Proverbs 4:23

Celibacy: Two Things To Keep In Mind While Waiting

I recently started to share my journey with celibacy. Back in 2012 when I rededicated my life to Christ, I made the decision then that I wanted to remain celibate until marriage. Of course, my newfound sisters in Christ were happy for me because they were in the same boat. But when I told my longtime friends, they were confused. Instead of praising me, they questioned me. They asked, “Why are you doing that?” “How are you going to abstain?” “What if you never get married?” All questions I never thought of and never had to answer.  All questions that were difficult for me to answer at the time. So after that, I decided not to tell anyone about me being celibate. I remained quite. If it’s not out there, no one will know and I won’t have to explain myself. No harm done right? Wrong!

In 2013, I got in a relationship with Joe and if you’ve read my previous post, you know what happened. I fell. I never told him so he didn’t know. Then when I told him I wanted to be celibate again, he didn’t believe me because I kept falling. “Flee from temptation.” 1 Corinthians 6:18. Instead of fleeing I stood around thinking I could handle my feelings. I thought since I was now going to church and reading the bible, I was stronger than my flesh. The Bible says, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” Galatians 5:17.

Sex and lust were two things I struggled with greatly and being in a relationship with a man that wasn’t a believer in God did not help. When I finally had enough courage to break things off with him and walk in my purpose, the decision to be celibate and remain celibate became a reality.

Celibacy

Now, I am not afraid to share my testimony with believers and nonbelievers. Believers are usually happy for me and understand I am doing this because I respect God with my body. Nonbeliever’s reactions vary. I still get the same confused looks, but surprisingly I receive admiration from non-believers as well. They call me a “strong woman” or “strong-willed.” I recently spoke to a girl who is an atheist. She was so amazed at my testimony of celibacy. She said I was awesome and told me she admired my stance of abstinence. Then I realized she considered my testimony not a resemblance of God or my Christian faith but a symbol of feminism. I explained to her that it was solely for my faith and knowing God’s purpose for me. My explanation didn’t sink in because in her mind it was a feminist act. This made me think: how many other people think of celibacy is a feminist movement rather than God’s word? Well, I found out a lot of people think this way. From TV shows to reality shows and social media. Celibacy is a resemblance of a strong woman rather than a kingdom movement.

This kind of thinking can be confusing and make people believe celibacy is an independent act and you can abstain on your own- meaning without God. This is absolutely false and you need God to get you through this season.

Here are two things I learned while remaining celibate:

1. Guard your heart! Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

 We must guard our hearts at all times. If you’re trying to abstain, you have to watch what you’re feeding your spirit. One example is music. Don’t listen to baby making music if you’re not making a baby. I love R&B music. So it was a hard to let it go. I went without it for months. Because at the beginning of my walk with Christ, I still struggled. Now I can listen to it here and there but I know if it takes me to that place I have to turn it off. Next example: TV shows and movies. I used to watch shows that portrayed adultery, lust and fornication. I thought it was just harmless entertainment. The plot was intense and engaging. I would justify the show or movie by telling myself that it’s ok to watch because everyone else is watching it. Well that planted bad seeds and soon I had to turn that off too.

This is not to say you can’t listen to music or watch TV. I’m just saying be aware of what you are watching and listening to. If the entertainment is not bearing fruit — then it’s not of God, which can hinder your walk in celibacy.

2.) Flee from Temptation! “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 

At the beginning of my walk, I thought I was Wonder Woman. I didn’t think I needed to flee from sexual sin. Before I would have remained silent about my faith until the guy came over. Then I would have tried to fight my flesh and my feelings, thinking that I could handle it on my own. The Bible also says:

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”  1 Corinthians 10:13

 There are many opportunities for a way out. It can be just as simple as- staying away from the person that tempts you.

An example: Last month, a guy texted me from my Before Christ (BC) days. He said he wanted to come over and watch a movie. At first I thought – Sure. It’ll be cool to watch a movie and have some male attention. Then God convicted me and discernment kicked in! Immediately, I knew, he didn’t want me; he wanted my body. So to confirm this revelation, I asked the guy “What are your intentions?” He boldly and nonchalantly texted me exactly what he wanted to do. (Hint: It wasn’t just to chill and watch a movie.) My first reaction was to send him an angry text message telling him off. But I didn’t. I sat in my living room with my phone in my hand and I began to pray. I asked God for the words to put in my response. I responded something like this:

“I appreciate your honesty. I assumed that was your intention… I don’t do movie nights… I’m saved now so I don’t invite guys over to my house to chill. When I see you around we can catch up…”

 Once I let him know, he respected that.

I’ve come a long way. I had to learn these lessons over time. I hope my testimony and my celibacy journey will encourage you all. Walk in purpose, know God’s truth and continue to Strive for God’s Excellence.

By Patrice McKenzie
patrice@areyoushe.com

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Melodies From Heaven.

Listen to life giving music that will permeate your heart, resound in your spirit and yield abundant fruit.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16

A week after settling into my new Pittsburgh digs, as I was casually scanning the radio for stations to store as favorites, I stumbled upon KLOVE’s “Positive and Encouraging” radio. Only God knew reaching this dial would impact my life in such a profound way. As I listened to these divine songs, I was invited to partake in their “30 Day Challenge” which essentially was listening to Christian music only for 30 days. The testimonies of those who completed this task were astounding. Mine would soon follow and life would be forever changed.

Scripture tells us to diligently guard our hearts for out of it are the issues of life. Thoughtfully watching what I allow to come into my heart has been paramount in my relationship with Jesus. I have found extraordinary inspiration in keeping songs of life, love and praise on continual rotation.   These celestial melodies and the words sung over them, (mostly deriving from scripture), resonate so deeply in my spirit; they continue playing long after the song has completed.

melodiesThis very personal level of incessant worship has demonstrated  that I do not always need a praise team (though they are an extraordinary gift to the body and corporate worship) to commune, express and offer sacrificial praises of love and gratitude to our amazing God; just a pure and surrendered heart and the focus to be on Him. During this time of private worship that takes place in my car, at my work desk or home, my perspective is refreshed, heart renewed and I’m in the position to refocus on the good news. No song is more beautiful than one that reverberates His love and justice; this personal praise is a JOYFUL noise unto our loving Father.

It was exceedingly difficult to select only a few of my favorite songs, but I definitely wanted to provide links to those that have ministered to me. What melodies from heaven do you currently have on rotation?

Here are a few of my favorites:

Mandisa – Overcomer

Tye Tribbet — Victorious

For King and Country — Fix My Eyes  

Kari Job – I Am Not Alone

Tasha Cobb – For Your Glory

By Rebekah Sharpe
rebebekahasharpe1@gmail.com

Photo: wellandgood.com

Naked & Unashamed: The True Definition Of Intimacy

The most intimate I have ever been with someone is with my man and we haven’t even had sex yet.

Some have questioned how we’ll work since we barely kiss and sometimes hold hands.

But through the abstinence, God has taught us a lot about the true definition of intimacy.

We all want to be like Adam and Eve, naked and unashamed, but that takes transparency.

Before they ate fruit from the tree of good and evil, they stood in front of each other, totally clothed in their truth.

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25 

They weren’t just literally naked. They were spiritually naked too, able to bare everything without disappointment.

But somewhere along the way, we got caught up in the fallacy that true intimacy means giving up a part of you so a man might take interest in you.

And that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

naked and unashamed

While I was on a plane heading to Dallas to meet my man, a Christian college basketball coach sitting next to me dropped this wisdom: women give sex in order to get love from men but God never intended for it to be that way.

What we learn from the Garden is that Adam and Eve didn’t have to have sex first in order to achieve intimacy. That was established before they consummated and their marriage was made complete.

Intimacy is you really knowing me. It’s an open space where couples share their hopes, dreams and even their fears.

But what God has taught me, you first have to be intimate with Him before you can ever reach that level of connection with another human being.

Before I could be naked and unashamed with a man, God wanted me to know the essence of His presence and the power in His name. When I cried out to Him about my abuse, He restored me. When I had to catch the bus in the middle of the night, it never snowed or rained while I was talking to God and looking at the stars. When I sat by the river in Fairmount Park, He told me to sow my seeds by every stream (Isaiah 32:20).

During those moments, I never felt so close and intimate with the the Father. I believe He allowed me to go through all those things not only to receive a revelation of His love, but an understanding of what intimacy looks like in a committed relationship.

Ryan has seen me at my worst and he’s seen me at my best. He’s been there when I’ve wanted to give up and when I barely have anything left. He’s held me as I’ve cried at church and has been right behind me when I’ve screamed out to God about my abuse. We’ve stood in a field, sharing our hopes and dreams. He points me back to the word when I doubt the gifts and promises God has for me.

So many of us are walking around like Eve, covered up in fig leaves, hiding the truth about our calling and identities because we have believed lies from the enemy. More than anything, the Father wants an intimate relationship with you. And when you receive this truth, He’s able to present the real you to the man He’s purposed for you.

Sex didn’t bring me and my man together. It’s the God who’s within us that’s pulling us closer together. We’re able to be naked and unashamed, transparent about the truth because we know intimacy is hidden in the light and reality of Christ.

By Sydni Grant
sydni@areyoushe.com
Photo: prolificliving.com

 

“Follow Your Heart”

I’ve taken plenty of advice from friends or received advice from magazines or talk show hosts saying “follow your heart.” I’ve made many epic decisions based on “following my heart” which lead to many epic failures. Many times in my BC (before Christ) days I did not seek godly counsel or accountability. I went with what sounded good. Especially when it came to relationships and intimate relationships with guys. I, in fact, am still struggling with areas in my life where I decided to “follow my heart” which was led by momentary emotion. Many may say follow your heart, but God says the exact opposite.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV)guardedheart

“For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” (Mark 7:21-23 NLT)

Yikes! Should we really be making decisions based on following our heart? The Word of God says our heart is deceitful above ALL things. All the foul, vile nature comes from within our heart. It makes a lot of sense that my epic failures came from following my heart; whether they were lustful desires, greed, evil thoughts, etc. So what should we do about it? God never leaves us in the dark. His Word says we need to guard our hearts.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Everything we do flows from the heart. We can guard our hearts by the sources of where we get our advice. What type of influences are around us? What type of music, movies, and/or TV shows are we feeding into our spirit? Everything we pour into our hearts will eventually flow out of it. When you want to follow your heart, pray. Ask God to lead in all your decision making.

Ask, “Lord, if it is not in Your Will, please take it away.”

I’ve prayed that prayer and watched God move. Ladies, do not be mislead by what the world throws at us. Before you think about “following your heart,” make sure your heart is guarded, and most importantly, allow God to lead you.

By Ashley A. Johnson
ashley@areyoushe.com

Photo: worthyofagape.com