SINGLENESS IS NOT A SNAKE

 “I want to pursue you — meaning I’d like to be exclusively committed to you.” I cannot lie. Those words were sweet to hear after nine years of singleness.

He changed his mind three days later.

Satan hates marriage and has attacked it from the beginning (Genesis 3:16). He hates godly romance and endeavors to seduce us away from it — through porn, pride, or a thousand other means. He hates the God-given beauty and intimacy of sex and wants us to take it outside of its God-ordained context (Hebrews 3:14).

But Satan also despises the content single person. Devoid of casual encounters and “flirtationships,” the life of a content single Christian looks strange in a sex-driven culture and points to satisfaction and greater intimacy in Christ alone.

When singleness is new or prolonged, it’s easy to view God as the god of keep-aways rather than as the God we see in Scripture. Faced with that temptation, we need to examine some of the lies we’re tempted to believe about our singleness.

 

“If only I were more attractive.”

 In today’s world of photoshop, it’s so easy to think, “If only I were more attractive, I’d be married by now.”

Do you think your lack of culturally defined physical attractiveness can thwart the creator of romance? Whether it’s a not-so-flat tummy or a not-so-symmetrical face, a lack of muscle or a lack of height, God knit you together (Psalm 139:13). He did not fashion the hue of your eyes, mold your lips, and form every other part of you so that someone other than him could make you feel worthless.

God did not make you mainly to be pleasing to the eyes of created, faulty beings. He intimately pieced you together by and for himself: to behold him and worship him, to love him and trust him (Deuteronomy 6:5). “Love the Lord your God” is not a burdensome commandment; it’s the culmination of what we were woven together for.

Perhaps behind our desire to be more attractive is a subtle hunger to be independent — to not solely depend on God’s gracious provision and timing. God knit you together, he writes your story, and if you love him, he gives and withholds for your good.

 

“I must have done something wrong.”

Whatever sins you’ve committed in the past (alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, emotional impurity, envy, vainglory) and whatever your current struggle, if you are in Christ, there is no condemnation and nothing that can separate you from the good gifts he has for you (Romans 8:1, 32) — including the ultimate gift, himself.

When we entertain these lies like the two above, we subtly make our singleness about us and how we want our lives to go. We assume something must be wrong with us instead of looking for how God might use our singleness to his glory.

Many of us want to know the future so that we can rest in our knowledge and not our creator. We desperately want assurance that we’ll have someone to cuddle in the winter, someone to build a home with. We want to know that one day we’ll have a wedding day and a wedding night and a firstborn child. The truth is, we don’t and can’t know. But God does, and he calls us to rest in that — in him.

So, if we’re tempted to believe lies like these in our singleness, what should we remember instead?

 

Singleness Is a Gift

 If you are single today, it is a gift for today, and today brings enough worry of its own (Matthew 6:34). You may get married a year from this day, or you may still be single five years from now. Either way, it will be a gift.

It is true that God said “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). But in our haste to point to this verse, we can write off the biblical figures who embodied godly singleness, Jesus chief among them (he’s been awaiting his bride for centuries!). We can also overlook the importance of intimacy in communities apart from romantic relationships. We are not islands without a church body.

We overlook that “every good gift comes down from the Father of lights, in whom there is no shadow or variation due to change” (James 1:17). “Every good gift” includes today’s assignment and its marital status. God never forsakes his sons and daughters (Hebrews 13:5). Surely he hasn’t abandoned you now in fresh heartbreak or prolonged singleness.

 

Singleness Is a Struggle

That singleness is a gift doesn’t mean it won’t be a deep and difficult struggle for many. In God’s eyes, in fact, some of the best gifts he gives to us are struggles (1 Peter 1:6–9; Romans 5:1–5). Struggles are gifts teaching us to look nowhere else but him for our needs. Gifts teaching us that his timing is perfect. Gifts revealing more of him to us. That’s what struggles are.

It’s easy to look everywhere except God in a world obsessed with of love and sex. But recall that the world of deadened consciences is more starved for intimacy than ever, despite its seemingly endless supply of erotic affection.

In the midst of the struggle, we must strive to cultivate thankfulness and trust in the Lord (Psalm 107:1; Proverbs 3:5-6). A good basis for doing so is to recall the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:10¬–11:

Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

God is a good Father. Our hearts must capture that truth and be captured by it or we will be suffocated — and not flourish — in singleness. If we are asking for marriage, his giving us singleness today cannot be a snake or a stone. It must be the very best for us.

 

Is He Still Worthy?

 He is not dangling “our perfect relationship” just out of our grasp, saying, “If only you were more attractive or holy or didn’t do that sin in the past, then you’d have this dazzling romance.” There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship or person apart from God; the best we can hope from any relationship with another is to be two imperfect humans seeking a holy, perfect God together.

Singleness, like all trials, is a whisper to our hearts, saying, “Am I still worthy of worship if you don’t get what you desperately want?” Should the Lord will it, I will celebrate ten years of unwanted singleness later this year. Yes, I said celebrate. Because even in unwanted seasons, the Lord never stops being good to me, nor does he cease to be enough for me (Psalm 16:11) — today, tomorrow, and forever


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RETURN TO COURAGE

by Ryan Berman – Leadership Now
 
COURAGE is what gets you from here to there. But it’s not courage or risk. It’s courage and risk. They work together. “Those who are risk-averse are inadvertently courage-adverse,” says Ryan Berman author of Return on Courage.

It is a balancing act. “If courage is the accelerator, then risk is the brake pedal. You need them both to drive a car, but you can’t press them at the same time or the car won’t work.” So how hard should you hit the gas? How important is it that you change?

Why courage? Why now?

Because companies are perishing at an alarming rate. Fifty-two percent of Fortune 500 companies from the year 2000 are now extinct. This is due primarily because the market has changed and we are afraid to do what we need to do to change with it. Qualcomm’s Roger Martin told Berman, “Everybody who’s involved in trying to resurrect what existed before, those people die…. You have to stop doing the thing that right now is making you a ton of money. You have to start shifting, and that puts the current income at risk.” And that takes courage — a lot of it.

What is Courage?

Berman defines courage as acquiring knowledge, building faith, and taking action. All three elements have to be present for there to be courage. Knowledge and faith without action is paralysis. Having faith and taking action without proper knowledge is reckless. Acquiring knowledge and then taking action is just not enough; it’s playing it safe.

Courage is a daily decision that anyone can develop more of. It’s not a reckless action done without thinking because courage should always begin with knowledge.

Central Courage System

What we need is a Central Courage System. “The Central Courage System is a process that your team can repeatedly turn to for guidance. Once it has been established and implemented, you can lead with your system’s values, purpose, and point of view. The Central Courage System teaches us how to make bold, swift decisions.”

The Central Courage System is represented by the acronym P.R.I.C.E.: Prioritize through Values, Rally Believers, Identify Fears, COmmit to a Purpose, Execute your Action.

Return On Courage

Prioritize Through Values

Determine and then prioritize the values that matter most to you and your organization. And then by living these values, they become your organization’s “best friend, something your team can rely on during every decision and offering regarding your business.” Courageous decisions are easier when you have prioritized your values.

Rally Believers

The job of leaders is to create believers. “To do this, you must surround yourself with others who rightfully buy in to the values, purpose, offerings, and people of the organization.” Respecting your team, positive reinforcement, repeating and living your message helps to build believers.

Identify Fears

“Fear chokes us up and holds us back. Fear shackles us to the status quo where we feel secure and convinces us to avoid controversial action and hard conversations. Fear fuels paralysis and empowers unwanted procrastination.” So we have to address our fears head on—our industry fears, product fears, service fears, perception fears, and our personal fears. Author Brian Krans wrote, “Fear is the thief of dreams.”

Commit to a Purpose

Your purpose is your reason for existing. “To pick a purpose is to make a choice. What is your brand willing to commit to or sacrifice to make sure your purpose succeeds?” A worthy purpose must be truthful, purposeful (Not a call to action, but a call for action), emotional, and differential.

Execute Your Action

Without taking action, you, of course, go nowhere. When executing, you are either executing on a new offering or a new message. Either way, your mission “is to give people just enough information on your product or idea that they will persuade themselves.”

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THE PRICE

By Ronnie Loyd

Will you pay the price? Who will be that man? Who will be that woman? Will it be you? Will it be me? How will we know if God has put His divine hand on us to be part of this massive outpouring of His Spirit in our time? Again, I say the only way I know that we’ll be quiet and attentive enough to hear God’s voice is through the godly disciplines of fasting and prayer. Only when we experience the depth of God and His love will we be able to rise to the newness of life.  But it will be necessary to pay the price, just as we will always pay a price for something that is lasting and worthwhile. Paying the price will cost us some conveniences.

To fast means to deny ourselves what is common, normal, and necessary-food-for a period of time so that our minds will become sharp, our hearts softened, and our spirits receptive to what God has to say to us. The price is great but worth it. Why? God promises to fill the void that the absence of food creates; He will pour out His blessings and satisfy us in a way that food neither can or will.  Without this intentional, heightened spiritual focus that comes from humbling ourselves in God’s presence, we will be doomed to face the future timidly, defensively, without prayer, and without serious motivation. But when we have been in the presence of the Almighty God and have taken our directions from His heart, we will have the wherewithal, the strength, the desire, the courage, and the confidence to face the future boldly, without fear, and without compromise.


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HOLINESS IN ACTION

ToBy Ronnie Floyd

A missionary in India was once teaching the Bible to a group of Hindu ladies. Halfway through the lesson, one of the ladies got up and walked out. A short time later she came back and listened more intently than ever.

At the close of the hour, the leader inquired, “Why did you leave the meeting? Weren’t you interested?” “Oh yes,” The Hindu lady replied. “I was so impressed with what you had to say about Christ that I went out to ask your carriage driver whether you really lived the way you talked. When he said you did, I hurried back so I wouldn’t miss out on anything.”

So my question to you and to me are these from an unknown poet:  What would He find, should He come just now? A faded leaf or a fruitfulness bough; A servant sleeping, and idle plow; What would He find should He come just now? What would He find should He come tonight? Our garments soiled or spotless white; Our lamps all burning or with no light; What would He find should He come tonight?

The privilege of living in the presence of God is open to every believer. Yet many of us settle for remaining outside of the Holy of Holies, satisfied to grow weary and old in the outer courts of the tabernacle. What prevents us from entering this gateway where power and breakthroughs are occurring? It’s not the character, nature, or actions of God, but the darkened veil of our own self-worship, a self-life that has not been carried to the foot of the cross.

When we pray and fast, our lives become positioned to encounter the holy God.  When we encounter Him, the veils are lifted and the liberty begins. Breakthroughs occur because of God’s power moving in our lives. That is holiness in action.


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HOLINESS LEADS TO INTIMACY

By Ronnie Floyd

When we begin to experience the holy presence of God that comes through fasting and prayer, intimacy begins like nothing we have ever experienced before. Intimacy with God is a lifestyle. If it is to do its work, it must change us from within and cause us to review and alter our behavior in the heat and torment of our days.

Intimacy with God changed Moses on Mount Sinai when he prepared to give God’s Commandments to His people.  Intimacy becomes a reality when you and I say, “That’s me, Lord,” to the question posed by the singer of the Psalm: “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessings from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior.” (Ps. 24:3-5) Intimacy with the Creator means baring our hearts to the Farther, allowing Him to see if there be any wickedness in us. And how quickly the verdict will read. But it will be read with love, with encouragement, and a prodding for us to return to our families, our work, our schools, and our churches as different people because we’ve been in the presence of God.

Intimacy with God begins with periods of long quiet listening, only later to become a conversation where we ask Him, in His timing, to repair the terrible breaches in our relationships, to reveal our improper motives, to bring healing to our lives, to remove our spiteful spirits, to help us speak words of kindness, and to learn to express unutterable joy for the flash of flame that now blazes in our hearts from having been in His presence.

Prayer and fasting move us into moments of self-examination spiritually, resulting in encountering our holy God personally. When we will begin to see lifestyle change occur in us due to this, we move to the kind of spiritual breakthroughs where intimacy with God occurs. Please know, standing in awe of the holiness of God will lead to an intimacy with God so special that your passion becomes living in obedience to God.

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