Tag Archives: Marriage

Why Settle for a Wedding When You Can Have a Marriage?

41hRKhTijSL“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” – Genesis 3:24

A few weeks ago, I got a text from a friend who asked me to keep two of her friends in prayer for they were going through a divorce and were not only finding the emotional trauma of the separation difficult but were experiencing major anxiety with regards to being separated from their children.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. That was the fourth request for those going through a divorce that WEEK. Why Lord? My spirit screamed out as I felt a wave of righteous indignation sweep over me. What is going on? I questioned.

No sooner had I asked that question, a bible versed popped into my head. If you guessed Genesis 3:24, you are right! Immediately, I heard the words, ‘the problem is that many people are settling for a wedding instead of striving to be married.’ Then the explanation came:

To be joined is to be wedded together. It means two things are connected together. But just because two things are connected together does not mean they are one. To be married is different. When two things are married together, that means they unite and become one. Think of two circles: Just because they are connected or joined together does not mean they are flush against each other (married)

The bible verse that the two SHALL become one flesh. The ‘shall’ is an expression of an instruction / intention of something that will happen in the future. In other words, the verse is telling us that first comes the wedding, then comes the marriage. Marriage is a process and NOT a one time event.

Light-bulb moment: When people say they want to be married, what many really are saying is that they want to be wedded.

What the wedding (joining) represents is a commitment to be married (becoming one). Without this commitment, a marriage cannot take place. Hence, we see that the bedrock for any marriage is a commitment. But note that commitment is just the foundation upon which a marriage is built.

Light-bulb moment: Being committed to each other is just the beginning and NOT the end. It is time to be wedded to the process of marriage.

 So what does the process of marriage look like? The scriptures reveal it to us in Ephesians 5:25-27 (NKJV): Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

The church in this passage represents the bride while Christ represents the groom. The groom in this case pays the bride price (in the case of Jesus by giving his life) thus signaling the betrothal. Note: In Hebrew culture, this was a de facto marriage, for the end of a betrothal required a divorce that could ONLY be initiated by the groom.

Why did He do it? He did it in order to cleanse her with the water through the word so that she should be holy and without blemish. In other words, he did it so that he could help her become the very best version of herself!

Why did He go through all that trouble? He did it because the only way we could become one with Him (married to Jesus) is by becoming spotless / without blemish as He is spotless and without blemish. In other words, He did it so that they could experience real closeness that comes with full compatibility (in spirit, soul, and body)

Light-bulb moment: Marriage comes when two people are committed to helping each other become the best person they can be and are committed to developing intimacy with one another.

Note: While wedding requires spiritual compatibility, marriage requires that we are compatible in spirit and soul. Being that each person in this world is uniquely made and has unique experiences (no one person is the same), the ONLY place we can find soul compatibility is also in Christ.

Points to Ponder

A marriage where both partners are not committed to putting God first is destined not to last.

How well your earthly marriage goes depends on how much you allow God to cleanse you in your heavenly marriage

For weddings to turn into marriages, each person must take their individual journey of oneness with God

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What Makes a Woman Want to Submit to Her Husband?

I had the pleasure of attending two wonderful weddings in the past 30 days – one in the U.S and another in the U.K. On both occasions, the minister in charge made mention of the scripture where husbands are to love their wives and wives are to submit to their husband (Ephesians 5:22 – 28).

Being good sports, both couples took the advice and everything went as planned. Yet it was clear by looking at the expressions of quite a number of the ladies in the congregation that the statement had gone in one ear and come out of the other. From my conversations, it is clear to me that a substantial number of women toil with the issue of submitting to their husband. And should they somehow wrap their heads around it, it is nigh impossible for them to fully wrap their hearts around it.

What it Means To Submit

When the bible tells a woman to submit to her husband, it does NOT mean that the woman is to be a slave to every one of her husbands whim and wham. The word ‘submit’ itself is a complex word that can be broken down into two components: ‘Sub’ which means under AND mission. In other words, for a woman to submit to her husband is for her to come under the mission of her husband.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: For a wife to submit to her husband is for her to come under her husband’s mission

What is the Husband’s Mission?

Now before any man goes ‘yeah that’s right, God said my wife must come under my mission’, God in His providence does not leave what the mission of the husband is to chance. He tells the man  his mission is similar to the mission of Jesus Christ.

What was Jesus’ mission? His mission was to love His bride (the church) by giving His life for her (putting down His crown and taking a lower position to the point of laying down his life) in order to marry Himself to her so that He might provide spiritual leadership over her ( that is to cleanse and sanctify her by the washing of water by the word) that she might become what she was predestined to become (holy and without blemish).

So what is the Husbands mission? Once the Husband and wife are wed (for that is the only way he becomes a husband), his mission is to marry (join) himself to his wife in love by taking the position of a servant leader who provides spiritual oversight over his household for the express purpose of propelling her to be all that she was to made to become. It is not about him. It is about her!

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: First comes the wedding, then comes the marriage.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: For a wife to submit to her husband is for the wife to come under her husband’s God-given mission, which is to be a servant leader and provide spiritual oversight for the purpose of having her become all that she was meant to be and for her to fulfill her destiny.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: When a man is truly on mission, a woman starts to gravitate towards that most noble mission and desires to come under it (if she loves herself).

What About When He is Not on Mission

A wife is told to come under her husband’s mission, she is NOT told to come under her husbands omission (mission that has been omitted or aborted). Whenever the husband is operating outside of the mission God has prescribed to him, he is no longer under mission but rather he is under omission.

It is like when the prophet Jonah went to Tarshish instead of Nineveh – Instead of being on mission, Jonah was on omission. Now if Jonah had made some missteps while on mission, this is different from going the opposite way. Similarly, a wife is to come under the mission of her husband and must learn to forgive some of his missteps along the way ( for he is not perfect) just as he forgives her for not always coming under his mission (for she is not perfect).

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: If Christ’s mission was not good and profitable for us, no one would submit to it. No one would have faith in Him. The same goes for the husband. If his mission is not good; if he is walking in omission, then no woman will willingly submit to Him.

Pitfalls of NOT Loving and Submitting

Failure of a Husband to Love: It is interesting to note that the Fall took place because Adam did not provide spiritual oversight for Eve. If he had provided such oversight, he would have intervened the moment Eve accepted the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil from the serpent. He would have snatched the fruit and said “Now wait a minute, God said we are not to eat from this tree. We are out of here! And don’t let me see you talking to my wife again serpent, lest I lay hands on you.”

Note: At this point Adam had dominion over everything – including the serpent. He could have easily dismissed the serpent but he decided to surrender his leadership and oversight. The result is that he and the rest of his offspring suffered.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: When a husband does not follow his mission, he hurts himself and his family

Failure of Wife to Submit: There is no better example of a wife not coming under the mission of her loving husband than this: We who are the bride of Christ (the church) do not always listen and obey Christ (our Husband) though everything He does for us and wants for us is good. See, God has wed himself to us (the church) yet he is trying to get us to come under His mission (submit) by faith so that we may experience the fullness of His love. When we do not come under God’s mission, we hurt ourselves.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: When a woman does not come under the mission of her loving Husband, she hurts herself.

Hence we see that the only way to avoid real hurt in a marriage is for the husband to love his wife and for his wife to submit to her husband. It is truly a symbiotic and life-giving relationship.

Food for Thought: The marriage compromise is that the husband surrenders to love his wife (instead of loving himself and preserving his own life) and that the wife in turn surrenders to come under her husband’s mission (instead of walking in her own mission).

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5 Reasons Why Many Christian Guys Remain Single

DSingles1God has a sense of humor. When I wrote 5 Reasons Why Many Christian Girls Remain Single, I never meant to follow it up with the same topic directed at men. But God had other ideas! Two days ago, I decided not to listen to music as I normally do in the morning but turned the radio on, hoping to hear a sermon. What I heard as I scanned for the right channel was a reading from the expositor study bible from Son life radio station here in Baton Rouge.

The couple on the radio was reading from Genesis 24 – the story of how Eliezer (Abraham’s servant) took a wife for Isaac. That particular morning, the story gripped me in a way that I had hitherto experienced. I quickly jotted down what the message spoke to me and headed out to work. Later that day, I read the story of Eliezer again. This time, the reasons why many Christian men remain single became unequivocally clear.

He is Not Listening to God’s direction

When Abraham spoke to Eliezer, he specifically directed him to go back to his (Abraham’s) land and family to take a wife for Isaac. Without godly direction, many men simply guess at where they should go to take a wife. They travel here and there, chatting up wrong women after wrong women. By the time they actually get to the place God wants them, the stories of their travels have already reached the land. The women of the land are no longer interested because they do not feel special…they feel like common currency instead of a pearl of great prize. They think, I am one of many he could love, not the one that he loves. Moreover, the man starts to look desperate to them as they start to wonder why the other women did not pick the man up. Nothing puts off a woman more than a desperate man.      

But  guys who move with godly direction do not become unequally yoked with those from strange lands. They do not have to chase after another man’s future wife!  Instead they set their course to the land of God and to the house of God, which is now their house by birthright. Guys, that is the only place where we find the sister that the Lord has planned for us.

He is Not Prepared to Meet His Mate

When Eliezer left, he left with all his master’s goods…which he put on his camels. When we leave to find our beloved, we must not go empty-handed but must leave with the goods of God. We must carry with us the love of God and the gift of the Spirit of God. We must be ready to be a blessing to her instead of going empty-handed, having to ask for and live off some of her stuff. Men, it is extremely difficult for a woman to respect a man who is not ready – who is not ready to be leader, provider, spiritual leader, and godly man that he has been called to become. When we go to find our wives, we must pack our bags of goodies and go. If we have nothing to put in the goody bag, it is not quite our time…we still have some work to do.

He Has Not Positioned Himself in the Right Spot 

When Eliezer got to his destination with his goods in hand, he positioned himself in a spot by the well where he could see the women of the land. It is tragic to think that many godly guys – who are following the will of God and have readied themselves for marriage miss out because they do not purposefully hand around godly women. They expect God to drop a wife on their lap without looking. I wonder if Eliezer would have met Rebekah if he had not purposefully positioned himself to be able to observe the women.

Just as Eliezer did, we have to position yourselves in the right spot and then pray to God to show us which woman he desires for us. Too many good men leave too many good women single because they simply will not position themselves in the right spot. Then both the men and women say ‘there is no good man or women around, they are all taken! No, they are not all taken…they are simply in the wrong spot!

He Beats About the Bush

When Eliezer saw Rebekah, he did not hang around or beat about the bush, but the bible tells us that he ran to her. Men, we cannot become shy and coy when we see an all round desirable godly woman. She will not be at the well forever! She has other things to do and a purpose to fulfill. If you are Mr. Snail, then you may find that she is gone or disinterested by the time you sum up the courage to go to her.

This reminds me of the man who had been waiting to get into the pool of Bethesda for 38 years, who Jesus asked if he wanted to be made well. Instead of just saying yes, the first words that came out of his mouth were excuses! He was going to miss the opportunity to get well because he had pinned his hope on the waters!

Similarly, you cannot pin your hopes on the lady you so desire noticing you per chance as you beat about the bush. If you are going to pursue her, then pursue her!

He Never Made His Intentions Clearly Known

When Eliezer caught up to Rebekah and she had watered his camels, he made it known to her the intention of his actions and his visit. Alas, after positioning and pursuing, too many men miss out on destiny because they end up in the friendship zone! After getting the woman’s initial attention, they do not fess up to their hearts intentions out of fear of being rejected. So they end up being the best friends of these women…doing all kind of things for them…and then watch as other men swoop. Sadly, the woman who once saw you as husband potential starts to think you are not interested and starts to see you as a friend. Men, we have to tell her our intentions. The worst thing that can happen is that she is does not go with you. If she is not interested, it is not rejection, it is simply re-direction. So tell her what you intentions her! She will respect you even if she does not care to follow you!

Food for Thought: Instead of standing in hope, start walking in faith until you meet your destiny

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3 Simple Ways To Know If Your Man Really Loves You

I recently met a woman by the name of Renee (not her real name) who divorced her husband after a few months of marriage. Though she said that she was over the relationship, the pain and hurt she still felt came through loud and clear as she spoke of their relationship. Her words were saying one thing but her heart was revealing quite another. When I asked if she saw any sign’s of trouble prior to the marriage, she said no. She said to me, Emmanuel, it is as if he changed into a completely different person. He said all the right words and did all the right things before we got married. I thought he truly loved me.

The statement, I thought he truly loved me, hit me hard like a swift punch to the solar plexus! They were the same words that an ex had spoken to me when we broke up many moons ago (my fault for the record). After a  few moments of silence, I was able to say to her:  Love is more than a feeling, is not confirmed by words, and it reaches beyond the boundary of actions. Love gives but expects nothing in return. Just because an action reflects love does not mean the action comes from a heart of love. The heart of love gives and expects nothing back in return. The heart of fear always wants something in return, but there is no fear in love! Did he marry you because he truly loved you or because you were great to him, filled a hole in him, and he was afraid of losing you?

She replied, I liked that I meant something to him (filled a hole in him) and that he wanted to keep me! What is wrong with that? I said, I do not know your full situation, but could it be that his affection towards you was triggered only by what you could do for him? His shower of love towards you and his sacrifice, was it because you met his needs? Though it seemed all about you, was it truly all about him? As she pondered the questions, I continued, it is not the what that matters most, it is the why that matter most!

She said, what are the reasons a man should love me? I replied, let us see why Jesus loved us and gave himself for us:

Ephesians 5: 25 -29:  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.

He wants you to be one with him in the Lord

A man who loves you continually works to strengthen the cord of love that exists between you and him. He does this by growing his relationship with the Lord and being a spiritual leader of the household. He understands that there is no way both of you can walk in agreement with each other unless you make Jesus the center of your lives. So he initiates open and honest conversation. He asks you to do nothing that is contrary to the way of the Lord and does not even put you in those situations. You are praying and seeking God together with the kind of man.

 

He wants you to be the best you can be

A man who loves you is one who wants you to walk in the purpose to which God has called you. He wants you to be the best that you can be. And he walk’s foreign lands if he has to! He wants you to live a significant life and makes you priority. A man who loves you will meet you where you are and will always strive to get you to a better place. Think of the Samaritan woman who drank of the water of the words of Jesus. She instantly turned from an insignificant harlot who probably avoided people out of shame, to an outspoken evangelist. She went from being an outcast to someone who helped bring her entire village to the knowledge of God. That is what a man who loves does! He desires to help you reach higher spiritually, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, financially etc.

He wants you to fulfill your destiny

Just as Jesus wants us to wear a crown of glory when we get into heaven, a man who loves you will desire that you win the prize in your race of life; that you cross the finish line and fulfill your destiny. This means that he is sensitive to your needs and chooses for you to be his first priority. He considers your destiny in the decisions that he is making. Nothing is done selfishly. He wants to shine the spotlight on you so that you can receive honor. He is not one to want the limelight for himself. This is a man who is not jealous of your accomplishments and does not become insecure in your glory. He asks about your goals and dreams and supports you. He is your number one cheerleader.

Food for Thought: A man who loves you feeds you and cares for you in every way

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5 Reasons Why Many Christian Girls Remain Single

DSingles1In 2012 ,I was invited to be a member of a panel at a Christian singles conference. After speaking about living a purposeful life, and remaining pure in singleness, the topic of marriage invariably came up. A woman stood up and started pouring out her heart about how she desired a husband. How she was in her late thirties and did not want to be alone anymore. She said that she was on the verge of ‘settling’!

In an attempt to comfort her, an older woman whom we will call Sarah stood up and proclaimed that she was single at 60 AND had never married. Sarah started to encourage the younger lady. She said, look at me, I am 60 and not married but I will not settle. I want what God wants for me and will not settle for less. I have had many counterfeit men come into my life. Sarah then went ahead and started to rattle off about the men that had been potential suitors and what was wrong with them. As she spoke, somethings that seemingly escaped her started to become clear to those of us on the panel. She was to blame for being single at 60.

Here are some of the things we realized about Sarah that kept her single

Sarah wanted Jesus…not a disciple of Jesus…but Jesus Himself

Many women, like Sarah are looking for the perfect mate. They want someone who is going to complete them and be their everything! If this is you, then my question to you is this: If a man completes you and becomes your everything, then what position is Jesus taking in your life? Jesus is the one that completes you and is meant to be your everything. So, to look for completeness in a man is to make that man an idol in your life, it is to have put man above God! This will only lead to ruin because no man is perfect! Try as he might, he will disappoint you! So stop looking for someone who will not disappoint you over the lifetime you wish to be married…you will not find it. Even you, yes you…have and still disappoint many people…whether you realize it or not…whether you meant it or not. Instead of looking for perfection, look for someone who is striving towards perfection. This is a person that loves God and does not want to be conformed to the world but whose life’s purpose is to be transformed into the image of Jesus.

As my mom says, if you meet a person who is perfect, run away, for you will make imperfect whatever is making that person seem perfect.

Sarah saw herself as a princess, but she did not care to prince her man

There are many women who see themselves as awesome and incredible royalty. Many women say, I want to be treated like a princess! The issue is that they do not want their man to be a prince. They do not want to share any power or give up any control. Instead, they want their partners to take the position of a slave while treating them like a princess. The reason many women cannot let go of control is because of fear – perhaps due to not dealing with the hurts of past relationships. The moment the man does not give her the power she craves, she takes it as he not treating her like a princess and so searches for greener pastures. Conversely, many men see that while they are giving all they have, the woman is not following suit! Many women think that this is part of being pursued; many men simply see it as being disrespectful.

As a princess, you have to make sure you prince your man. Compliment him and let him know that you appreciate that he is being led by the King. Let go of the control. Taking a chance at love means you take a chance with your heart. This is because only the heart can feel love, not your head.

Sarah liked being pursued but did not want to be caught

In the bible, the servant of Abraham went to a land far away in pursuit of a wife for Isaac. When he got there, it was Rebekah that came to the well. When he approached, she did not play games and dilly-dally. No, she said that she would not wait as her family had requested but would follow Eliezer immediately back to Isaac. When Boaz pursued Ruth, Ruth decided to show her interest by laying at his feet. See, both Rebekah and Ruth showed interest. They did not play games or play hard to get.

Ladies, if a prince has found you, then admit it and go forward as long as you have God’s blessing. I am not saying be easy, but at the same time, do not be hard to get. Just as you are a gift to him, he is also a gift to you! If a man is pursing you, do not run him away with games.

Sarah was way too picky

Sarah did not want God to decide whom she should marry but decided on who she wanted to marry. In essence, she said: God, forget about who you desire for me, this is the person I want to marry…now make it happen! It was no longer God’s will for her life but her will for her life!

But does God not want to give us the desires of our heart? Yes…as long as it glorifies God. In fact, the scripture says: delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. As you delight yourself in the Lord, you will find that His desires become your desire…thus your desire will glorify God!

You must believe right now that what God wants for you is better than what you could ever want for yourself in the long run. If he is not giving you your hearts desires, it may be because you are not ready to handle your heart’s desire. It may be because what you desire is not desirable!

Sarah wanted Boaz but wanted to remain a Delilah

Do not be like Sarah! Every potential suitor she met had some flaw that was fatal. One could not provide. Another could provide but was not attractive enough. A third was attractive and could provide but did not pay her enough attention. Yet, another paid her too much attention. She forgot that she was filled with flaws herself! She was so busy finding fault with everyone that she had no time to look at herself. She was so busy trying to find the speck in someone else’ life that she forgot that the log in her eyes was blinding her vision of the truth about herself. The truth that just like everyone else, she is imperfect and needs a savior as well!

Sarah could not understand why the one’s she thought were ‘perfect’ for her were not interested. Sarah, perhaps it is because they are not willing to ‘settle’ either.

I thank God that he did not wait for us to be perfect but settled for us. He wants us to settle for nothing less than Himself. This means that we have to take the reins off our own lives and surrender completely to His will. It seemed that Joseph settled for Mary when He married a pregnant girl…but He became immortalized in history because of it. Are you willing to settle for God’s best for you?

Food for Thought: Maybe I cannot find Mr.Right because I am wrong in the way I see relationships

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The father, The rose, and His son

Once upon a time, there was a boy who saw a beautiful rose in a rose garden planted by his father. This rose so caught his eye that he went to his father and asked him to give it to him. When the father asked his son why he wanted the rose, the son replied, ‘I want this rose because it is beautiful. I want to plant it in the best soil and I want to nourish it so that it becomes a beautiful flowerbed.’

Seeing that the heart of his son was in the right place, the father asked one more question. He said, ‘Son, are you sure you are ready for the responsibility of a gardener? Are you sure you are ready to handle this beautiful rose?

The son, whose eyes were now filled with tears wasted no time in saying yes! He then described to his father how special this rose was to him; how he could not keep his eye off this particular rose, and how his heart melted every time he thought about it. The father, seeing that the rose was truly his son’s heart desire was moved with compassion. So he said to his son, ‘I see that you truly love this rose. I want to give you this rose but I first have to make sure you are ready! You see son, I love this rose very much as well. I have spent a lot of time nourishing it. I will let you take care of this rose for a while. If you take good care of it in my garden, I will allow you to put it in your garden

Upon hearing this, the boy went away extremely happy. After months of diligently taking care of the rose, the son approached his father once more for the rose and the father consented to him taking the rose. The night before he was to get his prize, he could hardly sleep! The next morning, he approached his rose and after a moment’s pause, bent down to uproot it from the ground.

But when he grabbed the stem of the rose to pull it out, he felt a sharp pain in his hand. So, he quickly let go of the rose and looked at his hand only to find blood all over his hands. Not understanding what happened, he took a closer look at the rose and found that its stem was covered with thorns!

Angry and disappointed, he left the rose halfway uprooted from the ground and stormed into the house. When he found his father, he said to him: ‘Father, look at what this rose of yours has done to me. Why did you not tell me that it is full of thorns? If I had known that this flower had thorns on it, I would not have asked you for it

To this remark, the father (after tending to his son’s hand) sat him down and explained to him saying:

‘Son, there is no flower as beautiful and as desirable as the rose. But the rose is not perfect – just as no flower is perfect. Son, you must learn to handle the rose if you are ever going to enjoy a good relationship with it. Like many others that I have given a chance to get to know the rose, you only chose to see the beauty but you blinded your eyes to its thorns – and so you got hurt. Others who saw the thorns decided that they no longer wanted the rose – so they settled for less and missed out on the best thing I had planned for them. Son, you desired an idea of the rose but never the true rose. You must desire the entire rose – even with all its thorns. See, those thorns you do not like right now are the same weapons that the rose will use to defend itself against other false gardeners apart from you. See son, the rose is only good to those gardeners that handle it with the gloves of love and will only respond to those who treat it with love! This is how I have on purpose brought up the rose.

Moreover, the father said to his son:

Son, see how you have hurt my rose! You rejected it when you found that it had thorns. You have left it uprooted so that it is no longer fully secure in the ground. You have left my rose vulnerable and insecure. This is wrong of you! You took something that was secure where I planted it and now you have left it insecure because you did not adequately prepare yourself for it. My rose never asked for you but you asked for it. My rose did not fool you by hiding its thorns but you fooled yourself. Because of your hurry, you blinded yourself. Now son, I will go back and replant my rose for now . I will make her secure and lovely once more. My question to you now is this: Do you still want my rose; do you want me to teach you how to handle it?

The son who now realized his foolishness quickly apologized to his father and said:

Father, I am sorry that I have hurt your rose. I was so enamored by the rose that I forgot that you are the master gardener! How prideful of me to think I could take care of this rose without asking for your help! Now, I will delight myself in learning from you so that my heart’s desire (the rose) does not turn into a thorn in my flesh’.

Over the next few years, the son learned from his father how to take care of the rose and eventually got the rose in due season – when he was mature and seasoned enough to handle it. So in the end, the father was gracious to both the rose and his son.

Food for thought: God longs to grant us our heart’s desire, BUT we must not make our desire our delight. If we do, then our heart’s desire has become an idol that becomes our thorn in the flesh and keeps us from the father. When we fail to delight ourselves in the Lord, what was meant to be a blessing becomes a source of pain! If we want to do right by our rose, we must put God first. When we do, he will give us what we desire in due time (see Psalm 37:4).

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The Peril of Being Unequally Yoked!

We should not deceive ourselves. Our existence is more likely to resemble that of Penelope Pit-stop who stumbled into peril after peril, if we are unequally yoked within ourselves (see Ready for Marriage – Are you equally yoked?) and become yoked with an unbeliever (see Unequally yoked – So you think you are marrying a believer!). Should we become unequally yoked, we find that we encounter the hooded claw of life’s dangers; it is only the mercy and grace of God that keeps us from disaster. Therefore, it is best to avoid testing God by choosing to be unequally yoked – both individually and corporately.

The peril of being unequally yoked in a relationship

Many a men have experimented with marrying unbelievers to disastrous ends. The first ones to try were the sons of God who took the daughters of men as their wives (see Genesis 6:2). By choosing not to yoke themselves with the daughters of God, but instead with those that were not being led by the Spirit of God, their hearts turned towards evil.

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” – Romans 8:14

God was not well-pleased with man’s disobedient decision! Rather than strive with man, He first decided to shorten man’s life to 120 years and then proceeded to send a great flood to wipe man off the face of the earth – except for Noah and those housed in his ark! Hmm! All other men ultimately perished because godly men decided to become unequally yoked with ungodly women.

Note: While emphasis is being placed on men because the Word says that it is a man who finds a wife (see Proverbs 18:22), it goes without saying that women have to ensure they are marrying godly men as well.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  Our thoughts turn towards evil when we decide to yoke ourselves with ungodly partners. Eventually, those evil thoughts manifest into heavy burdens that lead us away from the victorious life God intended for us and potentially shorten our life-span.

Rather than learn from the earliest of warning against being unequally yoked and heeding the warnings of Moses and Joshua, King Solomon decided to marry ungodly women. As a result, he lost his kingdom which was split into two (Judah and Israel) and ushered in a period of prolonged idol worship (spanning many kings) that led previously loyal territories (such as Moab and Edom) to revolt.

If we choose not to learn from the Word, which is profitable to us for correction (see 2 Timothy 3:16) and choose to yoke ourselves with unbelievers, we have no one to blame for the unnecessary troubles (that God can fix) we heap on ourselves.

The peril of being unequally yoked with ourselves

When we do not bring our minds (soul) into full alignment with our spirit (which has been infiltrated by the Holy Spirit) via the transformation that comes from the perennial renewal of our minds with the Word of God, we find that we become double-minded. We find ourselves flip-flopping between being led by the Spirit and being led by our own fleshly desires. We yo-yo between fear and faith and so never gain a productive and full harvest, for we never fully nurture the seeds of faith we have been given with the water of the Word.

The mark of the unequally yoked believer is inaction, indecision, procrastination, timidity, vacillation, and an overall lack of boldness. Such a one is a good starter but a poor finisher – for sustained effort is hard to achieve without sustained faith.  If we are unequally yoked, we find that we make many plans and conquer many kingdoms with our mouths! Worse of all, we do not receive anything from God

“For let not that man (who doubts) suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” – James 1:7 – 8

How sad it is that we do not receive anything we ask for, simply because we will not allow our minds to be renewed by the Word.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We cannot just tick the box of reading the Word, but we have to prepare the soil of our hearts so that the Word can renew our minds and so transform us into who we truly are in Christ

Rather than yoke ourselves to our flesh, we are wise to yoke ourselves to the Spirit and join the winning team.

Food for Thought: No one who has ever yoked themselves to Christ has ever been defeated!

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Ready for marriage – Are you equally yoked?

The scriptures advice us not to be unequally yoked with any person with whom we are about to enter into a relationship. In Unequally yoked – So you think you are marrying a believer, I shared some insights on how to spot a true believer versus a potential counterfeit. Specifically, I explained why believing that Jesus is Lord, knowing the Word, preaching the Word, exhibiting spiritual gifts, and obedience is NOT enough to put a stamp of approval on someone as a believer (although true believers also exhibit these qualities) but rather it is their faith-walk. I explain why it is not just enough to have the Spirit, but that we have to be led by the Spirit.

Now, for two people to be equally yoked, they have to be compatible. Since humans are triune beings (for we are spirits who have a soul and live in a body), we have to be compatible in the spiritual realm, in the soul realm, and the physical realm in order to be truly compatible.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If two individuals are incompatible in either the spiritual realm, the soul realm, or the physical realm, they are unequally yoked.

In today’s world, most have shunned spiritual compatibility and navigated away from physical compatibility and have instead focused solely of soul compatibility (as evidenced by the popular use of the term soul-mates). As believers, we cannot drink the Kool-Aid of thinking we can be soul mates with someone with whom we are not spirit-mates. The only way a believer can have the same mind (be soul mates) with someone with whom we are not spirit-mates (having the same Spirit – that is the Spirit of God) is if that believer has strayed away from being spirit-led. Let me explain!

When we become born-again, we receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts, to seal our spirit till the day of redemption (see Ephesians 4:30), and to make our spirit incorruptible (see 1 Peter 1:23). Since it is the sealing of our spirit with His Holy Spirit that makes us the righteousness of God in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:21), it is clear that we cannot be spirit-mates with someone who has not received the Holy Spirit. Why? The incorruptible Spirit of God cannot agree with a corrupt and unsaved spirit for that would be communion between light and darkness. Simply put, the Holy Spirit in us will only agree with the Holy Spirit in someone else for the Holy Spirit can only agree with itself.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: A born-again (saved) person is spiritually incompatible with a person who is not born again.

Yet, the soul of a born-again (saved) person must come into agreement and alignment with their born of God (born again) spirit. The only way this alignment happens is if the soul (mind) is transformed to reflect the spirit nature by allowing the word of God to renew it. The bible puts it this way:

“…Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” – Romans 12:2

Note: This passage tells us that we can be transformed into the image of His Son; aligned with the Holy Spirit within us, by renewing our mind with the Word of God

“…The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of the soul, and spirit, and of joints and marrow…” – Hebrews 4:12

Note: This passage tells us that the word of God is what blurs the lines and is the glue that joins together (aligns) and works in the realm of the spirit, soul, and body (joint and marrow).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: When we spend time in the word of God, our soul and our spirit become aligned and fall into agreement. Hence, it is impossible to be soul mates with a person with whom we are not spirit mates unless we have closed our minds to the Word (God). When we close our mind off to God, we cannot be led by Him.

When our own spirit and soul are equally yoked in Christ, we find that we only desire what God desires. Hence, we are more likely to yoke ourselves with those to whom we are physically compatible (just as a lock and key are compatible compared to a lock and a lock), and we find that we desire that compatibility to take place within the context of marriage.

If our own spirit and soul are not equally yoked in Christ, we find that we do not walk in agreement with ourselves (for the spirit of God cannot agree with our yet to be transformed soul). Hence, the extent to which we renew our minds determines the extent to which our soul and spirit agree. If we renew our minds regularly, we will be on fire for Christ. If we do not, we will blow hot and cold for Christ, be double-minded, and be more susceptible to sin (for we have not taken up our sword of the spirit).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: First, we have to make sure we are equally yoked with ourselves ( that our soul and spirit in Christ are agreed and aligned) before we try to be yoked to someone else.

Hence, the bible passage, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed” – Amos 3:3, applies to both the individual and the couple. An individual whose soul does not agree (via the renewal of the mind) with his spirit (which has been born again of the Spirit of God) is not ready to be yoked with anyone else. This person must first get the soul to spirit compatibility right before he/she is ready for marriage. Likewise, two people who are not agreed together in their spirit and soul are not ready to be yoked together and certainly should avoid being yoked physically.

To summarize, here is what it means to be equally yoked

  • Both you and your future partner have received the spirit (born-again) and so have a relationship with God
  • Both you and you future partner fellowship with God daily and so renew your minds and put on the mind of God constantly
  • Both you and your future partner walk in faith (rather than just have it)
  • Both you and your future partner are Spirit-led (not just Spirit-filled) and so exhibit the fruit of the spirit (see Galatians 5:22 – 23)
  • Both you and your future partner keep your eyes focused on God no matter what (rather than on each other or problems, thereby making them idols)

Food for Thought: I need to be made whole (equally yoked) before I yoke myself to others

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Unequally Yoked – So you think you are marrying a believer!

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” – Romans 8:14

Paul makes it clear that it is not enough to have the spirit of God, but that we have to be led by the Spirit. He further implores us not only to live in the spirit but to walk in the Spirit (see Galatians 5:25) for it is those of us that walk in the Spirit that do not fulfill the desires of the flesh and are able to produce the fruit of the Spirit.

To be led, we have to hear from our leader (God). Now, it is impossible to be led without studying and meditating on the Word of God, for the bible tells us that hearing comes by the Word. Actually, the whole verse tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word. Therefore, it is hearing that grants us faith (trust and belief) to obey (walk or be led) by the Spirit. Since it is simply not possible to be Holy Spirit led without having faith in God (Jesus Christ), we ought not to be mocked in the these two things:

  • It is only those who have faith in Jesus Christ that can receive and be led by the Holy Spirit (God)
  • It is our faith walk that makes us a child of God – it is what makes us a believer

The second bullet point elevates and challenges our thinking on what Paul means when he tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. He is telling us not to be married to someone who is not walking in faith. He puts it this way:

“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever” – 2 Corinthians 6:15

When I first read this, I thought Paul was unnecessarily harsh or perhaps going off the deep-end a little. I thought to myself: Paul, you are comparing an unbeliever to Belial! Seriously!  Then it dawned on me that the only way to identify a true believer is a person’s faith walk. I stumbled upon this realization as I began to unravel what Belial (evil spirit/devil/demon) is able to do. Since no one would call Belial a believer, there must be something that separates believers from him. That something is faith! To bolster this assertion, here are some interesting facts about Belial.

Belial believes that Jesus is Lord

“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!” – James 2:19

The devil and demons have no problem believing that Jesus is Lord (see Matthew 8:29) for they know it fully well. After all, they were cast away or separated from God because of rebellion. Satan was disobedient (rebelled) because he did not love God. How do we know he did not love God? We know because the scriptures tell us that those who love God keep and obey His commandments (see John 14:21). Since genuine faith works through love (see Galatians 5:6), we know the Satan and the rest of his rebellious crew (demons) also did not have faith! If demons had faith, they would not tremble (fear) at the name of Jesus, for there is no fear in love (1 John 4:18). But they do not have faith or love, so they operate in fear.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: A believer is not just someone who believes that Jesus is Lord but walks in faith and produces faith-based work. Since genuine faith grows out of love, the walk (life) and work (actions) of a true believer is steeped in love.

Belial knows the scriptures

“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”” – Matthew 4:6

This is the devil quoting scripture to Jesus.What impudence! But it does show that the devil knows scripture and is able to quote it – probably better than we can and at will. Hence, the knowledge of scripture itself is not the mark of a believer. If it were, then we would be unable to distinguish a believer from the devil! Without the Holy Spirit to guide us and to lead us aright, we only apply the scripture erroneously and for our selfish gain –just like Satan tried with Jesus.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: A person who is filled with the knowledge of the Word of God is nothing but an historian if that knowledge does not produce faith (which is only possible through the Holy Spirit).  The scripture to a person without faith is simply a history book. Hence the ability to quote and recall scripture does not prove a believer.

Belial can exhibit “spiritual” gifts

Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour” – Acts 16:16 – 18

The slave girl had the gift to tell the future – a gift of prophesy so to speak! Yet it turns out that she was possessed with an evil spirit. It is also very interesting that although demon-possessed, she was helping to spread the gospel! It just goes to show that not everyone who is proclaiming the gospel is of God. This exemplifies why the bible warns us about false prophets and warns us in the last days not to be fooled by those that perform mighty works.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: The ability to exhibit “spiritual” gifts does not prove the believer as the gift may be from ungodly spirits working in that individual.

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” – Matthew 7:22 – 23

Belial obeys God – but in fear

“And He said to them, “Go.” And when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine…” – Matthew 8:32

The demons obey the voice of God when He speaks to them. Hallelujah! The difference between the obedience of a believer and that of demons is this: The obedience of evil spirits does not come out of love (and hence faith) but instead comes out of fear. See, faith and fear are the polar opposites of each other, but both require that we believe something that is yet to be. Both faith and fear can produce obedience – fear produce obedience based on consequences; faith produces obedience based on love.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Faith released outside of the realm of love is fear in disguise.

Spot a Believer

So, if believing that Jesus is Lord, reading and knowing the scripture, preaching the Word, exhibiting spiritual gifts, and Pharisaical obedience to the law are not full proof ways to spot a believer, then how can we spot believers? How can we tell if someone is walking in faith?

The answer is simply this: By their fruits you shall know them (see Mathew 7:20). A person who walks in faith also walks in the Spirit for it is the Spirit of God that grows our faith as we spend time in His Word. Anyone who truly walks in the Spirit produces the spiritual fruit of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

No one can fake these fruits. An impatient person cannot simply become patient at will. A selfish person will not be joyful because selfishness produces dissatisfaction or perennial unhappiness. A person who cannot control their tongue will not all of a sudden be able to master their tongue. These fruits cannot be faked because what we produce comes from who we are and what is in our hearts rather than what we do (obey, preach the Word…).

A person who is truly in Christ produces the fruit of the Spirit along with the works (read the bible, preach the Word…)

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: A true believer walks in faith and therefore produces spiritual fruit. If we do not see spiritual fruits, then we see a counterfeit believer. Whatever else they do should not impress us much!

Food for thought: We cannot believe in God and not produce love for He is love.

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