Faithful


Faithful

Merriam-Webster states it as: 
adjective faith·ful \ ˈfāth-fəl \

Definition of faithful
1 : steadfast in affection or allegiance : loyal a faithful friend

2 : firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty : conscientious a faithful employee

3 : given with strong assurance : binding a faithful promise

4 : true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original a faithful copy

5 : full of faith

I was at a dinner party recently, just before Christmas, and we were discussing the story of Mary before she gave birth to Jesus. Among the topics discussed was her faithfulness to God. Here, at such a young age, she was asked to believe in something many of us nowadays can not even wrap our minds around. But she always remained faithful and trusted in God – regardless of what the circumstances looked like, she kept believing and kept moving forward. 


Luke 1:45 NLT

You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.

As we continued to discuss Mary’s story, we began to go around the table each discussing our 2017 – especially focusing on any singular word or theme we had had from the Lord for that year. 

I started to wrack my brain thinking back. Had I had a word for 2017 for myself? I really couldn’t think of one immediately, but then I felt a quickening in my spirit of the word “faithful” and the people who spoke words of wisdom and encouragement into my life during the first few months of 2017. The common theme of each of those words was faithfulness. 

2016 had been so full of promise, but as 2016 began to close and 2017 started, I was disappointed, frustrated, and discouraged – with my job, with church, with myself. 

There was a shift in friendships – which is an important lesson in and of itself to learn; some are for only a season. I felt stagnant at work – leaving many days more frustrated than when I came. And mostly, I felt like I’d hit a wall: at church, in ministry, and spiritually. 

But then came March. As I was crying out to God saying what am I to do, three words came in three days all confirming the same thing: stay the course, don’t jump ship, God has seen your struggle and your servant’s heart, remain faithful and He will do the same. 

Remain faithful and He’ll do the same. 

There’s that scripture again. 


Luke 1:45 NLT

You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.

I wasn’t sure what these words I’d received would mean. And frankly, staying faithful when I wanted to run away was the last thing I wanted to do.

Staying faithful, when there is nothing you can do to speed things up or make things happen yourself, is one of the most difficult tasks you’ll ever have in life. Because that requires staying faithful and putting your trust in someone else believing that what He said He’ll do, He’ll actually do. 

In my heart of hearts I knew. If I would be faithful in trusting Him, He would be faithful in fulfilling His promises to me. 

So as I sat at the dinner table of this Christmas party, and my turn to give my word for 2017 arrived, my eyes began to well up with tears because I realized God had done exactly what He had said – He had followed through on what He’d promised me in March. Stay faithful and I will be faithful to you. 

In April, I saw some precious friendships blossom and strengthen. Knit together as only God can do. 

In May, I began ministering weekly at a local ministry and saw myself being stretched and pulled in ways I never thought possible. 

In July, I was asked to speak at our youth camp. Something I never pictured myself doing. 

In August, I began doing the worship transition and offering every Wednesday night for our youth services. 

In October, I welcomed my 35th birthday – not with tears and sadness as I had expected it would be, but with friends showering me in the truest love I’ve ever experienced. 

Over the summer, I also accepted two new positions at work. 

Now, as I sit in my warm house, snuggled near the fireplace, on this cold and dreary New Year’s Eve, I look forward to 2018 while remembering 2017 with fondness instead of bitterness. 

I’m not sure yet what my word for 2018 will be, although “expectancy” is what I keep feeling in my heart. I have a true expectancy for this coming year. An expectancy for my life. An expectancy for ministry in new and exciting ways. 

But the one thing I know will remain true, come what may, is that those who believe God will do what He has promised will be blessed! 

Can you look back on 2017 and see His faithfulness at work in your life? What do you believe will be your word for 2018 – your promise to remain faithful to? Let’s all head into 2018 with an eager expectancy for our lives and be just like Mary; remaining faithful in believing and blessed in receiving! 

Fearless


When did fear take over our lives?

Turn the tv on. Open up a newspaper (do they still make those?). Listen to the radio. Scroll through social media. Talk to a friend. 

No matter your means of information, it’s hard nowadays to not be inundated with headlines that spark fear in even the most fearless of people out there. 

Don’t go outside! Zika virus is everywhere and if you get bit by a mosquito, you’ll end up sick. 

Don’t go anywhere! ISIS is everywhere. You can’t travel now without the fear of a terrorist attack. 

Don’t say anything! If you do, you’ll offend someone or end up in a social media word war because no one is allowed to have a differing opinion anymore. 

Don’t write that. Don’t say that. Don’t do that. Don’t post that. Don’t confront that. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t. 

This could all read as – fear, fear, fear, fear. 

The more soul searching I do of myself, the more I recognize how much of my past experiences were dictated by fear. How many things I didn’t do or missed out on because I was fearful. 

Almost 9 years ago, I had this brief moment in my life of fearlessness. I was on the cusp of my 25th birthday – next to nearly no responsibilities, I had just graduated from the university, I actually had money in my bank account, and I was confident the world was truly my oyster. 

So I grabbed a friend and set out on a two-week vacation through five countries in Europe. I didn’t care about the cost – I had enough money and no worries about the future. I didn’t care about safety – two young, single girls traveling alone through unchartered territories (what the heck were our parents thinking?!) and predominantly Muslim places in the middle of Ramadan. I didn’t worry about what I could come back to on my desk at work. I truly didn’t have a care in the world I couldn’t conquer on my own. And on that trip, I had the time of my life! I saw some of the wonders of the world. I met some amazing people. I brought back memories I’ll cherish forever. I even climbed a volcano! I climbed a freaking volcano!! 

For those two weeks, FEARLESS was my middle name. 

But as the years went on, adult responsibilities increased, and my child-like-faith decreased, the fear-less part of me was taken over by the fear-more part. 

Fear can absolutely cripple a person if you allow it to take root in your life. And all it takes is to open yourself up to the voices of the world: the voices telling you to fear, to doubt, to hate – that you aren’t safe enough, good enough. But that is never God’s best for us. 

II Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 

He’s given us power to overcome fear, love to conquer it all, and a peaceful mind so the cares can’t get us down. 

I’m not sure the Word could be any clearer than that. Once you identify that fear is not from God, it is not good, and it most definitely doesn’t belong in your life, you can begin to uproot it! 

Now this isn’t your pass to go and act like an idiot. Most of us do enough of that as teenagers to fulfill a lifetime quota. But it is your pass to look at things with God on your side – if He is on your side, who can be against you? (Romans 8:1)

Quit being fearful about tomorrow. Quit fearing the elections (yup I said it). Quit worrying about your future – or even your past. Quit worrying about school, what to wear, your boyfriend/girlfriend, the popular clique or the unpopular clique. Quit worrying about college. Quit worrying about that trip you want to take. Quit worrying about your job. 

Take a Holy Ghost chill pill, rest in your Father’s arms, remembering “hey, He’s got this!” and start living life fearlessly again. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get back to where I was at 25yrs old and be FEARLESS! 

In a world that fears more, we should fear less because greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world!! (I John 4:4 NLT) 

The “What-If” Quicksand

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The past three weeks have been perhaps the most stressful and yet biggest opportunity for growth I’ve ever had in my life.

On Easter Sunday, I was t-boned.

It was one of those moments in life where everything slows down, as if watching a movie in slow motion, and yet at the same time, it all happened so fast, I don’t even remember the airbags going off. After the car spun and finally came to a stop, I knew two things: 1. My car was totaled (I knew it even without seeing the damage) and 2. I knew this was absolutely not my fault and I was accepting nothing less than that.

After I managed to crawl out the passenger side of my car (in a short dress and heels no less – it was Easter after all) shock set in as anger, panic, and fear began to try and take root.

Then, the ‘what-ifs” started.

What if I had gone to church that Sunday with my parents instead of attending my church first?

What if I hadn’t gone back inside my church to talk to someone afterwards, delaying me just a few moments more?

What if I had taken a different route?

What if, what if, what if………

I was drowning fast in the quicksand of ‘what-ifs’.

I’m sure my mother saw the panic setting in as I began to slowly meltdown sitting in the speaker’s room at church. But her kind words brought me back (even if it was just a little bit back) – “Forgive him. Walk in forgiveness. Walk in love.”  (Although she admitted later she was having just as hard of a time doing the exact same thing – and she wasn’t even in the car with me).

I can not even count how many times I have repeated this to myself over the past three weeks. Sometimes just in my head. Sometimes under my breath. Sometimes nearly screaming it at myself. But none-the-less, I have confessed it nearly every day.

Within an hour of the accident, I could already see God working on me. Some of those “what-ifs” turned to “thank you Lord!”s. Like – “what if my front airbag had gone off where my hand was on the horn?” became “Thank you Lord that there are NO BROKEN BONES! Thank you Lord that I walked away!” “What if he had hit my door instead of the back door?” became “Thank you Lord that Your guardian angels kept him from hitting my door.”

But, just because God is working on you, doesn’t mean satan still doesn’t try to take that joy away. It wasn’t too many more minutes after that when the worry began to creep in.

What am I going to do? How am I going to afford another car? How am I even going to get to work tomorrow? (Yup, that’s me – the practical one).

Over the next few days I began to have a new revelation of worry, regret, and resting in God.

You see – the more “what-if” thoughts I entertained, the more I began to see regret and worry try to take over. “What-ifs” over decisions already made, is nothing but REGRET. And “what-ifs” about future decision,  not yet made, is nothing but WORRY.

But what does the Word say about this all?

Cast your cares over on to God for He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7).

And if God cares so much for the smallest of creatures in His creation, how much more so does He care for you?! He will provide for you so don’t let worry take over! (Matthew 6).

I began to realize that not only was I drowning in the “what-if” quicksand of regrets, but I was already putting stock in “what-if” worry that hadn’t even happened yet. “What if I meet someone tomorrow, get married, and have a baby – I’d need a bigger, more practical vehicle?”, “What if my finances don’t continue to improve and I’m stuck with a car payment?”, “What if the insurance company offers me pennies on the dollar value for my car?”….what if, what if, what if.

And that’s when it really hit me…I wasn’t just living this moment in the “what-ifs”, I had been living the last 12yrs of my life based on “what-ifs”!  I’ve been living my life putting more faith in fear of the unknown than putting faith in God, the known!

There’s only one thing that can pull you out of this downward spiral of drowning in what-if quicksand – God. This is where you have to cast those cares over on to Him. You have to trust that He loves you so much, He will take care of you and won’t let you want for anything. This is where you have to say enough is enough – I won’t put faith in worry anymore. I won’t live a life paralyzed by “what-ifs”.

Things don’t always go according to plan. Heck, let’s face it…things very rarely go according to OUR plan. But God…God’s always got a plan that is bigger and better than ours, and He’s standing at attention, ready to take over the moment we say “not I Lord, but You!”  “Not my care Lord – I give it all over to you!”

We’re now 3 weeks out from the accident. Praise God I’m getting better every day, less sore, and I’m learning to put faith in Him instead of in the “what-ifs”. Praise God for His over and above blessings and a great testimony and lesson from this all.

Do I have it all figured out yet? Of course not. But God does and His plan is far superior to mine! I’m ready to use His word as a bridge over this quicksand of “what-if”, worry and regret, and move forward in to the blessing He has waiting for me!

Love Goggles

 

  
Love is blind.”

I’m sure that’s a quote you’ve heard more than once in your lifetime. You might not believe it to be true, but take a quick stroll through your local Walmart and I’m sure you’ll find at least one couple that makes you scratch your head and go “What did they ever see in that person to fall in love?!”

They had love goggles on!

What are they, you ask? I’d like to think they are a better (and Christian approved) version of beer goggles…you know, the eyes a drunk person sees someone through after one too many drinks, when they think everyone is just amazing. Now take that, but minus the feeling/need to distort reality, via alcohol – and you’ve got love goggles my dear readers.

But how does this pertain to love? Do we have to be drunk to fall in love with, dare I say, the unlovable? No, of course not!

1. I’m a firm believer that there is someone for everyone.
2. Love isn’t blind – it’s just got “love goggles” on.

On one of those fun outings to Walmart, I saw a very unconventional couple. A tall, skinny, well dressed, and good looking guy with a wife who weighed easily 350lbs, tattoos galore, clothes that were wrinkled and stained, and hair that was more unkempt than a rat’s nest. Does that paint a picture for you of how odd a couple this was to see?

As I walked passed them, I found that I was comparing myself to this woman I didn’t even know, and asking God the whys:

Me: Ok, if SHE can find someone, then what the heck is wrong with me? I guess love really is blind if HE can love someone like THAT.
God: Love isn’t blind. It simply allows you to see the beauty in everything. When you see people through MY love, you’ll see them the way I do – you’ll see the unique beauty that each person holds because I created them!

I’m going to let that sink in for a minute. It took me a few minutes to fully grasp what I had just heard, what I had just received a rhema on.

“Love isn’t blind. It simply allows us to see the beauty (God’s beauty) in everything!” This might be one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard from God. Definitely in my top five.

The inmate in prison. The soldier that returns from war without his limbs. The woman who was disfigured in an accident. The sinner on the sidewalk. Get off of your high horse! Not one of us is more righteous than the other. We are all sinners saved by grace and transformed by His love. The easiest thing to do in life is judge a book by its cover – or a person by their outward appearance. But when we do that, not only are we not showing God’s love, but we aren’t seeing with His love either.

God created each of us in His image. We might, along the path of our life and free will, make decisions that may alter our appearances in negative ways (I type this as I’m munching on salt & vinegar chips, even though I’m supposed to be low-carbing it right now). But no matter the changes our body and outter appearance go through, God will always see us as He created us – He’ll always see our heart and our true beauty.

I challenge you all, this week, to put this to work in your own lives. Stop seeing only the outward appearance. Stop looking at the circumstances – past and present. Stop seeing people with your worldly eyes. See people through God’s eyes this week. See them through His eyes of love. I’m not talking about passionate Eros love; I’m talking about compassionate Philia and Agape love. Determine now to see the beauty in all of God’s creations. I promise, if you set in your heart and mind to do this, not only will your view of people change and your heart expand, but it will rock your world in a way only God can!

 
  

In the Blink of an Eye

This has been an interesting week here in Texas to say the least. And quite possibly one of the longest weeks I can remember. Sunday brought freezing rain that we were driving home in. Monday was more ice and a crazy, hectic day at work. Tuesday was mostly the remnants of Monday. But, oh, Wednesday brought some hope! Wednesday morning started off with a snow covered car and gray, gloomy skies. But by lunch time, just four short hours later, there wasn’t a single sign of snow left and beautiful blue skies had emerged!

As I was sitting there on my lunch break, I started thinking about what I had written the week before about staying focused on the future that’s ahead of you and not getting side tracked on what’s currently happening around you. But God took this one step further with me, when I started thinking of how quickly our circumstances can change for the better.

In a matter of just four hours, or 240 minutes, the weather here in “bi-polar Texas” changed from freezing, gloomy, with snow to cool, sunny, and clear blue skies. If the weather can change that quickly, how quickly can our circumstances change when God is involved?

Given God’s track record, I’d say quicker than the speed of light.

When God was creating the world, and the world was without light, God spoke change into the void and light was. God didn’t speak it and then several days later, after a bunch of other things happened and fell in to place, light finally happened. God didn’t speak it and light only showed up in one place, but not another. No. God spoke “let there be light and light was!” (Genesis 1).

I started thinking about this in my own life and my own circumstances. I’ve seen it happen personally before. I can think back to last summer, when I had been told I was at the top of my pay grade for my position and there was no hope for a raise if I wasn’t willing to change departments. But God’s will was for me to stay right where I was and to be obedient to Him (staying forward focused and not being distracted by the present facts).

One afternoon, while in a drive-thru for lunch, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me to pay for lunch for the car behind me. I did so out of obedience and keeping my focus straight ahead instead of thinking, how tight my finances already were and what the current facts around me were screaming. Not ten minutes after I made it back to work from lunch, I was called in and given a raise that I had been told before was impossible! Not only impossible, but RETROACTIVE! And God’s change didn’t stop there…just three months later, I received another promotion that could only come at the hand of God!!

And as I am writing this, I am listening to a testimony at a church service, where a congregation member lost consciousness and a pulse, but as they began to pray over him and speak God’s life changing power over him, that situation changed and he was brought back from death!

Even now, as my hearts deepest desire is for a spouse at this time in my life, God quickly reminded me of Adam. Adam saw all of God’s creation around him, and it was good, but none were a match for him. God took from Adam and created his helpmate, Eve. And you know how quickly that change occurred? It didn’t take months of searching through online dating – no, Adam’s change took place in the course of an afternoon nap!

I know it might not be logical to think when you wake up from your Sunday afternoon nap, your helpmate will be right there waiting for you. Of course not. That would actually be a bit weird and perhaps worth calling the police over (I mean how would they get in to your house if you’re sleeping?). But it is logical to believe and EXPECT God to move that quickly to change your current circumstances!

When you are obedient to God, and in the right place where He wants you at that time, the circumstances around you won’t matter because you know how quickly they are going to change – In the blink of an eye! In the time it takes to speak them in to existence! In the time it takes to activate your faith and put it to work, God’s change is going to be right there waiting for you!!

So be encouraged. No matter what you are facing. If God can speak and light is… If a man can be dead, yet risen again by faith… If Adam can take a nap and wake up with a wife… What issue can you possibly think is too big for God to change instantly when you believe and put your faith and obedience in to it?! The answer – NONE!!!

Seeing Past the Imperfect

This last week I pulled my crochet hooks out of hiding and dusted off my mad skills to start working on some goodies for a little boy that’ll be here this summer (a friend’s, not mine).

So I set my sights on making something I’ve never even attempted before: baby booties.

If you know me, then you know once I set my mind to something, I’m going to do it and redo it till it’s perfect. Yes. I will absolutely admit to being a perfectionist.

As I began following the directions for these super adorable baby booties, I quickly noticed two things: 1. The person who wrote the directions obviously couldn’t do math as the stitches didn’t add up – which irritated this perfectionist to no end (who is now holding a lumpy bootie) and 2. Sometimes, no matter how closely you follow the directions, things don’t always turn out the way you might expect them to.

I knew the moment I realized this, that there was a big life lesson to learn here.

I have worked very hard over the years at letting the small imperfections go. Every time I give something away, all I can think about is the one stitch that was missed or the seam that is slightly uneven. But the receiver of that gift will never notice that imperfection unless the giver points it out.

This is like us and God. We spend all of our time focusing on our imperfections; focusing on the things we wish we would have changed, could have done differently, or let go of.

Oh, BUT GOD!!

God doesn’t see the imperfections in us. He sees us as His beautiful creations, made in His image. He sees all the good still ahead of us, not the sin in our past that we’ve been forgiven of. He sees us through eyes of love, not eyes of hate.

It’s us who continually bring up the “but”s. But what about? But don’t you remember? But I’m not? But I can’t?

But what about the really big but? The…But what about when you follow the instructions/directions exactly and things still don’t turn out the way you expected? Like, for example, all of the expensive education I have, and feel absolutely 1000% that it was what God wanted me to do at the time, but I’m not using any of it right now?

That’s where the only two “buts” there should ever be come in, the “but God” and the “but faith”.

When we, as Christians, fully understand God’s love for us, and His desire to prosper us, not to harm us, we’ll understand that even when things don’t happen the way we want or think, it’s ok because God’s got it!

God doesn’t just see past any imperfections, He sees the big picture, the beginning from the end. He sees what we don’t. When all we see is how something didn’t go according to plan or how the instructions said it should, He sees the true end and all of the steps in between that we’re still going to take. This is where we have to trust wholeheartedly, by faith, in God and His love for us.

So the next time something happens and you find yourself frustrated with the outcomes and are left feeling imperfect, remember to see yourself as God sees you and have faith that the best is still to come, because it’s not over yet, not by a long shot in God’s plan for you!

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The “perfect” vs my “imperfect”

Toss the List – Part 2

A few days after I posted ‘Toss the List‘, my father posted two great articles on Facebook from Charisma Magazine.

When God dealt with me, and my list for a husband, back in 2002, He didn’t leave me without some guidelines of what to believe for and look for. But what is important to understand is that it’s not MY list, it’s God’s list for me. I sought after God and what He wanted for me and my husband.

I don’t look at this list every day. I don’t even look at it every month. I’ve had 12 years with this list, so trust me, it’s imprinted on the very depths of my soul at this point. But I also don’t share it with others – this is something between myself and God. I’ve seen what can happen when women share their lists; magically Mr. Wrong starts doing everything right to fulfill that list. The last thing I want is Mr. Wrong parading in Mr. Right’s clothing – I’ve encountered enough wolfsheeps for a lifetime.

I can’t tell you what is right or wrong for YOUR list of the spouse God has for you. That is between you and God. But I can honestly say if God had a general guideline for all of us, these two articles written by  J. Lee Grady, for his blog Fire In My Bones for Charisma Magazine, are superb and yet so simple in their truths.

As Christians, the unbeliever should be a non-negotiable for relationships. When I first moved back from living overseas, I was spending time with a guy I had grown up next door to – he was/is an Atheist. I enjoyed his company. We had a lot of the same likes and interests, and definitely the same sense of humor. But when I brought one of my brothers along with us on one of our “friend dates” and I saw the disappointment in his eyes that he later vocalized, I knew these were waters I didn’t need to be treading. Which also goes back to the dangers of casual dating when you don’t see a future there, even casual friend dates…someone always ends up with feelings involved, even if it’s unintentional.

So I hope you all take a moment to read these articles that were written last year around Valentine’s Day (or as many of us call it, Single Awareness Day). And please, PLEASE, pay close attention to the very first one – The Unbeliever and “Missionary Dating”.

10 Men Christian Women Should Never Marry by J. Lee Grady

My wife and I raised four daughters—without shotguns in the house!—and three of them have already married. We love our sons-in-law, and it’s obvious God handpicked each of them to match our daughters’ temperaments and personality.

I have always believed God is in the matchmaking business. If He can do it for my daughters, He can do it for you.

Today I have several single female friends who would very much like to find the right guy. Some tell me the pickings are slim at their church, so they have ventured into the world of online dating. Others have thrown up their hands in despair, wondering if there are any decent Christian guys left anywhere. They’ve begun to wonder if they should lower their standards in order to find a mate.

My advice stands: Don’t settle for less than God’s best. Too many Christian women today have ended up with an Ishmael because impatience pushed them into an unhappy marriage. Please take my fatherly advice: You are much better off single than with the wrong guy!

Speaking of “wrong guys,” here are the top 10 men you should avoid when looking for a husband:

1. The unbeliever. Please write 2 Corinthians 6:14 on a Post-it note and tack it on your computer at work. It says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (NASB). This is not an outdated religious rule. It is the Word of God for you today.

Don’t allow a man’s charm, looks or financial success (or his willingness to go to church with you) push you to compromise what you know is right. “Missionary dating” is never a wise strategy. If the guy is not a born-again Christian, scratch him off your list. He’s not right for you. I’ve yet to meet a Christian woman who didn’t regret marrying an unbeliever.

2. The liar. If you discover that the man you are dating has lied to you about his past or that he’s always covering his tracks to hide his secrets from you, run for the nearest exit. Marriage must be built on a foundation of trust. If he can’t be truthful, break up now before he bamboozles you with an even bigger deception.

3. The playboy. I wish I could say that if you meet a nice guy at church, you can assume he’s living in sexual purity. But that’s not the case today. I’ve heard horror stories about single guys who serve on the worship team on Sunday but act like Casanovas during the week. If you marry a guy who was sleeping around before your wedding, you can be sure he will be sleeping around after your wedding.

4. The deadbeat. There are many solid Christian men who experienced marital failure years ago. Since their divorce, they have experienced the Holy Spirit’s restoration, and now they want to remarry. Second marriages can be very happy. But if you find out that the man you are dating hasn’t been caring for his children from a previous marriage, you have just exposed a fatal flaw. Any man who will not pay for his past mistakes or support children from a previous marriage is not going to treat you responsibly.

5. The addict. Churchgoing men who have addictions to alcohol or drugs have learned to hide their problems—but you don’t want to wait until your honeymoon to find out that he’s a boozer. Never marry a man who refuses to get help for his addiction. Insist that he get professional help and walk away. And don’t get into a codependent relationship in which he claims he needs you to stay sober. You can’t fix him.

6. The bum. I have a female friend who realized after she married her boyfriend that he had no plans to find steady work. He had devised a great strategy: He stayed home all day and played video games while his professional wife worked and paid all the bills. The apostle Paul told the Thessalonians, “If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thess. 3:10). The same rule applies here: If a man is not willing to work, he doesn’t deserve to marry you.

7. The narcissist. I sincerely hope you can find a guy who is handsome. But be careful: If your boyfriend spends six hours a day at the gym and regularly posts closeups of his biceps on Facebook, you have a problem. Do not fall for a self-absorbed guy. He might be cute, but a man who is infatuated with his appearance and his own needs will never be able to love you sacrificially, like Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25). The man who is always looking at himself in the mirror will never notice you.

8. The abuser. Men with abusive tendencies can’t control their anger when it boils over. If the guy you are dating has a tendency to fly off the handle, either at you or others, don’t be tempted to rationalize his behavior. He has a problem, and if you marry him you will have to navigate his minefield every day to avoid triggering another outburst. Angry men hurt women—verbally and sometimes physically. Find a man who is gentle.

9. The man-child. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m suspicious of a guy who still lives with his parents at age 35. If his mother is still doing his cooking, cleaning and ironing at that age, you can be sure he’s stuck in an emotional time warp. You are asking for trouble if you think you can be a wife to a guy who hasn’t grown up. Back away and, as a friend, encourage him to find a mentor who can help him mature.

10. The control freak. Some Christian guys today believe marriage is about male superiority. They may quote Scripture and sound super-spiritual, but behind the façade of husbandly authority is deep insecurity and pride that can morph into spiritual abuse. First Peter 3:7 commands husbands to treat their wives as equals. If the man you are dating talks down to you, makes demeaning comments about women or seems to squelch your spiritual gifts, back away now. He is on a power trip. Women who marry religious control freaks often end up in a nightmare of depression.

If you are a woman of God, don’t sell your spiritual birthright by marrying a guy who doesn’t deserve you. Your smartest decision in life is to wait for a man who is sold out to Jesus.

8 Women Christian Men Should Never Marry by J. Lee Brady

Last week my column “10 Men Christian Women Should Never Marry” went viral. More than 1.2 million people have shared that message so far—most likely because so many single men and women are seriously asking for guidelines on finding a compatible mate.

In response I received numerous requests to share similar guidelines for men who are looking for wives. Since I am mentoring several young men right now and have seen a few of them marry successfully during the past few years, it wasn’t difficult to draft this list. These are the women I tell my spiritual sons to avoid:

1. The unbeliever. In last week’s column, I reminded women that the Bible is absolutely clear on this point: Christians should not marry unbelievers. Second Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (NASB). Apart from your decision to follow Christ, marriage is the single most important decision you will ever make. Don’t blow it by ignoring the obvious. You need a wife who loves Jesus more than she loves you. Put spiritual maturity at the top of your list of qualities you want in a wife.

2. The material girl. One young friend of mine was engaged to a girl from a rich family. He saved up money for months to buy a ring, but when he proposed she told him he needed to go back to the jewelry store to buy a bigger diamond. She pushed her fiance to go into debt for a ring that fit her expectations. She wanted a Tiffany’s lifestyle on his Wal-Mart budget. I warned my friend that he was stepping into serious trouble. Unless you want to live in debt for the rest of your life, do not marry a girl who has dollar signs in her eyes and eight credit cards in her Gucci purse.

3. The diva. Some macho guys like to throw their weight around and pretend they are superior to women. Divas are the female version of this nightmare. They think the world revolves around them, and they don’t think twice about hurting somebody else to prove their point. Their words are harsh and their finger-snapping demands are unreasonable. Some of these women might end up in leadership positions at church, but don’t be fooled by their super-spiritual talk. Real leaders are humble. If you don’t see Christlike humility in the woman you are dating, back away from her and keep looking.

4. The Delilah. Remember Samson? He was anointed by God with superhuman strength, but he lost his power when a seductive woman figured out his secret and gave her man the world’s most famous haircut. Like Delilah, a woman who hasn’t yielded her sexuality to God will blind you with her charms, break your heart and snip your anointing off. If the “Christian” woman you met at church dresses provocatively, flirts with other guys, posts sexually inappropriate comments on Facebook or tells you she’s OK with sex before marriage, get out of that relationship before she traps you.

5. The contentious woman. A young man told me recently that he dated a girl who had serious resentment in her heart because of past hurts. “Before I would propose, I told my fiancee she had to deal with this,” he explained. “It would have been a deal-breaker, but there was a powerful breakthrough and now we are engaged.” This guy realized that unresolved bitterness can ruin a marriage. Proverbs 21:9 says, “It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” If the woman you are dating is seething with anger and unforgiveness, your life together will be ruined by arguing, door-slamming and endless drama. Insist that she get prayer and counseling.

6. The controller. Marriage is a 50/50 partnership, and the only way it works is when both husband and wife practice mutual submission according to Ephesians 5:21. Just as some guys think they can run a marriage like a dictatorship, some women try to manipulate decisions to get their way. This is why premarital counseling is so important! You don’t want to wait until you’ve been married for two weeks to find out that your wife doesn’t trust you and wants to call all the shots.

7. The mama’s girl. It’s normal for a new wife to call her mom regularly for advice and support. It is not normal for her to talk to her mother five times a day about every detail of her marriage, including her sex life. That’s weird. Yet I have counseled guys whose wives allowed their mothers (or fathers) total control of their marriages. Genesis 2:24 says a man is to leave his parents and cleave to his wife. Parents should stay in the background of their children’s marriages. If your girlfriend hasn’t cut the apron strings, proceed with caution.

8. The addict. So many people in the church today have not been properly discipled. Many still struggle with various types of addictions—to alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription medicines or pornography—either because we don’t confront these sins from the pulpit or we don’t offer enough compassionate support to strugglers. Jesus can completely set a person free from these habits, but you don’t want to wait until you’re married to find out your wife isn’t sober. You may still be called to be married, but it is not wise to tie the knot until your girlfriend faces her issues head-on.

Your best rule to follow in choosing a wife is found in Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Look past the outward qualities that the world says are important, and look at the heart.