Tag Archives: relationship

5 Ways Relationship Is Much Like Cooking

Relationship is much like cooking. If you are going to have a shot at success, you will have to shop for the right ingredients. Unlike cooking, where you shop in the supermarket, for relationships you shop among the people in the world. Not every shop will have the ingredient you need, and not every shop will have the quality of ingredient that you desire. Hence it is important to choose where you shop wisely for it will determine the quality of the final product you cook up.

If you want to cook up a great relationship, you have to shop in the best stores for the best ingredients.

If you are looking to cook up a great relationship, I suggest you avoid shops such as gentlemen’s clubs and seedy bars as it is highly unlikely that you will find the ingredients that will make for a great relationship.  The exception to this rule are master chefs. Master chefs are so skilled and trained that they are able to take seemingly undesirable ingredients and make desirable dishes out of them. Unless you are one of these rare master chefs with special abilities, it is best to stay away from ingredients that you know won’t give you desired results.

The greatest master chef that has ever graced this word is Jesus. If you want to cook up the best relationship, then it is best for you to invite him into your kitchen and get some personal tutelage. If you are unsure of his pedigree and not ready to invite him into your kitchen just yet, you have other options. He has inspired 66 books (the Bible), all of which have recipes for a great relationship. It is not a bad idea to open up a few of those books.

If you don’t know what you are doing in your relationship, don’t make it up, get the help you need.

Rather than continue to experiment, pretending you know what you are doing, making a bigger mess, and then having your family (spouse and kids) suffer through the pain of ingesting the relationship disaster you have cooked up, simply call up a chef that knows what he/she is doing. These chefs may include marriage counsellors, pastors, an older married couple, or even a friend. If these chefs are worth your investment, they will at some point refer to the works of the greatest master chef (Jesus).

Relationship is much like cooking. For you to be successful requires the following:

  • You Understand Your Worth (Deciding What You Want To Cook): While some will choose to cook up a burger of a relationship, you should choose to cook a filet mignon of a relationship.
  • You Set Up Boundary Conditions (Deciding Where To Shop and Where Not To): Boundaries help you avoid foundational mistakes that will be detrimental to your relationship dish
  • You Select Carefully (Choosing the best ingredients that suit your palate): Not point fooling yourself and going after something you can’t handle
  • You are Humble (Asking for help to make the best dish): Too many people do not seek help in their relationships until it is too late. Do not be counted in that number.
  • You Actively Listen (Heeding the advice of the master chef): A good relationship is not between two people but three. It is best to invite God into the equation and actively listen to and obey his principles.

 

 

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Make Sure He Reflects The Diamond Ring He is Giving You

It was one of the happiest days of your life – the day he decided to get down on one knee and asked your to marry him. That day, he presented you with a ring – a symbol of his love. On that ring was probably a diamond. You love it, you love the moment, you love him. So you say yes to his marriage proposal.

But alas, for almost 50% in America, the yes will at some point change to a no. For many, not just a no, but a heck no!

There have been instances where I have seen women take off their ring and throw it in the direction of the man. For the women who have reached their breaking point, they are not just saying I am no longer committed. For many, they are also saying to the man that he did not live up to the meaning of the diamond ring he gave her.

A diamond is an expression of his commitment to you

There are 5 commitments inherent in the giving of a diamond that are implicit in the properties of a diamond. You should know these five commitments and ensure he is espousing them before you commit to him.

Transparency: A diamond is transparent. When a man gives you a diamond, it is a commitment to be transparent. That means that in your marriage, he will allow you to see through him. He will not hide anything from you but he will be naked before you. While this may be difficult, it is essential that a man be vulnerable and honest with you. This is what leads to intimacy or “into-me-see”. A man who is not ready to live vulnerably, authentically, and transparently with you is not a man you should choose to marry.

Reflective: A diamond reflects all the light it captures. This is what gives a diamond its ‘fire’ and makes it shine so bright. That a diamond reflects all the light it captures symbolizes that a diamond is not selfish – it does not keep hold of the light. When a man gives you a diamond, it is a commitment to be selfless. It is that selflessness that shines brightly for you to see, and keeps the fire burning in your relationship. Indeed, it is easy to want to stay with a man who thinks of you, values you, and shine light on you.

Conductor: A diamond is the best conductor of heat we know. Stay long enough in your relationship and it will experience periods of heat and discomfort. When life and circumstances bring the heat, it is important that your man conduct that heat away from your relationship. No matter how uncomfortable life gets, it should not affect your relationship because everything flows through it rather than staying locked in the relationship. Contrary to a conductor, A man who insulates keeps the heat, thereby cranking up the pressure on the relationship. Therefore, make sure your man is a conductor who disperses heat and relieves pressure when it comes.

Hardness: A diamond is the hardest material on earth. Thus, nothing other than a diamond can crush or cut a diamond. When a man gives you a diamond, he is saying that nothing on this earth – no person, no situation,  no circumstance –  will be able to cut through your love. He is saying ‘no pressure life puts on us will be able to crush my love for you’. Make sure the man you say yes to is not a graphite but a diamond. Though both are made entirely of carbon, their properties are very different because of the way their building blocks are arranged. A man who loves you will make sure that his character is built to stand the test of time

Inert: A diamond is highly inert. This means that it does not react to other agents and does not bond itself to other compounds. When a man gives a diamond, he is telling you that he will remain inert. That means you are the one he is choosing to bond with, and will not bond emotionally or physically with anyone else. Though other people may connect with him (friends, family, workers etc), that connection will not be as deep and internal as what he builds with you.

Your Turn: I want you to answer this honestly: (1) Is the man I am seeking to marry diamond quality?

Moment of Honesty: Just because a man starts off being diamond quality does not mean he will remain diamond quality. That is the bad news. The good news is that every man CAN maintain diamond quality. I will share more about this in the next blog.

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A few Good Reasons Why You Should Stop Trying to Live for Jesus

There are two main modes of thought when it comes to how to live. The first mode of thought comes from the world. If you listen to the world, it’ll tell you to ‘live for you’. It’ll encourage you to be true to yourself and be honest with who you are. The problem with the advice ‘live for you’ can be summed up with the question ‘who are you?’ The second mode of thought comes from religion. If you listen to religion, it’ll tell you to ‘live for God’. If you are a Christian,  you’ll be specifically encouraged to ‘live for Jesus’.

Is there a problem with trying to live for Jesus? You better believe it. How can you and I live for a perfect and sinless savior? The simple answer is that we cannot. Try as hard as we might, we fall short of living up to the standards of Jesus (God). In fact, the only person who can live for Jesus is Jesus. Thus to try to live for Jesus is to set yourself up for a life of wondering if you are doing enough, a life of performance anxiety, a life of fear and doubt, and a life of endless striving to be good. It is a life of law keeping –  a life of bondage.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: If you find no peace in your christian walk and you feel shackled as a christian, it is likely that you are trying to live for Jesus.

The good news is this: God does not want us to live for Him, He wants to live for us! If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe the Holy Scriptures.

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me – Galatians 2:20

The scripture above says ‘I no longer live’. If we are no longer alive, how can we live for anyone? Moreover, if we are dead, then someone has to live in place of us. That person who is supposed to live for us is Christ.

Since God is not a control freak, He will only live for us if we allow Him to do so. Now if you are like me, the only way I’d allow someone to take my place in anything is if (1) that person is better than I am (2) that person is worthy (3) I have faith (trust and believe in that person). I’d say Christ fits that billing extraordinarily well.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: The only way Christ can live for us if for us to surrender in faith

Why allow Christ to live for us rather than try to live for him? Here are 8 good reasons:

  • Living for Jesus involves works and requires a lot of effort, but allowing Jesus to live for us involves faith because only our surrender is required.
  • Living for Jesus leads to anxiety, but Jesus living for us leads to peace.
  • Living for Jesus leads to condemnation unto despair, but Jesus living for us leads to conviction unto repentance.
  • Living for Jesus leads us to keep up appearances, but Jesus living for us leads to transparency.
  • Living for Jesus leads us to be depressed about who we are not, but Jesus living for us leads us to be confident about who He is and who we are in Him no matter our shortcomings.
  • Living for Jesus leads us to shy away from God when we get it wrong, but Jesus living for us leads us to move towards God when we get it wrong.
  • Living for Jesus leads to fear and doubt, but Jesus living for us leads to faith and love
  • Living for Jesus comes out of religion, but Jesus living for us comes out of relationship (intimacy).

Story of Job

Job was a man who tried to ‘live for God’. By all intents and purposes he succeeded in doing just that. In fact he was blameless when it came to living for God. Yet, his life was filled with fear. He would quickly go and make penance for his children after parties out of fear (Job 1:5). He also feared that he was going to lose all he had (Job 3:25).

In due time he found out that religion could not sustain him. After losing everything, he came to the realization that he had only ‘known about God’ (religion) instead of knowing God (relationship) (see Job 42:5). The turnaround for him came after he realized that he could trust God and that there was nothing that God could not turn around (Job 42:1). Once he surrendered to God in his heart fully, he not only regained all that he had lost but got a double portion of what was lost.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Even if you are doing a great job living for Jesus (obeying the law), the glory of living for Jesus pales in comparison with glory of Jesus living for you.

 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious – 2 Corinthians 3:7-11

If we are to see the manifestation of the glory of God in our midst, we have to stop trying to live for Jesus and we have to allow Jesus to live for us. We have to move beyond religion and move into intimacy. I speak to myself.

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The Person God Allows You to Throw into the Sea

Your life is a ship! You are not the owner of your ship – for the owner decides the destination – you are the captain. As the captain, you decide which route to take on your way to your set destination. Though you may not have had a say concerning who boarded the ship, once on the ship, you have the authority to decide who stays on the ship and who to cast off at every port on the way to your destination.

As captains, there are some people that we need to cast of our ship! In fact, God clues us into whom we can cast of our ship in the story of Jonah. God gives us permission to cast off those that are willfully and deliberately walking in disobedience and out of the will of God. Before you click away in anger, consider this:  God allows us to throw people overboard for our own good as well as for the good of the person who is stubbornly and willfully walking in disobedience. Remember that in the story of Jonah, Jonah did not perish in the sea but was rescued by a whale. Likewise the traders did not perish due to Jonah’s disobedience. Instead, their lives and livelihood were preserved.

Here are 2 good reasons to get rid of willfully disobedient people in your life

You save yourself from unnecessary trouble

But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up – Jonah 1:3-4

The tempest or trouble that the traders experienced was because of the presence of Jonah on the ship. Similarly, trouble and unnecessary heartache is the result of having willfully disobedient people in your life, the end of which is a broken up life.

Reevaluate the company you are keeping if your life is less of cruise and more like a roller-coaster

You keep the fruit of your hard work

Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep – Jonah 1:5

The traders on the ship had to throw off the cargo they had accumulated to survive. They had no clue that the cargo weighing them down was Jonah.

Let no one fool you, disobedience is costly. Disobedience will always drain your resources on its way to claiming your life. Many parents know too well the cost of living with willfully disobedient children. It is mentally and spiritually draining and puts undue stress on marriage. Although extremely difficult, be brave to throw the person at the mercy of Jesus rather than allow the person to cause you to perish. Why allow you and the person you are protecting to perish when both you and the person can be delivered?

It is also interesting that Jonah was sleeping during the storm. He knew he was the cause of the storm and so he did not want to call out to God. Instead of helping out or taking responsibility, all he did was go to a quiet corner out of the way and fall asleep! Thankfully, the captain had the good judgement to wake him up and challenge him to do something!

Do not be surprised if the person causing the ruckus in your life is at peace while you are stressing out. As captains of our lives, we must tell the willfully disobedient person in our life to shape up or ship out.

So there it is! It is okay to throw the willfully disobedient person off the ship of your life (after much prayer and deliberation) just like the traders did with Jonah. God loves the person you have thrown overboard and will provide a whale to save them. Stop trying to play God in the person’s life and save them…remember that you cannot not even save yourself. We all need the help of God.

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What Women Want from Men (Part II)

The second thing women want is COMPANIONSHIP

Note: Read Part I of this series to discover the first thing women want

Women want conversational companionship

Many women feel lonely despite being in relationships. This loneliness is often expressed as one of the biggest complaints women have when it comes to the men in their lives. They say, ‘He will not speak to me’! Most of the time, this comes as a shocker to many men who feel they are speaking to their women all the time.

What these men do not understand is this: ‘He will not speak to me’ complaint from a woman goes beyond shallow conversation. Women want to have deep, intimate, heart-felt conversations with their partners!

They want to know their partners hopes and dreams and want to share their own hopes and dreams with their partners. They want a man who can bare his soul – a man who can show passion and vulnerability. In a sense, women want a man they can CONNECT with on a deep level.

To women, lack of vulnerability and lack of passion in conversation shows lack of connection and may even evoke feelings that the man does not trust her or care about her. So she feels neglected. She feels that she is going along with the ride but not truly connected to the ride.

Men, women do not want a ‘roommate’ or a ‘housemate’. Women truly want a connection of heart and soul – they want a soul mate. They truly want two to become one.

Men, if a woman lacks this connection, she may try to get involved in your day and your dealings. If she is doing this, it is not because she does not trust you to lead. It is because she simply wants to be involved in your world

Light-bulb moment: Conversational companionship goes a long in ensuring ‘two truly become one’.

Women want physical companionship

I can just see many men jumping for joy just at the mention of physical companionship. While sex is part of what this means ONLY IF married, physical companionship goes much beyond sex.

Physical companionship is all about physical intimacy. In turn, intimacy goes beyond action but touches the emotions and heart behind what is being done.

A little brush of the hand, a knowing smile, a longing stare into each others eyes, or a heart-felt hug all count as physical companionship. In reality, physical companionship is about the man being PRESENT IN THE MOMENT and being SENSITIVE to the emotional needs of a woman in a physical way. For example, physical companionship can even be cutting short a conversation that you sense that your wife does not feel comfortable having with another person. By doing this, she feels protected and loved by you through your action. 

In truth, it is easier to have this physical chemistry when conversational chemistry has been developed. This physical chemistry is the way people speak without speaking!   

Tip for Men

The best way to develop true companionship with your woman is to read the bible with her and to pray with her. The word of God, which naturally deals with the heart, will open up heart issues that both you and your partner can pray about (after allowing the word of God to have the final say on it). The key for this to work is to focus on your own lives. Do not make a mockery of this process by always talking about how the word of God applies to other people.

Light-bulb moment: Vertical companionship with God will always lead to horizontal companionship with your partner.   

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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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SuperChamp Musing – Saved But Not A Christian

If you think being saved and having a relationship with God makes you are Christian, think again! Have a listen to see the missing ingredient.

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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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Favor Gone Berserk – Recieving grace in vain

What are you doing with God’s favor? (listen here)

God’s grace is multifaceted! His grace saves us from eternal separation (through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ), covers us in a myriad of situations and covers our sins when we confess, and empowers us (through the Holy Spirit) to live righteously and to attain all the covenant blessings or promises (favor, healing, prosperity, wisdom, might, and much more) that has been won for us.

Since we receive grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8), as we grow our faith (belief and trust) in the Lord through the study of His Word (see Romans 10:17), we ensure we experience more grace (power, gifting) in our lives. Thus, a life of faith is an empowered life that leads to the manifestation of the fullness of His covenant blessings in our life.

Yet, many of us receive the grace of God in vain when we fail to realize that God lavishes His grace on us not just to proper us but for us to be His hands and feet and to fulfill the requirements of love through His gifts – to walk in His purpose for us, to reveal Christ to others, and to be a blessing to others. Paul puts it this way:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me – 1 Corinthians 5:10

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We receive grace in vain when we stop laboring to fulfill the requirements of love by walk in His purpose for us, revealing Christ to others, and being a blessing to others. When we think it is just for us and we become lazy

Favor Gone Berserk

Favor goes berserk when we receive favor in vain. I started thinking of how favor goes berserk when I was asked this question: What would you rather have – favor or blessing? I found the question puzzling, not because it is difficult to answer, but because it makes a fundamentally flawed assumption. The question assumes that favor and blessing are mutually exclusive.

The will of God is to pour out his blessing on us and doth on us as a loving Father. He longs to bless us so that we can be a blessing to others – not to hog all our blessings in selfishness. By blessing others, we show God’s heart and walk in obedience. We open the door to God’s blessing when we obediently follow the path the He has for us. Favor is something that God grants us as we continue on the path of obedience. It is God’s favor that propels and catapults us towards the blessings that He has in store for us. So the relationship between favor and blessing is simply this:

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Favors are simply doors that God opens to accomplish His purpose through us

The mindset that favor and blessing are exclusive keeps us from reaching our destiny! People who chase after favor rather than blessings can be compared to those that base their performance on effort rather than results. They congratulate themselves on effort without ever achieving much. Hence, favor minded people often find themselves stuck in the same situation in life.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Favor is the means to an end, and not the end in itself.

The story of Mark lays out the peril of being solely favor minded

Mark Receives Grace in Vain (listen here)

Mark is a favor-monger! He loves favor. Mark does not have much but he does very well on favor. He is favored everywhere he goes – he gets free parking in places others need to pay; he gets the closest parking at sporting events, and a friend usually picks up his tab at dinner. Mark enjoys so much favor that he has come to expect it. It has come to the point where he can just about budget favor into his monthly financial plan.  For this, He is very thankful to God and prays to God for even more favor. From the outside looking in, it would be nice to be Mark right? Wrong!

Here are some things that being solely favor minded has done to Mark

  • He Cannot Bless Others: Mark is never able to pick up the tab for any of his friends. He is never able to help or bless anyone as he is the one that is always in need of a blessing. He needs others to continue favoring him and so is unable to be God’s hands and feet.
  • He has Become Lazy: By being solely favor minded he has imbibed a poverty mentality where he is satisfied with barely scraping by. He has the ability to achieve more, but laziness has crept into him. He has become the servant that the master admonished in the parable of the talents for being lazy (see Matthew 14:26). Mark has buried his potential under the seductive soil of favor!
  • He is Dissatisfied: Mark is never fully satisfied with any particular blessing his friends bestow upon him as he is always looking for more! His friends have noticed that while he always smiles and thanks them for blessing him, Mark becomes very sad, withdrawn, and even cold when he does not obtain their favor. They secretly wonder if Mark is only friends with them because of what they do for him. They wonder if their friendship with Mark is built on being his cash cow, and they wonder why he does not do more with the talent he possesses. On the other hand, Mark wonders why his friends have not picked up the tab especially when they are able and he is unable! He rationalizes it as his friends being cheap and not really loving him. He judges them for not following the biblical injunction of caring for the “needy” – as he is one who is in need! He conveniently forgets about all the other times they pick up his tab……. Mark has truly become a burden. And since he is never truly satisfied, he is never truly content. As such, he always nags. He has become a person that bible calls quarrelsome and nagging (see Proverbs 21:19).
  • He Cannot Keep a Relationship: Mark cannot maintain relationships because he is always the “taker” in them. He never gives because he rationalizes that he has nothing to give – but a whole lot of condemnation which he considers advice. He sees nothing wrong with always being a taker. In fact, He thanks God for blessing him and for putting people in his life he can take from. They are such a blessing! But in time, his partner realizes that Mark loves favor more than her and leaves him. Mark is stunned! He cannot see his own selfishness. He prays that God sends him another partner – another partner to drain!

Mark has forgotten that the bible says we should give and it shall be given unto us. It does not say to take so that we can get more.

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:38

Mark’s Heart Condition (listen here)

The story of Mark illuminates what can happen when favor goes berserk – when we make favor the goal and not a means. It may lead to laziness, ingratitude, inability to fulfill our potential and broken relationships. As heirs to the throne, Jesus has unlocked for us covenant blessings; not just covenant favor for our selfish gain. We must not allow the enemy to twist favor in such a way as to keep us from God’s best. If this is happening, we have to examine our hearts. If we truly have a heart for God (a heart of love), then we will have a heart to be a blessing to others. We will have a heart to be givers.

So to answers the originally levied question of whether I would rather have favor or blessing, I say give me bless me so that I can be a blessing to others.

Food for Thought: The path to God’s blessing is paved with favor

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