My One Night Stand

SOURCE: mouthymag.com

SOURCE: mouthymag.com

Now that I have your attention, I’ll get to the real point. 🙂 Being a Christian Single can be difficult. With that being the case, I look for every opportunity to strengthen my resolve. Several weeks ago I attended a singles conference sponsored by the I.M.A.G.E. Ministry at Elizabeth Baptist Church here in Atlanta. Both nights were awesome, but this post is about the 2nd night when the guest pastor was Rev. Dr. R. A. Vernon. His topic was entitled “Welcome to the One Night Stand.” During his message he reviewed his 10 Rules of Dating. I’m going to share them with you, but I strongly encourage you to buy the book. I did, and I have been blessed by it. I am even planning on sharing it with friends. In the book, each rule begins a new chapter. In that chapter are anecdotes and scripture references. Below, I have listed each rule and a few notes about that rule.

10 RULES OF DATING

Rule 1: There Must be Physical Attraction: Although looks aren’t everything, date someone with the physical attributes that you like. Are you attracted to your mate? Proverbs 5:19

Rule 2: They Must Love Jesus: Do not date anyone who does not love Jesus more than they love you. Is your mate a Christian? Amos 3:3

Rule 3: There Must be Compatibility and Connectivity: Can you talk about more than Jesus and shared interests? If you need an intellectual, get one.

Rule 4: Discuss Each Other’s Past: This will help determine the presence (or lack thereof) of emotional baggage, sexual expectations within the marriage, how they were raised, past experiences, etc. Rev. Dr. Vernon suggests asking and discussing number of sexual partners.  (My Caveat: Only do this if you think you can accept this information and not bring it up in future arguments.) There are some really wonderful people who don’t qualify for a future with you based upon past decisions (financial, sexual, etc.)

Rule 5: Discuss Children: Do you both want them; could you do without; or does he or she already have a child/children? Choosing not to date a person with children, doesn’t make you selfish. It makes you honest about the life you want with your future spouse.

Rule 6: Talk About Money:  Discuss finances. Talk about your financial reality, not your financial potential. How much money do you both have right now (not how much do you one day plan on having)?

Rule 7: Pace Yourself/Slow Down: What’s the rush?  You have nothing but time. Slowing down will allow for time to think and more importantly clearly hear from God concerning this person.

Rule 8: Engage or Disengage: Pee or get off the pot. If you are not dating with the purpose of getting married, what are you doing? Date with a purpose. You can go out for dinner and drinks with your platonic friends. After 1 year (2 at the most), you should be ready to get engaged. If not, disengage and go your separate ways.

Rule 9: Go to Counseling: Be honest about your issues. Seek individual counseling before marital counseling.

Rule 10: Don’t Touch: Rev. Dr. Vernon encourages no hugging because hugging leads to kissing, kissing leads to touching and touching leads to sex. But, a better question to ask is, “Is this person willing to wait until marriage?”

My 3 Takeaways for You:
(1)  Date Purposefully/ Date on Assignment.
(2)  Ask the important questions up front; and be prepared to cut ties if the answer is unacceptable to you.
(3)  Buy the Book.

Love, peace and blessings,

Signature - Nefertara aqua 

P.S. Fall is here!!! I think fall is my favorite season. I am introducing some new soaps for fall. They are Apple Spice (below), Pumpkin Spice (below), Cinnamon Oatmeal, Honeyed Ginger, Spiced Cranberry and Just Soap. There will also be a few more great fragrances for Christmas. Visit the website and order yours today by clicking here.

Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Spice - Prop

P.P.S. If you’d like to purchase the book, the Kindle Version is available on Amazon by clicking here; and a paperback copy is available for purchase here.

Advertisements

Living the Celibate Life: Celebrating Celibacy

image

I am ALL about a celebration. Anytime there is a reason to celebrate, I am down for the cause. Many of my friends are the same way. We truly enjoy celebrations. So, for the next few days I am inviting you to celebrate celibacy with me!!

A few years ago, after ending a long term relationship, I decided I wanted to do things God’s way (especially since my way wasn’t working). When I started re-started this journey I thought it would be hard. But it wasn’t (initially). God cleared EVERYTHING (every distraction and anything that could potentially distract me) out of my way so I could focus on him.  At times it is a struggle, but it is worth it. God gives us the strength to persevere when we have a genuine desire to please him.

For me, being celibate is freeing. Sex confuses things.  It (including the emotions that come along with it) makes you stay in less than stellar situations for far too long either because you don’t want to start from scratch with someone new, you don’t want to have sex with yet another person or what you have is better than the unknown and the list goes on and on.

People say they are celibate, but don’t really talk about being celibate and the struggles that go along with it. After enough budding relationships that have ended soon after I uttered three small words (“I am celibate.”), there is a part of me that wonders whether the potential relationship would have had more of a chance if I weren’t celibate.  I wonder if I would be in a serious relationship or married by now if I weren’t celibate.  But then I look around me at the women I know (and don’t know personally) who are having sex and still aren’t in real relationships. So, that proves there is major fault in my logic AND that the devil is busy.

But. Today.  I. Choose.  I choose to be celibate. I choose to continue my journey. I choose live according to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1 – 2). I choose to pray and wait on God to send me to the man he has pre-ordained to be my husband. I choose to celebrate my celibacy not just today, but everyday.

For the next few days I will be doing a series on celibacy. I hope my struggles, triumphs and tips are helpful and encouraging.

IT’S (finally) GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Grand Prize

Grand Prize

2nd Prize

2nd Prize

3rd Prize

3rd Prize

In celebration of celibacy, I am doing a GIVEAWAY! Yay for giveaways!! I’ll be giving away a few of my favorite things – a $10 Target gift card, which also doubles as a book mark (grand prize winner only), leather bound devotionals, planners, pens and a 2 oz. Sugarcoated Scrub (Orange Plum)!!

To enter to win 1 of the 3 prizes:

  1. FOLLOW this blog, if you don’t already do so AND
  2. Leave a COMMENT about your most memorable celebration AND
  3. FOLLOW me on Twitter (@TheKingdomChick).

You get up to 3 additional entries by SHARING THE LOVE.  That means retweeting (Twitter), following me on Instagram (@SugarcotedScrubs) and/or following me on Twitter (@SgrcoatedScrubs).

Rules

  • Giveaway open to full time US residents only.
  • Entry requirements must be completed by midnight on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 in order for participant to be eligible to win.
  • Winners will be selected randomly.
  • Winners have 48 hours from notification to respond with mailing address.

Blessings, and thanks for celebrating with me. 

Nefertara

The Truth…Personified

This is my third (and hopefully best) draft of this post. The other ones were a little too much – for a number of different reasons.  🙂
 image

Things I have learned about the truth

It is…

  • or it isn’t
  • real
  • perplexing
  • hard to accept
  • intriguing
  • loyal
  • liberating
  • infuriating
  • phenomenal
  • original
  • a guiding light
  • a motivating factor
  • scarce
  • strong
  • draining (though it should not be)
  • a safe and scary place (yes, both at the same time)
  • God’s gift
I accept both the good and bad about it.  I am it’s biggest fan.
“You will know the truth by the way it feels.”
    – The Truth, India.Arie
 

Peace and blessings,

Nefertara

The “Idea” of Him

1a

Attraction is a funny thing.  The things that cause us to be attracted to people are sometimes very random. We can be attracted to physical traits or character or a combination of the two.  For me, I find that character is a bigger point of attraction; but of course, there has to be some physical attraction in order for me to want to get to know his character.

I am attracted to this guy… I actually like him.  My friends tell me that I don’t like him.  They say, instead, I am only attracted to the “idea” of him.  Hmmm.  That is something to ponder.  Maybe there is some truth to what they are saying.

There’s a difference between loving the idea of someone and actually loving who they really are.”  – White Collar

Because character (perceived or otherwise) is a bigger point of attraction for me, I realize that falling in love or like with the idea of someone is probably highly likely for me.  I think many women have this same problem.  And yes, it is a problem.  Despite a person’s character, there still must be a sincere connection beyond your perceptions.  The other problem is that the “idea” of someone rarely becomes reality.

Suit and iVORI

Ivori trying to get me to pick her up during the photo session

From a young age, we begin to develop the ideal mate or our “Mr. Right.” For some, the ideal mate is someone like your father, for others it is the tall, handsome, athletic “bad boy”, for others it is the established gentleman who will cater to your every desire and still for others it is the quintessential church boy.  For me, my Mr. Right is a combination of the 4.  Unrealistic?  Maybe, maybe not. 🙂  But, it is difficult to meet someone who actually fits a mold we have spent years perfecting.  As a result, we cling to men who are an idealization, meaning they are normally (not always) more appealing when we think about them (in the abstract) than when we are in their presence (in reality).  Men do this too; my ex was in love with the idea of me, as opposed to actually being in love with me.

denim and tulle

As I near my 30th birthday (just days away!!), I have become a lot more introspective.  I know that it is unhealthy to cling to the idea of someone.  It is just as unhealthy to cling to the idea that that same someone will suddenly get his act together and realize how meant to be the two of you really are.  I am praying for the ability to get over the “idea” of him because clinging to the idea of someone/anyone blocks you, me, all of us from the reality of something better – the man God has pre-ordained for our lives.

But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.  –James 1:5 (GNT)

Today, I pray that you take inventory of your emotions.  Pray for discernment to recognize and not to ignore misgivings about and potential shortcomings of men in whom you are interested. If there are any men you are clinging to the idea of or obsessing over, ask God to remove those thoughts.  When you do (ask) and after He has (removed), you will feel so much lighter – physically and mentally. 🙂

Peace and blessings!

P.S. 30 is going to be awesome! I’m almost, if not more excited, about this birthday than when I became a really teenager (13). 🙂 

P.P.S.  Check out my logo (at the very top).  Any thoughts?

 

True Love Waits V: Valuing What God Values

photo 1

In a perfect world, time brings about maturity, and maturity brings about wisdom.  Wise people should strive to gain understanding.  In Proverbs 4:7, the bible tells us that getting wisdom is very important, and that during that time we should strive to develop understanding/discernment (or a discerning spirit).  It stands to reason that the more discernment a person has, the more likely they are to exercise sound judgment and good decision–making skills.  Despite being aware of this, we often value what the world values – looks, status, power and money – especially when considering a boyfriend and potential husband. I listed all of those things, but my main focus is going to be looks because I find that people (men and women) will let a lot (lack of ambition, cheating, abuse, etc.) slide if a person is beautiful, handsome or ____ (insert your own synonym for attractive here).

Focusing on physical attraction, as the determining factor of whether a person is worth being in a relationship with, is an unbiblical approach to relationships.  Please don’t misunderstand, I do agree that you must be physically attracted to the person you date (and ultimately marry), and he to you. After all, you have to wake up to him every morning, among other things. 🙂 But, physical attraction can’t be the sole basis for determining whether a man is the right one for you.

When we are deciding whether to date someone or even go out with them for that matter, we consider their material possessions or physical attributes. The order/importance of the considerations will differ from one woman to the next, but you get the point.  We often consider things that are generally of little overall importance. Part of the problem is we want family, friends and even passersby to look at our mate and give us the proverbial thumbs up or a nod of approval.   We want people to think, “They look good together.”

Several months ago, I met a nice young man who is very persistent.  But, he’s just not my type. Shame on me, I know.  But, I’m not attracted to him.  My friend’s husband keeps saying, “You need to give that man a chance!”   This is a situation I have prayed about.  I have asked God to make me receptive of the right man, even if he doesn’t match my “preferences.”  At the same time, I have also asked God to present me to a man to whom I am physically attracted.  (I’ll be sharing some of my open letter to God in a few weeks). I have faith that He will.

Another thing that prevents me from dating him is that he’s not active in his church, though he does sometimes go.  It is unfortunate that I considered his lack of a desire to increase his level of spiritual maturity after I considered his looks.  The bible talks about the values we should desire and pray for in a mate – godliness, the fruit of the spirit and noble character. We should desire an honest, patient, humble man after God’s own heart.   Ultimately, we should value those things God values, not what the world values.  Handsomeness and vitality are fleeting.  Only what is inside a man’s heart will last.

 Trust the perfection of God’s timing.

We’ve reached the end… about 2 ½ weeks behind my projected timeline.  I hope you understand.  It is my prayer that something I’ve written has made a difference in your life.

 I wish you peace and blessings!

True Love Waits IV: In the Meantime

imageWe ended the last post in this series discussing the consequences of not waiting.  So, now we have to focus on how to spend our meantime. In the meantime, BE CONFIDENT! BE SEXY! BE YOU!  Your meantime is the time between now and you meeting the man God has pre-ordained to be in your life. During our meantime, we must be women who control our emotions.  In order to do that, we must ignore our fleshly desires (die to ourselves) so that we can listen for the Holy Spirit’s direction (John 14:26).

BEING CONFIDENT means being self – assured (sometimes easier said than done). How you see yourself is more important than how others see you.  How you see yourself determines how others see you. When you feel good about yourself, that feeling manifests itself in the way you carry yourself.

BEING SEXY doesn’t mean that you have to have sex (see below).  It simply means putting effort into and taking pride in your physical appearance.  After all, physical attraction is usually what causes the first spark.   If there is nothing to make him take a second look, he won’t learn what a nice young lady you really are.  But, remember to leave something to his imagination.  This way you won’t cause your brother to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:9 and Romans 14:13).  Invest a little time in your appearance.  Join a gym. Wear clothing that flatter. Your size doesn’t matter, just be healthy. But, by no means is physical appearance everything.  Your spiritual growth and maturity are top priorities.  Besides, by now, we know that everything that glitters isn’t gold.

candiesI’ve had this tank since law school.  I came across it a few weeks ago (happy dance time).

BEING YOUrself is another key factor.  When you try to be someone you aren’t, it shows.  You stick out like a sore thumb and come across as awkward. You should want anyone who falls in love with you to fall in love with the real you, not your representative.

I know that it seems as though even “church boys” are superficial.  They seem to want bible carrying, solo singing, meal cooking, gym loving model look-a-likes as girlfriends and wives. They want women who look like they’ve just walked off the runway into the sanctuary. But, you shouldn’t be concerned about that.  My males friends tell me that all that isn’t necessary.  More importantly, the bible tells us that our beauty should not come from outward adornment (1 Peter 3:3 and 1 Timothy 2:9-10). Instead, it should come from within because the inner beauty of a gentle, quiet doesn’t fade. In order to develop that type of beauty, we must study God’s word.  Studying God’s word will equip us to adorn ourselves with pure hearts, a peaceful spirit and godliness.

I have a friend who often tells me that I am “shy about certain things.”  When he says this, I deny being shy. I like him.  He knows that I like him.  But, telling him that would be traumatic.  So, with regard to my alleged shyness, I  think that I have simply been exercising restraint (as it relates to my emotions).

So, during the meantime, pray for the ability to control your emotions, be patient and grow in grace.  Also pray for strength not to manipulate situations.  God is faithful.  He knows your needs, and he will fulfill your desires.  I pray that you find joy in God and his word so that he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

Peace and blessings!

FOCUS SCRIPTURE:  “See, I am doing a new thing. Now, it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

P.P.S.  Stay tunes for Part V – the final installment in the series.

P.P.P.S. Check out my latest birthday creations – birthday banner and decorations (crafts page) and the guacamole and tequila lime bars (recipes page).

TLW III: When We Don’t Wait

imageWaiting requires patience. The last part of the series ended with talk of waiting patiently. Not only don’t we wait patiently, we don’t wait at all. We take matters into our own hands. We don’t wait for a man to find us (He who finds… Proverbs 31: ). Instead, we are out hunting.  I’m not, saying you shouldn’t be out and about where you are in a position to be found.  What I am saying is that you should allow men to pursue you. The question becomes, is a little nudge okay?  🙂 That ‘s for you to pray and think about.

But, don’t be in a hurry. As the old adage says, “haste makes waste.” 🙂 It causes wasted time with the wrong person or people.  This is time that you can never get back. When we don’t wait, we end up in bad situations with men God did not intend to have significant roles in our lives.  Just because someone is a good person does not mean that he is necessarily right for you. Plus, when we try to create our own relationships, it sometimes causes us to hook up with non-believers.  2 Corinthians 6:14 advises us against becoming involved with non-Christians.

 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

We’ve all (at one time or another) thought that God was taking too long to handle a certain situation.  King Saul undertook a duty that wasn’t his (offering the sacrifice) because he felt God was taking too long.  Saul ‘s hasty actions were indicative of his refusal to wait on God to carry out His plan; and, in his haste he created even bigger problems (see 1 Samuel 13:8-23).   His impatience was the ultimate display of his faithlessness.  Another biblical example of a person acting hastily was Sarah giving her servant Hagar to Abraham so she could conceive.  God had promised to make Abraham father of many nations.  Sarah didn’t believe God’s promise could be fulfilled through her, so she took matters into her own hands, which caused problems in the household. (See Genesis 16 and Genesis 21:8-21)  These examples make me think of Proverbs 16:25 – There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

…to be overhasty is to sin and miss the mark.    Proverbs 19:2

When we don’t wait on God, we have regrets – regrets of wasted time and energy.  During our singleness, we are called to grow in our relationship with God – not waste our singleness.  Focus on becoming the right person instead of finding the right person by seeking the kingdom of God FIRST. Your love for Christ should inspire you to pursue Christ, your purpose and your passions, as you wait on God’s timing.

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

I pray that God gives you the desires of your heart.

Peace and blessings!

P.S. Stay tuned for Part IV.

P.P.S.  Click here to see the birthday pennant and baby shower banner I  made!

P.P.P.S.  I stumbled upon an energy bar recipe (do it yourself Lara Bars) on Tuesday Test Kitchen.  Click here to see the cashew and almond-cranberry protein bars I made.

True Love Waits (Part II)…Or Does It?

image

When the idea for this series came to mind, I was all prepared to gear this series to answer the question of does true love wait with a no (that you shouldn’t just sit and wait to be found by your prince charming).  But, the more I prayed about it and thought about the overall message, I shifted focus.  I still say that you shouldn’t idly wait for the man that God has preordained for you.  And, while I totally believe that we should not sit and twiddle our thumbs, I think we should continue to “wait” on God.  It builds character and teaches patience.  What have you heard about patience?  Yep, that’s right – it is a virtue.  And, just as important, it is a spiritual fruit.  Being virtuous women and developing the spirit of the fruit in our lives should be a top priority.

At various stages of my life, I have waited.  This time around , I recognize that the waiting is different.  Initially, I waited impatiently. But, now I am waiting expectantly. Psalm 37:7 (GNT) says, ” Be patient and wait for the Lord to act;…” How we spend our wait/our meantime determines a lot – particularly our outlook on life.

While we are patiently waiting, it is important to develop self-control (another spiritual fruit)  as it relates to how we manage/deal with our feelings for members of the opposite sex.

While we are patiently waiting, we should trust God to fulfill his promises.  We should trust him to guide us as His will is done in our lives (Psalm 37:23-24 & Isaiah 30:21).  Patiently waiting means trusting God’s timing and his love for us (Jeremiah 29:11).

While we are patiently waiting, we should walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  We should become involved with ministries at our churches and social and civic organizations that will allow us to use our gifts for His glory.  Join a gym.  Enjoy outings with your friends and family.  Don’t stay locked up in your house.  While you are out and about, you might be “found” or noticed by your future husband.   You just never know. 🙂

Waiting often yields uncertainty, and as a result, it can be extremely aggravating…just being honest.  Hence, the repetition of “patiently”.  But, love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4).  So, while waiting on love, we should be patient.  As I said earlier, patience is a virtue AND a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  We all like to get a resounding yes when we ask for something.  I have learned that the lack of response from God is not necessarily a NO.  Sometimes, it is simply “not right now”.  While we are patiently waiting, God is perfecting us and writing our love story.

As always, be blessed!

P.S.  Check out the dishes (crockpot squash and zucchini soup, tomato soup and kale salad) I made this week.

P.P.S. Stay tuned for Part III.

True Love Waits Part I…My Story

Warning:  This post is a little lengthy (900 words), compared to my more recent posts. I apologize in advance.  This series consists will consist of 5 posts (all shorter than this one) 🙂 . I pray that the posts are enlightening and encouraging.

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, Relationship Evaluation Day, Single Awareness Day, or whatever phrase you use to refer to February 14th. I was supposed to post this on Valentine’s Day, but I didn’t get a chance.  Valentine’s Day is a day full of emotions – happiness, excitement, sadness, depression, etc.  Many people spent Valentine’s Day with their true loves. Others spent it alone.  But, what about those of us without society’s definition of true love? Are we waiting on it? We wait for phone calls, birthdays, vacations, etc.  No one likes waiting, and rarely do we choose to wait. So, why do we say we are waiting on love? (Questions to ponder – I’ll talk about my answers to these in the upcoming posts.)

When we were growing up, our parents were constantly telling us to wait for this or for that.  As parents, they told us to wait for our protection. Waiting for anything helps us learn to delay gratification.   Some learn the lesson immediately; others learn it eventually and still others never learn it.

image

This talk about waiting takes me right into the True Love Waits (TLW) initiative and other abstinence pledges.  We were told to respect ourselves, save our virginity for our future husband and to focus on God.  When I was 13 or so I discovered True Love Waits and I embraced it.  I still have my ring and the bible. We’ve all heard about TLW.  Even if we didn’t take the TLW pledge, our parents told us waiting until marriage to engage in sexual intercourse showed our respect for God.

A few years later I met my first “real” boyfriend. I don’t know what made me use quotes around real.  You might be asking, “What made him real?” 🙂 I don’t know (shoulder shrug). Maybe it’s because we dated for almost 7 years; he was the first guy my parents allowed to come visit at our house and the first guy they let me go on double dates with when I was 16; he transferred to the college I attended; my friends became his friends and vice versa.  Maybe those are the things that made him “real.”

Needless to say, or maybe I should say, I fell (well, that seems accidental) jumped off the TLW band wagon. I have since recommitted myself to a life of abstinence. I started jotting notes about TLW a few months ago when my church was in the process of planning a TLW ceremony for the youth and young adults. I was asked to speak to the group about TLW.  I agreed because as Christians, we are required (I believe) to share our testimonies.  I debated about what I would say, how I would say it and how it would be received.  As I stated in the welcome letter, I don’t think I’ve had to deal with any very difficult moments in life, but there are areas with which I’ve struggled. I used to consider myself better than the girls who slept with any and everybody, had one night stands, etc. because I was just having sex with my boyfriend. In God’s eyes there was no difference between me having sex with my boyfriend and someone else having sex with their one night stand. A sin is a sin.

When I initially embarked on the TLW journey, I thought I’d meet a guy in college and be married by 21, just like my parents. I didn’t think I’d have to “wait” long.  But, I didn’t meet my spouse in college.  In fact, my boyfriend of 7 years and I ended up breaking up when I was in law school.  But, I jumped ahead of myself.  After a few years of dating, we told each other we no longer needed to wait on true love because we had found it in each other.  We said that we didn’t have to wait because we were going to get married anyway. We talked about marriage a lot.  But, we didn’t get married after college. He wanted to, but I wanted to continue my education. A shock coming from the girl who wanted to be a stay at home mom… I went to graduate school and hopped back on the TLW band wagon. It worked. I was excited. Then, I was introduced to a guy who stopped dating me because I was abstinent.  I was hurt at the time, but now I know I am stronger because of it.  I resumed waiting after that relationship.  There have been other relationships since those.  But, through it all, I have decided that waiting is what is best for me, AND more importantly, it is what God wants for my life (Romans 12:1,2).

What I have learned/ am learning while waiting:

  1. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak;
  2. After being in a physical relationship with a man, it is hard to return to the relationship, the second time  around without sex;
  3. Avoid situations that will cause you to succumb to your desires;
  4. We do not face any temptations that others haven’t faced;
  5. Don’t compromise your beliefs and standards for anyone; and
  6. Being diligent in church attendance, bible reading/study and prayer are IMPORTANT!

Peace and blessings!

P.S. Stay tuned for Part II.

Praying for Purity

imageThe word purity has various connotations. But, usually when people hear purity, they automatically think of sexual purity (chastity or abstinence). Sexual purity is one type of purity that we should all definitely and wholeheartedly strive for. But, it is not the only approach to purity.  We should be pure in our thoughts (no lusting or improper motives), words (no cussing, gossip or unkind words) and deeds (no stealing, sexual activity or “everything but” activity). God calls every person, especially women (single and married) to be pure.  Choosing and pursuing purity means a desire to commit every area of your life to God so that you can be His vessel (Romans 6:13).  Purity begins in your heart.  As a [wo]man thinks in [her] heart, so [s]he is (Proverbs 23:7).

 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  – Matthew 5:8

Because Christ calls us to be pure in our thoughts, words and deeds, we must answer his calling. It is hard to be pure in these areas when society and pop culture are constantly pushing movies, TV shows, music, and magazines that have anything but pure messages in them.  Such media desensitizes us, making it hard to remain pure, especially when we don’t do our part to avoid it. Our bodies are living sacrifices.  We are set apart! We should not become/behave like everyone else.  Instead, we should behave differently because of what we know to be God’s will for our lives (Romans 12:1 – 2). In today’s society, many women are becoming more and more desensitized.  Sex and sexual activity are a way of life for some people.  Everyone is doing it and talking about it. As a result, these women cannot be examples to teenagers and younger adults because they aren’t leading by example. When we lower our standards to the standards of the world, we are no longer set apart. We are just like everyone else.  It should never be our goal to be just like everyone else.

1 Timothy 2:19 instructs us to depart from iniquity. That means we have to be mindful of what we see, what we hear and what influences are in our lives. Music, various forms of media and friends and associates have great influence over our lives. A few months ago I asked the kids (ages 11 – 13) in my Sunday school class about the music they listen to. The artists’ names started flowing.  I told them that I liked some of the artists they named.  I also told them that nothing is wrong with secular music. Then I cautioned them that all music is not created equally – especially music with explicit and profane language and  music objectifies women.  What we see, hear and involve ourselves in (be it good or bad) will eventually start to manifest itself in our conversations and actions. What goes into our minds/hearts will eventually come out.  I have to remind myself of this.

image

Seeing + Hearing + Speaking x NO EVIL = Thinking & Doing No Evil

So whoever cleanses himself [from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences] will [then himself] be a vessel set apart AND useful (emphasis my own) for honorable and noble purposes, consecrated and profitable to the Master, fit and ready for any good work. – 2 Timothy 2:2 (AMP)

When we have impure thoughts, we need to reject those thoughts and command them to leave our minds immediately. Once a thought enters my mind, I try not to focus on it. I don’t let my imagination run wild. We must die to ourselves daily and live in righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).  We are set apart for God’s holy purpose.  We can’t fulfill that purpose/those purposes if we are impure.

 …we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

 Things that can and often do cause us to be impure are our triggers.  Examples of triggers are music, friends, excess alcohol and the way we choose to spend our free time.  Our triggers also influence our attitudes and behaviors. Not each of these things is a trigger for everyone. Friends may be one person’s trigger; alcohol and music might be another person’s trigger, while a combination of several things might be yet another person’s trigger.  God does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, and he always provides a way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must pray that God will guide us in maintaining (or regaining) our purity and that he will help us establish boundaries that prevent our triggers from being pulled.  If you know that drinking too much and hearing certain types of music causes you to behave differently or improperly, STOP listening to those types of music, especially when you drink.

We should be intentional about the friendships we foster and the things we hear, see and watch on TV and the internet.  I have figured out what my triggers are.  As a result, I have stopped reading certain books, watching certain things on TV and listening to certain music (though I do still listen to secular music).  By being intentional about the words going into my ears and sights before my eyes, I am better able to control (by God’s grace), the negative influences in and over my life.  What are your triggers?

Will power is a great thing to have.  But, we don’t have to rely on will power as much when we change our environment and our influences.  Striving to remain pure can be is difficult. As we continue to read God’s word, meditate on it and pray, our thinking will align with God’s will. Daily, we will be strengthened and encouraged.  Living pure lives gives us strength, power and courage to live abundant lives such that other’s can see God at work in us.  By striving to live pure lives, we are setting an example for others and making God look good in the process.

But you are a chosen race; a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [god’s] own purchased, special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. –   1 Peter 2:9 (AMP)

God can’t fix issues that we don’t acknowledge. Acknowledge areas in your life where you could be more pure.  If there is a certain vice you need to overcome, certain temptations you need to avoid or certain thoughts you need removed from your mind, admit those shortcomings to God and ask him to take control of those sin issues.  If you are unmarried and still involved in a sexual relationship (or married and having an extramarital affair), confess these sins to God and ask his forgiveness. He is faithful. He will forgive and restore you.

Sample Purity Prayer: Lord, thank you for your restorative and redeeming power. My thoughts (words, actions, etc.) are sinful. Please remove the things that trigger those desires that are not in compliance with your will for my life. Father, I pray that every improper thought, desire, emotion, action and reaction is taken captive and made to obey Christ. Please give me a pure heart and pure motives so that you can use me for your glory. Finally, Lord, I ask that you restore my generation so that we can passionately and purposefully pursue you.  In the majestic name of Jesus, Amen.

Just like we should guard our hearts, we should guard our purity.  The pursuit of purity matters. It is important! Fight for it!  Be encouraged and (like a friend told me last week) keep making God look good!

 Peace and blessings!

P.S. There were quite a few verses of scripture that I wanted to use for this post. But, it was getting wordy so I couldn’t use them all.  I have listed them here.  Click on each scripture to be taken to the text.  Read them, write them and pray about their application to your life.

As a friend recently told me, keep making God look good.

Peace and blessings!