Why Singles Should Know Where They Want to Sit!

I am reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey.  It’s a best seller.  He talks about paradigms that we all have and how “where we stand, depends on where we sit.”  What is paradigm?  It’s the way we see the world in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting. It’s essentially a map. A map is not the actual territory, it’s an explanation of certain aspects of the territory.  We all tend to interpret things in terms of the way things are and in the way things should be. These maps actually produce behaviors and attitudes.  And let me tell you as a single, this greatly influence our approach to relationships and dating.

I had a conversation with a group of people and one particular friend on a hot topic.  My friend was a champion on the views put forth in a new book on dating and singleness that she recently read. She seemed to wholeheartedly to agree with the principles that the writer put forth. As I listened, I thought completely along a different vantage point. Her background, experience in life, cultural, family, and church experience has shaped her view. So has all of this shaped mine.

Our stories are totally different. I mean, everyone’s stories are different, but ours happen to be VERY different.  I listened to her and thought honestly that she was agreeing with the writer’s own paradigm about the subject of dating. Her wants, desires, and experiences seem to line up with what he was saying, and she feels his ideas are true.  Not really wanting to get into an intense conversation, I didn’t really say much.   I respect where she’s coming from, and respect her as a person.  She has much faith in her own paradigm.  However, I have a fairly different paradigm at this stage in my life.  It looks nothing like the paradigm I used to have in my 20’s.  Thank God.

People sometimes use the Bible to support their ideas or paradigm on dating.  I’ve read many different books on the subject.  All of them having many valid points.  Each one of them kind of coming from a different paradigm. Many of them are full of wisdom principles, and many of them are full of opinions based on each writer’s personal experiences.   However, the Bible doesn’t really talk about the actual subject of how to go about dating in terms of:  whether or not we should go on dating websites; go out a lot on one-on-one dates or only do it through community; or make sure we hear from God about His choice of a mate for us.    Our beliefs about all of these things come from our own experiences and worldview.   We all have different needs according to our past, and we all are wired differently in what our hearts can handle in our lives. So, of course, we all have different paradigms!

The Bible does discuss the matters of the heart as a matter of character.   It describes the values and virtues that should govern the life of a believer, that should govern the life of every believer whether single or married.   It talks of sexual purity, honesty, sincerity, unconditional love, unselfishness, honor, respect, etc.    I’ve focused a lot more on those principles in the last years.   I’d rather not argue with certain Christian single’s point of views on all the other matters.  God knows I’ve been pretty adamant about my views in the past.   Healthy discussions are needed in the Body of Christ, but arguing is not really profitable conversation.

How to choose where you sit!

  1. Be fully convinced and in faith in your own paradigm for dating. 

Whether or not you “kissed dating goodbye” or you “date whomever you want whenever you want” it’s up to each person to do what is in his heart to do what is right for them.  Some may exclaim that kissing dating goodbye ruined their lives, while others exclaim that it saved them from much heartache, and they met their mate in the context of community.  (You would have to read Joshua’s Harris book to fully understand this concept.)  Their love story was pure, beautiful, and completely designed by God.    I’m not taking sides with either point of view, and I don’t really feel the need to explain my point of view right now.  However, I do believe that,  “Each one should be full convinced in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5

I am navigating myself through this treacherous territory of my single life with my own “map” for this territory.   Is it ever changing?  Of course.   It’s a beautiful and wonderful life that I have, and I am in a great place right now. My new paradigm is from a vantage point that has brought me more satisfaction than I ever have had in my life.   I have thoroughly thought through it.   I have some very strong convictions that other singles might laugh at or disagree with.  And one of them is that I just don’t go out with any attractive Christian guy who asks me out.  It’s just not gonna happen.  Yes, I pray about it.  That’s cliche for some people, but not for me.   It’s real life.   I don’t want to date and date and date for months and months because everything appears hunky-dory only to later really seek the Lord for peace after I’ve fully emotionally invested myself in the relationship.  That’s an upside down paradigm that made me stand in a hurtful place for more than one season of my life.  Not going back there.   I am fully convinced and in faith that I am sitting in the right place now, and will stand in the right relationship for me at the right time.   It’s about stinking time I got to this point.   I’m healthier, truly happier, and have more purpose and vision than ever before.  How did I come up with this vision, well a whole lot of time consulting the Lord.  So above all else, make sure that you…

2. Consult God on His map for you and where He wants you to “sit”. 

Ask God the hard question….What paradigms do I have that are not your paradigms? I want to see the world essentially the way He sees the world. I want to see experiences and people the way He sees them. I want to not just THINK that I am perceiving things with my spirit, I want to KNOW that I am perceiving things with my spirit through His vantage point, so that my behaviors and attitudes about all things are pleasing to Him.  (Galatians 5: 16-24)   One of my mentors talked about the other night how we should be a people who pray with such great confidence that when we pray, we know – it shall be done. That’s having a paradigm that exists at a higher level, and not just based on what is naturally seen with the human eye.   Covey talks of how we see the world not as it is, but as we are. The Bible says:

1 John 4: 17   By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.

For years I read this as – I need to know myself by how God sees me, but that’s only one side of it.   Really and truly when I cultivate intimacy more and more with the One who created me, then I more fully know who I am.   My focus these days is in knowing Him, for this intimacy shapes my personal paradigm.   When I am living in the love of God, then I am truly living and all else flows from that place of intimacy.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Furthermore, if “where I stand is where I sit,”  then I want to make sure that I stay seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.   That takes a lot of effort and time, but it helps to keep my heart in the right place and ready to receive a mate at the right time.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Get Out of the Boat!

get-out-boat-image-only-for-blog-post24 But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”   28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.  (Matthew 14: 24 – 32 NASB)

Peter gets out of the boat, and starts walking on the water.  He actually gets out of the boat. Out of all the disciples, he got out.

First of all, he either had some serious faith in Jesus, or he was just a crazy daredevil-type of guy who just wanted a thrill!  I think it is the first option.  

Peter seems to show the desire to do the impossible through the power of God.  He didn’t just want to stay calm in the midst of the storm, when Jesus tells them all to not be afraid, he wants to take it a step further.  He has his eyes fixed on Jesus so much that he forgets about the storm – the boisterous wind and waves.  He gets out of the boat and starts walking, and then he SEES the wind and waves.  He was focusing on Jesus, but he had a “moment” when he stopped looking at Jesus.  At that point he cried out for Jesus to save him!  Of course, Jesus puts out his hand and rescues Peter.  

What principles can we glean from Peter’s experience?  

One look away from Jesus in the storm can make the “wind” and “waves” of life suddenly appear to be the scariest thing ever.

What “wind” and “waves” do you have in your life that are trying to engulf you?

If we are bound up with fear, then our eyes are not on Jesus. We have to approach the throne of God and surrender all of our fear to Him.  We have to think about what we are thinking about!  We don’t have to think every thought that pops into our head.  If our head is leaning towards the the negative, then we need to expose our minds to the Word of God and His promises.  “Fixing” our eyes on Jesus means – fixing our eyes on God’s Word, and what He says about our circumstances.

I often take just one Scripture to meditate on in any given day, that helps me to combat any recurring negative thoughts that keep trying to pop into my head.  Look at this one…

1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB)

The word “fixing” comes from a Greek word that means looking away from all else, to fix one’s gaze upon.  Hello!  Now, that’s the challenge! This is do-able, or why would the apostle Paul mention this?!  It even sounds like a command! —- Fix your eyes on Jesus, or else you will sink!  

I’ve been there.  In fact, I’m really there every day.  I start “sinking” every time I take my eyes of Jesus.    The longer it takes me to focus my eyes back on Jesus, the farther I sink!

The good news is, when we do focus on our eyes on Him, He actually takes care of the rest – He perfects our faith.   The perfecting of our faith is on the inside of us.  The building up of our “muscle” of faith is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It is about us “working” the Word.  When we work the Word, the Word works!   

Peter’s faith muscle was big enough to get him out of the boat, but it wasn’t quite built up enough yet to walk on the water for very long, so Jesus had to grab him.   The moment Jesus grabbed him, the wind and waves stopped.  

I have had so many moments like this in my life.  I’m going along, stepping out in faith, doing some things that are risky, trying to walk on the water, and then “BAM!” all of a sudden I start focusing on myself and my ability or on the “wind” and “waves”.  It might take me anywhere from a day or two to a couple of weeks to get myself to call out to Jesus in the midst of my “sinking” feeling.   And then I see Him reach out and grab my hand and lift me out of the fear that is trying to take me under.   Every time He does this, there is a calm that comes to my soul.

In this instance with Peter, the “wind” and “waves” immediately stop when Jesus pulls him up out of the water.   In our lives the “wind” and “waves” on the outside may or may not stop when we call out to Jesus, but the wind and waves on the inside can always immediately stop!

We need to remember, too, that a little faith is all it takes to get out of the boat.   Jesus can take it the rest of way.  If our faith falters, Jesus can catch us.  He truly is the perfecter of our faith.

Jesus asks Peter why he doubted Him, as if to say, “You don’t have to doubt me for a single second.  I got you. My hand will always be here to save you.”

We can have full assurance that we CAN get out of the boat, and we CAN walk on the water.  And one day we may just walk for a long distance without sinking at all!  Hallelujah!

We have to believe that our day is coming soon to “walk on the water”.  For now, we may just need to be like the other disciples and start with the “be not afraid” part before we step out of the boat.  That’s okay if that’s where you are for now.

I’ve been one of the other disciples a lot in my life, but I would like to be like Peter, even if I start sinking sometimes.  How about you?!

You can get out of the boat. 

You can walk on water. 

 

 

Proverbs 31 for the Single Woman

Our Heart, His Heart


An excellent wife, who can find?  For her worth is far above jewels. 

Proverbs 31:10 NASB

“Excellent” in the Hebrew means strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army.   A woman of strength, might, efficiency, and wealth, who is strong like a member of an army is worth more than jewels or money.    If men would realize this, there would be a lot less choosing based on solely on looks, and a lot more choosing based on Godly character.   In God’s eyes I am a woman who is worth more than jewels or money.  Do you walk in the knowing that your Heavenly Father sees you as a gem?  

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.  Psalm 139:14 NKJV

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.

 Psalm 139:13  NKJV

[ The Redeemer of Israel ] But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.   Isaiah 43:1 NJKV 

Oh, Beloved, the Lord wants you to rest in this Truth.   He formed your inward parts.    He knows how to keep you well spirit, soul, and body.

 The heart of her husband trusts in her,  And he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not evil.  All the days of her life.  Proverbs 31 NASB

“Heart” in Hebrew is the inner man, mind, will, understanding, soul, and seat of courage.   Emotional and spiritual intimacy is implied here.   This is great to think about in terms of marriage, but as a single person, Jesus is our husband.

Do you connect with the heart and mind of God?  

Does God entrust to you the secrets of His heart?

Do you open up and really share your heart with God, too?

A man should be so relaxed and trust in his wife that he can share his hopes and dreams with her, and she should feel the same way about her husband. This is the same with our Husband Jesus.

Have you hidden any places from God?

Are you submerging any fears?

Are you trying to conquer something on our own, without letting Him in on it?

Intimacy is constant in-to-me-see.  It is a daily relationship.   It takes time.   It takes honesty.   It takes getting away from busyness and separate ourselves to be with our Lover, our husband, Jesus.  He wants to share the secrets of His heart with us.  He wants to share His vision for our lives to us.    He wants to be able to entrust precious promises to us and see us trust in Him so much that we are patient as He fulfills them.

A husband may quit sharing his hopes and dreams for the  future if the wife continuously questions and doubts that it can come to pass.  Your Husband wants to continue to shares His hopes and dreams for you with you.  If you have stopped dreaming of a bright future, and have lately been more focused on the negative circumstances of your life, then begin to be quiet more and listen to the heart of God.  

A confident woman is one who accepts the dreams that her Husband Jesus shares with her!    She longs to be with Him, to hear her Husband’s heart.   She wants to slow down and take the time to be with her Husband.  It is her priority.   Beloved, make your sharing your heart with Him a priority.  It will make all the difference in your life. You’ll never be the same.

 

Proverbs 31 for the Single Woman

Part 1: Speaking Like the Daughter of a King

          For so many years I have looked at Proverbs 31 as a chapter for married women.  Yes, it details the habits and character of a married woman.   However, this chapter contains so many qualities and character traits that single women can develop before marriage, so that when married, they will be already ahead of the game.  Moving from singleness to marriage ought not be a huge struggle for a woman who is allowing the Word of God to shape her character.   Whether you read this blog on your own, or go through it with a group of women, it is my hope that you directly apply this to your life.  Take time to journal and/or discuss with others.  As we begin, daughters of the King, let’s remember that if we have asked Jesus to be our Lord and Savior and surrendered our lives to Him, then we are already in covenant with the Lord and one with Him, in much the same way as a husband and wife are one.

 3“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.  Song of Solomon 6:3  (NASB)

4“He has brought me to his banquet hall,  And his banner over me is love.  Song of Solomon 2:4  (NASB)

5 For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you..  
Isaiah 62:5  (NASB)

          Let’s take a look at the first three verses of Proverbs 31:

1The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him:

 2What, O my son?
And what, O son of my womb?
And what, O son of my vows?

3Do not give your strength to women,
Or your ways to that which destroys kings.    Proverbs 31: 1 -3  (NASB)  

            In the first part of this chapter are some really strong words that most scholars believe are the words of King Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba.  They proceed the whole virtuous woman section.  Perhaps the purpose of these verses is to tell the virtuous woman for what type of man should be waiting, and define how she could be one who is worthy of being that man’s wife.  Solomon’s name was believed to be Lemuel.   This wise woman advises her son to stay away from selfish, ungodly women, and wisely choose a wife.  I can’t help thinking that I want to be chosen by a “king”, and I want to know what qualities “kings” look for in a woman they want to marry.  Also, what qualities can I teach the young women I encounter to seek after in their development into womanhood?  Some of these qualities are listed in these first few verses, and they come straight from the mouth of this wise woman.  

           Solomon’s mother’s first piece of advice is to make sure her son is aware that there are women who take the strength of men, instead of giving them strength.  Ouch!   I can be a woman who takes the strength of men!   I can be a woman who destroys the kingly qualities in a man.  Yikes!   How can I do that?!  I can manipulate and try to get my selfish way in situations where they should be leading.  I can demean men with words and comment negatively and disrespectfully on their leadership instead of humbly trying to help them improve. I can condescend men with my words behind their backs and in front of their face. Okay, I just stepped on my own toes.  Did I step on yours?

          There is nothing wrong with being a strong woman and having opinions, for I am one of those, but women can be masters of manipulation.   We can fling our own opinions and constantly wear our feelings on our sleeves in order to get our way and receive sympathy from men and others.   However, we can also gain the attention of men through humbly and respectfully leading.  We can express our opinions and kindly speak of things that we are discerning without condescending anyone in the process.    We can earn the respect of men and women, and instead of taking the life out of them, give life to them.   We must esteem others more highly than ourselves, both men and women.  

          In an earlier chapter in Proverbs, we see a warning about not ruling our own spirit.   

 28Like a city that is broken into and without walls
Is a man who has no control over his spirit.  Proverbs 25:28 
(NASB)

         Well, now! A city broken down without walls is a city open up to the destructive forces of the enemy.   It is wide open to be attacked by the enemy because it thinks it can handle protecting itself without any reinforcements.   We don’t “rule over” our own spirits when we don’t have control over our mouths.   Words that come out of our mouths are an indication of what is in our hearts.  They may be an indication of an attitude that says, “I don’t need God,” or “I know more than you,” or “I got my act together more than you do.”   When I become convicted in my heart that I might have said words that are harsh, I have to have a “come to Jesus” moment with myself and repent.  I evaluate what thought pattern I have been allowing that is causing me to speak that way.  I used to beat myself up a lot over any ugly words that came out of my mouth, but I’ve learned that God doesn’t want me to be under condemnation.  He loves me no matter how ugly my mouth can be at times.    The Holy Spirit is able to help me control my mouth.  Just sheer will-power is not going to do it.  I need Him, to help me keep the words of my mouth pure.    Ladies, He is so honored when we make the choice to repent and change our thinking.   That’s really what “repent” means anyway – “to change one’s thinking about a matter”.   He can help us change the bitter thoughts of our hearts and mouths, to be sweet like honeycomb.  

24Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24 (NASB)  

          People who use pleasant words that are sweet like honeycomb are not usually ever lacking for good friends and company.  People are drawn to us when we are full of life-giving words.   I am already a daughter of the King of Kings, so when I look at these qualities, I ask myself,  “Am I speaking and behavior like the daughter of a King?”  I would like to ask you the question, too.   Are there any ways that you respond to men that are destructive?  What attitudes of your heart have led to this kind of behavior?  We can give the Holy Spirit permission to help us with the words of our heart by listening to His still small voice on the inside. When Jesus ascended to heaven after He was resurrected, He sent the Holy Spirit to abide with us.   He is our Helper and will teach us all things, including how to speak like the daughter of a King.  It’s really not so hard to tame the tongue when you practice listening and obeying to the Spirit.    

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you…. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 26“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  John 14: 16 – 25 (NASB)