Friday, July 31, 2009

The Purpose of Love: Biblical Manhood

Hey Covenant Groupies,

I read something interesting in my Bible today and I thought I'd share it. What are your thoughts?

The Purpose of Love: Biblical Manhood (Eph 5:25) - Self-giving characterized by love, demands the highest degree of sacrifice (John 3:16). Love is not manifested in syrupy sentimentalism but in true affection. Man is provided the capacity to love as Christ loved His church (Eph 5:25).


The more Christ-like a man is, the more it will cost him to be a man of love.

Love demands perfection in the object of its love. However, that perfection is not primarily achieved through the demands made upon the one who is loved, but through the sacrifice of the one who loves (Eph. 25-28).

To love does not stop with who or what the “loved-one” is but seeks to produce in the one “loved” what he may become. This will be the burning passion of the man who is disciplined in his walk with God-to love in such a way that the object of his love becomes as he is-a true lover.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY! - How are You at Bridling Your Tongue?

Hey Covenant Groupies,

We all know that monitoring every word we speak may seem cumbersome at first, but it will serve to advance righteousness. Scripture says:

James 3:1-12 - Taming the Tongue

1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.
4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man,
8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness.
10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?
12 My brothers, can a fig-tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

When was the last time you shared an encouraging word with your spouse, friend, child, stranger or co-cowker? What was it and what was the effect?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Infidelity: A Matter of Heart or Body?

Hey Covenant Groupies,

I read an article today that asked the question, what is infidelity? In describing her thoughts, the author quoted the dictionary as defining infidelity as: "marital unfaithfulness or an instant of it" and she furthered her thought by only seeing infidelity as a matter of sex. This seemed so incomplete and relaxed in responsibility to me because this definition allows us to redefine it, abuse it and make use of infidelity any way we please.

When I think of infidelity, I believe it covers a multitude of indiscretions. I think of how a touch can constitute infidelity, a mere conversation, an emotional connection, a phone call and sex with someone other than your spouse all constitute infidelity. For me, infidelity is a matter of a committed or uncommitted heart. Period!

I remember after Kevin and I were engaged, there was a co-worker that had an unhealthy attachment to him and vice versa and, of course, her didn’t see it (or wouldn’t see it.) So, as opposed to talking rationally about t, we instead argued more about this situation. I felt he loved having his ego stroked by hr and he felt that I was overreacting because they were just friends.

We did get a few opportunities to discuss the detriment of this type of relationship and how disrespectful it was, however, nothing changed. Yet, Kevin was very clear where I stood and that mattered to me more than the young lady knowing my stance.

During a business trip to NYC, where she’d also meet Kevin for the first time face to face (oh, didn’t I mention they’d never met?) I decided that she and I would meet first. As I shared my concern about her relationship with my fiancĂ©e, I remember her being very attentive to what I was saying. This side of me amazed me because I’d never sat down with a woman before to clear the air about her feelings for my man. As I finished and asked for her thoughts, all she seemed to want me to know, with tears streaming down her face, was that she loved Kevin. “WHAT! No, wrong answer. Did you not just hear everything I said?” I thought to myself. However, instead of beating her senseless (keepin’ it real.) the way I wanted to, the Lord gave me a sense of compassion for her. She shared how her man didn’t give her half of the attention Kevin gave her. She told me that although she only spoke to Kevin 3-4 times a month for work related issues, he always had an interest in what she was doing personally as well. She felt important when he spoke with him.

Now, I didn’t care who was giving what to who, when, why or how; a line had been crossed and that’s all that mattered to me. This was an intimate relationship and to me that constituted infidelity.

What do you think? What defines infidelity to you?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Striving for Equality In your Marriage: Wise Men/Women Dare Not Tread

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Got a question for you.

Who's intellectually smarter in your relationship, you or your spouse? I know some of you might say that this a rather silly question, but I ask because during a conversation with a client today we discussed one spouse being smarter than the other in a marriage and how the smarter spouse can quickly become consciously or subconsciously prideful with their intellect; to the point of talking down to their mate. In marriages, there will always be one person "smarter" than the other; whether self-defined or educationally given, but humility must be that person's constant character.

Truthfully, if we saw our marriages Biblically, we shouldn't even consider answering that question in your own relationship. It's like asking who's smarter, God or Jesus? Are they not equal/one? Are you and your spouse not equal/one? Hmmmmmmm. Ponder that one.

Marriage is a space of God-given equality; no one person has the right to assign equality in the relationship. Man came from God, woman came from man and in marriage we are to become one unit with preassigned healthy roles, the way God intended; yet we are so determined to assign unrealistic roles in order to feel better, necessary and in control.

If we operated in accordance to Philippians 2: 1-8, the only need we'd truly have is to ACT in the best interest of our spouse - no matter what.

If we look at it from an elementary classroom perspective, reflect with me on the days when we'd walk into our classrooms for the semester, there would be seating assignments. No sitting next to your best friend. As a matter of fact you would purposely be separated; made to feel uncomfortable. Once you sat in a seat, it was yours. Likewise, once you get married, leave your family and made to feel uncomfortable, your spouse is yours.

Also, if you were not sitting in your seat during roll call, you were considered absent and there'd be an imbalance in the flow of the room. Unfortunately, more often than not the only person that saw the imbalance was the teacher. Likewise, if you step out of your intended role, there's an imbalance in the relationship, an imbalance that creates bitterness, anger, rejection, disrespect and a host of other little foxes. We must reject the notion to be absent in ur relationships just because we don't like our roles today or anymore. The one person always given front row to our need to call an audible is God.

Furthermore, you couldn't sit anywhere else in the classroom without first asking permission; you couldn't usurp the rhythm affixed to the room. Likewise, you can only be who you are in the relationship; find your position and play it. Be ok with it. Love it! In our marriages we must be allowed to be present; our best self in marriages in order to function to full capacity. We can't do that if a spouse is either denying us or are insecure of their position in the relationship to let us be.

Marriage is no place for jealousy, although it does exist. Why? For a host of reason, but personally, I love that Kevin is WAY funnier than me, it frees me to be as corny as I want to be. I used to want that for myself, but I don't anymore. That gift is freely Kevin's and he works it so very well. Why would I want what's not mine?

Finally, switching seats is a far less daunting job than asking or bullying your way into a prominent position of higher intelligence in your relationship; so why ask? Can't we all just get along? Why do we need to focus on our intelligence in the Covenant of marriage? Do we really enjoy our own personal fulfillment exalted at the cost of our spouse's damaged self worth?

Like the Father and the Son, are husband and wife too not equal? Jesus was comfortable being Jesus; he did not grasp to be equal with the Father. He knew His role and did everything to exalt the name, image and character of the Father. He knew who He was and loved it !!

How are you at playing your position?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Intense Fellowship: Fighting a Good Fight

Ok Covenant Groupies,

Friday was a crazy day. I had no computer service at all!!! Work was halted and blogging was out of the question. The umbilical cord was cut. Saturday further solidified that the crazy was still looming. Kevin and I had a FREE Saturday; which is rare. So, I planned a day out; lunch, great conversation, hugs, hand holding and Central Park. On the train ride we began talking about a variety of things– work, church, marriage, new projects etc. I asked him one question about the Bible (“Can we have more quality time in the Word, many things seemed to have distracted us?”) he said “yes” and then some intense fellowship “comments” began to pop up; things like, “I never do that”, “You don’t share your God-time”, “Why is this conversation always so tough for us to have?”

For a while I’ve felt that I needed more accountability and more support from Kevin by way of at home Bible Study, prayer and his help with scripture interpretation, so this was important to me.

Every day, all over the world, couples are fighting over a variety of things, ranging from money, infidelity, lying, kids, bills to in-laws, and in the middle of Manhattan, Kevin and I were fighting over the Bible. Our Spirits were being tested and our flesh was being tempted. I must be honest, right there on that Manhattan corner, the flesh was winning out.

Several years ago I remember hearing a pastor say that conflict is a very powerful path to great intimacy!!!!!!! Standing in the street trying to be discreet with my husband, I keep trying to look forward to the intimacy this intense fellowship would lead to. I needed him to know that I needed something that only he could give me and he was intent on fighting me and vice versa. Why? Because as James 4:1-2 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.”

That was so true. I needed something and I didn’t ask God to fulfill my need I went directly to Kevin; and it backfired. Our intention was not to hurt one another, but since this is a tender subject, we overreacted.

Sunday morning Kevin cracked a joke as we left for church and we had a great day. Today, two days later, after everything cooled down, we shared apologies, an understanding of needs and prayers of repentance.

You can’t get any more intimate then prayer, repentance and forgiveness.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Submission and Authority: God's Desired Order

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Got a quick one for you today.

1 Corinthians 11:3 says, "But there is one thing I want you to know: a man is responsible to Christ, a woman is reponsible to her husband and Christ is responsible to God.

In other words:

God the Father is the authority of God the Son,
Who is the authority of the husband,
Who is the authority of his wife,
Who, in cooperation with him, is the joint authority of the children,
And the Holy Spirit cements all of these relationships together as the family submits to God's Word.

Ok, this is what the Word says, plain and simple, but let's keep it real ya'll, how many of us are still struggling with words like submission, responsible, head, authority?


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Inseparable: If God Seems Distant, Guess Who Made the First Move?

When I reflect on the word “inseparable” – impossible to separate, part, or disjoin, it somehow comforts me. I feel that I can rest safely in the fact that respecting, loving and honoring Kevin the way that I’m supposed to will not be left solely up to “messed up” me. I have a bridge, a connector and a mediator that affords me the power to do the impossible; and that He would never leave me.

It brings mind John 15:4-5 - Remain in me, and I will remain in you…5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

I know this scripture is about bearing fruit in the Kingdom, but aren’t we called to bear fruit in our marriages as well? Trees have no shame, when the roots are healthy and properly managed they grow and bear witness to its purpose; to produce apples, oranges, grapes etc. Likewise, when a marriages’ foundation is strong it is supposed to bear the likeness of Christ; compassion, love, hope, Grace, Mercy, forgiveness etc. This cannot happen if we part from God.

As I prepared to write this blog, I thought of what this word inseparable meant to me as a Christian wife and other three words came to mind: surrender, submission and service. Since rededicating my life back to Christ in 1998, these words have remained in my face, because I refused to allow them to deny me of who I had become.

Accepting surrender, honoring submission and respecting true service were the three areas God so mercifully chose to work on in me first when I was getting married. I can’t feign ignorance when pondering why these particular three. They had me bound. They were very familiar as the distinctive areas to steer clear of when getting married. In my mind, they were the polar opposites of strength, independence and control.

I got married truly believing that I had a knowledgeable handle on marriage, based solely on what I saw, not what I had experienced.

I have to surmise that surrender was first because I had somewhat of a normal upbringing for a little black girl in an urban neighborhood: Strong & Independent. As we all know, there’s no true surrender found in independence. So, I had to be broken. It was painful, unfamiliar and scary, but it was freeing.

Submission was next because being the only girl between two boys; I had a severe case of tunnel vision (self imposed of course). I neither wanted to listen to or be instructed by anyone and I had begun to discover that I had no respect for men after my dad passed away. In no uncertain terms, whoever was called to be my husband would, most certainly, have a difficult time with me.

Service was last I guess because a surrendered heart and divinely acknowledged submission would lead to a life of servitude. Who knew?

God had me add those three words in our living room as part of our decorative scheme as a reminder. Now I could be embarrassed by it or I could allow it to do it good work and constantly remind me of who God has called be to be; a women who will always be committed to surrendering and submitting my will and my way to Him and Kevin. This will then lead to a heart that’s available to serve both God and Kevin lovingly and sacrificially.
YES, it has become a great conversation starter.
How do you remain inseparable?