Not Living by Other People’s Rules

LIVING FROM YOUR VIRTUES

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by life that you shut down and have a hard time making decisions? Or maybe you find yourself in circumstances that drain your energy and put you in a prolonged poor mood? The truth is, life isn’t always perfect and sometimes we aren’t the best versions of ourselves. And the even greater truth is that we can arm ourselves with tools so that when we find ourselves in rough waters, we still stay true to who God has called us to be!

Years ago, I read a book about the life of Benjamin Franklin. The author recounted that Franklin decided who he wanted to be early in his life, and he wrote 13 virtues to guide all of his decisions so that he would become that person. What a person of intention!

Benjamin Franklin didn’t want his emotions, his circumstances or the pressure of pleasing others to determine his destiny, define his personhood or dictate his legacy. As you can imagine, I was so inspired by the idea that I could live out of my virtues instead of living from the circumstances of my life. So much so that I wrote my own virtue list. The process of envisioning who I was created and called to be and then writing down the virtues that would enable me to become that person was so exciting.

 

MY 9 VIRTUES

Here are a few of my own—maybe they will help to inspire you also:

1. I will serve God first and honor Him always, both in life and in death.

2. I will be honest, loyal, trustworthy and a man of my word, no matter what the price.

3. I will keep my values, regardless of how much they cost me, and if I fail, I will be quick to repent.

4. I will treat all people with respect, whether they are friend or foe, because they were created in God’s image.

5. I will strive to love everyone, despite their opinions, attitudes or persuasions and in spite of how they treat me.

6. I will be loyal to my wife, both in thought and deed into eternity.

7. I will live to bless and empower the generations to come and leave an inheritance both in the Spirit and in the natural for three generations.

8. I will never work for money or sell myself at any price. I will only be motivated to do what I believe to be the right thing and receive my sustenance from God. I vow to be generous no matter what my circumstances may be.

9. I will live my life to bring out the best in people and to bring them into an encounter with the real and living God.

Virtues help us to live from the inside out instead of from the outside in. No longer do I live by other people’s rules. Instead, I live by values that guide my attitudes, which in turn determine my choices. Choices dictate my behavior. My behaviors become manifestations of my personhood, and my personhood leads me into my destiny.

Do you have a list of virtues that you live from? If not, I’d encourage you to take some time and write them down. I think you’ll actually have a lot of fun doing it and will probably be more inspired into actualizing your calling than you were before! I’d love to hear a few of your virtues in the comments below!

Originally published on krisvallotton.com.

 

 

KRIS VALLOTTON IS THE AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS BOOKS, CO-AUTHOR OF THE BEST SELLING SUPERNATURAL WAYS OF ROYALTY, AND IS A WELL-KNOWN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SPEAKER. KRIS IS THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF MORAL REVOLUTION, THE SENIOR ASSOCIATE LEADER OF BETHEL CHURCH, AND THE CO-FOUNDER OF BETHEL SCHOOL OF SUPERNATURAL MINISTRY.  HE AND HIS WIFE, KATHY, HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 40 YEARS AND RESIDE IN REDDING, CALIFORNIA.  THEY HAVE FOUR GROWN CHILDREN AND EIGHT GRAND CHILDREN.
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/KVMINISTRIES
TWITTER: TWITTER.COM/KVMINISTRIES
INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/KVMINISTRIES

Seven Lies We Believe About Relationships

In fourth grade, I threw all my Valentines in the trash. It was for purely practical reasons. I had taken off all the candy and felt the remaining sentiments scribbled in fourth-grade handwriting were no longer of use to me. My teacher came to our table a few minutes later and said, “I just found a pile of Valentines in the trash. Can you believe someone threw all of these away? After all the work your classmates put into them?” I shook my head in feigned disbelief and tried not to look guilty.

Despite my low level of sentimentality in the story above, I actually love romance and relationships. Not to mention, I could eat chocolate all day long, so this holiday has all the potential to be one of my favorite days of the year. I also know it can be rough standing in line at the supermarket buying your own chocolate and realizing the only thing that’s changed since last year is the flavor of M&Ms you’ve selected.

No matter where you find yourself on Valentine’s Day, we want you to be encouraged, so our team decided to debunk a few common lies we’ve seen people believe about singleness, dating, and relationships. Our prayer is that the truth of God’s Word would fill you with hope as you read them and as we approach the day set aside to celebrate love.

Here are seven lies we’ve seen people believe about relationships:

 

1. Marriage solves everything.

Where is the good-looking prince with a killer smile to come whisk me away so we can live happily ever after?

This is how it goes in the fairytales, but in real life, it’s just not the same. Married, single, it’s complicated… it doesn’t matter what your Facebook status is, everyone has problems. In fact, a lot of times getting married and living together for the first time brings up new problems or intensifies the ones you have. If you work on things while you’re single, you can start investing in your marriage long before you meet the right person.

 

2. God can be replaced.

When a cute guy or girl enters the picture and starts talking to you, it feels pretty fantastic.

Wow, no one’s ever seemed this interested in my favorite pizza toppings or my take on superhero movie remakes…

All of a sudden someone is meeting those needs for intimacy, comfort, and connection. It feels great at first, but the more you rely on people to meet all of your needs or give you affirmation (especially if it’s just one person), the more you realize they’re only human. No one can take the place of Jesus in your life. No matter how many wonderful people are around, there is a space in all of us that only God can fill.

 

3. I’m not worth the wait, commitment, or protection.

 

But maybe if I worked out more or ate less pizza I would be…

In a world with constant reminders of why you’re not enough, this one is easy to believe. If you’ve been hurt or rejected by men or women, or you’ve made mistakes in the past, you can start to believe there’s no one who will want you enough to pursue, protect, or commit to you. It’s not true, though. You are valuable because God says you are. Regardless of your past, when you come to God with a repentant heart, He makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). You are blood-bought, and the things the enemy tries to hold against you don’t work anymore. Your heavenly Father told you your worth when He sent His Son to die for you. That’s something that can’t be taken away.

 

4. I’m going to be single forever.

Might as well start buying cats, because I’m going to be the cat lady.

Well, I have good news for you. About two million people get married in the United States every year¹. That’s a lot of people who started dating, fell in love, and overcame any fear or insecurities in order to commit to one person. If you want to be married, you too can meet someone and be one of those two million one day. It’s easy to think the stage you’re in is going to be what the rest of your life is like. In reality, a stage is just a stage, and it won’t last forever.

 

5. God is withholding from me.

Why don’t I have the wife, husband, kids, house, job, dog, or retirement plan I’ve always dreamed of?

These are very real questions. You may even start to picture God as kind of a trickster, dangling things in front of you that He has no desire to give you, but this is not Who He is. The Bible says, “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly…” (Psalm 84:11). He is a generous Father, and He may not be giving you the exact thing you want right now at this moment, but He gives good gifts to His children all the time. Focus on what He is giving you, and rest in the fact that He knows the desires of your heart because He placed them there for a reason.

 

6. There are no good men/women out there.

I’m going to have to just go for the next girl who will give me her number. I’m going to have to settle for the next guy who proposes. Hopefully, he has a job and at least three front teeth. 

Your mind tends to look for evidence to support what you believe, so if you go through life believing there are no good men or women out there, you probably won’t see any. If you decide to believe there are good ones out there, then you will start to see them. Even if there are men and women who still have some work to do, holding this total lack of belief over their heads isn’t going to help them out. Believe in people, even when they’re still working on things, and believe in the faithfulness of God to show His goodness in your life.

 

7. I’m stuck.

I’m stuck in this behavior, I’m stuck in this addiction, I’m stuck being single, I’m stuck in this relationship, I’m stuck in this rut in my marriage…

This lie can look a number of different ways, but no matter what, you are not stuck. Feeling stuck is usually a result of feeling powerless or like you don’t have a choice. The truth is you do have a choice. You have a choice to stay in a relationship or break up. You have a choice to leave your marriage the way it is or reach out to a counselor or someone who can help you work through your problems. If you feel stuck in dating, you can try online dating, take a new class, or ask a friend to set you up with someone.

If you’re stuck in an addiction or unhealthy behavior, know that when you accept Jesus, His Holy Spirit comes to live inside you to empower you to make healthy, righteous decisions. You now have incredible strength. You can change your life at any moment. Tell the Lord where you feel stuck and ask Him what you need to do to get out of it. You may have to take drastic steps, but it’s okay. Do whatever you need to do to get free.

Jesus came to give abundant life (John 10:10). The better you learn to identify the lies that try to discourage you, the more you will walk in all He died to give you. Believe the truth of Who God says He is and who He says you are. There is not a single area of your life you have to be discouraged in. So no matter if you’re single, dating, or married, may this Valentine’s Day be a reminder of the One who pursues your heart relentlessly in every season and Whose love knows no bounds.


If you’re interested in learning more about fighting lies and going after health and wholeness, we have more good news for you. Our whole curriculum is now available online. Check it out in the link below:

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(1) “National Marriage and Divorce Rate Trends.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Nov. 2015. Web. 04 Feb. 2017.

 

ANDREA IS A GRADUATE OF THE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY AT BETHEL AND CURRENTLY SERVES ON THE WRITING TEAM FOR MORAL REVOLUTION. SHE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT SEEING THE CHURCH CARRY JOYFUL HOPE AND EXPECTATION IN EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIVES. SHE LONGS TO SEE THE UPCOMING GENERATION EQUIPPED AS STRONG LEADERS WHO STEWARD THEIR LIVES WELL AND INFLUENCE SOCIETY AS A RESULT. 
WEBSITE: ANDREADALLEY.COM 

Five Power Beliefs that Change Everything

When I saw The Lego Movie a couple years ago, it was life-changing. I found myself laughing at every joke, pondering the deeper questions of life, and marveling at its creativity.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I’ll give you some quick background information. The main character, Emmet, embarks on the adventure of a lifetime when he finds out that he is “the special.” He is the chosen one that has the special gifts and talents it takes to save their entire little lego world from impending doom. There is a part at the end of the film where Emmet is about to be sacrificed by the evil Lord Business. Things aren’t looking good. He’s tied up, about to be executed, as are all his friends.

Suddenly, his mentor Vitruvius pops up out of nowhere to give Emmet these words of wisdom: “the only thing anyone needs to be special is to believe that you can be. I know that sounds like a cat poster but it’s true. Look at what you did when you believed you were special. You just need to believe it some more.” You can see it all over Emmet’s plastic lego face that he’s grappling with this statement. He asks Vitruvius, “But how can I just decide to believe that I’m special when I’m not?” His mentor leaves him with this last inspiring piece of purpose, “Because the world depends on it.”

Vitruvius was right. We’d expect nothing less from a character who looks like Gandalf and fights like Yoda. What you believe about yourself changes everything. 

When you think about it at first, it seems like it wouldn’t be true. How can something as small as a thought change your entire life? It can, though, because it’s the way we were designed. If you still feel skeptical, just experiment with this for a day. When working on a big project, cleaning your house, or when you’re faced with some other overwhelming task, decide that you’re only going to have positive thoughts. Instead of thinking, “I’m not good at this. This is going to be difficult;” think, “I am more than capable of doing this. I’m going to get this done in no time.” See how you feel after an entire day of thinking positive thoughts about yourself.

Here’s the second part of this lesson: What you believe about God changes everything too. You can believe God is a hard-to-please Taskmaster who only ever sees how you fall short or you can believe He’s a loving Father who adopted you into His family as a son or daughter. You can believe God withholds things from you on purpose, or you can believe He’s a Father who lavishes His kids with good gifts.

Here are five power beliefs that will change your life if you commit to believing them:

 

1. I believe God.

God keeps His promises. He does everything He says He will do. God only speaks truth, and it is not in His character to lie or promise something He can’t follow through on (Numbers 23:19).

 

2. I trust God.

God isn’t moody, and He doesn’t change His mind about us. He’s always looking at us through the eyes of a loving Father. He never leaves us. God knows not just the things we need, but also the things we want. God has a great plan for us. The future is bright in Him (2 Samuel 7:28).

 

3. I am powerful.

The words we say are powerful (Proverbs 18:21). The choices we make are powerful. That’s why God gave us the Holy Spirit, to help us make good decisions. We do not have to go through life feeling like a victim to circumstances. Many times we can do something to change them, but if not, we always get to decide how we will react to them.

 

4. I am valuable.

We are valuable to God. Each one of us is a dream of God’s heart that He brought into existence with specific gifts and characteristics. When we see the value God has for people, we treat ourselves and others with kindness and respect (Matthew 10:29-31).

 

5. I am significant.

God has a great plan, and we are part of it (Ephesians 2:10).  It is not a mistake that each one of us is here on this earth, no exceptions. We each have a specific role to play in His story that’s unfolding on the earth.

 

You are the fruit of the intentional, purposeful design of a loving Creator. You carry incredible things that are unique to you. The world is waiting for people who are brave enough to bring all of themselves and change things for the better. Believe in your own significance, because like our friend Vitruvius said, the world depends on it.

 

Our beliefs change the atmosphere around us, as well as the one inside of us. Your sexuality isn’t just about what you do with your body. It’s about what you believe in your spirit, what you think in your mind, and how you steward your emotions as well. If you’re interested in learning more about walking out health and wholeness in each of these areas, check out our digital course below.

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ANDREA IS A GRADUATE OF THE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY AT BETHEL AND CURRENTLY SERVES ON THE WRITING TEAM FOR MORAL REVOLUTION. SHE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT SEEING THE CHURCH CARRY JOYFUL HOPE AND EXPECTATION IN EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIVES. SHE LONGS TO SEE THE UPCOMING GENERATION EQUIPPED AS STRONG LEADERS WHO STEWARD THEIR LIVES WELL AND INFLUENCE SOCIETY AS A RESULT. 
WEBSITE: ANDREADALLEY.COM 

Fake Dating

I’d been doing it for years, but it took me a while to realize it. One day I finally woke up to the fact that I had spent years of my life fating, or fake dating. 

I can see how the pattern developed. Growing up with brothers, I always had a natural connection with guys. They just seemed to be more relaxed about life. They accepted the world as it was, without any analyzation, suspicion, or complication. Naturally, I was flattered when men were drawn to me and wanted my attention. It wasn’t until later that it started a painful cycle.

What started out as flattery turned into empty words. Hanging out casually led to a subconscious desire for commitment. I was convinced that girls and guys could just be friends, that all the dinners for two, dancing, and spending time together didn’t have to mean anything. Deep down I started to realize I wanted something more.

After my thousandth time having a handsome guy friend take me out, kiss me, woo me, but then fail to commit to me, I finally started to believe in this thing called fating. My final breaking point came when a close male friend of mine started to show interest in me. He was at my beck and call. If I needed a cup of coffee, a dinner, or even a massage, he was my man. The only problem was…it was utterly boring. There was no chase, no mystery, no challenge!

One fateful night, as my fake- boyfriend rubbed my back, I felt the Lord speak to me and say, “This is you! This is what you do!” Shocked out of my sultry massage, I began to think about the patterns in my life. Surely all those guys in the past had liked me, and not just wanted to use me. I hadn’t gone too far over the line physically, so I had to be good, right?  I sat in denial for a few moments, but then slowly began to realize the truth. I had been giving myself not just physically, but emotionally to men for years. It took a desperate man to hold up the mirror to a formerly desperate woman, but that is where my freedom began…

Jesus started to show me I had fated my whole life, because I really didn’t know my value. I didn’t think I was worth pursuing, so I just took what I could get. I was like a starving girl, desperate for love, who’d settled for fast food hamburgers, instead of leaving room for a steak. The fake boyfriends in my life were taking the place of the man who would actually ask me out on a real date, not just use me until he found something better…

As I started this journey towards freedom, the Lord showed me that not only did I not value myself, but there was a much bigger issue. The issue was my hopelessness. At the core of my being, I did not trust the Lord. I did not believe He would do what He said He would do, and bring me a husband. If I was being totally honest, I was hopeless in the area of romantic relationships.


I had been rejected by my fake boyfriends so many times, I didn’t have any faith for a real one.


Since I didn’t trust God, I would try to make a relationship happen myself. That’s why I had dozens of men who had “fated” me, and left me broken. Let me take a step back and say men can be fake dated as well. The old saying “it takes two to tango” still rings true here. I had allowed men to fake date me. They were not the only ones to blame. As the Lord continued to uncover these root issues, it felt like the arrows that had pierced my heart were being taken out. It was painful, but the pain felt good.

As Jesus restored my heart, I started to notice other women who had fake dated. I looked around the church and saw an epidemic of beautiful, strong, spiritual women who wanted to get married, but who were still single. I realized part of the reason was because Christian guys and girls had been fake dating each other. They were getting all their emotional and physical needs met and didn’t see any reason to commit. Then the questions started to rise. What if we put an end to this fake dating? What if godly men and women learned their value in Christ, started really trusting the Lord with their love lives, and stopped getting each other’s needs met without any type of commitment?

If I could send a message to the beautiful, strong women who have found themselves in this same cycle, here’s what I would say: When you find your value in Jesus, when you trust Him with your love life, and when you realize you deserve to be pursued and not just used, something strange happens. You start attracting godly men, who recognize a woman who values not only God, but who values herself. You honor the Lord and you honor the beauty of relationships and intimacy. You start getting a real fancy dinner date, instead of a cheap make-out session. So let’s stop the fake dating (because we deserve better) and let’s go after what’s real.

-Anna, 27, Tennessee, US


7 Things to Look For in Someone to Date

I was asked by a single friend of mine, “How do I know if I’m marrying the right person?” More specifically, “What are the signs that I’m making the right decision?”

The greatest advice I can give is this: how a man loves God is the way he will love you. How a woman loves God is how she will love you. If they’re passionate in serving God, they’ll be passionate in serving with and for you. If they’re apathetic, at some point they’ll probably be apathetic in their relationship with you.

There are also verses throughout the bible that tell us who we want to surround ourselves with. I highlighted seven of these verses here to give you an idea of what to look for in someone to date:

 

1. Someone who inspires you to do the right thing


What kind of person should you date? 2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Run from anything that gives you the evil thoughts that young men often have, but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right. Have faith and love, and enjoy the companionship of those who love the Lord and have pure hearts” (TLB). Someone who makes you want to do the right thing, loves the Lord, and has a pure heart before Him. That’s the person you should date.

 

2. Someone who loves God


2 Corinthians 6:14-15 says, Don’t be teamed with those who do not love the Lord, for what do the people of God have in common with the people of sin? How can light live with darkness? And what harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a Christian be a partner with someone who doesn’t believe?” (TLB)

This is reiterated in Amos 3:3 where it says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (NIV). You want to date someone who is going after God, so you can go after Him together.

 

3. Someone whose life matches their beliefs


Don’t date someone who claims to be a Christian, but doesn’t live like it. 1 Corinthians 5:11 tells us, “What I meant was that you are not to keep company with anyone who claims to be a brother Christian but indulges in sexual sins, or is greedy, or is a swindler, or worships idols, or is a drunkard, or abusive. Don’t even eat lunch with such a person” (TLB). If that’s the type of person you’re dating, you might want to rethink that before you go to the altar and say yes.

 

4. Someone who’s patient


Avoid dating people with a bad temper. Proverbs 22:24 says, Keep away from angry, short-tempered men, lest you learn to be like them and endanger your soul” (TLB). Having patience and knowing what to do with anger are both signs of maturity we should probably be looking for when deciding who to date.

 

5. Someone who’s hard-working


Don’t date a lazy Christian. 2 Thessalonians 3:6 tells us,  “Now here is a command, dear brothers, given in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ by his authority: Stay away from any Christian who spends his days in laziness and does not follow the ideal of hard work we set up for you” (TLB). You don’t want someone who is apathetic, but you want someone who is not afraid of hard work.

 

6. Someone who looks good on the inside, not just the outside


Inner beauty does count. In fact, it counts more than outer beauty. 1 Peter 3:4 says, “Be beautiful inside, in your hearts, with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit that is so precious to God” (TLB). Being attracted to the way someone looks is important, but it’s also important to be attracted to who they are as a person as well.

 

7. Someone who encourages and supports you


This has been so pivotal in my marriage and my relationship with my husband. He’s not trying to fit me into a cultural or stereotypical mold. As wives we can support our husbands, as husbands we can support our wives. Philippians 2:2 says, “Make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose” (TLB).

 

So as we close things out, here’s a tidbit of advice for everyone in different seasons:

If you are not in a relationship but want to be, guard your heart and trust the Lord. Be wise as you’re walking into these relationships.

If you’re married and you’ve forgotten the passion that you had for your spouse, I pray that that is ignited and you love your spouse whole-heartedly once again. Reignite that passion. Remember why you were attracted to that person.

Lastly, there are people in relationships that are whack attack. You know you need to end it. If someone’s not going to cherish you, let them go. You are a child of God. You want someone who’s going to lead you, guide you, affirm you, encourage you, pick you up when you’re lazy, remind you of who you are in Christ, and call you out on your trash when needed. That’s what spouses are for.

So brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, let us love well, live well, and lead well not only in dating, but in all seasons of our lives.

 

BIANCA JUAREZ OLTHOFF IS A WRITER, SPEAKER, AND IN LOVE WITH TWO MEN: JESUS AND HER HUSBAND, MATT. BIANCA SPENDS HER WEEK WORKING AS CHIEF STORYTELLER FOR THE A21 CAMPAIGN, AN ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION, AND AS THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR FOR PROPEL WOMEN. SHE LOVES HAVING DANCE PARTIES IN THE LIVING ROOM WITH HER TWO STEP CHILDREN OR COOKING MEALS FOR FRIENDS. 
WEBSITE: BIANCAOLTHOFF.COM
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Human Beings or Human Doings

Have you ever felt like no matter how hard you try to find purpose in your career or work, that you’re still left feeling empty? I’ve noticed that our whole society is struggling with a major identity crisis. Most people don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing with their lives. It’s hard when we go from the pressures of picking a major in college, to choosing the “right” career path, to finding the “perfect” job, and in the end we’re spinning our wheels to find undiscovered meaning.

The underlying message in these decisions is that finding our life purpose and mission is in what we choose to do with our lives. The idea of discovering our calling isn’t a bad one, but the breakdown in truth happens when we define our success by what we do, not who we are.

 

TO BE OR NOT TO BE

In my book, Supernatural Ways of Royalty, I share a story about a long plane ride I took a while back. I sat next to a young college student. I asked him what he wanted to do with his life, and he replied that he wanted to be an attorney. God gave me insight into this young man’s calling, showing me that he would not be a good attorney since his value for relationships was much higher than his value for justice.

I said, “The first time you get into court and have to attack someone’s character to make your case, you’re not going to sleep at night.” He perked up and agreed.

As God gave me more insight about his unique gift mix as he was both creative and organized, I told him he would make an amazing movie director.

He almost jumped out of his seat. “I have always wanted to be a director, and I was the head of my drama class in high school!”

“That’s what you need to do with your life,” I told him. ”You’re the next Steven Spielberg!”

We have to be human beings before we are human doings. When we try to “do” something without first “being” someone, we find ourselves making a living at a job we hate. Or we gain our self worth from what we do. This works when we perform well, but if we fail at something, our self esteem goes down the drain along with our confidence and joy.

 

IDENTITY IS AN IMPARTATION

Identity is not about what we do, but about who we are. How are we answering our heart cries to know this? Is it from the number on our paychecks or the amount of “likes” on our last Facebook post? Perhaps it’s even tied to the success of our children’s lives?

Proper identity comes from the impartation of our heavenly Father speaking to the deepest parts of us, whether it’s through personal encounter with Him or through the people He’s assigned to give oversight to us. My prayer is that we would know that when God looks at us, He sees the image of the Son He loves and delights in. When we understand this, our actions become an expression of who we are instead of the other way around, and it’s amazing how much more we enjoy what we do.

 

 

KRIS VALLOTTON IS THE AUTHOR OF NUMEROUS BOOKS, CO-AUTHOR OF THE BEST SELLING SUPERNATURAL WAYS OF ROYALTY, AND IS A WELL-KNOWN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SPEAKER. KRIS IS THE FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF MORAL REVOLUTION, THE SENIOR ASSOCIATE LEADER OF BETHEL CHURCH, AND THE CO-FOUNDER OF BETHEL SCHOOL OF SUPERNATURAL MINISTRY.  HE AND HIS WIFE, KATHY, HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR 40 YEARS AND RESIDE IN REDDING, CALIFORNIA.  THEY HAVE FOUR GROWN CHILDREN AND EIGHT GRAND CHILDREN.
WEBSITE: KRISVALLOTTON.COM
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/KVMINISTRIES
TWITTER: TWITTER.COM/KVMINISTRIES
INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/KVMINISTRIES

5 Cultural Myths About Relationships

It only takes a couple episodes of popular TV shows to see that what culture says about relationships, sex, and marriage is not the same thing the Bible says. Attraction seems to be the only requirement to jump into bed with someone, but even that’s not always a requirement. The order of things isn’t really important: meet someone, sleep together, move in together… then maybe get married somewhere down the line. Culture presents us with a compelling package, but what does research say? Are the guidelines set up for us in the Bible really that helpful?

Here are 5 cultural myths we found about relationships:

 

1. Living together is a good test-run for marriage.

It may seem like a good idea to “try things out” and move in together before getting married. This is becoming more and more common in our culture. However, studies also show that couples who don’t move in together until they’re married have a higher chance of staying together than those who don’t¹. The beauty of the marriage covenant is that you have the safety of someone who is committed to staying by your side for life, not leaving when things get tough.

 

2. If I get some “practice” with other people beforehand, I’ll have better sex when I’m married.

Usually, practice is a big help. Sports, music, art, and even jobs all take some time and experience to get better. However, practice doesn’t actually help when it comes to sex before marriage. A recent study interviewed a variety of married couples and found that those who waited to have sex until married rated sexual quality 15% higher than those who had sex before marriage². The practice comes in after you’re married. You don’t have to be great at having sex with everyone, you can just get great at having sex with one person: your spouse.

 

3. I need to have sex with my partner before marriage to make sure we’ll be happy together.

Sex is an important part of marriage, but it’s not everything. According to the same study mentioned above, people who waited until marriage to have sex rated their overall satisfaction with their relationships 20% higher than those who didn’t². There are many aspects that add to relationship satisfaction and even sexual compatibility such as trust, history, commitment, etc. The physical act is only a part of something that involves not only your body, but your spirit, soul, and mind as well. All of these things add to a great relationship and a great sex life.

 

4. Community is not that big of a deal.

“It’s us against the world,” makes for a pretty romantic movie line, but it’s not necessarily the best mindset for entering a marriage. Being surrounded by an entire community of family and friends to help guide you, give you wisdom, support you, and walk you through the tougher parts of marriage is a huge help. Studies show that couples who have a lot of friends and family attend their wedding tend to rate the quality of their marriage higher than those with lower numbers³.

 

5. Half of marriages end in divorce.

This statistic became wide-spread in our culture. Although there are many different ways of looking at the divorce rate, most researchers agree that it’s not as simple as the statistic above would lead us to believe. In Shaunti Feldhahn’s book The Good News About Marriage, she tells us that research shows 71% of women are still married to their first spouse, and among those who are not still married are widowed, not divorced4. Her book goes on to share other encouraging statistics about marriage.

 

God knows sex is powerful. He designed it to be that way. He created it to bond two people together in a way that nothing else does. If God is the inventor of sex, marriage, and relationships, then why look to culture for advice on how to do these things well? Why not look to the One who designed it? He’s the Father who cares enough to set boundaries, and loves us enough to gives us a standard. Even as culture and times change from one day to the next, He remains the same.

 

 

(1) Stanley, Scott. “Why Doesn’t Living Together Before Marrying Decrease the Risk of Divorce? | Family Studies.” Family Studies. Institute for Family Studies, 4 Aug. 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://family-studies.org/why-doesnt-living-together-before-marrying-decrease-the-risk-of-divorce/#_ednref1>.
(2) Hendrick, Bill. “Benefits in Delaying Sex Until Marriage.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/news/20101227/theres-benefits-in-delaying-sex-until-marriage?page=2>.
(3)Collins, Lois M. “How Your Premarital Experiences Can Affect Your Future Marriage.” Deseret News National. N.p., 19 Aug. 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2016. <http://national.deseretnews.com/article/2155/how-your-premarital-experiences-can-affect-your-future-marriage.html>.
(4) Feldhahn, Shaunti. The Good News about Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce. Colorado Springs: Multnomah, n.d. Print.

Squad Goals: 7 Tips for Creating Healthy Friendships

Back in kindergarten, things were pretty simple. Whoever was willing to share their crayons and run around the playground with you at recess was your friend. As you get older, things tend to get a little more complicated. Moving to a new city, being away from family, and not being in school can make solid friendships harder to come by. Our team has been getting questions on this topic, so we thought we’d answer them in a blogpost.

Now you might be thinking, “Wait, isn’t this a website about healthy sexuality? Why are we talking about making friends?” Building solid friendships and having community around you is actually part of heathy sexuality. People often think their sex drive is out of control when they’re really just looking for a way to fill their needs for intimacy, comfort, and connection. Sex is one way to meet these needs, but it’s not the only way, and it’s definitely not the best way outside of marriage. Even inside of marriage, it’s important to have friends and community besides your spouse.

So here are seven ways to build healthy friendships:

 

1. Form a genuine interest in people.

Have you ever heard that saying, “No one cares what you know until they know that you care”? It’s true. A lot of times people make the mistake of thinking they need to find a way to make themselves really interesting. Then people will notice and want to form friendships with them. This may have some degree of truth to it, but what quality friendship really takes is forming a genuine interest in other people. Listen to their stories, ask questions, and find ways to relate and form connection.

2. Ask questions.

This was already mentioned, but part of showing an interest in people is asking questions. Asking questions sets people at ease and gives them a topic of conversation they are knowledgeable about- themselves! When you ask questions, you start to uncover things you have in common, which creates connection. C.S. Lewis said it well: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “Wait! You too? I thought I was the only one!”

3. Be in it for what you can give.

If you enter a friendship, or any relationship for that matter, for what you can get out of it, you will probably end up disappointed somewhere along the way. Enter into friendships for what you can give instead. Ask yourself how you can benefit the people around you. How can you love them well?

4. Initiate hang-outs and be patient. 

It’s always nice to have someone else initiate, but sometimes you’ve got to be the one to take this step. Remember when you start to hang out with someone, you don’t have to be BFF’s right off the bat. This might sound silly, but creating friendships can be somewhat like dating. When you’re first getting to know someone, you might not be ready for a 6-hour movie marathon in your sweatpants. You may need to ease into things. Friendships aren’t built overnight, they come from having shared experiences over time. Keep it light, have fun, have good conversations, and soon enough you’ll be saying, “Remember that one time…?”

5. Don’t force it.

Also similar to dating, don’t force a friendship. You may have just moved to a new town and be feeling desperate for friends, but resist the urge to force yourself to be friends with the first three people you meet. Sometimes it just takes a little time before you meet a friend you click with and love to hang out with. Just wait- it’ll happen. The people you surround yourself with are important, which brings us to the next point.

6. Surround yourself with people you want to be like.

Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” We often become like the people we surround ourselves with. Choose to be friends with people you admire and respect. Choose people you wouldn’t mind turning out like. The more time you spend with them, the more you’ll notice their qualities or mannerisms showing up in yourself.

7. Learn to stick by people. 

We live in an age of many options. If we don’t like our church, city, job, phone, or show we’re watching on Netflix, we can just hop on over to the next one. This can happen with friends sometimes as well. Maybe you have a disagreement. Maybe they did something that offended you. The easy option would be to hop on over to the next friend. We want to challenge you to work things out instead. Jesus doesn’t leave us the moment we have a disagreement. We should try following His lead.

 

So whether you love having a lot of friends in your life or just a few really great ones, surrounding yourself with good people is important. At the end of your life, you probably won’t be wishing you’d made more money or focused more on your career. You’ll probably be thinking about the people you spent it with, the people who are important to you. Make time to invest in people and build community. It’s worth it.

 

ANDREA IS A GRADUATE OF THE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY AT BETHEL AND CURRENTLY SERVES ON THE WRITING TEAM FOR MORAL REVOLUTION. SHE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT SEEING THE CHURCH CARRY JOYFUL HOPE AND EXPECTATION IN EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIVES. SHE LONGS TO SEE THE UPCOMING GENERATION EQUIPPED AS STRONG LEADERS WHO STEWARD THEIR LIVES WELL AND INFLUENCE SOCIETY AS A RESULT. 
WEBSITE: ANDREADALLEY.COM 

For Men: Why Sex Starts With the Dishes

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST IS A BLUNT AND HONEST CONVERSATION WITH MEN. IF YOU PREFER THE TOPIC OF SEX TO BE TALKED ABOUT IN DELICATE WAYS THEN YOU SHOULD NOT READ IT. 

 

Let me start by getting a few things out of the way:

No. I don’t recommend having sex while doing the dishes.

No. I don’t think you have to do the dishes in order to have sex.

No. You won’t have more orgasms if you do the dishes (well, maybe).

No. This is not an article about “Every man should bow down and serve his wife in order to get some.”

No. I’m not saying that all women are stay-at-home moms and are expected to do the dishes.

Ok. Now that we’re clear on what I’m not saying, let’s dive into what I mean.

We all know that healthy sex is designed by God for intimacy and connection.

Yes, it feels nice, but God’s purpose for sex goes so much deeper than how your penis feels. If you only want sex because of how it feels physically then you’re selling yourself short. Not only that but more than likely your wife is quietly feeling a great deal of emotional lack… or even worse… she’s feeling obligated to give her body in order to “help” you manage your sex drive. Sex was never meant to be a physical expectation…it’s supposed to be a celebration of your connection.

Genesis 4:1 says, “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD” (American King James Version). 

The word “knew” in other translations says that Adam “had relations” “had sexual relations” and “made love to.”

So the question you have to ask yourself is: What does it mean to “know” your wife?

It starts with an understanding of what she needs and a willingness to respond to those needs in a tangible way. There is nothing in this world that is designed to have more companionship, teamwork, and connection than a healthy thriving marriage. When you are co-existing instead of being on the same team, the core purpose of sex is distorted.

One of the many by-products of sex is that each time strengthens the “team” aspect of your marriage. In essence, it is designed to be a spiritual, physical, and emotional bond. The outcome of that creates a sense of “us against the world”… not in a destructive way, but in a sense of “we are in this thing called life together.” Each time you have sex, it renews your covenant. You are physically and emotionally recommitting to your wife, and saying she is the one and only woman that you will know in that way.

Not only that, but it is one of the purest forms of worship that you can express. It is holy. Do you want to “be a man” in your marriage? Risk inviting Holy Spirit into your bedroom. He sees it anyway, but your willingness to acknowledge His presence amplifies the experience to a place that is hard to put into words.

 

Start doing the dishes

This is why sex starts with the dishes. Well, technically it’s more than just the dishes…. but the dishes are a great practical place to start. It’s common knowledge that action speaks louder than words. When your actions communicate that she is a priority and that you know her needs, it shows that you care enough to intentionally go out of your way to make sure she feels supported in life. It’s the first small step towards “knowing” your wife.

The more you choose to be intentional with those things, the more she will feel pursued by you, which is why you need to see doing the dishes as more than a task to do because it is. It’s the first act of foreplay because sex is primarily an emotional experience for her. Let me explain.

 

Emotional Driver Vs Physical Driver

We all know that an orgasm feels amazing for both men and women. When I say that sex is an emotional experience for your wife, I’m talking about what motivates her to want to rip your clothes off.

For women to want sex and have great orgasms during sex it requires that she feels connected first. This is why it takes longer for women to orgasm than it does men. She won’t go from 0 – 100 just because our penis happens to be hard. She needs to feel safe, relaxed,  undistracted and pursued. Why? Because giving her body to you is the most emotionally intimate thing she can do. When she feels a sense of connection it creates the desire to do that intimate act. She’s allowing you to put your penis inside of her…that’s as vulnerable and intimate as things can get. Which is why foreplay is important during sex and pursuing her throughout the day increases her emotional desire to return and respond to that pursuit.

For us men, it’s the opposite. If she looks at us the right way and starts to kiss our neck then it’s game on. We don’t need the emotional connection first because that comes after we orgasm. When we orgasm it triggers the release of dopamine in the pleasure center of the brain. When this happens you’re overwhelmed with feelings of attraction and excitement, which in turn makes you “fall more in love” with your wife. It’s the emotional high you feel after sex when you can’t name one thing you’ve fought about in the last 10 years. You’re high on love. So sex for us is physical enjoyment first which then creates an emotional connection. For women, it’s emotional first, then physical enjoyment.

 

Help her be fully present

These are just a few pointers for when things start to heat up. As I said before, she needs to feel safe, relaxed and not distracted. Some of that is up to her, but there are several things you can do to help. Here are just a few:

• Take time to talk. Don’t start kissing her and saying sweet nothings right away. That time can create a sense of connection for her.  After all, that’s what she’s looking for.

• Give her a massage. I can’t tell you how many times a massage turned into some of the best sex we’ve ever had. Why? Because it helps her unwind and get in the moment and makes me touch her naked body, which in turn makes for incredible orgasms.

• Make sure you have privacy.  If you have kids, they should be in bed, gone or at least unable to walk in. So lock the door. It will help her be less distracted.

• Make her comfortable. Too hot or too cold can be a major turn off.

• Be clean. If you want her to enjoy your body make it something that smells good.

 

Sex and money

When Danielle and I were going through premarital counseling, I heard a phrase that I’ve never forgotten. Our counselor, who was also Danielle’s grandfather, said “Money is like oxygen. When you have it, you don’t really realize the value, but when you don’t it’s like having someone stepping on your throat. Everything is harder to do when you can’t breathe properly.”

The topic of money could be a post by itself, and most likely will be, but I’m just relating it to sex for now. When finances are tight we all feel more stressed than when things are going well. That’s no surprise, but understand that it’s harder for your wife to disengage from that stress and desire sex. It’s like having white noise in the background that you can’t shut off.

This is just something to be aware of. If you are currently in financial hardship then be understanding to the reality that this could be affecting your wife’s sex drive. The worst thing you could do at this point is to say, “Then I’m going to work 90 hours a week, make a ton of money and enjoy weekly blowjobs.” Doing that will cause your wife to feel emotionally abandoned, which destroys sex faster than almost anything else.

 

Sex is not porn management

To be clear, this point is coming from a guy who struggled with porn for a long time. I was only able to remove it from my life when I was willing to go on a journey of facing the emotions I was trying to block by looking at porn.

Most men use porn to self-medicate pain and avoid the reality of what they’re feeling. Saying things like “I struggle with porn because we never have sex” or “I wouldn’t be tempted to look at porn if she would put out more” is cowardly and manipulative. If you have a porn addiction don’t use your wife as a scapegoat or cheapen God’s design for intimacy. Instead, try to find out why you need a false sense of intimacy to be able to cope in life. A good first step is becoming more self-aware and begin to identify the real reasons you struggle.

 

The Challenge

Take time to identify ways to pursue your wife this week. Don’t take the easy route and start doing the dishes looking for sex. Dig deeper and find what makes your wife feel like you’re on the same team in life. Then begin integrating those small things on a regular basis. Over time, she will feel more loved and want to reciprocate that.

P.S. Don’t expect an immediate change. Consider it an exercise in delayed gratification. Over time the payoff is more than worth the effort you put in.

 

JOSH CEARBAUGH IS A LIFE CONSULTANT WITH A UNIQUE ABILITY TO LEAD PEOPLE THROUGH TRANSFORMATION. THROUGH A COMBINATION OF CONSULTING TECHNIQUES, HE HELPS INDIVIDUALS TO IDENTIFY, AND THEN DISMANTLE, THE CRIPPLING CYCLES WHERE THE MAJORITY OF US FIND OURSELVES STUCK. HE HAS A PASSION FOR CONNECTING PEOPLE TO THEIR HEART AND HELPING THEM CREATE PRACTICAL STRATEGIES TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES. MOST RECENTLY, JOSH’S CONSULTING PRACTICE HAS BEEN LOCATED IN REDDING, CA
HE MET DANIELLE, HIS WIFE OF EIGHT YEARS, IN MOZAMBIQUE WHILE ATTENDING IRIS HARVEST SCHOOL. THEY CURRENTLY HAVE TWO BOYS AND ONE BEAUTIFUL BABY GIRL. 
WEBSITE: JOSHCEARBAUGH.COM 
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/JOSHCEARBAUGH

Why You’re Still Single

“You’re kind of quiet. I wouldn’t say you’re a very loud or outgoing person. Maybe that’s it.”

I had accidentally walked into some unsolicited advice as to why I might still be single. After watching a myriad of my friends walk down the aisle before the age of twenty-three, I started to think I was missing something as well. There had to be some reason, something that I could fix and then men would just start lining up to ask me on dates. If I could just figure out what it was…

I started to do some research. Anytime I met someone married or in a relationship, I would ask questions. “How did you meet? Did you like each other right away? Were you dating a lot of people at the time?” I started collecting stories, waiting to find that thing that each person had to arrive at before they could cross the line into being marriage material.

Guess what I found out. Nothing. There was no magical thing. Of course there were some things that helped, but there was no one requirement that all of them met before getting married. Sure, some of them had a lot of things in their life together, but some of them didn’t. Some of my friends had never even been asked out on a date, and then one day someone asked, and then later they married him. Some of my friends had gone on lots of dates, and they were still single. Some of my friends couldn’t flirt to save their lives, and they still ended up married. Some of my friends were so good at flirting, it was actually amazing to watch, but they still didn’t have boyfriends.

The other thing I found out from hanging out with a lot of other singles, is that I wasn’t the only one trying to figure out why I was still unattached. “I think it’s because I’m too short… maybe I’m too curvy. What if I’m just too tall? Maybe it’s where I’m from or because of my past. Is it because I post a lot of pictures of my dog on social media? Maybe it’s because I laugh at my own jokes.

I tried a lot of things myself. I tried giving up dating for a time on purpose. I also unintentionally gave up dating for a while as a result of no one asking me on a date. I tried talking to a lot of guys. I tried not talking to any of them. I tried not looking, because people told me once I stopped looking I would find someone…

I’ve found a lot of things that haven’t proven to be true, but here’s what I do know is true:

God is not limited by any of the things listed above. He’s not finding it impossible to find someone because I don’t go to enough parties or I’m not loud enough. I’m not going to go down the road of self-criticism hoping that one day I’ll become good enough for someone. I’m not going to change my personality to get married. I’d be cheating myself, and I’d be cheating the person I marry. 

The truth is God could find me a spouse tomorrow. He could bring me someone out of nowhere. This is the most beautiful and frustrating thing in the world. I’ve definitely prayed my fair share of prayers about it.

Then there’s my list of single friends. What about them? What about all the ones who have waited and prayed and fasted and waited and prayed? I’ve prayed for them, talked to them, bought them ice cream and dried their tears, but I’ll be honest, I don’t have a good answer for them. I don’t know why God hasn’t brought them a spouse yet.

I do know that some people pray and don’t get healed, but it doesn’t mean God’s not the Healer (Exodus 15:26b).

I do know people following God who lose jobs or lose money, but it doesn’t mean God’s not the Provider (Genesis 22:14).

We can’t decide Who He is based on our circumstances. We have to decide who He is based on what He says about Himself in His Word. The Word says He’s the Lifter of our heads (Psalm 3:3). The Word says He withholds no good thing from us (Psalm 84:11). The Word says if we delight ourselves in Him, He’ll give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).

So I’m going to venture to say, if you’re single, maybe it’s not because you’re broken. I mean it could be, but maybe it’s not. If you’re single, maybe it’s not because you haven’t embraced your life enough. What if, just maybe, it’s not because you’re doing anything wrong? 


“We have to decide Who He is based on what He says about Himself in His Word.”


It might be timing or circumstances or something else, but regardless, this is where faith comes in. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Faith isn’t when you have the perfect boyfriend or a line of great guys who want to buy you dinner. Faith is when you’ve been a bridesmaid thirteen times, you haven’t been asked out on a date in five years, the only one texting you is your mom, but you refuse to give up.

Faith isn’t when the woman of your dreams just said yes when you asked to marry her, and all the things you’ve desired are finally becoming reality. Faith is when your fiancé just broke off your engagement and you have to pick up the pieces of your life and start to build again. That’s when you need faith. That’s when you need the substance of things you’ve been hoping for for years, and the evidence to support the promises of God you can’t yet see.

So if you’re wondering why you’re still single, I don’t actually have an answer for you. All I know is, God offers peace without understanding. God offers comfort and strength in the middle of the struggle and the journey, not just at the end. God offers hope that the things that look out of reach, are actually more possible than we think.

-Andrea Alley

ANDREA IS A GRADUATE OF THE SCHOOL OF MINISTRY AT BETHEL AND CURRENTLY SERVES ON THE WRITING TEAM FOR MORAL REVOLUTION. SHE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT SEEING THE CHURCH CARRY JOYFUL HOPE AND EXPECTATION IN EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIVES. SHE LONGS TO SEE THE UPCOMING GENERATION EQUIPPED AS STRONG LEADERS WHO STEWARD THEIR LIVES WELL AND INFLUENCE SOCIETY AS A RESULT. 
WEBSITE: ANDREADALLEY.COM 

 

For more blogs like this one, check out: 

The Redemption of Men

Creating Healthy Expectations

10 Ways to Not Hate Being Single