Celebrating Men

Celebrating Men
Predator, Protector or Confused?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Thoughts on Sex and Sexuality

Some may find this shocking or unbelievable, but typically, I don’t have many sexual thoughts unless I see, hear, read or experience sexual stimuli. Most of the time, I choose not to entertain sexual thoughts because I don’t want to become sexually stimulated and fall into sin. Then there are those unavoidable times during the menstrual cycle when one’s breasts get fuller and heavier. During those times I become more intimately aware of my femininity and sexuality and sexual thoughts follow. This has also been the case when I’ve been involved in romantic relationships; I become more sexually sensitive.

To monitor and control my sexual appetite, I avoid watching movies or parts in movies that have explicit or even semi-explicit sexual content because I don’t want to be sexually stimulated. I don’t want to plant thoughts or encourage thoughts of fornication. Wanting to be held and cared for doesn’t mean the same thing to me as sex. However, the more kissing and holding one engages in and the more intimate one becomes, the more readily one is likely to be aroused. This brings to mind 1 Corinthians 7:9 that states "if one cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." My former pastor had a saying I believe to be scriptural and applicable to this discussion: "Feed what you want to grow, starve what you want to die." Galatians 5:24-25 corresponds to this principle, it says, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."

There are numerous Bible passages that refer to and give instruction about how to view and handle our sensuality (the flesh). However, I’ve rarely heard it discussed or taught in church and yet we all have to deal with it. We live in an extremely heightened, sexually saturated world. Everywhere we turn we’re bombarded with sexual suggestions. We must address it openly and in the proper biblical context if we are to overcome the devil’s tactics, for Satan is a pro at filling the areas that we leave void.

The foundation of sex and sexuality is that God created sex and made it extremely pleasurable and gave us a strong drive to copulate. God is the one who created it but he created it to be used within healthy parameters and for specific purposes. First, God created sex for procreation. He instructed man to be "fruitful and multiply." He wanted us to populate the earth. Therefore, he had to give us a very strong sexual drive and make it pleasurable for us to do a lot of "populating." The intimacy also created a bond, a oneness between the man and his wife; a oneness that was not to be shared outside of the marriage relationship. Satan and sin perverted sex. Sin, (disobedience to God’s Word and his will) causes a deterioration of all that is good, for only God is good. Apart from God we would not know what good is.

So in thinking about sex and controlling my sexual desire I look to the Bible and the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength. Just today I read again one of my favorite scriptures: "Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23). We are to "guard" our passions, our desires and to do so we have to guard our meditations. In order to guard our meditations we have to, as David said, "Hide the word of God in our heart that we might not sin against him." We have to "meditate on the word day and night." We have to stop being conformed to this world and be "transformed by the renewing of our minds…" (Romans 12:2). That means we have to know, accept and obey God’s commands and instructions about how we are to view sex and sexuality.

Some think that because I have not had intercourse that I can’t know much about sexuality. Sadly, I have to say that though I have not had sexual intercourse, I have been very intimate with a few men to where we stopped just shy of sexual intercourse. I have experienced the lust for sex, the wild drive that can seem to obliterate common sense and the desire to lose myself in the throes of passion. Giving in to the flesh can feel extremely pleasurable for the moment. Hebrews 11:25 gives reference to the fact that sin can be pleasurable, but it’s only for a season. Sin brings about death if unchecked.

It is precisely because of the power of sexual attraction that I choose not to date. I am as I am because God has given me a measure of wisdom and discernment to recognize the weakness of the flesh in this area and rather than try to act as though I am so strong in the Spirit, nine times out of ten I’ve chosen to avoid sexually tempting situations or situations I see that can lead to sexual temptations. I am now forty-seven years old. I have been practicing celibacy (purity) for a long time. I have a lot more to learn about sexuality personally and in general, but then so do those who are sexually active. In fact, I tend to think that many who simply give in to sexual impulses and even develop their sexual prowess outside of God’s parameters, know less about pure sexuality than the person who maintains self-control and follows God’s instruction and lead in controlling one’s desires. (Controlling one’s desire is not only in reference to abstaining, but also in how to engage and enjoy sex and sexuality; how to control the context, environment and excesses of sex.)

I am alarmed and somewhat disgusted by the lack of education and mis-education on sex in the body of Christ both by instruction and example. The world laughs at us and speaks with more authority on the subject than we do. That’s incredulous to me! We have God’s word and his Holy Spirit to instruct us and yet we allow the world to instruct us on sex-and better yet, we’re even intimidated by them?! Two biblical references come to mind: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ…" (Romans 1:16), which, by the way, includes all aspects of our lives, including sex, and then, Hebrews 5:12-14 which says, "…though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

When I hear Christians refer to women (or men) as meat or as an object to satisfy their sexual desire and treat them as such, it’s an indication to me that their minds have not been renewed and that they have not truly matured in Christ. I’ve heard passing comments from some Christian men such as "I want to jump her bones," and I wish I could have her for a night." Lord knows what else they say and think privately. Even on a natural or moral level, the disrespect blows my mind. I can’t imagine any man who loves his family wanting his mother, sister, daughter or niece to be referred to in this way, so why would you refer to another man’s family in this regard? That’s on a natural level. Many moral sinners have that level of respect. How much more should the follower or disciple of Christ?!

I am disheartened as I observe Christians sexually defrauding (taking advantage of) one another and thinking nothing of it. In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 Scripture says, "It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality, that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him… For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." Defrauding one another in this way is not loving, yet the Lord commands us to love one another. We’ve conformed more to the world and its patterns rather than transformed our thinking and life to God’s standard. Yes, it’s sad to see the condition and moral abyss of the world in which we live, but when Christians live the same as the rest of the world it is particularly disappointing. The apostle Paul in addressing the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 tells us, "not to associate with the sexually immoral people-not at all meaning the people of the world who are immoral or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer; a drunkard or a swindler…"

We need to talk more about sex, but from a biblical standpoint. Sex is a very good thing, but too often it is spoken of and treated in a most filthy manner rather than as a respectful, healthy recreation for married couples.
God said the marriage bed is holy. "Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure…" (Hebrews 13:4). He goes on to say in the same verse that "God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral." In other passages God says that the sexually immoral will not see God and that among us "there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people… For this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of God"  (Ephesians 5:3-5).

The reason the world is so saturated with a distorted view of sex and sexuality is not only because Satan is the prince of this world and because of the effects of sin, but also because we as the body of Christ have failed. We’ve shrunk back from speaking and living boldly for God and according to his word. We have failed to be the salt, God’s preservative in the earth and light in the darkness.

But the good news is that that can change. We can change. We must change if we want to see change in our families, our children, our churches and communities. To counter the enemy’s rampant and destructive sexual messages and tactics we have to teach more, speak more and live out more of the biblical values of sex and sexuality.

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (Galatians 6:7-8).

Let’s talk about sex and sensuality, but let’s talk about it respectfully, openly and most of all, biblically and so glorify God in the process.

(All scripture references are taken from the NIV Bible.)
Copyright 2012, All rights reserved.  Reviews on the book, Celebrating Men
"This is a candid account of how God has shaped B. Niles' life through the influence of men. She has been both protected and preyed up on by men; she has never been married. Yet she found the courage to boldly declare that the status of manhood is worth celebrating. This book makes the powerful statement that men are jars of clay containing the exceeding greatness of the power of God to shape, tend and keep. Unfortunately because of sin men lack the wisdom to properly use that power. As a man I am so thankful that God, in his love, provided the necessary wisdom through Christ. B. Niles is celebrating God's work through men."
- John Leconte

"It was fun to read a book without someone telling me what to think. Ms. Niles’ credentials surrounds us in this tell all book which shares her personal journey through life. If one reads this book with an open mind, it could be a device to awaken the genetic data of a man’s internal behavior. As people, we need to embrace the experiences of others when we’re blinded from the stare of self. Ms. Niles puts no stipulations on the individual, she simply shares herself in ways you and I are too cowardly to do. Given her religious background, her spirituality is displayed throughout the book. I personally feel that she (nicely) blended a spiritual twist on a secular conversation."

- Donnie Ellis

Monday, May 28, 2012

Politically Incorrect, Biologically Challenged, Scripturally Sound

- Have you ever been to a doctor and gotten a diagnosis that you believed to be questionable, possibly incorrect and decided to get a second or third opinion only to find out you were justified in pursuing that second or third opinion?

- Do you ever wonder why scientists disagree on various subjects or have sometimes vastly different theories on the same scientific finding or study?

- Is there anyone else out there questioning illogical, unsound diagnoses of some scientific data and politically correct agendas?

For centuries our ancestors believed the world was flat, until others came along and explored and found it was actually round. However, God had already spoken in His Word that the world was round. (Isaiah 40:22)

It was widely believed not that long ago and still believed by some today that Black people are an intellectually inferior race. In fact, this belief was used as justification  for slavery by many in the West until a few questioned the logic and cruelty of the practice.

Darwin, the great scientist and infamous proposer of the natural evolution of man, confessed that, "...we don't need a microscope to observe irreducible complexity. The eye, the ear and the heart are all examples of irreducible complexity, though they were not recognized as such in Darwin's day. Nevertheless, Darwin confessed, 'To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.'" (Wikepedia: Darwin's Theory of Evolution - A Theory in Crisis)

I can go on and on about the gross errors in judgment that science and man has made. Don't get me wrong, I believe in science, its just that I believe that God's Word, the Word of the Creator of science, trumps man's scientific and sometimes predisposed, limited and sometimes self-serving approach to scientific research. That is to say that when man's scientific theories and conclusions oppose God's revelations, I side with God's Word and not man's.

Time and time again, we find that man's wisdom, knowledge and beliefs about many important things in our world have been found over time to be premature, even immature or faulty. That's understandable, man is after all mortal, temporal and faulty. We make mistakes. Simply put, we are not God. We create out of what has already been created - matter. God created out of what did not previously exist. He created the matter and put us in charge of it.

The public opinion and scientific challenge I am about to address is a very touchy one that is gaining momentum in Western culture today. I will more than likely be labeled "unloving," "narrow-minded," "ignorant" and even "un-Christian" by many non-Christians and Christians alike. Nevertheless, it needs to be exposed for what it is: unsound, illogical and a lie. Pretty strong words, I know. Nonetheless, I would be "unloving" and untrue to myself, humanity and God if I said nothing. Love does not just go along with the flow of public opinion, that's fear, not love. God's Word says to "speak the truth in love." Jesus confronted the religious and culturally immoral beliefs of the world around him in love and was crucified for it and he is Immanuel - God with us. He said that those who follow him would be treated likewise for the servant is not greater than the master. The world, he said, hated him and would hate us also because darkness is opposed to light.

The momentum I am referring to that is gathering steam across the United States is the belief that homosexuality is normal and same-sex marriages are to be accepted. Sometimes such propaganda is even easier to refute than the headlines of: "Man Finds Out He is a Woman" when a medical professional tells a man that he is a woman because he has some female genitals in addition to male ones. The phenomenon is called "intersex," when a male or female has both male and female genitalia. Sounds like an irrefutable argument for homosexuality or an argument to refute or call into question the black and white biblical foundation that God created man and woman not also some transgender individual, right? Well, I beg to differ.

Note that despite the fact that "Stevie" had feminine feelings when he was six years old and struggled with feminine tendencies growing up, Stevie naturally fathered six children during twenty-five+ years of marriage to a female. It is understandable that his feminine feelings were validated when he learned that he was an intersex man who has ovaries as well as a penis. The conclusion, however, that he is a woman because of it is erroneous and the medical professional who told him so based solely on one ultrasound and in the way in which the article shares it was highly unprofessional and the data misleading.

I have had some things said to me by medical professionals that were completely unprofessional/inappropriate and at times erroneous based on tests. Hence why further testing is done, consultation and counseling by specialists recommended and second and third opinions are sought. But one's belief and acceptance of a report can radically effect one's course. In this case, the news articles surrounding Stevie's transformation from a highly functioning man into a woman feeds doubt about the delineation between the exclusivity of what is male and what is female.

First of all, being a male child and having feminine feelings, doesn't predispose you as weird or female. Nor does being a female child having male tendencies make you weird or male. A woman cannot naturally "father" children. It's simply impossible without medical engineering. So unless Steve's wife was surgically implanted with sperm from another source other than Steve, Steve is a man, feminine feelings and all. That is what someone should have lovingly helped him to grapple with, not told him that because he had some ovaries in addition to a penis and testicles that he is a woman. What was the irrefutable evidence? What was the overwhelming evidence? How would similar data on another subject withstand scrutiny in a court of law for example? And regardless of those disciplines, what does God's Word say? You see, there comes a time when you have to ask yourself, "Whose report will I believe?" God's or man's? Who ultimately knows the truth- fallible man or infallible God; mortal man or immortal God?

I think of the simple, logical male and female-like things in everyday life and wonder how we as intelligent and logical beings can be so misguided and the only answer I can find is found once again in God's Word which says that "men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became as fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles."

"Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worhsiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion..." (Romans 1:18-27)

Often when I plug in my computer's power cord or any power cord of an electrical appliance I think of the incongruity of a male organ being plugged into another male organ or vice versa, a female organ being plugged into a female organ. An electrical prong is plugged into an electrical outlet. There is no transfer of electricity- no power to make the appliance function properly unless the plug is inserted into the outlet. (I don't know, but I don't think I have to be an electrician, doctor or scientist to figure that one out.) My terminology may not be exact, but I think you get the picture. It boggles my mind that the animal kingdom, insects and even the event of pollination of plants operate in this general principle, yet we, the intelligent of all created beings are confused about male and female roles; more correctly, are deliberately seeking to redefine basic male and female functions and roles. My question is why? What's behind this movement? It is certainly not a new thought or movement. It has occurred at various times in history and died and is resurging once again. Is no one following the natural outcome of this unnatural progression through to it's final end? Are we so blinded by the powerful, reportedly intellectual faces in support of the propaganda or the accruing political support? Or are we too fearful of  the repercussion if we oppose the tide?

I am not perfect. I make mistakes but I know one who is perfect and doesn't make mistakes- God. I choose to believe his Word above man's.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Plan

Have you ever made a plan? Have you ever made a plan and it went off course; it just didn't turn out as you expected? Have you ever made plans for your life and they went way off course, terribly so? God has a plan for your life and Satan does too. Your plans are being influenced by One or the other.

I had a dream this morning. In that dream my family and I were on a highway heading home, but there was all kinds of construction going on and slowing down our way. Just as we got up to the thick of the construction everything stopped. We would not be able to continue for maybe an hour or so. The driver of our car decided to get out of the lane and turn around and take a different route rather than wait for the construction workers to fill in the holes ahead of us so that we could continue safely on our way.

Along the way of this new route, our driver got word that recommended he stop and have a mechanic do some alterations to the engine. He agreed, but this meant we needed a place to stay while the engine was being altered. In the dream I had a sister who didn't live too far away and she welcomed us to come and stay while the alterations were being made. (The word "alterations" is deliberately being used instead of repairs.) This sister lived in a rough neighborhood. As we entered the area we saw all kinds of sinful and unsavory enticements and evidence of crime. We were dropped off and our driver, the only adult/mature male who had been with us, left and went to see about the car.

Shortly after we had gotten to my sister's home there was a knock on the door. I opened the door as everyone else was meeting and greeting and getting settled. There was a young man at the door between the age of twenty and twenty-five years old. He was asking for $40. It wasn't clear to me why. That was a lot of money to me. I only had $80 and I needed it for our journey. The man begged me to give him $40 and said if he didn't go back with the $40 he would be killed. I agreed to give it to him, but told him to come back in a little bit and I'd have it for him. As I turned back into the house and share what had just occurred with my family I got various responses, as you can imagine. But I had a sense of foreboding. I had a sense of being drawn into a plan.

My nephews who were with us thought it all a game. My sisters were outraged. I was puzzled, internally inquiring. The young man came back a few minutes later and knocked again. At this time I was wishing our driver was back so that he could have dealt with the young man instead of me. I wanted the young man to see that there weren't just women and children in the house at that time. So I sent my three young adult nephews to answer the door as if to say, "We do have some men in the house." It was the wrong move. Instead of them guarding us, they were taken in by the stranger and enticed by him. They encouraged me to give him the $40 and wanted to go along with him to see what he was going to do with it. In fact, my nephews left and headed up the street to "check things out" and left the stranger at the door to get the money from me. As I was listening to the stranger making his plea again, I watched as my three nephews, who probably felt safe in their numbers began to walk up the street, one of them was holding a baby in his arms.

The stranger added to his request if I could give him additional funds to buy a drink from McDonald's and put on quite an act of "woe is me". I told him no about the additional funds and because I was distracted by what was transpiring with my nephews I couldn't go back into the house to get the $40 right then. I changed my focus and started yelling out to my nephews to get back in the house. There was a sense of urgency in me to get them back in the house. I told the stranger to come back in ten minutes. In my peripheral vision I saw the stranger begin to skulk away, then he straightened up and walked away with a smile on his lips. His countenance had changed. I saw a devious look about him.

I managed to get my nephews to listen to me and they turned around and came back in the house. A feeling of relief washed over me. I felt as though we'd just averted a disaster. I stood at the door for awhile praying, meditating. When I turned to go back in, I saw that my nephews had been and were being physically and verbally chastised by their mothers. They hadn't a clue. While two out of the three were still in a rear room being chastised, the other was sitting on the couch in the living room crying and looking at me and asking me, "Why? What's the big fuss about?" As I started to explain to him about the devil and his schemes, the stranger came back, this time bolder than ever. I told him I would give him the money because I promised I would and asked him if he worked? "No," he said, "he did not." I told him how hard I had to work for that little bit of money and mentioned that he could have washed some windshields or cut some one's lawn or something of the sort to earn money. Now he became belligerent, angry and I saw that he had a gun. He threatened me and told me he could kill me. I had every intention of giving him the money; I just wanted to deposit a little more than just money into his life.

He became unreasonably irate. I said to him, "Sir, you can shoot me and kill this body, but you can't kill my soul. If you were to kill me now, I would then be with my Savior. You can't do anything to me unless my Father allows you to." Then I said, "Jesus loves you." I gave him the money and turned and went back in the house.

When I went back in the house my nephews were a little more inclined to listen to what I had to say. I shared the following with them: "God has a plan for your life, but Satan does too and Satan's plan is to entice you and destroy you. God says, 'Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood...'  My sons, listen to your fathers' instructions. Broad is the way that leads to destruction, but narrow is the way that leads to life..." "My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge. For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave." Then I woke up.

As I awoke I cried out to Jesus and kept repeating His name: "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; the blood of Jesus." I prayed for my nephews. I turned to Ephesians and read chapter 6:10-20. I then turned to Proverbs and read chapters 1, 2 and 3. Repeatedly Solomon said, "My son;  listen my son. My son, if you accept my words... My son, do not forget my teaching..."

Some of the passages that stood out to me were: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline" (Proverbs 1:7). "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck Proverbs 1:8-9).

"My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. If they say, 'Come along with us...we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot with us...my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood" (Proverbs 1:10-16).

"For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me (wisdom) will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm" (Proverbs 1:32-33).

"My son, if you accept my words and store up my command within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then, you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God..." (Proverbs 2:1-5)

"My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man" (Proverbs 3:1-5).

The plan: In this dream, Satan's plan was to turn us off course and destroy our young men- but God! God intervened. God had a different plan. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28-29).

Our vision is limited. We can see but so far.  But God who is high and lifted up, sees all. As one who can see the bigger picture from an aerial view or from a plane, God sees infinitely more from his view enthroned on high. We are also so very impatient when circumstances arise which can influence us to divert off our godly course. But thank God for his faithfulness, his love and his plan.

               "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
        neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord.
              'As the heavens are higher than the earth,
                 so are my ways higher than your ways
                  and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"
                                  ~ Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Due Diligence

I have heard the following Scripture quoted and recited over and over again: "'...For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,' declares the Lord..." Jeremiah 29:11-12. However, I have never heard it quoted within its full context. It is in its full context that I find this promise most fruitful.

In the previous verses beginning with verse 4 it is written: "This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 'Build houses and settle down, plant gardens and eat what they produce...Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper'... This is what the Lord says, 'When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you..."

After reading this passage this morning I was reminded of a due diligence process I underwent recently while applying for a couple of jobs in the financial field. I found the process extensive and tedious but also educational and rewarding. In the passage above God made some promises to Israel but it's his declaration and instruction before the promises that caught my attention this time. He says that, he, God, carried the Israelites into exile which would last for seventy years! (We know from reading the book of Jeremiah that God punished the Israelites in this way due to their rebellion.) But God still loved them and instructed them to build, prosper and pray for the cities he exiled them to so that they could prosper. Then after seventy years he would bring them out of exile. The nation of Israel was being corrected, chastised, and during that process pruned and developed before bringing them into their next season. God told them to pray for their cities that they would prosper, to marry and give in marriage; build houses and gardens. But they would remain in exile, in captivity for seventy years before he brought them out...

I saw this as a spiritual due diligence. God will test us. He will try us. He will allow us to go through trials and tribulations for our own spiritual and character development. It is, if you will, his due diligence process. Abraham went through it. He waited twenty-four years for the son promised him and then was told to offer him up as a sacrifice. Moses went through it. Joseph went through it. David went through it. Everyone who follows God goes through it and the greater the calling, the greater the due diligence process.

My mind switched from the spiritual due diligence process to a more natural one that again, I find many fail to process. This other due diligence is one of relationships, especially that of courtship for marriage. In many cultures around the world there is still a due diligence process associated with finding a proper or compatible mate. However, in the US, eight times out of ten, we've abandoned this valuable process and embraced a Hollywood, cotton candy or "if it feels good, do it" approach to marriage and relationships. This is true even in many Christian circles. The problem with feelings is that they change pretty quickly when tried. Feelings are fickle and quite frankly, making such decisions based on how we feel at the moment is not biblical. We are instructed to "walk by faith, not by sight". We are instructed to "Count it all joy when we go through diverse trials and tribulations because we know that the trying of our faith develops perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that we may be mature and complete." (James 1:2-4 )

I am amazed at how many times over the years that I have been encouraged to get married because 1) "I'm not getting any younger," 2) "He's a good guy," 3) "He's a Christian," 4) "He's well established," and so on. When I didn't budge I would then be accused of being a perfectionist or asked, "What's wrong with him?" or "What's wrong with you?"

As on many resumes and job applications, it's been proven that many people lie. They put their best foot forward and go beyond their best and begin to fabricate qualities. The same applies in many relationships initially. We put our best foot and face forward. However, over time and when quality time is spent with most individuals, their true character and their level of faith in God is revealed. Surely, if God tests us to see what is in our hearts, we ought to test a prospective spouse. Even some animals and birds like the eagle, have mating rituals to test for the appropriate mates.

Do you have a due diligence process? It would be interesting to learn what process you use. I recommend you saturate the process with prayer. Repeatedly in the passage I used for today I read where God instructed the Israelites to pray for or pray and seek God for peace and prosperity. When you pray about these matters, if don't you get an answer, don't move forward-wait. What's the rush? On your own you'll just mess it up anyway and have to start the process all over again. You have to learn to do your due diligence. How does this person handle themself in various situations? How do they handle money matters? Do they have integrity with others? What is their spiritual and general goals in life? Are they spiritually compatible? Having said all that, has God given you the green light to move forward? If not, wait, there's a reason or a lesson God wants to teach you. He may be pruning and preparing you. The timing may not be right just yet.

There is someone that's been apart of my life for seventeen years. Nothing "wrong" with him and nothing "wrong" with me. In my mind and spirit, we were not compatible. Something was always missing. He'd asked me several times to get married and I could not give him a positive answer. However, twice over the years of our friendship and off and on relationship, I had convinced myself to marry him. Both times when I tried to tell him "yes," the Holy Spirit stopped me and we would go through a period of silence for months or even years. I just thought he wasn't the one.

Then, a month ago, after I completely surrendered my desire for marriage to God, meaning, whichever state God wanted for me to be in was fine with me. Within a week God revealed to me that this friend of mine who'd been in my life for so long  was indeed God's choice for me. Having said that, however, I still don't know when. In the meantime, I continue to have plenty to do in service to the Lord while I wait for God to bring that revelation to reality. It's all about God's timing, not mine or ours. We're still under God's pruning knife. My friend told me several months ago that he knows that I'm the one for him. I didn't have the same conviction at the time. I do now but due to our special circumstances, we have to wait a while longer for God to bring it to pass.

Submit to God's due diligence in your spiritual walk and develop due diligence in your courtship process. It will be challenging at times but the end thereof will be so much more rewarding.

See yesterday's post: How to Address Your Woman & Weight Issues
My other blog: www.wealthofcharacter.blogspot.com
Most recent post: Are We Confused? (3/22/12)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How To Address Your Woman With Weight Issues

Understanding Women & Weight
Recently I sent a long time male friend of mine a message bemoaning the fact that I was gaining weight and felt "uncomfortable in my own skin." Due to hyperthyroidism, I'd become severely under weight and fought to gain the weight back. Not only did I gain the weight back, I exceeded my normal weight by a few pounds, I shared briefly. This friend who'd been more than just a friend at various times over the years thought I was being funny and suggested that I could gain another two-three pounds as far as he was concerned.

This may sound trivial to you, but many women are very sensitive about their weight. I would have thought that by now, if you're at least over thirty years old that most men would know this and have learned how to address it when the subject arose. I have heard many male friends complain about their girlfriend's or wife's weight over the years, in particular, that they've gained too much weight. I am very aware how important a woman's physical appearance is to her mate or perspective mate. It's important that you find her to be attractive. The media certainly exploits this knowledge.

I didn't respond to my friend's response. I simply had no comment. He's always thought that I could stand to gain a few pounds. However, a few days later as I gained another two pounds I became slightly discouraged. I didn't know if it was due to my getting older and my metabolism slowing down, though I was eating healthily, but due to schedule changes, I was actually eating less. Or, was the thyroid medication becoming too much and it needed to be adjusted. All of a sudden I became discouraged because I felt that my friend could have asked how or what I was doing about it or suggested I see my doctor to get checked out instead of pointing out that I could stand to gain a few more pounds, which to him would look good on me.

Okay, brothers, husbands, boyfriends, a word of advice. In most cases I know that it's the reverse concern, that your mate or significant other is too heavy and you would like to see her lose a few pounds. Note that any time a woman mentions her weight to you, walk carefully. It is not the time to talk about your desires or needs. She's hurting and reaching out and needs comfort and encouragement. It's just not about you at that time. Prayerfully, console her, but don't lie. Hopefully, you still think she looks good even if not ideal. Share the fact that she still looks good to you. She needs to hear that first and foremost. Then ask her some questions before giving criticism or advice. Some questions you can ask are: What's bothering you about the weight? What do you want to do about it? How can I help? Show concern and caring. You'll gain an incredible amount of brownie points or place huge deposits into her love bank which in turn will benefit you immediately and pay long term dividends.

Women are very conscious about how they look and want to look good to you. The media is telling us how we should look to be beautiful and many of us know we don't quite fit the model. We certainly don't need to hear about our physical short comings in a negative light from our close friends or mates. (Note, I did not say we didn't need to hear about them, just not in a negative light.) It's like a parent who has to learn how to encourage or edify their child who is making poor choices in life and because you love that child you want to steer them in the right direction. As parenting counsel is typically more important and has greater influence in the life of a child than any other, so your loving, listening ear and gentle counsel in regards to this very sensitive issue in your mate's life, is very important to her self-esteem and growth as well as her achieving a healthy weight.

One more note, none of us are perfect. We all fall short in various ways. But, be consistent, patient and wise. In most cases, wait for her to introduce the subject, unless you feel spiritually led to do otherwise. Regularly reinforce how good she looks to you. This encourages her to do more to look good to you. Repeatedly ask how you can help, because things may change along the way. Don't harp on the issue, however. Compliment, compliment, compliment. Look for specific areas to sincerely compliment her on her progress. You're going to love the results of your investment in her.

I would love to hear whether this tidbit was helpful to you. Please comment.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


  • Health Insurance Premiums
  • Life Insurance Premiums
  • Auto & Home Insurance Premiums
  • Relationship Premiums?
We often speak, pray and fight for balance or to prioritize our lives and often fail, sometimes drastically. Today I was considering the investment we make in marital and familial relationships. What premiums do we pay to insure their success and what premium do we place on their value?

Many of us do not fail to pay our health, life or auto/home insurance premiums, but we fail to pay into our marriages, our children, our sibling relationships and wonder why the relationships do not flourish. Many hate paying insurance premiums, but want the benefits of our policies when it's time for recompense. Then we're glad we made the premiums. None of us are perfect. I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone else. I suppose relationship premiums are much higher than any of the other premiums. It costs us ourselves. It diminishes our selfcenteredness. It's much more expensive than all the other premiums and more valuable. The benefits are far greater in the long term than any other investment or premium, but too often we fail to recognize it. Sometimes it is not until the "policy" is about to lapse or has lapsed that we realize how great the loss of the benefit of it is to us.

This post is just an encouragement to you today to stop for a minute and evaluate the value of your relationship in perspective to the amount of time spent on things and activities. Look at the big picture, the long term impact and yes, the benefits or importance of them. The messages I see and hear all around me, from Christians and non-Christians alike are sometimes discouraging, but I thank God for His grace, His mercy, His love and His Son. When we fall short, recognize it and repent, His grace is sufficient to restore and heal any relationship. On our own, we are simply incapable of being completely selfless. Let's face it, we are self-centered beings. Jesus showed the way by his incredible example and then gave us His Spirit to enable us to be like him. However, it's a process, it's a daily walk, a daily battle with our flesh. I love the illustration the Apostle Paul gives of this process in 1 Cor. 9:19-27 (read it the full context when you get a chance), I'll only quote the last few verses:
    "Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the race goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Paul was describing his call to reach the lost and the sacrifice to self do so. His message, however, is to all of us. He likens the secular races, the Olympics and any serious sport or endeavor for which one trains their mind and body to accomplish great things to God's call on our lives. As in the Olympics, the athletes train hard and long at great cost to themselves and often their families. They exercise great discipline to accomplish masterful feats. The same can be said of several other sports that are not included in the Olympics and of other masterful endeavors such as the pursuit of higher education and professional careers. These are all good in proper perspective. I say in proper perspective because Jesus said, "What good is it if a man gains the whole world and loses his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26-27) 

Jesus sums up relationships and God's premium on relationships like this, first "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...and the second is like it, 'love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt. 22:37-39) God puts a premium on our relationship with Him and a premium on our relationship with each other. God's premium on relationships cost Him His Son! That is how much He values us. He knows us better than we do ourselves. He knows the wickedness and potential for evil within us, yet He still loves us and sent His Son to redeem us from ourselves because we can't regenerate a purer self. Corruption breeds corruption. Sinfulness breeds sinfulness and as He said in Romans 3:23, "the wages of sin is death". So God gave us His Son, His Gift to save us from that death.

The "second" relationship premium, to "love your neighbor as yourself" is impossible without implementing the first policy or command. We are incapable of loving our neighbors, our families, our enemies, our co-workers, our bosses and our government officials as ourselves, until we first surrender ourselves to God in obedience and love Him first with all our hearts, all our souls and all our minds.

If we want a more fulfilled life, fulfillment does not come through acquiring things. Only limited fulfillment is attained through the accomplishment of trophies, degrees and magnanimous awards. Fulfillment and true success comes through fulfilled and fulfilling relationships. So take some time to evaluate the relationships in your life. Take the time to evaluate the long term value of your relationships and invest in them wisely. I encourage you not to invest in them solely because you see the long term benefit to yourself, for that would still primarily be for selfish gain. Invest in them out of love for God, as an expression of love for God. You see, our love, man's love can be fragile and contingent, but God's love is in- exhaustive. When we continually surrender ourselves to Him, He fills us with His love and renews us when we fall or feel weak. He lifts us up and gives us the courage to keep on loving, to keep on hoping, to keep on forgiving, to keep on trusting, to keep on giving. For God's love - the love He is developing in us, "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (1 Cor. 13:4-8)

Invest, pay the sacrificial premium for the relationships in your life and put a premium, a high value on them, after all, God did.

If you like this post, please also visit my other blog: http://www.wealthofcharacter.blogspot.com/

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Don't Believe the Hype

      Everywhere we turn in today's society we are inundated with messages about or alluding to sex. Satan has saturated our society with sexually immoral messages. It's in most television shows and commercials, the movies, the billboards, magazines and grocery and retail stores. Sexy fashions are boldly displayed in retail store windows on mannequins, posters and on bodies, young and old. Book covers, calendars, bumper stickers, girls standing by the roadside with advertising signs; everywhere we look we see images of sex and sensuality. After awhile you can't help but think, "everyone is doing it," or "this is the norm." Therefore, when one comes along who does not follow the hype, he or she is viewed as abnormal.

That is all understandable, however, it should be unacceptable for the body of Christ. I find that many Christian men and women have not had their minds renewed and this is one of the underlying points that Celebrating Men addresses. I want to celebrate, uplift or honor the men who strive to do the right thing and the godly thing in all their relationships. The book isn't just addressing men in relationships with women, but with their children, their community, their marriages, their church and their friendships. The book looks at men in each of those settings; at different stages in the author's life and how they impacted her for good regardless of the initial experience, whether it was good or painful.

The testimony shared, I believe, is uplifting and honoring, however, it doesn't ignore the faults of the men involved and recognizes that none of us are perfect and neither were they. That does not mean there aren't aspects and qualities worth honoring. The author also encourages, and yes, appeals to men, especially Christian men, to renew their minds in regards to how they relate to girls and women.

As Christians, we can't afford to believe the hype of the world or ascribe to the world's view concerning most relationships. If we are truly disciples of Christ, which is where the term "Christian" is derived, then as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:16, "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view...Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!" 

I have a couple of male friends that are in their forties that are also virgins. They became Believers as teenagers. One has three degrees (Engineer, MBA, and Law degree), the other is an officer in the military and they're both attractive men. I also know of a couple other women, two of which married at age 45 and both were virgins when they married. I am not such an anomaly after all then. Maybe to the world in this age I (we) are, but to the body of Christ, I (we) should not be. The voice of the North American/European world is simply louder. There are many Christians and some non-Christians, that are out there waiting for marriage before becoming sexually active.

"Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'" (1 Cor. 15:33) It's important to watch the company you keep. What is that saying, "Birds of a feather flock together"? We need to do a better job at fleshing out the Word of God, that includes, not being ashamed to share our testimony so that others would be encouraged and not feel alone. John recorded in Revelations 12:11 that we will overcome our accuser by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. We need to speak up.

Elijah, the prophet in 1 Kings 19 felt all alone after being rejected by the Israelites and found himself running for his life because King Ahab had killed all the other prophets and Ahab's wife, Jezebel wanted Elijah dead as well - "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely," she said, " if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." So the Lord came to Elijah and reminded him that He, God, was with him. Elijah told God, "The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too" (1 Kings 19:14), as if God didn't already know what was going on. I love the Lord's response to him, part of which was, "Yet I (have) reserved seven thousand in Israel-all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him" (Verse 18). God knows how to preserve a remnant who won't bow down to the gods of this world. Don't believe the hype!