Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Edification: The Story of the Preacher and His Servant


I overheard a "preacher" talking down to someone who worked for him. His words were demeaning and demoralizing. He was very discouraging. I looked over at his "worker" and encouraged him by saying, "You work as unto the Lord, and you are very valuable." The "preacher" then began to lecture and dismiss me telling me that I did not understand the respect due to God's “anointed” preachers. He dismissed me by calling me a little boy who was interfering with him disciplining one of his servants. The preacher did not know that I, too, share the gift of a pastor, and I also have people who work with me. As a leader, I do not assume that anyone on our payroll works for me; they work with me. We collectively share the vision of the church. I work at making sure they understand that I need them to use and flourish in their God-given abilities to work as unto the Lord. I do not run a plantation. I manage God’s business, and His business is run with love, patience, longsuffering, and every fruit of the Spirit. I understand the need to be excellent, but, as a leader, I will never allow the need to be perfect in everything to cause me to severely chide any person who makes an understandable mistake.

I immediately knew how that young man felt. I was once in his shoes. I knew how it felt to be talked down to and looked at as if I was not a person worthy of respect. I vividly remember being told I was “nothing” and a “nobody” by a clergyman. I stood in front of my mirror many nights reassuring myself I was someone worthy of respect. I would look myself in the mirror and tell myself that I was indeed someone in Christ. I refused to accept those words spoken towards me by a clergyman.

This young man kept his eyes fixed on the floor as his “master” proceeded to fix the order his “servant” did not get right. As I left the counter, I looked at the young man and reassured him that he was somebody worthy of respect whether his pastor thought so or not.

I have seen many clergymen severely reprimand those who work with them. I have seen things being thrown, names being called, and insults being hurled. The recipients of this treatment were discouraged, which means courage was being ripped out of them. This young man was being emasculated.

We must remember that God’s business is one of integrity and edification. It is also one of rebuke and discipline, but righteous rebuke and discipline is loving, kind, and patient. It is not demeaning or degrading. Spiritual leaders must make sure they are casting the vision of the Shepherd’s church, not one that builds their selfish empire. As clergymen, we must be an active demonstration of love and care. We must patiently teach and instruct those who work alongside us as we would our own children. We must always treat men and women with the respect they deserve, and we must never seek to treat one person different due to their position. The janitor should be treated with the same respect as the CEO. Everyone should feel valuable and useful. And we must make sure we are sensitive to everyone’s diverse backgrounds, personal life, and family obligations by making proper provisions wherever and whenever necessary.

If I were ever given the opportunity to speak with that preacher I would want him to know that he is doing more harm than good. His words are not edifying, which means they fail to build. Instead he is destroying that young man from within. I could assume that this man was brought up the same way. He probably learned that pattern of abuse from someone he respected enough to obey. My only hope is that the young man recognizes his worth and value and becomes strong enough to abandon that toxic environment. In the interim, I pray his quiet and gentle spirit ministers to the preacher who lords over him. And I can only pray that the preacher’s heart is softened and changed.

In the conclusion of it all, we must edify. We must build the True Shepherd's sheep. We cannot continue this abusive mindset that is alive in many churches today. I pray those pastors who use emotional manipulation and harsh words to beat their servants will recognize their ways and repent. This is a closeted issue that many in the church refuse to talk about, but it is something that must be exposed and dealt with immediately.
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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The True Motivation for Courtships

There are so many who are courting nowadays, and it is a great thing to see. Many of these couples begin courting, and they immediately start teaching on courtship. This has been disastrous for many. They teach based on things they have heard, not things they have truly experienced. And many of these couples do not last--sadly. Their words last longer than their relationship, and it could be argued that many of them got into the relationship hoping it would give them some kind of stage, influence, and audience. Instead of simply sharing their courting experience, they provide different guidelines or rules for others to follow. They crown morality as king while looking beyond the true motivation for any godly courtship.

My wife and I have shared our story all over the world. Many know that we courted for a year and eight months. In fact, we did not kiss until our wedding day. We had several boundaries that were strict by our liberal world's standards. But we knew we needed to have them to make sure we truly So, You Want to be Married? The book really breaks down the details.
honored God and kept our word with one another. I share much of our courtship in my first book,

In sharing our story, we have been careful never to give people a law they must follow. Many people are looking for a step-by-step approach to everything. They want to know where they can go find a potential mate. They want to know how long they should court. They want to know who they should talk to, how much money they should spend on the engagement ring, and so much more. Sadly enough, many are providing these people answers, and many use those answers as if they were law. If those answers do not work for them, then they are usually disappointed and upset.

The problem is not morality, which is a doctrine of moral conduct. It is not the central compass between what is right and wrong. Our problem is the lack of proper teaching on the true motivation and foundation for life, which includes courtship and marriage. Here, I am defining courtship as the journey towards marriage between a man and a woman, not marriage itself.

The foundation and motivation for any relationship, which includes courtship, is a proper reverence for God. Psalm 111:10 reads: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom..." Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 reads: "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." Some would say the fear of God is an Old Testament truth. I beg to differ. First Peter 1:17 reads: "If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth..." I believe some people think God changed from the Book of Malachi to the Book of Matthew. He did not! He is still to be greatly revered and obeyed. I know many preachers today have perverted the message of Grace. Many have coined this the "Age of Grace." Should I quickly remind you of the graceful God we serve? He is the One who struck Ananias and Sapphira dead. He blinded Elymas for opposing the Apostle Paul. He killed Herod. He sends a chilling warning to the Hebrews by saying: "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." {Hebrews 10:31} I am convinced that so many have grown so friendly with God that they have lost all respect for Him. We live in a troubling age; a perverted age; a hedonistic age.

The conclusion of the matter is not about the guidelines one can give you on how to have a perfect courtship or a perfect marriage. We must remember that the Holy Spirit has been given to us to convict us of sin (John 16:8). He is fully capable of guiding any relationship, including courtship. I know this because He led my courtship with my now-wife. He was the One who told me not to kiss her until our wedding day. He told me to make sure we went out in groups. He told me to make sure we had a curfew. He told me to make sure we had accountability partners and advisers to help us in our relationship. For so many, He is the missing link. They are trying to have a successful courtship with morality alone. The rules only tell them where the fire is located so they will not get burned. The problem is the rules cannot be both the guide and the motivation. They lack the reverence for God--that which compels them to do do what is right by honoring Him. This means they will not have sex because they honor God. They will not stay out late and tempt one another because they honor God. They will monitor the content of their conversations because they honor God. Their honor towards God will keep them from the fire. The motivation, which is the fear of God, does not nullify the rules. However, it completes them. By honoring God, they will no longer need the rules to serve as a tutor for them. Instead they will have the Living Compass, the Holy Spirit, within them to guide them through every area of their relationship.

If you and your courter have not made peace with God through Jesus Christ, then the both of you must begin there. Confess Jesus Christ as your savior and lord. Come together and pray for the Holy Spirit to invade both of your hearts. Ask Him to take over your relationship. Ask Him to give the both of you wisdom and convict the both of you of anything that would dishonor Him. Let Him guide the both of you and your relationship. Finally, ask Him to give you a proper disposition in your heart. Ask Him to show Himself so strong in your relationship that others will be able to see it as an example. Then share with them the motivation behind your success. Take attention off of you and your courter, and put it where it rightfully belongs, on our Holy God!

God bless you!
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Help! I Feel Trapped in my Marriage!


Marriage is a sacred union—a oneness shared between two people with love as its foundation. Many dream and fantasize about this special day when they are afforded the opportunity to commit themselves to one another. Many spend a considerable amount of time searching for the right dress, arranging the perfect mix of colors, hiring the right DJ to host the event, making sure the cake is just right, tasting all the food and providing the right selection of music. They spend so much time focusing on the event that they do not think about the reality that awaits them after they say, “I do.”

My wife and I got married on August 14, 2010—one year and eight months after meeting. The day was special because we shared our first kiss at the altar. Yes, that was our first kiss—ever. We had the right boundaries. We talked a lot. We had premarital counseling. We did all these things we felt were right. We felt like we were prepared for marriage. We soon found out that we were wrong; we were not prepared. We had knowledge from what we heard and read, but we did not have application of that knowledge. I quickly found out that my wife was not in any of the books I read.

I liken premarital counseling to taking a driver’s test. The young driver reads all the books on how to drive. He learns about all the signs, learns the laws of the road, and so much more. He aces the multiple-choice driving exam with a perfect score. He did a great job retaining the information and answering all the questions accurately. However, he faces his greatest test when he has to get in and drive the car

He escapes the dangers of the road while he answers the multiple-choice portion of the driving exam. There is no one honking at him for going to slow or merging over without a signal. He does not have to think about the car speeding behind him or the green light that is quickly turning yellow. All he needs to know is what is what he has learned from the instruction manual to pass the multiple-choice portion of the exam. He is able to retain all the right information, but he lacks application…until he gets in the driver’s seat. This is when we will find out if he really knows how to drive. If his knowledge and application is not real, pressure will prove it. There is plenty of pressure out on the open road. And the pressures of life have destroyed many marriages. The pressure becomes too much for the couple to handle. Sadly, they try to handle it alone.

Although the young driver is fully educated on the car and the driving laws, he fails the driving portion of the exam. Was he educated on the driving process? Yes! Was he filled with a lot of information? Yes! However, the information did not guarantee him a passing grade with the driving portion of the exam.

The same is true for marriage. I was shocked when I met a divorced marriage counselor. He was friendly, educated and articulate. I could not understand how a person with so much knowledge on the subject could fail when placed in the situation. He had great knowledge, but he admitted the difficulty of applying it. It is one thing to know something; it is something else to be successful at it. I have heard it said that knowledge is power. I beg to differ. Knowledge, alone, is not power; APPLIED knowledge is power. A book becomes powerful when the reader opens it and applies what’s written therein. I have met many ignorant men who lived down the street from a library. It is not enough to know the information; we must apply it.

While I have my own criticism about premarital counseling, I still advise it. It is better to be well prepared than to be completely ignorant. I prize post-marital counseling more. It is always great to speak with newly married couples. Their perspective is much different than when they were engaged. I am able to be more candid and they are able to speak out of experience—even though it is short—instead of presumption. This is because they have been given an opportunity to apply the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience and gentleness they have read about in Scripture in their marriage. Their perspective is different. They have stepped from behind the computer screen and gotten into the driver’s seat of the car. They have to adapt to the difficult situations that test their ability to apply everything they have learned.

As a pastor, I have the opportunity to hear about many marriages. I have the opportunity to sit down with couples who are having serious problems. The most common confession I get is: “Cornelius, I feel trapped in my marriage.

That is a hard-hitting confession. I know how hard-hitting it is because my wife and I went through it. I will never forget the day my wife and I were arguing a month or so after we got married. We started to tell one another exactly how we felt. The words were starting to feel like daggers piercing the heart. Even though we were both frustrated, there was enough truth in the statements that we had no other choice but to examine what was said. With tears falling from my wife’s face, she said to me, “Cornelius, you can be so cold towards me. It is like you have no emotions at all. I am not happy. I really feel trapped in this marriage.” I immediately grew angry! How could she say such a thing! I felt like I was a good husband. I began to roll off the list of great things I do for her. I began to tell her all the things she was not doing, or things she could do better. I was prepared to go tit-for-tat with her. She listened for a little while then rolled over in the bed and cried. I got out the bed, walked out the room and slammed the door. I was mad!

I sat on the couch and I told God I had enough of this! It was over! I was ready for a divorce. Then, God said to me, “I hate divorce! What part of that do you not understand?” Those words stung deep. I put my face in my hands and replayed what my wife just said to me. I knew I was angry, but the problem is that I did not know exactly why I was angry. Was my anger warranted? I believe it was; however, I did not fully understand why I was upset. I gathered myself, walked in the room, and asked my wife to explain to me why she felt trapped. Her reasoning ranged from my inability to be compassionate and graceful with her to me being more aware of her needs. Did I feel as if she was selfish in her reasoning? Yes. However, I could no longer be selfish. Her feelings became my feelings when we got married. I had to leave those childish ways I once practiced behind and fully focus on her even though I did not feel like it. Being married meant that I must die so that we may live!

I have also felt trapped in my marriage. I felt like my freedom had vanished. I was trying to cling onto my identity of what I used to be instead of focusing on becoming who we are meant to be. I could no longer get up and go like I did when I was single. I could not meet the guys for dinner any longer. I had responsibilities at home. I needed to mature. I needed to grow up and accept the changes instead of trying to run from them.

Marriage is not a death sentence; it is whatever you choose to make it. Unfortunately, many of the couples who come in my office do not want to work on their marriage. They are determined to get out of their union as soon as they can. The pressure becomes too much for them to handle.

It is easy to marry a couple, but it is a struggle to keep them together.

Here are some recommendations I give to the couples who are struggling with this reality in our church. I pray they help you in your situation.

1.     Get around mature, Spirit-filled marriages who can hold your marriage accountable, encourage both of you and correct whatever is wrong.
2.     Do not sleep in separate rooms. Do not make it a habit to sleep separately no matter how mad you get with one another. Running from the issues will not solve them.
3.     Keep family and friends out of your marriage! They can remember what you tell them in a moment of anger for a lifetime. You will forgive and forget; they will hold on to what you said and use it as validation for your divorce the next time s/he does something else.
4.     Pray and have special time together. Make it a habit to sit together and communicate. Communication is one of reasons most marriages fail. It takes work! Be willing to work at it.
5.     Highlight and celebrate what is good and lovely about your marriage instead of focusing on all the things that you think needs to be changed. Most marriages live by the 99%/1% rule. They ignore the 99% that is good and focus on the 1% that is not. The 1% is amplified so much that they convince themselves that divorce is their only option.
6.     Go away together. Leave the children with a sitter. Go somewhere even if it is to the park. Make it seem like it is a getaway. Pack a bag. Pack food. Take your Bibles. Turn off your phones.
7.     Pray this prayer, “Father, return unto me the joy of my marriage. Remind me why I got married. Take me back to the days of joy and excitement I had with my spouse. Clean my heart and show me the areas I need to change. Help me, Holy Spirit. I yield myself to You. I give You my marriage. I give You my spouse. Have Your way in our marriage. And I settle these things once and for all in name of Jesus, my Lord. Amen.
8.     Remove divorce as an option. God hates divorce! And you should hate everything God hates.
9.     Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 together every morning.
10. Recognize that you are not the only married couple with these feelings. Most marriages do a better job covering it up than others. Take the veil off. Confront your reality and work at retaining and building your union together.

I pray God blesses and keeps your union from the fiery darts of the enemy.

God bless you.

-Cornelius
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Confessions of a Womanizer

I was a horrible man who used and abused people. My relationship with certain people was wrong—very wrong. Let me explain.

I used people for my pleasure. Most times, I did not use them physically; I used them emotionally. I tried to hide my actions because I did not want others to know about them. I have done so many terrible things in my life. I chose to expose this part of my past so I could possibly spare women who are currently in this situation or stop men who are placing women in this situation. My personal account goes a little something like this…

I preyed on a woman’s emotional and nurturing nature. I started living on my own at age nineteen. My job at that time would require some travel and long hours. Although I knew how to cook and clean, I did not desire to do it. Instead, I would ask women—many of them I knew from my past in some way—to come to my home to cook and clean for me. My only payment to some of them was the idea that one day we could have a relationship. I became really good at selling them a dream I knew I never intended to fulfill. It is like giving someone a check while knowing beforehand that there is not enough money in the account to cash it. Many of those women liked the idea of helping me in my home because they thought our relationship could be more than what it was. They thought that way because I led them to believe it. I capitalized on their vulnerabilities and insecurities. They would expose their weaknesses and insecurities during our regular conversations. We were "friends." I used the idea of "friendship" between us to open the door to intimate conversation--the sharing of vulnerabilities and insecurities. That information should have been kept private for a man who was mature and "man enough" to honor and marry her. I was not that man, but I was not going to let her know that. The art of deception is to mix a little truth with a lot of lies. The goal is to get the victim to believe the truth so they will eventually believe the lies. Knowing this, I would say things like, "I don't know why you're single. You're definitely perfect to be a wife. I know I'm intrigued!" A naive woman who is caught in emotional bondage with a man would probably read those words and think nothing is wrong with them. A wise woman notices many issues. First, I marginalized her femininity to that of being a wife. Is she more than just her relationship title? I'd like to think so! Secondly, I gave her false hope ("I know I'm intrigued.") And false hope brings on real bondage. It is a trap! Thirdly, I gave her what she wanted to hear ("You're definitely perfect to be a wife.") without making any kind of commitment to her. There is much more, but we will go on. When I learned of their hurt from the past (how they felt misused, their insecurities based on the way they looked, their desire to be in a relationship, their loneliness, etc.), I capitalized on it by making them believe I actually cared. Heartless and cold? I know! I did just enough to keep them in my control. I bought them flowers at the right time, knew the right text messages to send, etc. Each manipulated act was sculpted a certain way depending on the woman in question.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Have you ever heard of that saying? I used that saying for my own manipulative ways. Let's say their idea of marriage was the fish. I dangled the fish (the idea of marriage or a relationship) over them. I knew a hungry stomach would do or accept anything to be fulfilled. My objective was to keep them hungry and to make them think I could fulfill them.

I was a pig, and I can freely admit it now. I was really good at hiding the women from one another. Being that I was always the clean-cut guy, I was not the usual suspect for such behavior. I freely admit that I had a big problem--a mental problem. I enjoyed the control I had. I enjoyed it more than the sex I could get from them. The sex was easy to get. The chase was more entertaining than the catch. I wanted to see how long I could keep the control over the women. Unfortunately, the women never really found out. My girlfriend at the time—who was not my now-wife—did not find out about it either. I knew how to play one woman against the other. I learned there could be nothing deeper than a woman’s anger towards another woman she perceives as a threat to something or someone she wants. I would fabricate lies to tell the women over and over again to cause strife and division. It led to many friendships ending over things that did not really happen. I used the old method of “divide and conquer” to keep my manipulative ways alive, keep the women answering to my call, and keep them divided.

The Gathering Oasis Church

It is not difficult to know if a woman is in that situation right now. Here are some indicators for her to determine if she is:

-->He does not introduce you to his core group of friends or family. This concept is simple. A king loves to showcase whatever or whoever is valuable to him. He is hiding you because he does not truly value you.
>He insults and belittles you. This is a common tactic of an abuser. He tortures you with words and tears you down with the intention of building you back up the way he desires. The insults are used to break you. Run from these kinds of people.
-->He wants to know your constant movements and know who you are talking to. He wants to make sure his image and reputation is not soiled by you through conversation with your family or friends. Oftentimes, he will recommend that you end certain friendships or lose contact with family members if he feels like the person(s) serve as a threat to his manipulative operation.
-->He keeps you away from truth and always discredits anyone in your life that serves as an influence to you. Influence is powerful, and he knows just how powerful it is. He does not desire to have some of it; he wants all of it! Therefore, he destroys and discredits anyone who has the potential to shed light on your darkened situation. He discourages you from assembling with believers, attending religious services, reading certain books and blogs, and so much more. He pulls you away from God. In fact, he pushes you more to himself and his control. He destroys the character and credibility of people who have the potential of righteously influencing you in an attempt to elevate his influence in your life. He knows that his voice must be the only voice you listen to. That gives him total control.
-->He preys on your emotions and expectations. He knows your insecurities and weaknesses. He systematically uses your very real emotions against you by making you think you need to fill the voids in your life with him, not God. For example, he knows you are lonely. He works hard to convince you that he is the void-filler for your loneliness. He knows that you desire to be married. That is your expectation. He preys on that truth by continuing to feed you words to make you think he is still considering you as his potential bride.

There are so many other things I did, but I truly believe those five methods I listed could help some woman realize the bondage she has found herself. Freedom is possible. Escape his grasp by cutting off all communication. There is no need to communicate your departure. He has ruined your life for far too long; do not give him another opportunity to convince you that he is true to you by preying on your vulnerabilities. I knew some of the women would not leave. I preyed on that fact. When they got upset with me I would tell them I knew they would not leave. Guess what? They did not leave. Prove him wrong! Leave! Now! Then cut off all communication.

Thanks for reading! I share my life in hopes that it can bless others and show them that transparency can be a true act of freedom. I willingly judge myself for my actions. I ask that you do not judge my new life I have found in Christ on my old way of living. That is my past, and I do not live there anymore. Christ changed my address. He can change you as well.

It took an encounter with Christ to change me. Do not think you can change that man. Only Christ can truly change him. He needs prayer. Because of his abusive state, he needs God more than he needs you. Do not think you can change him. Man changes the actions of the beast; Christ changes the nature of the beast.

-Cornelius


The Men's Conference 2015


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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sir, Your Family Needs You

Many men are running after the idea of "success." This idea has crept into the church and is now being preached from the pulpit. This idea of success is being defined as an accumulation of things, social relevance, popularity, and world-renowned influence. "I just want to be the boss, Cornelius." "I want to climb the ladder of success and become the VP at my job." "I want to own the largest house in the subdivision." "I want to have more money than I can spend." These are some of the things I have heard over the years. I have seen men sell their time and talents to the world. They exchanged time alone with their family to become a top executive at their company. One man in particular chose his job over his family time and time again. He did it for years. The time finally came when he realized that his family stopped choosing him. After being on the road for his job for a week and a half he walked into an empty house. His wife and son moved out leaving him with a couch, a bed, and a few kitchen appliances. The note on the counter read "We left. Actually, we left a long time ago. It's too bad you're just now seeing it. Goodbye!" Those words pierced his heart, but he shrugged off those emotions. He went into the office the next day to learn that his job was phasing out his position. It was no longer needed. In less than 24 hours he lost his family and his job. I sat down with him to discuss what was going on in his life. Unfortunately, he was very heartbroken over the loss of his job more than his family. After a series of conversations he finally saw his problem. He cried like a baby over the loss of his family. It was not enough to sway him in the right direction. He was not open to hearing the Gospel truth. He eventually started drinking alcohol and picking up prostitutes. He was a regular at strip clubs. We eventually lost contact as he continued on his destructive path. I still pray for him and his family.

 The Men's Conference 2015The gentlemen in the example chose his career over his family. Unfortunately, his family did not choose to accept his choice. You may look at his decision as a terrible thing, but consider who or what you are choosing over your family. I know men who abandon their family at night to hang with friends or family. They choose a nightly rendezvous with their pals/homeboys instead of spending quality time with their family. They fail to recognize their influence in the house is powerful. Sir, you have the ability to chart the course for your family. You provide direction so everyone in the household is aware of where the family is headed. You provide education as you teach and discipline in the admonition of the Lord. You provide identity for your children so they are aware of what a man should be and what he should do inside the household. They should see you loving and leading like Christ so they are able to mimic your example. You provide balance so the children are able to see how your role differs from their mother's role. You provide protection from any outside influence that tries to change the foundation or the direction of your family. You are able to monitor what is being heard and said in the house. You are also able to keep nonsense and foolishness outside of the home. You are able to deal with the stresses of the day instead of allowing those stresses to infiltrate inside the house to your wife and children. You provide support to your wife and children. That support encourages them to continue in the way they have been called to live. It lets them know they are not alone. It lets them know you care about their progress and welfare. Your presence is more than just you going home and being there. It is about being an active participant in your household and making sure everyone is maturing in the things of the Lord. Let them see you praying and reading your Bible. Be the example they need.

 So, You Want to be a Man?Sir, your family needs you. They do not just need your presence; they need your words and involvement. They need to know you prefer them over your career, your extended family, your friends, your religious activities, etc. I know men who give the majority of their time serving their church, little league team, etc. I saw a man run and grab an umbrella to make sure the first lady of the church did not get wet while his wife was drenched by the rain. I understand his willingness to respect his spiritual leader's wife, but no woman comes before his wife. My wife is fully aware that she is my responsibility--one I do not take lightly. And other husbands should realize the same thing about their wife. The same is true for my child(ren).

Brother, we need you to be who you were called to be for your family. We need your involvement. Our current society is the result of sin and broken families. We have to return to our roles.

 The Gathering Oasis Church Men's MinistryI challenge you to sit your family down and ask for forgiveness for not being active in their lives. Tell them things will be different. Then do something that I am aware is not going to be easy. Ask your wife and child(ren) to grade you as a father and husband. Allow them to express themselves to you without interrupting them. Do not argue; just comply to their righteous requests. Make the proper adjustments. Take out a sheet of paper and write out the changes that need to happen in your household like no cell phones after a certain time, mandatory family dinner at the table with conversation about the day, no television after a certain time period, family game nights, etc. Do this with one another and sit down every now and then to discuss the family's progress. You take responsibility for it. Be the leader I know you can be. Do not allow your past to keep you from being all God has called you to be. Go for it, brother. I am praying for you!

-Cornelius
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Friday, November 21, 2014

4 Tips For Courting Couples




I want to take the opportunity to provide more alternatives to the dating culture we have today. Relationships are the bedrock of our society. Our communities are made and broken by the health of the families that make it up. The community suffers as the family suffers. I will provide a series of posts purposed to help individuals who desire to court. My goal is to help them on their journey so they can be successful and enjoy a lasting marriage. I am only providing a few alternatives. You can get more of them by reading my first book, So, You Want to be Married. It can be purchased at www.corneliuslindsey.com, www.amazon.com, or kindle.

I encourage you to check out my blog post “The Differences Between Courtship and Recreational Dating” at this link:


That particular post shows the major differences between the two practices. Read it before moving forward. Let's begin.

Go out in groups.

www.thegonow.comI know. I know. You are not a child, and you do not need supervision. I get it; I do. Just bear with me and keep an open mind. Most believe they are strong enough to handle the temptation. A wise man does not place himself in situations where he is tempted. He avoids it at all costs. He is charged to not even go near the house of the adulteress (Proverbs 5:8). A wise woman avoids temptation so it does not awaken love in her until it is time (Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; 8:4). She is well aware of her ability to be nurturing and loving. She knows that love birth at the wrong time brings heartache and pain. These emotions can last for a long time, and they are usually brought on by immaturity and loose boundaries. Love awaken at the right time is lasting and pure. An on-time love is a faithful and lasting love. God is not trying to keep you single, and those who promote waiting, modesty, and purity are definitely not trying to keep you single. We desire to keep you from trouble, which is the consequence of dangerous premature love.

Going out in groups helps to keep you accountable. It allows others to check your actions and make sure you are not doing something you are not supposed to do. It allows others to monitor your conversation, which will keep both of you from inappropriate actions. The group setting takes away the idea that you need to be responsible for your courter’s attention. It also allows the group to pick up on things about your courter that you could easily miss because you are blinded by affection and the possibility of marriage. A friend can hear her sarcastic remarks or the way he glances at every woman who walks in the room. Being in groups is important. What is more important is the caliber and character of persons in the group. That brings us to the next one.

Try to spend as much time as you can around wise and happily married couples.

My wife and I loved to go out in groups when we were courting, but we both felt like it was wise to go out with married couples and other courting couples. Does that mean we did not go out with single folks? Absolutely not! We just limited our interaction with them. We wanted to move beyond that mindset so it was important for us to get around people to help us achieve that goal. We desired to be around people who were in the position we desired to be in. Married couples usually do not have extra time to go out to dinner or hangout at night. My wife and I know that so well. Having children creates even more of a strain to hangout. When I was courting my wife we found the best times to get around other married couples. We conformed to their schedule since we were seeking their wisdom {MESSAGE}. We went to their house and sat there for hours as they told us about marriage. We asked a lot of questions. We watched their interaction, how they communicated with one another, how they disagreed, etc.

We also spent time with other couples that were courting. They had the same mindset we had, so it was easy to find things to do and hold each other accountable. We were very selective with those we communed with because we did not want to place ourselves in a bad situation that would cause us to fall.

I sit with couples nowadays who allow anyone and everyone to be in their circle and go out with them. They fail to realize that the other person’s influence can greatly impact their actions. The old saying holds true: If you hang around trash, do not complain when you begin to stink. I am in no way referring to people as trash; I am mostly referring to sinful actions. I believe you understand my point. Let’s move on to the next one.

Keep the physical interaction to a minimum.

This is a no-brainer. Let me give you an example so you can gain clarity of what I am saying. I want you to picture a major fire raging through a dry forest. It is destroying everything in its path. Many fail to realize that the raging fire started with a very small flame. My wife and I did not kiss until we were married, and it is a practice we advocate. We viewed the "innocent" kiss as a small flame. We avoided the small flame, which allowed us to avoid the raging fire--sexual intercourse. Is it a law? Well, we believe we have to be qualified to give a law, and we do not have those qualifications. Servants do not make laws; they follow them. Servants also live to please their master. Our God is holy and blameless, and He fully expects that from us. We desire to give Him nothing less through and by His strength. Nevertheless, physical interaction (cuddling, heavy petting, arms around one another, etc.) can open the door to temptation. And temptation leads sin and sin leads to death (James 1:13-15).

It is also important to remember that courting does not mean marriage. It is the journey to the altar; it is not the ceremony at the altar. A courting couple begins their walk down the aisle to the altar the moment they meet one another. The ceremony is a formality--a collection of symbolic customs where two families are able to join as one under the righteous authority of God. For many, it has lost its luster and significance. They look past the purpose of their union--which is to honor God and one another--and fill their ceremony with purposeless fluff. The ceremony becomes a big, expensive party where the families invite people they do not talk to, do not really like them, and will probably just complain and criticize everything anyway. They will probably eat all their cake, too. (Can you tell they ate all my cake at our wedding? Yes, they ate all of it. Make sure you get a slice and tell them to put it to the side. Thank me later. LOL) I digress. Let's get back on topic. Oftentimes courting couples like to practice being married before they are actually married. They desire to have the benefits of the marriage union without completing the journey. I assure courters that they will have enough time to do all the hugging, kissing, and romancing their hearts and body desires after they are married. Obedience is greater than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22-24). Honestly, most of us do not care for either of them. It is better for you and your courter to be obedient to God because sacrifice is the action you will have to make to appease the one you have disobeyed. Obedience keeps you from having to make the sacrifice. {Use the sacrifice of Jesus as an example.} Keep your distance and avoid temptation.

Communicate as much as possible and ask all the right questions.

Communication is the lifeblood of a relationship. It keeps the fire burning and the emotions alive. This is why it is vital to end all communication when ending a relationship. Keeping the communication alive keeps the flames of lust burning and creates a greater potential to fall back into temptation. There are many exceptions like if there is a child involved. The mother and father are encouraged to communicate for the sake of the child. But their communication should be washed in wisdom, saturated in patience, and filled with love.

I have over a hundred questions in the back of my book, So, You Want to be Married. They provide couples with a great starting point and help them understand one another. Just asking a question does not mean the two will mature. They must ask the right questions. They need to ask about each other’s views on religion, politics, extracurricular activities, desire for children—or lack thereof—, where they want to live, their childhood, etc. The first question I asked my now-wife on our first date was: Will you move to Atlanta when we get married? That was important for me. I knew she was my wife. I was not interested in playing any games. And I knew I did not want to move or live in New York. I was born in the South, and I am just a southern boy at heart. My wife was born in the North, and she lived in New York for seven years. I did not want to adopt that lifestyle. Her desiring to live in New York would be a big problem that could have resulted in us terminating our relationship before it ever got started. That was not something I was willing to compromise on. Thankfully, she was more than willing to leave the North and join me in the South. Praise God! I have sat down with married couples that failed to have important conversation before they got married. They are paying for it now. They argue over things they could have settled before the altar. This is why it is important to ask a lot of questions and communicate often.

There is so much more I could have written. I encourage you to get more information from one of my books. Just click the banner below.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Just Friends? [Man and Woman Friendships]

 

There is much to say about a man and woman being friends. I believe the best way to deal with this subject is to clearly define what it means to be a friend and what it means to be relational. Let’s begin with what it means to be a friend.

Friendship is built on commonality and communication. Friends grow a deep bond based on what they agree on, whom they believe in, and what they stand for. A friendship can blossom between two different people from different economic and social backgrounds. Their bond can be based on what they have in common. I also believe God will knit two souls together for a purpose. The greatest thing about friendship is the honor the friends have, or should have, for one another. A “friend” is “one who loves.” S/he is a companion, a comrade, and a neighbor. There are times when s/he is called a brother, a mother, a child—terms referring to those who share a strong bond outside the blood-family. I believe the close relationship between David and Saul’s son, Jonathan, is a great example of true friendship (1 Samuel 18:1, 3; 20:17; 2 Samuel 1:26). Friendship is not limited to people. The Bible also speaks about our friendship with God. Scripture records Jesus calling his friends those who follow His commands (John 15:14). Friendship comes with standards and our friends can tell us a lot about ourselves. We usually do not attract those we want to be around; we oftentimes attract those who greatly resemble who we are. There is so much I could go over about friendship, but I will stop there.

Marriage Retreat 2015

I believe we as the Church could do a better job being relational. HOWEVER, I do understand the kind of society we live in today. The same sin that existed years ago still exists today. It has not morphed; it is still sin and punishable by death. Writing this makes me so thankful for Jesus and His obedience. Nevertheless, we live in a hedonistic society. A hedonist is one who lives his or her life in pursuit of self-gratification, pleasure, and happiness. He wants whatever he wants, and he does not care how he obtains it. We live in the eat it, drink it, smoke it, have sex with it, and throw-it-way society. The mentality of most is: “You do not like your marriage anymore? Just throw it away! You tired of your children? Just throw them away! You do not want to keep the baby you lusted over another person to create? Just kill him! He is not a “human” anyway!” We lack a respect for people and true reverence for God. Our society flashes sex in our face throughout the day. The perversion in our world has gone so far to totally pervert true love. Many believe love allows anything. That is not true. Love can bear anything (1 Corinthians 13:7), but it does not allow everything. Love is discipline; it is truth; it is orderly; it is light; it is faithful. Love does not fail.

I’ve sat down with couples that wanted to end their relationship because “they fell out of love.” I was confused when I first heard the saying. People have learned to treat love like it is a ditch. They treat it like they were pushed in the ditch by someone and they no longer want to be in it because they are no longer getting their way. That kind of thinking and action is a stench to God’s nostrils!

What does all of this have to do with guys and girls being friends, Cornelius? I am glad you asked. First, we must be careful whom we call our friends. It is a term of honor and respect. Everyone should not get it. Secondly, men and women who are not married should not seek to grow a deep bond with one another unless they are working towards marriage. Thirdly, the concept of love must play a big factor in the relationship. Love is not something you fall into; it grows in you. It develops over time. Friendship is built on commonality and communication. The bigger of the two is communication. It is the wood that feeds the flames of friendship. Communication keeps the fire hot and keeps the relationship fresh. The man and woman who continues to converse feeds one another by giving one another a very precious treasure—their words from their heart. The mouth only speaks with the heart is full of (Matthew 12:34). Conversation is the giving of one another’s words, which is the exchange of one another’s heart. Remember that love is not something you fall into; it grows in you. It grows as you continue to feed it. And you feed it through intimacy. How is conversation intimate? It is the exchange of words from the heart. The man and woman are literally allowing for the other person to go “in to me and see” (in-ti-ma-cy) what is hidden in his/her heart. That is DANGEROUS.

Singles Retreat 2015

I am married now, so the idea of having female friends is out of the question. And I am fine with it. There is only one woman I give my heart—which is the giving of my words—and she is my wife. Does this mean I cannot be cordial with other women in saying “hello” or answering simple questions? Absolutely not. However, I will send women to my wife or other female leaders at our church for them to speak with the women. I do not have private meetings with women. It is out of the question. I have been in situations where I thought I could keep my friendship with a woman completely normal. She was like one of the guys to me. (Women all over the world who have ever felt like "one of the guys" just rolled their eyes at that statement. LOL!) We laughed and hung out together all the time. I spoke to her multiple times a day. I told her about all of my relationships. She hated to hear about things going great. She would oftentimes encourage me to break up with someone at the slightest offense. We developed a very close bond for years. Then that dreaded day came. I was taking her home one day, and she looked over at me. She had on makeup, which was something she did not always do. She even had on a dress, which was not normal for her. She looked at me and said, a type of affection that is non-sexual and innocent. I assured her—in the meanest way possible—that I did not want to be with her. Yes, I was a major jerk back then. That ruined our relationship. Years later, I had to think about what transpired. She was simply basing her feelings off of what I was giving to her, which was complete transparency and total intimacy. Honestly, I was wrong for giving her so much attention and leading her astray. I occupied the place in her life that was meant for a man who was willing to cherish, honor, and respect her in marriage. I needed to either step up to the plate or get out of the way. She did not deserve the emotional abuse and torment in thinking I was interested in anything more than using her for her company and listening ear. I needed to take my troubles and cares to God and wise men who were able to hold me accountable and challenge me to mature. I was allowing her in my most intimate place. I was wrong--very wrong. I would love to cite ignorance as my excuse, but I simply ignored small occurrences where it was obvious she was "catching feelings" and "growing in love" with me. That friendship ended my trying to be friends with women. I had to learn that someone will always grow in love as the conversation continues and words from the heart are exchanged. You will grow in love with whatever or whoever you are around the most. The experienced sinners--if there is such a thing--are those who spend a great deal of time around and in it. Anyone who hangs out with trash long enough will begin to stink, and they will begin to believe the awful smell is normal the longer they are around it. “[Cornelius] I really love you.” I said, “Umm…I love you too.” Her eyes got big. She smiled real hard. Then she said, “Oh, really! Because I want to be with you.” I almost ran the car off the road. My love for her was clearly platonic—

www.themensconference.com
I encourage men to communicate and talk with other men--mature men who can challenge, rebuke, and encourage them (1 Peter 5:5). I encourage women to communicate and converse with wise and mature women (Titus 2:3-5). My best friend, who is a guy, can relate with my struggles and issues as a man. He understands what I mean when I say I am scared of failing as a man, that I am tired of leading others, or that I am tired of always being the strong shoulder to lean on. He understands my plight(s) mainly because he has the same emotions, concerns, and fears. Befriend the same sex and be cordial with the opposite sex. But Cornelius, how will I meet my significant other? Is God not able to act and move without your interruption? I believe He is. He did not need you when He created the world, so it is safe to assume He does not need your constant going ahead of Him to engage someone He did not present to you. A courtship blooms because God presents a man and woman together and knits their hearts into one. He opens the eyes of the sleeping Adam and awakens love in the woman at the appropriate time. Do not allow anyone to tell you differently.

To read more about this subject and more on relationships, be sure to purchase my books from www.corneliuslindsey.com or by searching my name on www.amazon.com. God bless you!

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Monday, September 8, 2014

WANTED: PRAYING MEN

 

There is a responsibility I have oftentimes ignored. Ignoring it caused me to lose sight of what was truly important and passively reject heavenly power from our gracious God. The responsibility I rejected was prayer.


I failed my family each day that I refused to humble myself and go before God in prayer. My family does not need my earthly wisdom or for me to share concepts with them from what I have learned. They need heavenly wisdom that is attained at the throne of God. They need a leader who is not lazy or careless to neglect the most important time of the day—which is prayer. I cannot afford to only go before God when times are rough, bills are many, finances are low, and faith is all but gone. My time of prayer must be mandatory, and it must be private. It must be an act that is displayed in Heaven but closed off from the world's eyes. It is righteous for me to expect an open response from God; however, I know His open response is contingent on my private act of prayer. He sees our private giving, and He rewards openly. And the greatest gift I can possibly give my family, my community, and my God is all of me in private prayer. It must be an act of desperation as if to say, “I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT IT!” A prideful man cannot and will not do it because his hope is in himself. However, a follower of Christ recognizes he is a servant. That is all he is—a servant. He humbles himself to learn from the Teacher, becomes uncomfortable in the world to become comfortable in His presence, and lays his sin-soaked heart down so it can be changed and wiped clean.

Husbands and fathers, there is a special responsibility reserved for us to accomplish daily. It is one that requires discipline, love and sacrifice. It is the discipline of prayer. Make it mandatory to rise early or to retire to bed late to pray. It is an act of love and humility. Pray for guidance, wisdom, protection and faith to confront any task with grace, strength and mercy. Our leadership begins at the throne of God in heartfelt prayer, and it continues as we give ourselves to His work throughout the day. Ravenhill said it best: "The secret to prayer is praying in secret." This is your responsibility—your greatest act of love.

I task you to humble yourself and pray. Who does your house serve? Is it God? Is it money? Is it sports? Is it other extracurricular activities? Who or what is it? I would recommend that you search your calendar to find the answer. We cannot devote more time to earthly pleasures while neglecting our family at home. That is a dangerous mistake to make.

I charge you by the authority of our Lord Jesus to pray each time you are compelled. Go before God and tell Him about your apprehension to pray because of your lack of understanding concerning it. He will answer you; He will teach you. The Holy Spirit will fill you; He will guide you. You do not have to carry your “macho persona” into the closet with you when you pray. Lay down your personality and open your mouth to speak to Him. You will go in fully naked and exposed but come out replenished and clothed in majestic power. Leave your earthly intellectualism at the door before entering the closet to pray but take faith with you. 

I truly believe that God speaks with the intention of being heard. Once He is heard, He speaks with the intention of being obeyed!

Single men, the responsibility to pray also sits with you. Make it a practice now so you will be proficient later on. He needs that one-on-one time with you. It is not optional so do not make it that way. Pray, brother! Pray.


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Friday, September 5, 2014

A Call to Action for Men: Vision, Passion, and Purpose

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18)

That is a special piece of Scripture. It singles out two concepts that cannot be pushed aside. First, there is the concept of vision. Then, there is the concept of perishing. It would seem that one concept depends on the other. In this case, vision determines whether or not the people will perish.

There was a time in my life when I did not have vision. It was a time where I felt purposeless—living with no goal or idea of where I was going. I am convinced that a man with no purpose is already at his destination. There was a time in my life when had a great deal of vision but absolutely no action to go along with it. I had an idea of where I wanted to go, but I did not have a plan of action to get me there. I was just doing menial tasks to pass the time away. I got whatever job I could find to keep busy. Do I believe those menial tasks prepared me for where I am now? Absolutely! I would not discount those tasks. They served their purpose; however, I would never encourage someone to live continue living that way. I only imagine how many talents and gifts are pushed aside daily just to go to a job that does nothing more than pass time away.

I am sure you have met people with a vision. They are always talking about doing the “next big thing.” They talk a great game, but they have absolutely no action to back it up. Then, there are those who are constantly doing something. They have multiple jobs, going to school to get another degree, and so much more. They have a lot of activity, but they have absolutely no vision. I met a young man who had three jobs. He was always tired, and he had no goal except to make money. There is a big problem with money as the ending goal. The aspiration to have more money is a bottomless pit. It is a god that is never satisfied. There is always more of it to make. In addition, he did not realize that he his jobs were working against one another. One job did not pay much, so he had to use that money to pay for gas to get to the other two. His car was taking a major beating because of his long commutes so he had to use another job just to pay for his car repairs. I sat him down and asked him, "Have you ever considered working smarter than harder?" His response, "I have but no one has taught me that before." I did not want to burst his bubble, but I did not have anyone to teach me either. I had to rely on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me. I encourage the same for you. Wise counsel is great, but it never trumps the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Self-help books glorify self and earthly matters. The guidance of the Holy Spirit makes you eternal-minded, requires faith, and glorifies God.

Many men live like that young man. Their multiple jobs are served to help them “make their financial ends meet.” There is only one big problem with trying to “make the ends meet.” The only time ends meet is when you are going in a circle. There is absolutely no progression when you are going in a circle. Both the visionary and the worker live a life of drudgery. It is one big circle.

I have seen marriages crumble because of a lack of vision. They literally began to perish, which means they ceased to exist. The entire family separated because they had no idea where they were going. They lived in the same house, but they were emotionally, spiritually, and physically disconnected. They were all going in separate directions. The kids were hauled off to school, and the parents were going separate directions to work. They spent hours away from one another, came home to go to separate rooms, and entertained and taught by television. Many of them knew more about the lives of their favorite reality TV stars and professional athletes than they did about the people who lived in their own home. Oh, the horror of it! They are meant to be a family, but they live like roommates. Where is the responsibility? Where is the concern? Where is the purpose? Where is the action? They did not sit down to discuss action plans as a unit. They did not talk about a God-led vision or plan of action. They followed their own ways, and it led to destruction. I sit with husbands nowadays and they complain about their wives being disconnected from the family. The question I ask them is: “How do you expect your wife, who is biblically defined as a “helper”, to help if you are not doing anything or going anywhere?” Adam, God’s initial creation of man, was given both vision and task before Eve was presented to him. God placed him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it. He had responsibility and vision. Eve’s presence was for a purpose! I wonder how many "Eves" of our day feel purposeless. I wonder how many feel as if they are trapped in a marriage that is going absolutely nowhere. This is one of the maladies of our generation today. Many marriages and families crumble nowadays because there is absolutely NO VISION whatsoever. This breaks my heart.

Brother, I charge you in the name of our Lord Jesus to drop to your knees and pray. Pray for vision and direction. Stay there until He speaks to you. Then, be led by the Holy Spirit daily. This will require you to cancel your social outings, reschedule your meetings, deny yourself several earthly pleasures, etc. Is it worth it to you? Is the sacrifice worth it? Is your family worth it? Is serving God and fulfilling all He has for you to do worth it? If so, do it! Brother, that kind of sacrifice is an act of love. You hate them if choose to ignore them. Allow God to guide you in all truth to accomplish the vision He’s given. Refuse to live a life of drudgery. Gather your family together and let them know things are going to change in your home. Let them know the change will begin with you. Let them know they deserve a patriarch worth following and you are committed to giving them just that through and by the work of God within you. Let them know you are committed to seeking God until He reveals all He desires to you. Let your family hold you accountable. Gather everyone together and listen as they speak. Allow them to speak about the direction of the family. Get their input and take it before the feet of the Father. You are a leader—not a dictator. And communication is one of the most important aspects of being a leader.

Brother, if your house truly serves the Lord then I humbly ask that you live like it! Prayer must be your first action. I believe there is a sign on the entrance to the narrow way that reads: "WANTED: PRAYING MEN!" We have gotten away from it. The Early Church was changed because of it. Those who they encountered were changed because of it. Although persecuted, they grew in numbers! We have more money, more technology, and more seminars, more conferences, and more events than they ever had; yet, they had more power! That is because they were charitable people of prayer. I have been asked, "How long should I pray?" My response is, "Pray until He speaks." Make it the first action when you rise in the morning and the last thing you do before retiring to bed. Pray with passion and intensity. Pray as the Holy Spirit gives you the utterance. It is then that you are praying what you should pray seeing that we do not always know what we should pray. Cultivate hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit so you can be led every second of every minute of the day. Get in the Scriptures and ask Him to teach you. Do not continue to allow others to be responsible for teaching and leading your children and wife. Then, I encourage you to get around other men who are filled with vision, action, and passion. Study their life, ask questions, and seek to learn their process. Understand that I never said you should duplicate their life. Instead, gain wisdom from them.


I pray you take this serious. Our families are being destroyed. Wives are following and filled with worldly tasks and focus because they have no leader at home to lead, teach, and guide them. We must do better, brother. We must! Those who are not married should seek God now. They should prepare themselves for the responsibility that lies before them—if God sees fit to take them that route. I am praying for you.

--CorneliusLindsey.com
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