group had permission from the property owner to have the outreach every Saturday. The man took a few food items but eventually left and the outreach went on smoothly. One little girl around 4 years old didn’t leave the Leader’s side. She went wherever he went and always wanted to sit with him. I could only imagine she was desperate for a father and this may have been the only positive consistent male figure in her young life.

We gathered back at the Dream Center afterwards. Soon after, someone in our group quickly came up with a plan to ambush another mission team from South Carolina with a water fight. This was done to us by our mission coordinator earlier in the week. The South Carolina team had arrived at the Dream Center early Saturday after some had pulled all-nighters for their flight. After the water fight, we circled up and both teams prayed for one another. Later that night, our mission team met together one last time to debrief. We shared our highlights for the week which most of us talked about how we did things we don’t normally do, we stepped out of our comfort zones, we appreciated all the hard work The Phoenix Dream Center does daily, and how much we enjoyed getting to know other people from our own church.

DCC

The next morning we woke up and prayed together one last night before heading to Dream City Church Phoenix. The church campus was beautiful! We got a quick tour before going into service. I posted the following on my social media accounts: “Sunday morning concluded my first mission trip. As I sat 3 rows centered from the stage in a reserved section I waited to hear special guest @drcarolineleaf speak, I began to simply take in the moment. I thought WoW, I get to be here in Arizona – serve at the Phoenix Dream Center- attend service at the main @dreamcitychurch – hear the author of Switch on Your Brain speak! During worship I began to repeat these experiences and as I said in my mind, “Im front & center here…” – God said “yes, you are front & center to me, you’re my Shining Star and I like it when you are outgoing.” I thought in my mind “I always feel on the back burner”….God instantly said “You Are Not on The Back Burner.” I began to cry, almost weep. I cried for a whole song. Even throughout the next 20min if I replayed the conversation in my head I began to tear up. I hadn’t ever articulated that I felt on the back burner before that very moment. It was a real conversation from Heaven down to my ears! God speaks to me when I least expect it and tells me things I didnt know I needed to know! He’s so so kind to me♫”

I know I’m leaving a lot details out because there are so many things I could write about. I appreciated that I had a team that didn’t complain and just went to work when given any task. I may have even left behind a new crush! Or may be not? I won’t tell! Only my friends know the truth! I’m single…can you blame me?!

church

church2

church3

20190623_123500.jpg

The Phoenix Dream Center: https://www.phxdreamcenter.org/

Dream City Church Phoenix: https://dreamcitychurch.us/

Dream City Church Omaha: https://dreamcitychurch.us/campuses/omaha-nebraska/

Church on the Street: https://www.cotsphoenix.org/

Advertisements
Standard
Uncategorized

I’m so Pretty

Recently I was listening to “Betcha Gon’ Know” by Mariah Carey. It was the version that features R. Kelly. It made me think about how R. Kelly is now known for abusing women and how many were pushing for the mute R. Kelly movement, among other celebrities that are outed as abusers or pedophiles. I see why people want to shame these people and want to take away their star power. However, there are abusers all around us. There’s millions probably billions of people that abuse other people but we are only aware of the cases that make the headlines, nationally or locally. If we knew what literally everyone was up to in their spare time no one would be allowed to do anything in the court of public opinion. It seems that we have entered a new era in history. Pedophilia and abuse against women in general is taken more seriously in some ways. Despite the “anything goes” culture, the “consent” culture, there seems to be thirst to know the truth even about our supposed heroes or favorite celebrities. I cannot emphasize enough though that it shouldn’t surprise you that the World is busy being the World. That is, if you’re a Christ follower.

In Genesis 6:9, the Bible tells us that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” He [and his immediate family] was the only one selected to survive the Great Flood. Literally, no one else.

As far as God was concerned, the Earth had become a sewer; there was violence everywhere. God took one look and saw how bad it was, everyone corrupt and corrupting—life itself corrupt to the core. Genesis 6:11-12 MSG

Further in Genesis 18, the Bible tells us that Abraham interceded for the town of Sodom. He asked if God would spare the city if fifty righteous people are found and God said he would. However, I think Abraham knew there wasn’t fifty righteous people so he kept bargaining for less. He stops at ten. He asks God if he would spare the city if there are ten righteous people found and God gives His word, “for the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” We read just one chapter later that God did not find ten righteous and only allowed Lot, his wife and two daughters to flee as God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from Heaven. Out of the four fleeing, three made it to the next town.

Skipping ahead to the book of Daniel, we learn about a young man named Daniel that was trafficked to Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar took over Jerusalem. Daniel became known for maintaining his purity in the midst of the Babylonian culture. Daniel refrained from the foods and drinks they served as to not defile himself. God gave him favor and Daniel was allowed to not partake in the lifestyle. Daniel continued to see favor throughout his life while living in a different kingdom.

Just as in the times of Noah, Lot and Daniel- these men were counter-cultural. Within their generations and throughout history, their names and stories were written down to be known forever for their righteousness. These are just three examples, but three out of the billions of people that have gone to the grave before us and will go after us… THREE stands out to me.

We are living in modern day Babylon or Sodom or Gomorrah. These cities are basically cliché in 2019. But if you are a Bible reader, you need to acknowledge the time in which we live. Our culture is a secular one. Our country didn’t begin that way but as history repeats itself, Secular is what we have turned into. That is why there is so much hostility towards the Christian life. Real Christians standing for Biblical Truth in the Post Modern Culture.

You’re probably wondering when I’m going to explain how I’m so pretty and what that has to do with R. Kelly, historical and biblical references.

[I apologize if you’ve lost interest already. Context is one of my top strengths and I feel compelled to give the context to help lead you from one idea to the next. It’s just how my mind works! ]

While we live in Babylon just as Daniel did, we are called to stand out. We are not to participate in everything that the opposing culture offers. Daniel could have forgot his identity and dismissed his God but he did not. He could have sold out to the dominate culture, a foreign culture. Time and time again God warned his people to not worship other gods or idols. To not become like those around them. In the Old Testament, God very clearly gave those instructions repeatedly. In the New Testament, God gave us his only son to give us the grace that we might finally obey his commands. He allowed Jesus to come to love us by allowing us to see our hearts are knitted together with His. That we see ourselves and others with His gracious loving eyes. We have to distinguish what is the culture permit and what does God command? They should not be the same. We are to pursue Christ and aim to be Holy not assimilate to a culture that rebels and rallies against our God. It can feel uncomfortable but if our eyes are on eternity with Christ, saying no to permissive cultural practices should become easier over time.

Earlier that day I was running errands. I went to a Target for one thing. That one thing was not in the store so I decided to walk around a bit. Dangerous, I know! I walked through the women’s clothing, accessories, bedding, back through the accessories and women’s clothing. I tried on a lot of sunglasses and touched many handbags. I left the store only buying one t-shirt!

As I was driving away, I began to think about how much I desire to buy new clothing and accessories. How much I desire to join in the beauty and fashion trends taking place. How the pull of obtaining more clothes, more accessories, longer lashes, specific nude colored lipstick permeate my mind. I follow a lot of online boutiques on social media so I constantly see the clothes I don’t have and decide very often that I need thirty new tops every month. Social media is now interwoven with ads of all types. These ads are catered specifically for you through algorithms. Its easy to get caught up in striving to look a certain way or follow current trends.

I often feel I need to be prettier. Prettier and prettier. I have to achieve more as far as appearance. I have to improve my appearance. I have to aim to look better than I do today. Its feels like a beating drum…. Prettier….prettier….prettier. A pounding drum.

For men, it could be you feel you need to make more money, improve your wages, get a bigger paycheck. More money…money….money. A pounding drum.

I then wondered what if I replaced that beating drum with the beating drum of God’s love? What if I put that appearance drum on mute. I believe I would hear the pounding drum of God’s fierce love. I Love You. I Love You. I Love You. DEEPER. FIERCER. That sound would be overwhelming and no other sound could replace it once I heard it truly.

It made me think of how I long for a husband. A husband that would take delight in me. That would be excited when I walked into a room. Or if I were doing something like the washing dishes a very mundane activity. My back is towards him as I zone out in the task before me. He, on the other hand, very much intently watching me. Radiating beautiful thoughts towards me.

So, if I take this vision and transplant it on the Lord…

Can I fully grasp how much he loves me already? How much it isn’t about my appearance? The clothes I wear, the makeup trends I choose to follow or reject, my hair style, my weight. When I catch a glimpse of myself in a reflective surface and instantaneously think “ugh,” when I don’t measure up to the standards I decided were important… NONE of these influence God’s love. God has been radiating beautiful thoughts on to me since before he knit me together in my mother’s womb. For every beat of “be prettier,” God beats “I LOVE YOU” louder, “I LOVE YOU DEEPER,” “I LOVE YOU FIERCER”….its a beat more steady and full than our own heartbeat. Its a rhythm with origins in Heaven that God gave us the grace to tune in to.

Havilah Cunnington posted this the other day on her Instagram. I thought it fit perfectly into the revelation I had.

Related Reading:

Sister, Your Worth is Not Found in Your Size

Standard
Quick Read, The Cross, video

Sola Gratia: will you testify?

 

 

Tonight I shared this message at my work place during a monthly celebration of the guests in our recovery program. Last month, after the celebration I typed up this message and had the idea to play this music video in the background to illustrate my main points. I know that God has messages in me, I just have to step up and out to share them. The following is my message I shared.

FB_IMG_1559268284910

****I thought I had a unique way of thinking about God and Jesus for some time, then Justus came out with this video and it brought it to a whole other level.

I have a vision of the court room. I’m/we’re the defendant sitting on the right side. The county attorney is on the left. The judge is in front of us on his bench.

Many of you know this scene and what it feels like. Your life is in someone else’s hands. You’re not sure what the outcome will be. Hoping you got a “good” judge. Hoping your attorney has done the best for you. A lot is on the line.

Maybe it was a very public high profile case. Maybe it was your first time facing a judge. Your family might have your back or they deserted you already. No one can bail you out and your friends are nowhere to be found. You’re having to stand on your own and face the consequences.

Many people know of God the Father as a Judge. He will judge us all on Judgement Day. But most leave it as that. God is a judge. God judges me. It doesn’t matter what I do, we’re all doomed. So what’s the point?

In my career, I’ve been an unofficial and official advocate. I’ve gone to court with people to offer support and encouragement. That’s what an advocate does. The Holy Spirit is our advocate. The bible calls him our Advocate in John 14:26. The Holy Spirit is on your right side holding you up when you’re not strong enough.

But on your left, you have the greatest attorney ever, Jesus.

In fact, if you see it the way I’ve come to see it – its that God tipped the scales of justice in favor of us by sending us Jesus. We’ve sinned against God so we can’t go to Heaven but He gave us Jesus so that we can go to Heaven to be with Him.

Can you imagine going to court tomorrow, and your attorney is the judge’s son? Wouldn’t you feel pretty good? I know that God the Father has the same heart for you that Jesus his son does. God the Judge has the same heart for you that Jesus the attorney does.

Jesus approaches the Judge in the court of heaven, as Satan the Accuser (that’s in the bible too) approaches the Judge and accuses you of all the things you’ve done. He tells God you’re a liar, an adultery, fornicator, thief, idolater, murderer etc. He hates you. Jesus stands before the
Father,
I know this man. I know this woman. This is my Friend
my brother
This is my sister
She loves me. He loves me. I can vouch for him. I know her heart. She’s clean. He’s repented. I’ve cleansed them.

Knowing that your attorney is the judge’ son, do you see how the Accuser has nothing on you? At best all he can do is accuse. If you give your life to Christ, and follow Christ and let the Holy Spirit dwell on the inside of you— you will be washed CLEAN. The Accuser will have no case against you. He will not have any evidence. God the Father didn’t have to send someone to take our charge, to take our punishment. But HE LOVED US SO MUCH HE STILL WANTED US EVEN AFTER ALL WE”VE DONE TO GRIEVE HIM. DESPITE THE SORROW HE FEELS TIME AFTER TIME BECAUSE WE BECOME HIS FOES. HE STILL WANTS US. HE DOESN’T WANT TO LISTEN TO THE ACCUSER. SO WHY DO WE LISTEN TO HIM? When Christ let out, “It is finished.” That’s what he meant. The accuser is finished. Shame is finished. Self Harm is finished. Self hate is finished. He took all of that. He took our sins to the Cross but also the pain, the infliction, the wounds of the heart and mind.

All of this stuff already happened. These are facts and truth. All we have to do is RECEIVE this Truth. Do you now why Jesus came? Most will say to save us, that’s part of it. But in his own words to Pilate, the regional leader of the Roman empire, just before Jesus was sentenced to a crucifixion, Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king. Jesus tells him, “ …in FACT, the reason I was born and came into this world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37

Jesus-before-Pilate

He came to testify ( def: give evidence as a witness in a court of law, serve as proof of something existing, something being the case) to the truth.
Will you stand with Jesus and testify to the Truth? Will you stop listening to the lies of the Accuser?

–Prayer:

Jesus, I want to receive you as Truth, please show me how. I want to reject the Accuser’s lies, please show me how. Your will not mine. In Jesus name, Amen.

Standard
hookup culture, Men, Transformation, Women

Single Flamingle

 

lets-flamingle

What’s a Christian girl to do these days? I’m sure I’m not the only one that follows different Christian social media accounts that offer relationship advice related to marriage, dating and singleness. I really do appreciate sites likes these but sometimes, I pass by an article that seems to be offering the same information just recycled by another eye catching headline.

Much of the advice for single people (women) is written by a 28 year old woman who’s explaining how she waited so long to finally getting married. Then she goes into to tell us single women on how to spend our single years serving God (because we have so much more free time compared to someone that is married). This involves improving your financial situation, eating well, spending time with your family and friends, serving in ministry and combating lust and exercising purity. Practical advice is staying away from Rom-Coms or movies that get you hot and bothered or hosting dinner parties with your friends!

No need to read further because I just compiled all the Christian single girl advice on the entire internet!

Please feel free to click out of this if you literally haven’t heard that advice and it is news to you. It is good advice. It really is! BUT… it falls flat on an almost 34 year old woman who has literally been working on those talking points. I did the Dave Ramsey class. I’m not a big spender but I do pay bills late. I knows this already. I try to make healthy food choices but I don’t always succeed. I bought a stationary bike that I have yet to use. Last year I bought workout clothes which also haven’t been used. I spend time with friends and family. I serve at my church and work in a ministry in my community. I don’t like Rom-Coms and I try to be careful with what shows or movies I watch. I’ve been celibate for almost 6 years now. Not a kiss, not a cuddle, not a THING! I have to invite Jesus into moments between myself and a nice set of biceps and traps.

traps

Aside from throwing dinner parties for your friends and trying to curb your lust, you’re also supposed to be letting yourself be found.

He who finds a wife finds what is good
    and receives favor from the Lord. Proverbs 18:22

I’m guilty of using this scripture as my soapbox. The scripture says he who finds a wife, which means I’m already someone’s wife and I need to act as such. This scripture also highlights the manner in which the man meets his wife, he finds her not the other way around. I’m sure through millennia, young women [and old] have been told to not pursue men. Generations have taken this advice and either been successful or not. Generations of women have also been manipulative and conniving in how they got their man. Most of us ladies know both types of women. Perhaps we’ve been both types usually unsuccessfully. If you’re reading this I’m guessing you’re a woman that is following Christ and wanting to do things His way. Your way didn’t work. If you’re like me, you were once convicted of behavior that was not honoring to God and so you stopped doing those things.

When I began my obedience journey with Jesus, I bought a book that caught my eye- Girls Gone Wise by Mary Kassian. This book opened my eyes to a lot of unHoly behavior that I was doing. Putting a lot of work and wiliness in getting a guy to look at me. Putting on lip gloss slowly and seductively while I know he’s looking, positioning my body as I stand to draw attention to specific attributes and more. I strongly encourage any woman to read it. So after reading the book, I changed a lot of my ways. I stopped doing a lot things. I did this because I wanted to honor God and do His will, not lead men further from it.

I said goodbye to flirting, sex and situationships.

But what exactly did I say yes to? Courting? Dating? Letting God write my love story?

I guess so. But what is courting and how is it different than dating? How do I let God write my love story when it feels like He doesn’t even if have a pen and notebook to start?

When the response to, “I just feel invisible” is “God sees you.” It’s a fantastic revelation but I want to stare back into human eyes to feel connected.

Jesus “should be enough” but all I want is to hold a human man’s hand.

This is where Christian dating advice makes me roll my eyes. I can cook dinner, pay bills, read my Bible, go on a walk, get a massage, volunteer in the community and still feel the supernatural pull of Something More.

Some advice tells us to be content in the singleness season. Other advice uses Ruth and Boaz as some blueprint for how to get a man. Let him now you’re interested just like Ruth did. This is the least practical advice because I have no idea what the modern day equivalent of the threshing floor is. Most of us agree dating someone at the workplace is not a good idea. Other than that, do I sneak into a man’s bedroom while he sleeps after he’s had a few drinks and a big meal, lay at the bottom of this bed? I better have a good lawyer if I choose option B.

The point of Ruth and Boaz isn’t some cute Hallmark movie. It was to tell us about the good nature of Who was to come, Jesus. Aside from that, marriage throughout history was not of a Romantic value. Marriage was to bring security for families, property, and wealth. People grew to love one another out of service. Of course, people did have moving love stories. If you were lucky, you got to marry someone that you were excited to marry.

Fast forward to 2019: My parents aren’t arranging any suitors for me. I get to be excited about the person I get to marry. But what about this in between time?

Do I wait to be found? Do I put myself out there?

What does putting yourself out there look like? How do I maintain a Holiness about it?

Where can I go to increase my chances of being found? Where do men go?

Dating Sites vs. Meeting organically?

math

I skip over more and more of these Christian and secular dating articles. No one has the perfect answer or the perfect solutions. I can do everything on their checklists and still go another year solo. I can be doing all the right things and still show up to another family holiday function with nothing in my arms aside from a hearty green bean casserole. To be honest, I’m pretty frumpy these days. Spring is coming, maybe the nicer weather will put me in a nicer mood. Probably not. I could wear more makeup more often. I could ease up a bit on the dry shampoo and actually wash and style my hair sometime. I could look people in the eye in the grocery store on occasion. I could smile more. I could do a lot things but if there’s no guy to be on the receiving end then whats the point?

God is going to have to be God.

Standard
Quick Read, Uncategorized

All the Songs I Like are Sad and What Does that Mean?

Last night I confessed to a friend that all my favorite love songs are sad. It was a very lighthearted conversation and of course I sprinkle everything I say with self-deprecating humor. But it is true. We were talking about possible wedding songs for our future weddings. If you look at my Pinterest wedding board you’d see I have every little detail already planned out except for the wedding song. I love music and listen to music almost 24 hours per day. You’d think I would have the perfect wedding song picked out but I don’t.

I explained to my friend that all the love songs that were about relationships before never worked out.

To try to label a song perfect for a wedding I have yet to have seems impossible.

All I have to pull from is past pain. Past heartbreaks that shattered me in the moment. I have years that stand out because of songs like, “I Need You Now,” by Lady Antebellum. For years I would have to turn the radio station because listening to it would take me too far back. It’s a great song for the precise emotion that arises in a lot of us. But its sad.

How about “Stay” by Rihanna? Longing for someone to stay knowing they won’t. Sam Smith has “Stay with Me,” similar themes, same sadness.

If you’re looking for an upbeat sad song try, “Sweet Nothing,” by Calvin Harris ft. Florence from Florence and the Machine. The beat is so heavy you might forget that you’re sad. Not really.

Another good one, “Come Over,” by Kenny Chesney. Dysfunctional and sad. A lot like “I Need You Now.”

Feeling regretful? “All Back” by Chris Brown is my recommendation.

Mariah Carey has always been foundational in my love of heartbreak songs: Heart Breaker- fun but sad. H.A.T.E.U., Love Takes Time, Breakdown, Bringing on the Heartbreak (original Def Leppard), there’s a lot more but I’ll stop.

Maybe something more edgy? “The Bleeding” by Five Finger Death Punch will do it.

I even like sad songs in Spanish, “El Perdedor,” by Aventura.

All the songs I really love are Sad.

What does that say about me?

I guess it says I have a tendency to choose sadness over the other options. Options such as Joy and Hope.

It also says that I haven’t had a relationship last or survive the heartbreak. My relationship resume doesn’t look good. There’s lots of gaps, many short term stints and the descriptions sound sketchy.

One Day… someone will come along and perhaps, just perhaps they will stay and the love will be real.

And I won’t want to love sad songs anymore.

Standard
hookup culture, Men, sex, Uncategorized, Women

Surviving R. Kelly and Everyone Else

This weekend I discovered the docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly, on Lifetime. I was horrified, shocked, confused but also very much jaded. I kept thinking backwards to try to recall when all of these accusations were circulating in the media. I guess I missed all of it because I was a teenager myself and not a huge fan? Yes I can name some of his most popular songs but they weren’t ever my favorites. At that time in my life the only older man I had eyes for was Brad Pitt! (That’s another blog post LOL).

I know many right now are grieving and angered by the stories in the series. The stories of Robert Kelly’s predatory behavior, his own sexual abuse as a child, the countless underage girls he preyed on, the manipulation, the intimidation, the domestic and dating violence, the deceit, the power plays, his Hiding In Plain Sight, and much more. Watching women cry through the painful memories that haunt them is in itself painful to the viewer.

I’m not glad any of this has happened to the individuals involved. I am hopeful that through the handful of stories shared by these brave women that people will begin to take sex seriously.

Sex wasn’t made for a power game. Sex wasn’t made for manipulation. Sex wasn’t made for control.

If you are having a sexualized relationship with someone and power, manipulation and control are a dominating the experiences – then you need to remove yourself. Leave, ask for help, reach out at all costs. It will destroy you.

Sex alone is a powerful experience. The God of the Bible created sex as a powerful experience to glue a man and women together in a covenant. The covenant(marriage) is two becoming one, not one enveloping the other.

The only visual representation I can use to warn you against is that of Symbiote. The symbiote comes from the Marvel comic book world used to identify a fictional species that bonds with their hosts. Wikipedia states, “They also are able to slightly alter their hosts personalities, by influencing their darkest desires and wants, along with amplifying their physical and emotional traits and personality, granting them super-human abilities.”

Think of the Venom taking over Eddie Brock. In this clip Eddie meets Venom.

Its all fun and games when it’s a movie, a comic book movie, a movie with my Bae(Tom Hardy)- but its your demise when your mind and body are conquered by another entity.

Outside of God’s will, we will come in contact with these other entities. I do believe just like Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, and spiritual forces in the heavenly realms.

That is why we have to be born again like Jesus tells us in John 3:3-6. Before we are born again, we are operating in the flesh.

John 8:44 tells us, You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Jesus was speaking to the Pharisee at this time, because they refused to acknowledge Him as the Son of God, refused to accept the Truth and because of this rejected His authority. This goes the same for us in the here and now. When we believe ourselves to be our own authority then anything goes.

Aleister Crowley, made famous ‘Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” in the early 1900s but its message goes back to the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3. The serpent introduced “do as thou wilt” to Eve and she welcomed it.

I’m getting real nerdy here to drive home the message that outside of Christ, we will do harm to one another. Mark 7: 21-23 tells us, For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.

Is Robert Kelly guilty of such things? YES.

Is he guilty of crimes in our modern society? YES.

Is he guilty of being a human devoid of submission to Christ? YES.

Should we intercede on his behalf? YES.

A couple of years ago I attended a conference on a college campus. The topics covered were regarding campus safety, sexual assault and stalking, mass shootings etc. There was a breakout session led by a professor that presented us with the story of Nate Parker and his movie, Birth of a Nation (2016). The movie and Nate Parker were receiving mixed reviews. The film tells the true story of a slave rebellion in 1831. Nate Parker’s past had come to the fore front as the movie was released. During his college career, he was accused of rape in 1999. I will stop at those facts. Research more if you want. The purpose of the break out session was to discuss the issues of our heroes also being monsters. Do we celebrate the movie and give Nate Parker praise for directing and acting in this depiction of slaves rising up? In a story that has been minimized in our history. Do we protest the movie and Nate Parker? Nate Parker was acquitted of the charges. Does acquittal equal innocence? Is he still guilty of crimes committed even though a court of law found him not guilty?

This seems to be the defense of many Robert Kelly fans. Numerous times in this series, fans stated that he was acquitted of the charges against him and that is why they proceeded forward in their support or business with him.

My one question to throw out there for discussion is: In general, most Americans, could agree that the justice system gets it wrong from time to time. Innocent people are determined guilty and guilty people are determine innocent. The system is flawed whether it be judges, attorneys, or juries. If we start from this agreement, then why would we pledge our loyalty to someone brought into court with video evidence of them paying cash to a 14 year old girl for sex? The charges were child pornography. The existence of a video let alone fits the description.

Many voices in the series referred a lot to the Black community. Some felt the Black community failed the women and girls that were harmed by Rob Kelly. I would agree.

No matter the “community” you identify with, racial, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, political – it will fail you.

We cannot pledge allegiance to our demographics.

How do we move forward?

First, we need to welcome Godly sorrow and grieve our mistakes.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

Our personal sins and the sins of others needs to bring us sorrow. We need to learn to blush again, we need to be embarrassed for our lack of self control and rebellion. We need to be grieved by abuse committed against others. By abuse, I mean all forms of sexuality that is not under the submission of the Word of God. Society’s standard for sexual behavior is that which is consensual. However, God’s standard is much MUCH HIGHER.

Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when they are punished,
says the LORD. Jeremiah 8:12

Second, we need to repent. To repent means to turn from sin. Feeling Godly sorrow is foundational but next is to turn away. Turn away and run in the opposite direction.

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

Third, is to pursue righteousness. How do we do that? Ephesians 5:1-20 outlines how we should live.

1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally, if a relationship is what you desire Paul has some amazing things to say in 1 Corinthians 7:1-40 and Ephesians 5:21-33. I encourage you to read it in the Message version. Please do read them!
Some highlights are:

Now, getting down to the questions you asked in your letter to me. First, Is it a good thing to have sexual relations? Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 MSG

Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others. 1 Corinthians 7:7 MSG

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. Ephesians 5:25-27 MSG

Let me say again, if you are in a relationship that does not model the above mentioned scriptures, if you are having a sexualized relationship with someone and power, manipulation and control are a dominating the experiences – then you need to remove yourself. Leave, ask for help, reach out at all costs. It will destroy you.

The thief (satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Make the sure the Shepherd you are following is the Right One, the Righteous One. Jesus said that those that have come before were thieves and robbers John 10:7. Don’t let them steal your life.

Throughout the beginning of time, Robert Kelly and others have come in disguise to shepherd, but they were thieves. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and is coming back for His people.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Psalm 90:1

We can mute Robert Kelly and others like him but 30 more will take his place. Evil was always here. The human experience and condition can be egregious and it often is. I feel fear for those that do not know who they are co-heirs with Christ Romans 8:17 and what is to come, But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father – Mark 13:32. What will you be caught doing when Christ returns? Will He recognize you or say depart from me, I never knew you- Mark 7:23.

Take this docuseries as time to reflect. Reflect on our culture and where we have arrived. Reflect on your own life, have you contributed to a culture that makes sex arbitrary instead of sacred? Reduced it to just consensual instead of Holy.

Romans 3:10-12:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”

Weep for the culture and be burdened to fight against immorality.

 

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[a] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[b] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:19-24

Related Videos: 

Standard
hookup culture, Men, sex, The Cross, Uncategorized, Women

The Ties that Bind…

Rejection. Fear. Insecurity. Judgement. Inner Vows. Soul Ties. Shame. Identity. Sex. Freedom.

Please allow me to take you on a bit of a personal journey with me. I have just about always been a Christian but I became a Christ follower six years ago. You can scroll back in this blog and read for yourself the different landmarks of my journey from fornicating-party girl to celibate-small group leading-church girl. I have some links set up to help fill you in as I explain some things I have recently learned. After going through yet another transformative conference at a local church, (the same one I mention in a Lonely Girl’s Cry) more things have stood out to me.

First, it has been a quest to break a particular soul tie in my life. It started 10 years ago with a sinful situationship (The Purge). Although I’ve been healed since then and been celibate for five and a half years, there’s always been a pining in my heart for that person. Despite logic. Regardless of the prayers I have prayed for and against the desire. It’s been a secret to most. While recently watching The Heart of Man, as per the assignment in the online Journey into The Heart of Man curriculum, something one of the storytellers said was like a clue left for me to find. The person defined infatuation as: a projection of a fantasy onto another person. This is not how I have defined infatuation. This definition opened my eyes to see that is what I have done. My fantasy is what has kept me in the pursuit. The pastor teaching on soul ties explained we stay tied to a person through the physical, soul or spirit. The definition of soul (mind, will and emotions) was jumping off the page screaming for me to find yet another clue. I kept repeating mind, will, emotions, mind, will, emotions… will, will, will. The Holy Spirit allowed me to see that I kept myself attached to that person because I have put my will over God’s will. My mind and emotions have not been attached to that person in years but my will is what has remained attached. I see it so clearly now that I have willed this attachment into existence. Even to the point of making an inner vow and actually to God, “the only way I will stop wanting him is if he gets married or gets someone pregnant.” Now if this isn’t a bold declaration of my will to Yahweh, I don’t know what is. This is me telling God I will do my will first, then I will consider Yours. Sadly, I have yet to repent of this disobedience since coming to the realization. This is the first time I’m realizing what a terrible mistake I have made. I knew I was making an idol of that person and could tell you that I’ve apologized to God for thinking of that person more than HIM. But not only did I make that person an idol but obviously now I see I made an idol of myself. When we place our will above God’s will, we are making gods of ourselves. I for sure will be repenting of this.

Second, in Its Different for Girls, I wrote, “In front of him I was sand through his fingers. I wanted him to give me form.” During the session on Identity, this quote came to mind. I wanted him to give me form. That is very telling of the condition my heart used to be in. I could see that at one time I had been seeking significance through him. That is why I took the rejections so harshly. I used to imagine when you go to the produce section at the grocery store and you start picking up fruit. I felt like the apple that gets picked up for a couple of seconds but after a brief examination, its deemed unworthy to be purchased and taken home. Just a nobody apple. Nothing special. A faceless forgettable nobody. When we seek our identity in something other than Christ that is what we are led to see, a faceless forgettable nobody. There is nothing life giving outside of God’s will. Outside of God’s will there is no hope only despair.

Third, it stood out to me very clearly that I had held a judgement against that person. Throughout the conference we were given the task to keep track of anything (sins, memories, etc) we wanted to lay at the Cross on a blank paper in the workbook. After the session on Judgements, I wrote on the blank page, “Judgement- [man’s name]- is a selfish jerk.” Throughout that session the Holy Spirit was leading me to this truth: you only saw him as a selfish-jerk, through the lens of your rejection and insecurity, he was just another person living his life. Now I could recount all the details, replay conversations and words spoken, actions done which would lead you to determine that Yes, he was a selfish-jerk and poor me. However, within the massive context of my whole life and his whole life, we were people that collided and bruised one another, because we are broken humans. I projected my fear, insecurity and rejection onto him and it was a very real feeling to me. Every text ignored, every sexual encounter left open like a gaping wound in my heart left me with extreme feelings and racing thoughts. What I experienced was real but it was not the Truth of who I was, who he was or of what was taking place. I’m sure he is a good man. He most likely has a good heart, something I couldn’t see simply because all I could see was someone rejecting me and simply because he never showed it to me. I often tell women on my caseload that “most people, most of the time do not have ill intentions,” it us that perceive things differently than what may be actually happening. I want to emphasize that we must examine our hearts constantly to make sure we are seeing people for who God says they are, not who we tally them up to be.

Here’s where it gets interesting, before I attended this conference, I had a dream on October 21st. I woke up feeling strange. As my mind was warming up for the day, the pieces of my dream were coming together. I had dreamed that that person died. In my dream, I had read it in a newspaper article. I was trying to confirm it by finding a local newspaper article or asking people. When I woke up I went online to research what a death in a dream could mean. Some sites talked about transformation, re-birth, new life changes. I stopped there. I felt that God was speaking to me to say that the situation was dead and to leave at that. God was ending it for me. Since having this dream and discovering all these missing pieces, I know that it truly is up to me to lay my will aside. When I’m tempted to use my will to tie a shoestring back onto that person, it will be my conscious choice to do so or not.

God gave us free will to choose. He never said you’ll get to choose between two easy things. I’m finding out that our choices are usually between the deepest pit or the tallest mountain. Both look frightening. We often chase our temptations with vigor but pursue freedom as if we have already lost. We do a lack luster trot instead of a full run as if our life depends on reaching the finish line. I’m no runner, my goal for a 5k is to finish is under an hour. I have to change. We are a new creation in Christ. There should be nothing that resembles my old life, not even my inner life.

Lastly, it’s easy for some Christians to get freedom in some areas of their life but still remain shackled in other areas. I’m not one of those Christians, or at the very least, I maintain a firm hope that I will take as much freedom that God will allow. I believe Freedom isn’t given, it’s taken. It’s not given by those that hurt or oppress us. It’s taken from Alpha and Omega. Just like Grace is a free gift from the God that loves us, so is Freedom. Just as we exchange ashes for beauty, we can exchange bondage for freedom. You may find my statement freedom isn’t given, its taken…freedom is a free gift (which is implied a gift is given) as contradictory. I don’t see it as a contradiction. When you look at oppressed people throughout history or now, so often the oppressed outnumber the oppressors. Quite often those in bondage are shackled by nonphysical chains, but shackled by mental and emotional chains. Spiritual, financial are some others.

“As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.

The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.”

The elephant in the story thinks his freedom depends on those that tie the ropes but if the elephant knew that it was an Elephant with tree trunks for legs, it would exert just enough strength to pull that rope off of the spike.
If you knew that you were a Child of God, you could exert enough strength and praise to pull the shackles off the enemy’s vine.

The very last activity of the conference is a prayer tunnel, the pastors and leaders anoint you with oil and pray over you as you walk through with your eyes closed. You most often don’t remember everything that was said nor does anyone praying over you actually know what is going on in your inner life. However, the first thing that was said over me was straight from Heaven. A pastor said “bring freedom others.” As this was spoken to me, I immediately united with God to take this as the other part of my calling. (Read more in Be Brave). I’m called to free the captives and fortify the weak.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Must Watch: The Heart of Man film- https://heartofmanmovie.com/

My current reading: Unwanted by Jay Stringer- http://jay-stringer.com/

Worship: New Wine- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbJaM_EneMw&list=RDQbJaM_EneMw&start_radio=1

Standard