When do you use “John and I” or “John and me”?

This post is totally different from my normal topics! Actually, it’s pretty risky for an Indiana girl to share a grammar hint. Many of us Southern Indiana people are not known for our good grammar! We were probably influenced too much by that “Hoosier accent” in our growing up years!

However, one of my elementary school teachers gave us students a hint in English class that I’ve never forgotten–although I’m not saying I’ve always practiced it! (Are you noticing all my disclaimers! :) )

One area most of us have difficulty in is knowing when to use I or me and us or we in a sentence when it’s in combination with a noun or proper name.

Here’s the hint. In your mind, quickly drop out the name or noun and you will instinctively know which form is correct.

Very simple examples: “Would you give that book to the boys and I?” “The speaker spoke to Cindy and I.” “I know us women can drive you crazy!” “Leave Susie and I alone!” “Me and my sister took the kids to the zoo.”

Now drop the names or nouns. You will immediately know which word is correct. “Would you give that book to me?” “The speaker spoke to me.” “I know we can drive you crazy!” “Leave me alone!” “I took the kids to the zoo.”

Quick and easy!

Well, I don’t know that anyone is interested,and maybe everyone else already knows this, but I like people passing along things that help make my life easier or better so I decided to pass this hint along, just in case. Now please don’t think I’m the “grammar police” because I’m not. I know I need all the help I can get, grammar-wise! I am trying! :)

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The Seven Deadly Sins– thoughts from William Backus

This post about the seven deadly sins may give us some puzzle pieces to help us know ourselves! It seems to me that there may be some connection between our natural temperaments and deadly sins. All of us have the sin of pride, but the choleric temperament tends to struggle more with it. The phlegmatic temperament may be drawn to the sin of sloth; a melancholy may yield more easily to greed. This is not set in stone…childhood training and experiences and who we identify with also shapes us. It is something to think about!

This is taken from What Your Counselor Never Told You by Dr. William Backus

The History of the Seven Deadly Sins.
The sin list reaches back at least sixteen hundred years, and probably beyond. It was created as a moral/spiritual diagnostic aid to persons who were totally serious about their Christian lives. The seven deadly sins are: Pride, Envy, Anger, Greed, Sloth, Lust, and Gluttony.

Author’s definition of sin.
Biblical writers understood sin as something larger than an action or thought; they recognized an actual power inside us, a driving motivation. This drive influences our actions, but it is not identical with actions. We have an inclination to disobey God and exalt self, a disposition that is part of every human being.

Some sins are single behavior episodes; habits are grooves. The Seven Deadly Sins are all habits. Not one of the Seven Deadly Sins is a single, separate sinful behavior–not one is an individual action. Instead, all of them are what psychologists refer to as traits. Traits are characteristics, enduring habits, under the skin inclinations to behave in certain ways. Traits are enduring behavioral motivations, leanings toward acting in a given way.

The Seven Deadly Sins are character traits that seem to be pervasive throughout humanity.

Descriptions of the Seven Deadly Sins
(and how they can be revealed in our lives)

Being desirous of occupying first place; seeking to have authority over others; detesting being under authority or external restraints; overestimating self or one’s own abilities and gifts; exhibiting blindness to good qualities in others; showing contempt for others; being anxious to get credit; having presumptuous ambition; taking on tasks without the ability to perform them; thriving on praise and recognition; boasting or faking self-deprecation; being shocked with the misdeeds and faults of others; being self-satisfied; being thrilled or enamored with one’s own spiritual and moral achievements; being strongly opinionated, inflexible, or argumentative; chafing under the rule and sovereignty of God.

Habitually being in competition with others; feeling unhappy when another gets a break; being glad when others (especially those perceived as “equals”) have setbacks or troubles; losing “self-esteem” when another is perceived as having more (spirituality, attractiveness, popularity, intelligence, material rewards—anything) than oneself; desiring to expose defects in others; frequently interpreting other’s words and deeds as bad; persistently tuning in to compare self with others—their qualities, possessions, achievements, etc.

Having a strong desire for revenge; cultivating and harboring resentment; thinking about getting even; arguing, quarreling, fighting; being primarily silent and sullen; being sarcastic, cynical, insulting, critical; frequently being indignant, desiring harm for others; considering it right to “settle the score.”

Wanting to accumulate material things just for the sake of possessing them; cheating, lying, or stealing to gain or hang on to things; being tightfisted and retentive; being excessively thrifty; being overcautious about spending; hating to give; being stingy; being callous toward the needy; hating to pay debts, avoiding repayment whenever possible; feeling excessive distress at small losses; finding it hard to trust God to provide for needs.

Being sorrowful in spirit and mind; finding it difficult to have hope; believing effort and work are too difficult; procrastinating, putting off attending to important matters; deciding prayer or worship is too hard; being sluggish and heavy; having a will that is weak; feeling it is useless to try to break bad habits; often investing self in trivial activities; constantly seeking bodily ease and comfort; preferring idleness to activity; being sad and spiritually worn out; drifting along in mediocrity; being dissatisfied and angry with God for not giving feelings of peace, consolation, and happiness.

Being regularly preoccupied with sexual pleasure, thoughts, and fantasies; thinking about sexual pleasure to the exclusion of other things; looking at, touching, embracing, or engaging in intercourse with illicit or forbidden sexual objects or activities; persisting in excessive interest, conversations, or jokes about sex.

Overindulging in pursuit of worldly pleasure; eating too much; eating too fast; being preoccupied with food; drinking alcohol too often or too much; being finicky or choosy about food or drink; overly investing in the enjoyment of gourmet foods, wines, literature, music, the arts; embracing pursuits that do not meet fulfillment in God.
End quote.

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A 2008 Easter writing

(Another reason for journalling and writing. It allows you to track your growth. :) )

Just this past Friday, I understood something with my heart for the first time. I’m not saying with my head—I’ve known this with my head for a long time. It’s different when truth reaches your heart!

I know I read a lot. It’s not hard to pick up on the more tolerant attitudes our society has toward other religions and other people’ view of Christianity and of Jesus Christ. I’ve sensed the world’s view that Christianity is just one of many religions for years now!

How do I communicate what I just realized this morning?

The bottom line difference is whether we are in relationship with Jesus Christ! Is He a Person to us? Do we know Him? It’s not enough to know about Him (even as a Sunday School kid). If you’re not in relationship, then all you have is head knowledge and that’s no different from anyone else’s view of Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, etc. etc.

Jesus Christ becomes just one of many!! But if you are in a personal relationship—it’s totally different!

I guess it all makes sense. The difference between Christianity and all other religions is that Christ is alive. . . the Holy Spirit is living in our hearts. . . making us partakers of God’s love and holiness!

No wonder Paul said if Christ is not risen then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty! (I Corth. 15:14)

It takes work to be in relationships. We’ve got to remove any hindrances to love that block us. We must get to know the other person!

I think for the first time I’ve been able to put words to feelings and convictions I’ve had for a long time. God is real! But it does take a step of faith to begin the relationship. When I believe, I am opening the door of my heart and inviting the Holy Spirit of God to come live inside me. When I watch someone else growing in their relationship with God I see again the truth of the Gospel.

Some habits simply have good results. Meditation has provably good results whether you are Christian, following an Eastern religion, or practicing yoga!

However, the Gospel changes us from the inside out because we are in genuinely close relationship with Christ! Words alone don’t change us—it’s our relationship with God.

Father, I thank you for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! I’m starting to see the depth of it!!! So much I had taken for granted because I heard it so much as a child.

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Avoiding or denying feelings is like using an emotional credit card

A friend of mine went to a Dave Ramsey Financial Seminar. Ramsey made the statement that letting go of money is going to hurt, period. We have the choice of experiencing the immediate hurt by using a cash system which means we feel the pain as soon as the money leaves our hands or we can choose to put off experiencing the pain by using credit cards, loans, etc. But the truth is, we may delay the immediate pain, but the pain will come….but now with a lot of built-up interest and fees!! The pain that comes with waiting is much worse than the pain of immediately paying for something!

This is what came together in my mind. We know that God has laws and principles for relationships and emotions just as He does for every other area of life. It seems to me there are consequences for every action we can make—good, bad and everything in between. Some choices are nearly inconsequential; however, others are life-changing. Like it’s been said, we can choose, but we can’t choose the consequences.

Just as it can be painful learning to let go of money in finances, learning to face conflict in relationships is also painful. And we have the same choice. We can deal with conflict immediately and feel the pain right away by not letting the sun go down upon our wrath, or we can mishandle it by delaying and/or stuffing our feelings, or doing whatever else comes naturally to us.

Stuffing feelings and choosing to delay conflict is just like using an emotional credit card. We start that habit because it feels less painful, but just like credit cards, stuffing and avoiding only delay the pain, it doesn’t cancel it. When payment comes due (in other words, finally resolving the problem), just like interest and fees will inflate your balance on your credit card, the emotional cost of avoiding conflict also becomes much higher.

I listened to Josh McDowell’s audio book Right From Wrong on a trip to IN. This is one thing he said he explained to his son, trying to prepare him for life.

If you make a right choice, you will notice that almost immediately you experience a negative benefit.

If you make a wrong choice, almost immediately you experience a positive benefit.

For example, if you lie or cheat, immediately there is a positive benefit. You didn’t get into trouble, you passed the test, etc. But in the long run, lying and cheating are devastating to you.

If you choose not to lie, there are immediate negative benefits—you are grounded, you are disciplined, etc, but if you choose not to lie, in the long run, it is good for you!

Apply this to any weakness in your life. It’s so easy to make wrong or hurtful choices because we immediately experience a positive benefit! My family and I have codependent traits. We are caring loving people. But if you move into codependency, it’s very detrimental to your relationships. For years I made many wrong choices in regard to conflict because I didn’t want to experience the immediate pain. Because of preferring the immediate positive benefits, I began to develop habits of avoiding and stuffing. Books on codependency talk about “recovery”. Recovery is simply the process of unlearning all those harmful habits and retraining your emotional reactions with truth! It takes TIME!! And it can be painful!! But if we want to become healthy, we’ve got to go through the time of recovery.

The concept of recovery is valid for many areas. If we are in trouble financially, recovery is the painful process of getting the bills current again, of developing a budget, of seeing the fallacies in your thinking, of figuring out ways of holding yourself accountable, etc. If you have a habit of overeating, recovery will be the process of facing your reality, of learning all you can learn about food, diet, your health, your reasons for eating—everything! It will involve developing good habits to replace the old ones. Sometimes the issue is not necessarily calories, but of making food choices that are good for us! That is not easy!

Recovery must be practiced to become free from alcoholism, drug abuse, porn, workaholism, I believe homosexuality, and many other habits. I’m not talking about just stopping drinking, or stopping drug abuse, or avoiding an action–recovery is learning how to live a healthy life in all areas! It probably will mean the healing of some areas of our past too.

I hope this doesn’t depress you, but many credible authors say, and it’s been my experience, recovery of any sort does seem to take as long to get out of as it took to get into the place you are now. Not that you are at the same place the whole time…we’re moving up the spiral…but it does take time!!

Again, for those of you who are younger, believe and internalize God’s Word!!! Know what the Bible says–McDowell says God’s laws are for our provision and our protection. That is so true!!

For those of us in the middle of a personal battle, think long-term! Learn all you can about yourself. Ask God honest questions. He will answer. And don’t be afraid of “practicing” recovery. That’s what we do in our Christian life! Recovery is just a secular word for the process of becoming a mature healthy individual. Spiritually we call it discipleship, becoming a mature Christian, etc. Emotionally, it also takes time and practice to change our habits, feelings and misbeliefs by putting emotional truth into our minds! We are what we do.

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Filed under Growing up, Handling conflict, Knowing ourselves, Living emotionally only, Maturity, Relationship principles, Satan's lies, Uncategorized

Commitment Before the Fact

How critical it is that we make important decisions and commitments ahead of time—before we feel the emotions that come with a temptation!! Satan can come as an angel of light with his enticements; he can come with ideas that feel like a most desirable option!! How can we determine what is normal emotion and what is a temptation wrapped in emotion?! Well, we probably need time to decipher that. That’s why we need to think ahead and have some decisions already made in principle.

I’m going to repeat a truth. It’s not very often, if ever, that we make good decisions based on emotion, especially if we’re in an emotional valley to start with! Good emotions follow good decisions, but emotions by themselves seldom lead to smart choices!

However, I do think one way God uses our emotions positively is to lead us into bonding with and loving people before perhaps we are hurt so much that in ourselves, we would withdraw from them and cut them off. Exodus 32 is an example of what I’m trying to say.

As an immature Christian, I used to interpret Exodus 32:7-14 as Moses being a better person than God!! God wanted to destroy Israel, Moses intervened for them! So Moses was more loving and more mature!

Now that I’ve lived longer, I believe this is what was happening. God already knew that Israel was going to worship the golden calf. God knew the feelings that Moses was going to face even before Moses felt them! And God prepared him so that he could be “victorious”—victorious in that he chose to continue to love the people and to stay connected with them!

How did God do that? He challenged Moses. What God said about Israel was the truth!! They were stiff-necked! They had rejected God and were already worshiping a golden calf! Was God’s confrontation with Moses about Israel a test that would show Moses his own character? Moses committed to the people before he saw their sin. He bonded emotionally with the people by praying and interceding for them with God before he saw the golden calf actually being worshiped!

God had told Moses what Israel was doing, but Moses hadn’t seen it with his own eyes yet. It’s one thing to know something in our head, it’s another to see open sin that hurts you or is harming those you love.

The Bible says Moses pleaded with God for Israel. I think it must have pleased the Lord to see Moses reflecting God’s heart of love and God’s character. Moses was growing up.

In verse 32, Moses so identified with the people that he could pray, “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.

Moses was developing his ability to love the people. We are what we do. God gave Moses the chance to choose to love Israel. Then when the test came a few hours later, Moses was able to act on that decision to love.

Here are some other real life examples.

The Amish have already decided that part of their teaching and lifestyle is that they will choose to forgive. A few years ago, we saw the tragedy of the young Amish girls being killed for no reason.

I believe as a group, the Amish will forgive. That’s already been decided. The path to getting there may be difficult with many curves and unexpectedly painful emotions, but if they stay committed to obeying God’s Word and forgiving as Christ has forgiven us, I think they will eventually get to the place of genuine forgiveness. They had already chosen to love and to forgive—before the test even came.

Likewise, when we get saved, if we’ve already made up our mind that we will trust and obey God, then we have already decided ahead of time what our final decision will be when temptation comes. Life’s experiences may surprise us—they may blind-side us!—but we’ve already made the decision!! I will stay connected with God. I will obey no matter what. I will choose to love God and to love people!

I think this is true about marriage too. That’s what the marriage covenant is all about!! It’s to be a commitment to an intimate loving marriage relationship before we even feel the feelings of conflict, or before we feel the reality of being richer or poorer, in sickness or in health!! We have already decided to do the loving thing—even before we face the temptations to be selfish and controlling! (I understand that we cannot force a partner to be committed or be mature. I’m not trying to inflict more pain on already wounded hearts. But we are responsible for our own actions and attitudes in perhaps an unwanted situation. God wants to help us grow in grace.)

My point is—be careful of floating through life making decisions by how you feel at the moment. We must have some unchanging guiding principles! You may make it fine for a while, but remember that emotions are self-centered and want to be in control. That feels good and feels safer to us. God’s ways are rooted in love (the opposite of self-centeredness) and trust (we let go of trying to control our life!). It’s God’s ways that will work!! The longer you live, the more you realize that! That’s why it’s called a life of faith. It doesn’t make sense to our human understanding—but God’s ways work!

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Ground yourself in God’s Word. Read it daily. Internalize it. It is through His Word that God gives us hope for times of trouble.

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Filed under Growing up, Knowing God, Knowing ourselves, Living emotionally only, Love, Maturity, Relationship principles, Trust, Uncategorized

Surprising the other person

II Kings 6:8-23

This is one of my favorite stories—the story of Israel breaking the pattern of how Syria was relating to them.

In the book/audio tape of “The Power of a Positive No, one method of changing someone else’s negative actions is “surprising the other person.” This is a good illustration of that principle!

The King of Syria was making war against Israel. Elisha kept informing the King of Israel where the Syrian army would be encamped. Finally the Syrian king asked, “Who is against us that they are telling our secrets to Israel?!” One of the men answered, “It’s not us, O king, it’s the God of Elisha who is telling him our plans!”

The king sent a Syrian army out to capture Elisha. They surrounded Elisha and his servant in the city of Dothan.

When the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Please strike this people with blindness.” God did. Elisha led the army to Samaria. Then Elisha prayed again, “Lord, please open their eyes.”

There the army was, inside Samaria, totally vulnerable to Israel. The king of Israel said, “Shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?!” This was a natural reaction! Giving back what had been given to you…or that you knew was planned for you!!

But Elisha said, “You shall not kill them. Set food and water before them that they may eat and drink and go back to their master.”

Israel even increased the “surprise”! They didn’t just set food and water before them—they prepared a great feast! After they had eaten and drank, they were sent away to their masters. Can you fathom giving the power back the your “enemy”?

The result? So the bands of Syrian raiders came no more into the land of Israel!

Israel broke the downward spiral of how Israel and Syria were relating to each other.

Lord, help us to cooperate with you! Help us to obey your guidance, even when it seems opposite to what we think will “protect” us. This took risk, vulnerability and trust in God on Israel’s part to obey!

When we sense we have fallen into a downward relationship spiral with someone else, try this. I remember sensing this principle in our early marriage. It’s so easy to fall into a “crazy cycle”. One is in a bad mood (pms maybe?!) and that puts the other in a bad mood, and negative grumbling attitudes and/or comments start. I realized in the middle of one of those cycles that someone had to stop the spiral—and that someone was the one who realized it first. I also found out that when you stopped reacting according to your negative feelings, and intentionally acted positively toward the other person, it broke the cycle. Now you were enabled to start up the relational spiral.

However, this is something you have to do beyond feeling!! It takes asking for God’s grace and leadership!!

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Filed under Growing up, Handling conflict, Knowing ourselves, Love, Maturity, Relationship principles

A Talk To College Girls

I am so glad to be here with you girls!! I have such good memories from being here. This is where I met my lifelong friends and also my husband.

Would you like to know our little story of getting together? We came the same year to college, but I don’t know that I even spoke to John for the first two years. I was pretty shy. Our class had made a cassette tape that we sold as a fundraising project. A few of them didn’t work and they got turned in to my roommate and me for replacement. I came home from work one evening late and the night watchman gave me a tape. I didn’t think anything about it, but after I got into the room I thought maybe I should check it. A note was wrapped around it! I read it and then sat right down on the floor. My roommate said, “Who’s it from?!!” “John Parker! He asked me to the picnic!” He was going to ask me that evening, not knowing I had to leave for work. To be honest, it really scared me to think about accepting his invitation! An all day date is a pretty long time for a first date!! What if he got bored stiff?!! Well, apparently he didn’t, even though I ran out of words many times! However, I found out later from my roommate that he liked us riding together quietly in the car.

Today I doubt I will say anything that other people haven’t said already…and said very well. But if many people are saying the same things, you’re wise to pay attention!!

I don’t know all of you, but I have a heart for you! I have three girls and a daughter-in-law all of whom I love very much. And I remember being right where you are now!!

Recently some women were saying to me, “I wish so badly that someone had stepped into my life and convinced me of how important (education, money management, how to choose relationships well, etc) was!!”

If we don’t “hear with our heart” the truth about the importance of education, about basic money management, and about relationships during this window of opportunity while we’re young before the big decisions of life are made, we will probably just make emotional decisions day by day…what seems best at the moment…or follow our friends’ advice and approval.

However, it’s not any less painful to have to reap emotionally difficult consequences to poor decisions just because the rest of your peers are in the same boat and experiencing the same consequences!! Some things I was taught well…other things I’m still learning! I’d like to just talk about just a few of these. I hope you’ll listen hard.

Most of all, know that God is on your side!! God is good-willed. Beth Moore says that God does not withhold anything from us to frustrate us but to give us His best! It wasn’t until I had children and recognized my own goodwill toward my children even while I was putting limits on their behavior and boundaries into their lives that suddenly the light bulb came on and I realized with my heart that God was just as good-willed toward me!!! My attitude changed from guardedness, thinking God was going to take from me what I didn’t want to give to openness!! That was a wonderful change of heart!!

Here are at least three very simple understandings and choices that lead to peace!!

First, remember that life involves stages!! Now is the best time for your education…before you have a husband and kids. Stay focused. It can be done later, but then something has to give. The time involved studying robs your children and husband of time with you! Don’t try to work full-time, go to school and be a mother all at the same time!! There are stages for that!

Two of the best decisions I made were going to college…and then waiting until after college to marry!

My second comment is in regard to money. Learn from someone like Dave Ramsey to put meat on this. If you from the very beginning will make a habit of this, it’s a good place to start and you’ll not regret it.
Simply Give 10% to God first before paying any bills!! Otherwise, it will never be there!
Give 10% to yourself in long term savings…the most difficult thing to do, because it seems so unimportant when you’re young but now is the time to start!! It doesn’t get any easier …. and it IS important for future peace in your life!!
Spend 10%
Live on the rest.

My third “topic” will be the longest! The choice of your God and the choice of your mate are the two most important decisions of life.

Everything I say rest on the fact that choosing to love God at 17 years old and submitting to his leadership has totally changed my life from what it would have been. ( If you’re interested, go to “ajournalofthejourney@wordpress.com and read my testimony letter.)

I would like to spend more time on the subject of choosing your mate. I like the way William Harley describes three stages of relationship. I hope they will stick in your mind! He compares them to the relationship people have with their houses.

Harley calls the stages Buyers, Renters and Freeloaders. This is from his book.

Relationships thrive on mutual care, and they die when that care is not forthcoming.

A freeloader is unwilling to put much effort into the care of his or her partner in a romantic relationship. He/she does only what comes naturally and expects only what comes naturally. It’s like a person who tries to live in a house without paying rent or doing anything to improve it unless the person is in the mood to do so.

A Freeloader’s Creed:
1. Romantic relationships shouldn’t be work.
2. Love me as I am or not at all.
3. Bargaining is for businessmen, not lovers.

There is something to be said for the freeloader’s approach, especially at the beginning of a relationship. It has to do with the fact that some men and women have a certain “chemistry” with each other, and others do not. There really is something to the idea of being right or wrong for each other.

But love has a way of changing our philosophy of life and we decide to try to be more considerate of his/her feelings. We have been converted into a renter.

A renter is willing to provide limited care as long as it’s in his /her best interest. The romantic relationship is considered tentative, so the care is viewed as short-term. It’s like a person who rents a house and is willing to stay as long as the conditions seem fair, or until he/she finds something better. The person is willing to pay reasonable rent and keep the house clean but is not willing to make repairs or improvements.

A Renter’s Creed:
1. Romantic relationships require care—but that’s only okay if it’s fair.
2. I’ll change for you if it’s worth my while.
3. I’ll sacrifice for you if you sacrifice for me.

IF love is not real love yet!

The renter’s agreement is an essential stage in the development of any romantic relationship. Renters do better than freeloaders in a romantic relationship, but they cannot experience sustained fulfillment until they become buyers.

A buyer is willing to demonstrate an extraordinary sense of care by making permanent changes in his/her own behavior and lifestyle to make the romantic relationship mutually fulfilling. Solutions to problems are long-term solutions and must work well for both partners because the romantic relationship is viewed as exclusive and permanent. It’s like a person who buys a home for life with a willingness to make repairs that accommodate changing needs so that it can be comfortable and useful.

A Buyer’s Creed:
1. Romantic relationships require consistent and effective mutual care.
2. We’ll adjust to each other as often as necessary.
3. We want long-term solutions that make us both happy, not short-term fixes that work for one and not the other.

If you really care about your partner, you won’t encourage him or her to suffer on your behalf—not even once.

End of quote.

There is a risk factor in young marriages…kids can get stuck in one of these stages. Take time to see if the person you are attracted to is committed to the maturing that is required for relationships! These three word pictures of freeloaders, renters and buyers are another way of talking about maturing!!

Maturity takes time. It involves becoming less and less self-centered and learning how to trust others and letting go of control. It’s the nature of maturity that sometimes you can’t see the results for 15-20 years! Satan works hard to interfere or block maturing because maturity means we become less emotion driven (which is a prime tool of his!) and that we think more clearly and rationally!

The next thought is: Understand that there really are good “walls of protection” that come from our commitment to and obedience to God! Unhealthy walls isolate us and prevent growth. But healthy walls or boundaries let in the good and keep out the bad! God is healthy!!

Too often we have believed Satan’s lie….”What is best must be boring!” “I may be missing out!” There is a danger zone outside the wall of our obedience to God. David got in trouble when he went outside those walls of obedience to find his excitement. (a Beth Moore thought from When Godly People Do Ungodly Things) As a consequence, his relationships became very troubled even into the next generations! I would guess that his impulsive “fling” became one of the greatest regrets of his life!!!!

Satan is a liar! The best may be slow …but it’s NOT boring!!! God’s ways are fulfilling!!!

God’s best is not difficult to understand! Sexual relationships are to be between one man and one woman within the bonds of marriage.

I would like to encourage you to not ignore the Old Testament!! The New Testament builds on the Old Testament. The Old Testament teaches us about the maturing of Israel!

Leviticus 18 is about purity in sexual practices. The Chronological Bible says this chapter is the formal end to the early period during which extremely close relatives married each other.”

Please hear what I’m saying!! This came together in my mind one day. The relationships mentioned in this chapter were never meant to be sexual relationships! And there is a reason! They bring pain, confusion, or chaos to at least one of those involved in these relationship!!!

In our sex saturated world today, nothing is off limits. There are no boundaries! Sister Wives? NO! Verse 18 says “nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive.” If you want to know the emotional reality of polygamy and sister wives read Leah’s story in Genesis 29, starting at vs 21 Her story breaks my heart every time I read it, especially the more I understand relationship dynamics!!

What is one of Satan’s lies to young women especially? He wants to push you to have sex before marriage…. but after marriage he thinks of every barrier he can devise so that you don’t have sex! Sex is not a cure for marriage disagreements and problems but it is a thermometer of the relationship! If you feel distant or life is overwhelming you, then you both need to start talking and listening to each other, and/or involving a counselor!!

In today’s world, premarital sex with a boyfriend is not the only temptation. I don’t have to tell you of the many possibilities of sexual impurity through I-phones and the internet.

Please be careful of what you expose yourself to or practice! Don’t give into curiosity! Beware of lust substituting itself for the delayed gratification of love. Song of Solomon 2:7 says “Don’t awaken or stir up love until it pleases.” In other words, wait until it’s the right person AND the right timing.

I like to illustrate our relationship priorities though the idea of concentric circles. God is in the center circle, next is the circle of our spouse, then the circle of children, then immediate family, close friends, etc. Each circle has its appropriate level of emotional intimacy.

God is in our first circle. He knows us completely and we can share anything with Him. The next circle is with our spouse. We share more with them than with anyone in the world! God and a couple in the first two circles mean more intimacy! But letting anyone or anything beyond those two circles into our circle means LESS intimacy! Allowing even virtual people or personally unknown people into your second circle with your spouse will lessen intimacy! Beware of being robbed of God’s gift of unselfish love and emotional and physical intimacy with your spouse!

Focus your attention on your husband when even the smallest temptation threatens. No! I will love God! I will love my husband—even if I don’t know him yet!!! When tempted, I will actively put healthy truth into my mind that will bless my life later, not cause me problems, pain and regrets!!

Cloud and Townsend say in Boundaries in Dating that it’s important to set appropriate physical limits…and I say it must be beyond our emotions. Invite someone you trust to let you be accountable to them.

Their tips:

• You need a boundary against sex outside of marriage. God gives you this boundary to protect you, and it will, in a number of ways.

• Sex has a very high purpose, great value, dignity, and esteem. Do not treat it or your sexuality lightly, failing to give it the place it deserves.

• Sex is the highest way of expressing romantic love for a person; therefore it must be reserved for the highest romantic relationship you will have—the one with your spouse.

• Keeping your sexual boundaries will let you know of the other person’s self-control, delay of gratification, ability to love sacrificially, and willingness to submit to God.

• Do not act out of lust. It prevents love, integration, and healing. And, it guarantees relational problems.

• No matter what your partner says, saying no to sex will be the only way you find out what he or she is like when he or she has to respect a limit.

• God’s forgiveness is available to anyone, no matter what you have done. It will allow you to have a clean slate and start over with good sexual boundaries.

End of quote

I would like to mention one more thing I have noticed over the years. Many times, our first serious attraction is not always the one to marry…maybe not even usually the one to marry! I know there are some couples who were high school sweethearts and are still married today but the ones I’m thinking of gave themselves several years to mature before marrying! But I can think of many couples who, if they had waited even one year to see if their relationship was going to continue to develop could have saved themselves some real sorrow! This is not set in stone…but it is something to think about.

Some choices start opening the wrong doors. On the other hand, other choices start opening the right doors. I call it spirals. Some choices send us up the spiral of life. Other choices start us down the spiral. The direction of the spiral can be changed…but it takes prayer and work…and different choices!

In conclusion, may I encourage you to constantly fill your mind with truth?!! Read or listen to a chapter in a “teaching” book in your devotions just like you read the Bible! Otherwise, by default, lies will enter your mind through a multitude of venues and you don’t even realize it!!

God Bless you…!

Boundaries in Dating by Drs Henry Cloud and John Townsend
Buyers, Renters, and Freeloaders by William Harley
When Godly People Do Ungodly Things
by Beth Moore

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Filed under Growing up, Knowing ourselves, Love, Maturity, Relationship principles, Satan's lies, self-centeredness, Trust, Truth