Sermón 4 de junio 2011: Before there’s a we, there’s a me (part 1)
The theme for today is “Before there’s a we, there’s a me.” And even if you are already a we, you are still a me. And sometimes we worry so much about the we, we, we, that we forget about me, me, me. So, today whether you’re single, engaged, married, whatever you are, it’s God’s will that we leave this place determined that we’re going to take care of the me, because if we don’t nobody else is going to do it, not your friends, not your husband, not your children, not your next-door neighbor, not your supervisor at work, it has to be you taking care of your me.
Okay? So, before you sit just tell two of you ladies “Today, I’m going to take care of me. Today it’s all about me. When I leave here today, I am determined to take care of me. From this moment on it’s going to be me, me, me, because this is what God wants me to do.” Amen.
So, you can sit down, or if you want to stand up, that’s okay by me. You know, I worked in the New York city public school system for 33 years, and sometime I had to teach with children sitting down, children standing up, children running around, children talking, chewing gum, talking back to the teacher, so once you get used to that, the you can minister in any capacity. If you could do it on the Bronx you can do it anywhere. Amen. If you could do it at Boston I’m sure you could do it anywhere.
Now, I want to talk a little bit about the world’s view of singleness. Singleness is still an issue. Some people have trouble with people who are single. If you look at the television programs the majority of them, are people in relationships finding love. You have the bachelor and the bachelorette, Harry meets Suzy, Mr and Mrs. Jones, so it’s all about people being in relationships. Books deal with the singles, What women really want?
Now, who knows what you really want except you? but the world has all these ideas about singleness. Even a very famous singer, how many of you know Beyonce? Now, you know that one of her most popular songs is entitled, “All the single ladies” and the whole song, what is she saying? All the single ladies, all the single ladies, all the…I don’t have Beyoncé’s body, but you [inaudible] Beyoncé. So the whole song, oh, there’s a brother up there, excuse me, brother. Look that way. So her whole song is all the single ladies, all the single ladies, all single ladies, now put your hands up, Oh, oh, oh, oh. And then what does she say? Because if you really liked it, you would have put a ring on it.
So, it’s all about being in relationship. So, there’s something wrong with single ladies then. And that’s sort of the world’s view that’s we’re in. we’re surrounded by television, movies, books, songs.
I want to share a little of my experience with you. I’ve been a single a long time. I’ve been in relationships. I’ve been engaged. I loved to get married. Somehow God always closed that door right at the last minute. So, often times, but not today because today is a single conference, so these needed to happen, but a lot of the places that I go to minister into, when people introduce me what they say is this: Today we have Reverend Lilian Gutierrez, she’s from a church from the Bronx called Love gospel assembly. She teaches in the Bible school, she’s a retired teacher, educator from New York city, she teaches the word of God and she’s single.
Now, I’m going to ask you three questions. Number one, why did the person have to do that? Just for a minute, think about it, why did they have to do that? Because it’s not even thrown as part of the package, it’s not like she’s Lily Gutierrez, and she’s a single and… No, it’s always at the very end. So why do they have to do that? Why do people do that?
Maybe they’re uncomfortable with the fact that I’m a single woman. Maybe they’re curious, maybe they disapprove of the fact that I’m a single woman. Then there’s the second question, what happens to the audience when the person introduces me that way? They become curious, they must ask, what’s wrong with her? And these days, you know the big question, is she gay?
As a matter of fact, after one service a pastor pulled me to the side, and he said, pastor Lily, can I ask you a personal question? I said, sure, and he said, do you like men? And I said, no, pastor, I don’t. I love them. As a matter of fact, I love them too much but that’s my problem. But that’s a question people have.
So, here’s the third question. What do I have to do when I’m introduced that way? I have to address that statement. Sometimes I’ll use sense of humor and I say, “No, I’m single but I’m still looking, honey. Single but without commitment.” You know, I’m not married yet, but there’s still hope, honey. So, I have to do that so people can forget about that statement and I can minister de word of God. This still happens in 2011. So people have issues in the church and out the church with people who are single.
But I want to look at what God has to say about singleness. So, if you would turn with me to First Corinthians 7, and we’re going to look at verses 1 and 2 and then verses 7 through 9.
There was a problem in the Corinthian church with people who were single. So Paul had to address that problem, so if you’re there you could just say, “All the single ladies, all the single ladies, oh, oh,” I mean I’m sorry, just say, praise the Lord, thank you Jesus. First Corinthian, 7, verses 1 and 2 and then we’ll skip down to 7 and 9. Are we done? you have to have a sense of humor.
When I first became a Christian I thought being a Christian woman I had to be so serious, I thought I couldn’t smile, I couldn’t tell a joke, it was killing me. Because my natural personality is sort of a happy go lucky, I’m the happy type, I like being optimistic, I like to be up. I was always the one at a party saying, “Put the music up, come on.” So then I realized that God himself has a sense of humor and Scripture says that God laughs. I’m sure he laughs at me all the time, and Scripture also says that a cheerful heart is medicine to the bones.
You know, we even scientists, even psychologist are finding that out. When you laugh as a matter of fact, even when you smile, the brain releases a certain chemicals that travel to your organs and especially your heart and strengthen them. So, we need to learn how to laugh especially this world we’re living in.
okay, so look at what Paul had to say about singleness. Again, there was a problem in the church with singleness. Paul says this:
“… Now, concerning the things whereof you wrote onto me… ─ and that’s what they wrote to him about, there were problems in the church with people who were single, people who were not getting married, and Paul says ─… It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication that every man has his own wife and let every woman have her own husband…”
Skipping down to verse 7: “… For I would that all men were even as I am myself, but every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and the widows, it is good for them if they are as I am. But if they cannot contain let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn…”
I’m tempted to say, burn baby, burn. It is better to marry than to burn. If you want to get married, you get married. And you know what? Marriage is always the possibility. It doesn’t matter how old you are.
I don’t know if I shared with you last year but I had an uncle that worked in a nursing home, his name was Al, and at night, he used to work the night shift, and sometimes he’d be reading the newspaper at 2 o’clock in the morning, and he would hear somebody call out, “Al, Al.” So, he would leave his desk and go into Mrs. Smith room. Mrs. Smith was 95, in her bed was Mr. Jones who was 92, but after Mr. Jones finished doing oopi, oopi, he couldn’t stand up and walk back to his bed. So my uncle Al had to pick him up and put him back in his own bed.
And he used to tell us, “Sometimes a couple of months would by and then one morning at 2 o’ clock in the morning as he was reading the newspaper, there was that little voice again, “Al, Al.” The point is this, you’re never too old to fall in love. You’re never too old to get married. You’re never too old to get into a relationship.
I met a female pastor actually who got married at the age of 82. She married a younger man. He was 79, and you know what? She continued pastoring till she was in her nineties. So it’s not too late, my sisters. But until we get onto the we, and even if we never get to the we, or we get to the we later on in life, there is still a me that I must take care of.
So Paul says, “… It is good to remain single…”
And the word he used for good, in the Greek is the word kalon and it means ‘worthy, acceptable, pleasant, optional, dignified.” So what Paul was saying to those of the church who were single, to those of the church who wanted to remain single, it is acceptable, it is preferable, it is their option, it is pleasant and it’s dignified. They are not better or worse than the married folks.
So, as a single person we are not second class citizens. We are not less than the folks who are married, have families and husbands, etc. etc. so, we’re going to take care of the me, and dignify the me, and know that the me is important to God. And as a matter of fact, the me has the best husband that me could ever find, and his name is Jesus Christ.
You know, I think about the book of Solomon of songs. There are a lot of interpretations about that book. It’s about love and relationship. Some people don’t like to touch that book because it talks about sucking of the breasts. But there’s a lot of symbolism there, and one interpretation of that book is that Solomon took the Sunamite woman against her wishes because she had a lover, she had a boyfriend, she had somebody she loved, but the king wanted her so he took her to the palace and she cried and she suffered missing her lover.
But I think it’s in chapter 2 that the Lord spoke to her and said this: “…I saw you when you were sitting in the living room crying, I took my finger, I moved the curtain to the side, and I saw you crying, and this is what I have to say: Come on with me my darling because I love you with an everlasting love. So even if your boyfriend is not there, you’re there against your wishes, know that I’m right there with you and I’m the best lover you could ever have. Even king Solomon, who had a thousand women, all shapes, all sizes, all background, his conclusion in life was this: after all these women, your kisses Lord, are better than wine. Because the women kissed him to see what they can get, but the Lord kissed him to give him what he needed. And so the best kiss you could ever get is the kiss that the Lord will give you, the best hug you could ever get is the hug that the Lord can give you. the best one you can go to bed with at night is the Lord Jesus Christ.
You know, I go to bed at night one of the last things I say “Good night, Jesus.” And when I wake up in the morning one of the first things I say, “Good morning, Lord, it’s been a good night with you. Thanks for getting me up this morning.”
If you look at Scripture there were singles in Scripture, Old Testament and New. The Apostle Paul himself, scholars still don’t know if he was ever married or divorced or always single. The point is he remained a single whether he had been married previously or not. Jeremiah was single, Daniel was single, Exequias was single, Josea was single, Mary and Martha were single women. So there were a lot of biblical examples of a single life and it’s something that we need to accept, dignify it and live it to the fullest.
Harold Smith who works in single ministries wrote a book called “Positively single” and in this book he identifies four categories or four ways of thinking that some of us could fall into if we’re not careful, especially because of the environment that we’re in.
The first one he mentions he calls it arc thinking. Why arc? What does the arc symbolize? Family. Some people, some singles in the church and out of the church, their mind is stuck on arc, family. I have to get married, I have to have children, I have to have a home, I have to do it and it’s that arc… and some of from the time you’re born especially certain cultures, especially our Latino culture, sometimes mother called the girls ‘mamita’ and they call their little boys ‘papito’, so maybe it’s a cultural thing but unconsciously from the moment the child is born, what you’re putting into their conscience and sub conscience, mamita, mamita, mamita, mother, mother, mother, papito, papito, papito, father, father. So, it’s within the person and it’s a hard thing to shake off sometimes. And the society feeds it, your family feeds it. I still have family that say, “Well, so, you need to get married. You’re getting old. You’re not going to be able to manage your husband. You better hurry up.”
So, I still deal with that. And as I said, even the churches and the church world still have to deal with that. But they say, we have to shake that off because whether I’m part of a family or I’m not, I am still important enough to God, that I have to dignify my me. So, whether I end up in an arc or not, I’m still a dignified woman, I am a single of God and I’m not missing anything. Amen.
After all Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom and its righteousness and all these things will be added onto thee.” And if God has somebody for you, my sisters, God’s going to sent that person when you least expect it.
I had a friend who was always looking for her husband, so every time she went to church she said, well, I have to get dressed up because tonight might be the night. And she went to every single function that she was invited to, single cruises, single fellowships, single morning breakfasts and nothing ever happened. one Saturday morning she was in her bathrobe, she had rollers in her hair, and she was sweeping the front of her house, and a car stopped and the gentleman looked and said, “Can you help me? I need directions on how to get to this address.” To make a long story short, that was her husband.
The day she had no make-up, roller in her hair, a bath robe, old slippers and she was sweeping the front of her house, and that’s the day the Lord sent her husband. He got to see the real her. So, when she put make-up on he said, “Wow, you’re gorgeous!”
So we need to avoid this arc thinking. My sisters, get out of the arc this morning. Let the arc go down the river and you’ll be a dignified single woman of God.
The second system that he mentions, he calls ash thinking. Why ash? What does ash represent or symbolize? Mourning, regrets, guilt, living in the past, that pain that I should have done this, or I should have done that, or I should have never got involved with that one, or I should have never married this one, or I should have never divorced the other one. And some people live their whole life in ashes, always living in the past. That is such bondage.
Because the word of God says, “Him who the son sets free is free indeed.” Meaning that when Jesus sets you free, he sets you free completely. So your past is behind you.
Paul told the Philippians’ church, “I’m not even where I should be at, I’m not perfect yet, but there’s one thing I’m determined to do, forgetting everything behind and strive for what God has ahead of me.”
So, forget about your ex boyfriend, forget about the one who abused you and used you, forget about your father that maybe abused you sexually, because all of these things are bondages that keep us tied to the past. We’re not called to be victims but victors over the victimization that we suffered.
And you know what the truth is? In one way or another, all of us have been victims, all of us have people say things they should have never said, we’ve had people do things they to us they should have never done, maybe your mother didn’t kiss you enough, maybe your father left your mother when you were a child, maybe that frog you kissed never turned into a prince. Forget the past. We’re living in a new day, and the blood of Christ has the power to transform, has the power to erase every single past mistake you ever made, everything that was ever said and done to you, and God wants us to live the present and look towards tomorrow.
So remove the ashes. Isaiah said, “He’ll give you a garment of praise instead of ashes of mourning.” It’s time to stop mourning and walk in the joy of God, and know that in Christ I am a whole woman, I’m a dignified woman, I’m a woman who has honor and deserves respect. It doesn’t matter where I’ve been, what matters is where I’m standing today and where God is taking me tomorrow. So, let go of the past, forget all the memories as God is doing something new.
The third way of thinking he calls ape thinking. Why ape? What do apes love to do? They love imitating and copying others. So that gives us a spirit of competition because if so and so was involved, or so and so got married, then I have to do it. And we strive to be like everybody else. We should not strive to be about but who God wants us to be.
You know, they did a survey of young Christian men and women and the question was, if you could be about else, who would you want to be? You know what the surprising result is? Most of them chose to be movie stars, celebrities, politicians. They wanted to be Oprah. They wanted to be Jane Fonda, Clint Eastwood, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, well I don’t mind Denzel Washington.
I can understand that. And you know who a lot of the single women… and this is a statement about the single women and the churches. You know who a lot of the single women want to be, the young single ladies want to be? They want to be Lady Gaga. Now, that’s a sad statement. These are your daughters, your nieces, your grand-daughters, the young ladies in church, this was done with Christian singles, I’m not talking about worldly young people. They want to be Lady Gaga, who comes out in bras and panties and her dress is made out of meat, and this is who people want to imitate, people want to be like her.
Ephesians says, in chapter 5, “Be imitators of God himself. Do not imitate men, imitate God himself.”
Paul told the believers “Follow me as I follow Christ. The day I stop following Christ don’t follow me any more.”
And the best raw model we have is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. If there’s anybody I want to be like, is not Oprah, it’s not Lady Gaga, it’s not Hillary Clinton, it’s not even my mother and I love my mother, I want to be like the Lord Jesus Christ because that’s the ultimate raw model. So, strive to be like Jesus.
The last section he calls Ask thinking, and ask why? More, more, more. Our culture feeds into what? Selfishness, being greedy, I want more, I want more, I want a bigger house, I want a bigger car, I want more expensive shoes, I want a Coach bag, I want Manolo’s shoes, I want to shop in Anne Klein, I only shop in Anne Taylor. So it’s like more, more, I want more, give me this, give me that, and sometimes you look at your husband or your boyfriend and you might even say one day, “I want a better man. I want a better looking husband. I want a richer husband”, because this is the thinking that we’ve got into.
Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever state I’m in, whether I have a lot or little, whether I’m feeling well or feeling sick, whether I have a lot of friends or not, I am content in the state I’m in, because my satisfaction is in Christ Jesus.”
You know, during the 60s, 70s, I was a hippie, so I went to all the rock concerts, and one of my favorite groups, and are still alive, by the way, you know, the Rolling Stones. I used to think that Mick Jagger was the sexiest man alive, because I liked his big lips. But one of the songs that Mick Jagger sang that he’s still singing, he’s in his late 60s, he all wrinkled up, but he’s still singing the same song, and the song is this “I can’t get no satisfaction”, I tried, I tried and I tried but I can’t get no satisfaction.
Why? He tried drugs. He tried alcohol, he’s tried women, he’s tried men, he’s tried fame, he’s tried mansions, he’s tried everything the world has to offer, and he’s still singing I can’t get no satisfaction. Why? Because has not found Christ Jesus.
This is what Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well. Remember when he told her, “Go and get your husband” and she said, “I have no husband.” And he said, “You’re telling me the truth now because you’ve had all those men and you’re still dissatisfied. You’ve had five husbands, you’re chucking with number six, but here I have something to tell you today, number 7 is on the scene and number 7 is the number of perfection.”
In other words, what Jesus was saying to that woman, everything you looked for in 6 men, that you haven’t found yet, you’re going to find today in me, because I’m the only one who can satisfy your needs. Only Jesus can satisfy your soul. So, no matter what you’re looking for, bigger house, bigger shoes, bigger pocket, you’ll never find true satisfaction outside of Jesus Christ.
And we have to come to that realization, that how we won’t be frustrated, trying to fill with this, that and the other rather than minister to the me. A little while ago we sang that beautiful worship song, Jesus coming right into your very spirit, living in you.
You know, I don’t know about you, but when I think that the God of the universe lives in me, a hard core sinner, it blows my mind that God could take time out for me, someone who didn’t want to know about God.
Most of you know my testimony, I laughed about the things of God. I told my mother that Jesus stuff is for people who are ignorant, people that have nothing else to do but sit in the church, but there was my mother one day, you’re going to meet that Jesus. At low I laughed and ran away and did all kinds of things, I lived in Europe, I was a hippie, I went cross country to California, you name it, decided to buy a liquor store to make money, but one day I bowed my knees to Jesus Christ and that’s the day that my soul was satisfied. It’s going to be 30 years, I have no regrets, I gave it all away, let go everything, the liquor store, the money, the rich boyfriend, good Lord, anyway I gave it all away and I have not regretted it since because Jesus gave me, no man could ever give me. No liquor, no party, no drugs, nothing.
So, when I ask, I ask for more of him. That’s the only thing I still want more of, more and more of Jesus. I want more of him. Amen.
So, we have to come out of those systems of thinking and I know it’s kind of hard, because I remember when I was still teaching, you know sometimes in the lunch room the teachers would sit there and everybody talked be able to the date they went on, and the guy they just met on the internet, and somebody that’s chatting with them and somebody they met from Facebook.
As a matter of fact, this morning when I was getting ready I put the news on and see in Boston there’s a special group for singles of Boston. It’s called the Events and adventures … A friend of mine… no, wait, wait, a friend of mine is on there… Okay. wait a minute. Okay, moving on. And it’s all about come together with the 25.000 singles that are on there, so it says call the number you can join single activities all over Boston. You can go boating, and go to dinner, and go to dancing, and this is what we’re surrounded with.
So, I know that it’s difficult because I’ve been there but God will give you the strength to do it, to stay in your course and not be sucked into these patterns of thinking. So you won’t live in frustration and disappointments.
One time, way back, somebody fixed me up on a blind date and she said, “Oh, this guy is so…” You know, because beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. So she said, “This guy is so good looking, he looks like Enrique Iglesias.” So, I said, guau, she said, “Oh, yes, he has money, a good job, he has a condo, he has a nice car, he loves going to dinner at nice restaurants.” Okay, so I agreed to go and I wasn’t a Christian, by the way, at the time, so he came to the house and he came with a bottle of champagne. As soon as I opened that door I said, “He is no Enrique Iglesias.” But I said, okay, now I’m stuck so I have to go through this date. But he came and he said, “Oh, let me open the bottle of champagne and we’ll have a glass of champagne before we go out.”
So, he opened the bottle of champagne, but I guess he had shaken the bag too much when he came upstairs, so when he popped the cork the champagne blew all over the place and it went all over his hair. So I ran and got a tissue to dry his hair. It was a tupé. It started moving and I screamed and not only that, but then the lid from the paper towel or tissue was stuck all over… it was a cheap tupé, so it was stuck all over the tupé. I had to go out with a guy with a tupé that had white pieces of tissue on it. it was the worse date of my life. It was the last blind date I ever went on.
And we don’t have to put ourselves through that, because I’m a dignified woman. Paul said, “It’s good to stay single.” If you’re single it is a good thing, it’s a pleasant thing, it’s a dignified thing, it’s a worthy thing, it’s honorable to the eyes of the Lord to be a single person.
Now, one thing we do have to … when I said feeding the me, so that I can be balanced, so I don’t let myself get frustrated, or anxious, or depressed, there are certain needs that we all have as human beings, be it single, divorced, married, old, young, male, female, doesn’t matter your status, your gender, your age, we all have basic human needs.
Abraham Maslow, who was a behavioral psychologist, identified needs that we all have and his focus was that if we don’t satisfy these needs and we don’t develop the person, we don’t build up the me, this is what we feel lacking, or we feel less that the people, or frustrated, or anxious.
The first need he identifies that we all have are physiological needs, physical needs. What is that? That’s the need for clothes, for food, for a house, for resting, taking care of your body. And as single people sometimes we neglect some of those areas of our lives and so we become unbalanced. But we need to focus on who and what we are and meeting our own physical needs. And how do we fulfill it? Getting a job, being independent, being self sufficient, having your own home, your own apartment, taking care of yourself, eating well.
You know, foods have a lot to do with our emotions. Certain foods that we eat make us emotionally unbalanced. So, a healthy type of diet, and I don’t always follow it, I love the cookies and the sweets, and the ice cream and all that, but once I get that sugar rush, I’m in trouble. That’s why we need to watch what we eat because it affects the emotional person. It affects your sleep and you know lack of sleep is very, very unhealthy for you, because when we’re not emotionally strong, this when the world really attracts us, this is when the devil knows that we’re at a weak point, and he starts putting faults in our head. You know, when you start saying, “Oh, my God, you’re 42 and still single. Look at all the wrinkles in the mirror. Look your stomach how it’s hanging. Look at your breasts how they hang and you need a tighter bra.” And we start entertaining all these things and it makes a very unhealthy life. So, we have to take care of these needs so we can be balanced.
Another area he mentions, he calls safety needs. And that means having a safe environment, protection from harm, from danger, from sickness, be it at home, be it at work. And how do we fulfill that? And this is an area where lot of us who are single are really at fault. We have to make sure that we have a support system, a family, and friends, and neighbors, and co workers, people of the church, singles and non singles, so we feel safe.
I have my own home and when I travel like this, or I go away for the weekend or I leave for a few more days, I have the neighbor that has my house keys, I trust enough to give it, by the way, you have to trust a person, know who the person is, but she opens my mail box, she picks up garbage in front of my property, she does a lot of favor so that gives me a safety factor. I don’t have to worry about my house while I’m away. I make sure to set up the security system for myself. And this is what we need to do.
We need to have health insurance. We need to know that if we need to go to a doctor, we can go to a doctor. And if there’s an emergency you need to have a few numbers of people you can call, be it family or friends because when you don’t have this and something happens, then you start with the “Look at this, it’s because I’m single. I don’t have anybody. If only I had a husband, if only I had children, if only I had family, if only I was in the arc…” And so we start feeling sorry for ourselves, rather than consciously set up a safety environment, and building up the me I need to make sure that I’m protected.
Another area he identifies, and this afternoon we’ll do a little more of this section, he calls love and belonging needs. We all need relationships, we all need companionship, we all need love. We’re created that way and the two areas that he identifies that build up the love and belonging, one area is companionship. The worst thing to do as a single person is to spend too much time alone, because that’s when you really get anxious and frustrated and depressed and by the way, Christians do suffer from depression. I know years ago you couldn’t say that in church. People thought, “Oh, no a Christian could never be depressed.”
Well, we’re not robots, we’re just as human as everybody else. And if we don’t take care of ourselves we can fall into a depression, especially my sisters, those of you who are in the middle age category. I know a lot are very young, as I said, I was always a happy, cheerful type of person, as soon as I hit menopause, soon as my estrogen is going up and down, I found myself crying for any little thing. I was never like that. I found myself getting depressed, anything I heard made me depressed, so I had to really fight with myself to shake off my depression and sadness. And we go through these stages of life, so the more you sit by yourself and contemplate who and what you are and what’s happening and not happening, and the worse off you’ll be.
So you need to have a circle of friends, you know there is an outer circle of friends, people that you go out to dinner with, people that you talk to at your job, your neighbors, but then you should also have an inner circle of friends. These are the people that you can really share some intimate things with. And remember there are some things that you really can’t share with anybody except the Lord, because not everybody can handle everything.
You know, when couples come to me for counseling, sometimes I have to say to the husband or the wife, “You better pray because you might not be able to share that.” Not everybody can accept everything. It’s hard for a man to marry a woman that’s gone through multiple rapes. It’s hard, it’s hard. It’s hard for a woman to also go out with a man who was also subject to rape. There are certain things that are hard to share. So we have to in pray carefully share things with certain people only.
There was a sister who was giving her testimony in a church. Her husband was sitting in the congregation, she had been unfaithful to her husband. Her husband knew she had been unfaithful, but in her testimony she said “I cheated on my husband so many times, I even went to bed with his own cousin, in our own bed.” Her husband did not know that, he found that out sitting in the church, so he got up and he walked out and divorced her.
So, we have to be cautious in this desire to belong to somebody, to love somebody and be loved. We have to be careful how much we share at certain times and certain ways. I’m going to talk about communication later on this afternoon.
And then, in addition to companionship he talks about love and romance. Everybody wants love and romance. Everybody wants to fall in love. Everybody wants to have a romantic relationship. It’s a natural thing, it’s a good thing, our culture feeds into that and church feeds into that in certain way.
Remember the TVs, the movies and the books, and the stories, and the songs, but as single people we have to be to very careful with love and romance. And there are certain things that we need to protect building up the me.
The first thing we need to protect I’m going to call the eye gate. You know, this is like a gate, the gate opens to let things in and closes not to let things in. we have to protect the eye gate, meaning we have to protect what we look at or what we watch. There are certain television programs that I will not watch because sometimes the whole sexual environment in those shows is a little too much for me.
Years ago in the Spanish novelas people would kiss and hug but it was kind of within a context. But lately, and because my parents are elderly and they couldn’t get up to church and go out too much they started watching some of these novelas. So sometimes when I went to visit them they had some of these novelas on. Guau! Some of the scenes were too passionate. My father was on a wheelchair, my father died in February, but my father was in a wheelchair, he had a stroke, he had Parkinson’s, he couldn’t move very much, but certain scenes of those novelas, I saw my father’s wheelchair move a little sometimes. And I said, “Papi, you shouldn’t be watching that. The Lord doesn’t like that.” He said, “Bendito, he knows I can’t do anything. Can I at least watch a little bit of it?” so I said, “It’s not good for you, it’s not healthy.”
My sisters, it’s not healthy. Certain movies are not healthy. Certain shows are not healthy. Certain books are not healthy to read. Certain magazines are not good to look at, because when you open that eye gate and you let all those messages come in, all of a sudden you’re going to hear ding, ding, ding. Okay? It’s dangerous.
Another thing we have to protect is what I call the ear gate, the things we listen to, especially music. There are certain songs that I don’t like to listen to because they bring back a whole lot of memories. One song that I cannot listen to is “Hello, is it me you’re waiting for?” Lionel Richie, I cannot hear Hello, because that music wakes everything up. I cannot listen to “Voulé vous couché avec moi ce soir”, I cannot listen to that because it just brings things back. I cannot listen to “Métele gasoline, métele gasoline” I cannot listen to those songs because they bring back lots of memories and they wake everything up. Everything that I thought was asleep wakes up when I hear that music.
So, I have to protect myself. So, even if I’m in the car I’m better off listening to worship music because when I start listening to some of those old songs, “Me and Mrs. Jones, we got a thing going on…” not good. So in order to protect myself and build my me, to be a healthy me single woman, I have to stay away from certain kinds of music. “This egg doesn’t need salt…” but I’m not going to go there, okay.
You also have to protect, believe or not, you have to protect your nose gate, because you know that fragrances arouse your sensuality. That’s why they have a whole system now of aromatherapy, because some of the aromas wake up certain things.
You know, sometimes I’ve been sitting in a church and brother potato walks by in front of me and he’s wearing Armani cologne and you know, these companies, by the way, these companies’ perfumeries they purposely use certain chemicals in their fragrances because they do arouse passion, sensuality. So sometimes somebody walks pass me, I might be worshipping the Lord, but when the person walks by and I “Oh, my God, the brother smelt so good.”
Remember years ago they used to use musk because they found that the deer when they smell the musk they go onto he and they were trying to do that with human beings. And I’m making a joke but it’s true, we have to be careful with what we smelt.
You know at night, one of the things is that night is lavender; you know they use a lot of lavender, because lavender also has the power to arise certain sensual desires. So, be careful what you use when you go to bed at night because you’ll start smelling it and you feel, you’ll start din, din, din.
The other thing you have to protect, in addition to the eye gate and the ear gate and the nose gate, is touch. We were all made to touch. We need to be touched. We need to touch people, we need to be touched. I love touching people because I’m a touchy person, I’m a kissy…, I like kissing. In my family we kiss 20 times hello and 20 times goodbye, Porto Rican hello, Porto Rican goodbye. So, this is the way I was raised and in my culture and as a single woman, and especially as a pastor, and I’m in a big church just like you are, so lot of the brothers come and hug me, but what my old pastor taught me, as a single woman when you’re going to hug somebody give a side hug, don’t give a front hug. So I learned that there’s a lot of truth to that. It’s a little safer to hug somebody from the side than to give a front hug.
And these days, my sisters, it’s not even just with the brothers, there are certain sisters that you better not give a front hug to. So, we need to protect ourselves, okay? Because we’re dealing with the me, we’re dealing with reality, that’s how we were created. We were created with sensual desires and they’re very good within the context of marriage, between a man and a woman. That’s how God created it and that’s how God likes it.
And you know what else? The mouth gate, kissing. Kissing is very, very dangerous. And I know when young couples come for counseling, one of the things they ask, “Is it okay a little good night kiss?” “Well, if you would stay like that it would be good, but the kiss becomes longer and deeper and more involved, there’s some danger to too much kissing.” Because kissing is an intimate act.
And Paul said to the Corinthians “I wish that all of you would remain single. It would be good if you were all single but I recognize that some have this gift and some have that gift.”
And when Paul talked about singleness in terms of a gift, what he’s saying is celibacy is a gift, not too many people are born with the gift of celibacy. Most of us do not have the gift of celibacy, but as Christian women, as single Christian women we have the power of abstinence.
The Holy Spirit gives us the power to abstain. God has given a spirit of power of loving and a sound mind of self control. God has given us self control, he’s given us a mind to use wisdom, so I’m not going to put myself alone with brother potato in his car. I say brother potato so nobody gets offended. So, if I put myself in a situation where I am in danger I’m going to be in trouble. So I have to stay away from certain situation.
I have to watch what I look at and what I listen to, what I touch, who I kiss, I have to protect myself. I have to practice self control. And you know a good way to also deal with your sexuality, when it’s aroused, it’s worked throughout the centuries, take a cold shower, or sit in a cold tub, it will freeze everything back up again. Whatever was on will turn right back off. Whatever was hot it’ll cool off.
And I’m going to give you a little tip that I heard a psychologist share years ago, because a lot of people struggle with dreams, or when they are in bed at night. That’s when your singleness sometimes becomes an issue. And he said, “When you go to bed at night do something very simple, make sure that you empty your bladder totally because sometimes when your bladder is full, or partially full, it presses against your sexual organs and it wakes them up.
And that’s why often times when you’re in bed your sexuality is aroused, or when you fall asleep you have sexual fantasies, sexual dreams. And something as simple as emptying your bladder… I mean, squeeze the last drop, squeeze. Don’t leave one little drop in there because that little drop can mess you up. That little drop will grow and turn into something major. This is something very simple. But I always remember him sharing that and I tried practicing it as much as I can.
Now, another area that he talks about is esteem needs. We all need to have self esteem and it needs to be built up so that we can feel worthy. We need to build up our level of confidence, and we all come through moments that we feel insecure.
People don’t believe this when I tell them this. Every time I stand up to preach or teach I get anxious, I still get butterflies in my stomach, my hands get wet, I get nervous, but once I stand up, I trust the Lord to give me the strength to do it.
Paul said, “I can do all things to Christ who strengthens me.” And that strengthens me means to push me forward. I can do anything God asks me to do because he himself will push me to do it. and when I feel that I can’t God will push me and say, “Yes, you can.” Because with God it’s “Yes, you can” because if God wants you to do it he will equip you to do it. I’m not here with my own strength, I’m here because God asked me to do it, I’m trusting him to help me do it, and he’s pushing me to do it.
And like everything in life, whatever you have to do you can do in the name of Jesus and by the power of his strength you can do it. You have to build up your own self confidence. It’s great if you have somebody that can pat you and say, “You’re doing a good job, or go ahead you can do it.” We don’t always have that, so we have to comfort ourselves.
King David went through a difficult time in his life. There was no prophet, there was no priest, there was no one around to comfort him, so they said that David took his own strength and encouraged himself in the Lord and he said, “I’m going to do it because God is with me and he’ll give me the strength to do it.”
We have a powerful source, his name is Jesus Christ. So we can do whatever we have to do, whether anybody is with us or not, the Lord will lift us up. David said, “Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will lift me up.”
Another thing we need to build up is our level of competence. If there’s something you want to do, then you have to study and prepare yourself. You want to stand up and preach? Then study the word. You want to pray? Get into the presence of God. You want to be a worship leader? Worship God. Build up your level of competence. Build up your own skills.
We all have gifting. Paul said “Some have these gifts and some have those gifts.” We all have gifts, and whatever your gift is God himself put it in you, so you need to build it up. You need to study and prepare yourself. Go to school, get that degree, read the books, go to sessions, go to seminars, get everything you can get, cling from everyone and build yourself up.
Build up your own competence with short term goals and long term goals. For these couple of months I’m going to do such and such, within the next 5 years I’m going to be in such and such a place. Give yourself a goal because when you reach that goal it’ll build up your level of competence and add confidence.
And another area that sometimes in singles, and especially as Christians we neglect is your physical appearance. I dress up for me. I buy things I like for me. I wear the jewelry I like to wear. I like the colors I like to wear. I’m not dressing for anybody, I’m dressing for me. I feel comfortable, it makes me feel good, because you know, if you look good then you feel good.
So you have to look at yourself in the mirror and be able to say to yourself “Go girl, you’re looking good!” even if nobody else says it. You have to tell… like the Bronx. I know this is Boston, so perhaps you say “I’m looking very well today!” but in the Bronx “You’re looking good, mama! You look catsi tatsi today, go girl.”
You have to build yourself up. You have to fix your hair for yourself. You’ve got to put makeup for yourself. You have to dress yourself up for you. Build up your me, because if you like your me other people will like your me. And sometimes the singles are waiting to dress up like I told you, the friend that was dressing up for the prince charming and the day she met him, no makeup, rollers on her hair, and dirty chancletas.
So we do what we do for appearance for ourselves because trust me, if you like the way you look you’ll feel more confident, you’ll feel more competent, you’ll feel more dignified, and you’ll be satisfied within yourself. So, fix yourselves up, ladies. Buy the makeup, buy the nice glasses, buy the nice dresses, but then of course the context of your finances. I’m not telling you to get into debt. We’re living in a bad time, but I’m not ashamed to tell you this: I shop at K-Mart. I wait for the sales at Dress Barn, yes, I like Anne Taylor, I’d love to shop in Calvin Klein, I’d like to shop in … markets, I go looking at …., I look at … markets, but I shop at Target and K-Mart, but I put it together and I feel good and I’m happy with what I put together. So, I’m pleasing me and I’m building up the me. But I have to look at me in the mirror and your physical appearance has a lot to do with your emotional and mental state. Okay? So, learn how to fix yourself up. Buy the perfume that you like, something you like to smell. Buy the hand cream, you go girl! Go to the gym, do the exercise, look good. Okay?
You don’t have to look like Jennifer Lopez to look good. And I already told you none of us is going to look like Beyoncé, but within the best context that we can we have to look good for ourselves and build the me. Okay?
And the last area he mentions is self actualization needs. And this is a need to become who God has called you to be. This is fulfilling your destiny. So many people don’t get to this area, and neglect it totally because they feel that they can’t, or it’s too late, or they’re not in the right place at the right time, but you have to meet your potential in Christ.
There’s a destiny for each and every one of you. There’s a place for each and every one of you. there’s an audience for each and every one of you. for someone like myself, I didn’t ask for it, it’s been God’s will, I’ve had an audience of thousands of people and that’s good, but I would like if God put me in an audience of one or two, that’s awesome, because God’s takes the time for an individual. So, you audience might be your next door neighbor, it might be your coworker, it might be your supervisor, it might be a niece that needs direction, it might be just somebody you meet on the street one day, or you might have an audience of thousands or hundreds. But wherever it is God wants you to be that’s where you will be actualized.
As scared as I get to get up and preach there is no better place for me that where I am right now. When I feel most satisfied is when I’m preaching the word. I don’t know if understand this. Nothing else gives me this kind of a high, nothing makes me feel this satisfied and complete than standing in the place God has put me. I didn’t want it.
When God first spoke to me, when I first was saved 30 years ago, the Lord said he was going to send me to nations that I was going to preach… I cried, I said, “No, I don’t want that. I want to teach children Sunday school because I’ve been a teacher all my life, but I went to the superintendent of Sunday school for children, she rejected me, she told me no. and every time I tried doing something else, God would close that door. So, I finally said, “Ok, Lord, I surrender. Okay, I will do what you want me to do.”
And as hard as it is, as much…. I get the butterflies in my stomach, I wouldn’t trade this for all the money in the world. I wouldn’t trade this for the best looking man of the world. I wouldn’t trade this for the biggest mansion in the word, because this is the place God has for me and this is where I’m the real Lily Gutierrez, this one you see here. This is where I’m most fulfilled.
As matter of fact, you want to hear something? This is better than any sexual encounter ever, if I can say this. After all you can’t compare 30 seconds to this. Let’s talk now, let’s be honest, we’re all women here, right? You’re all adults. Come on, you know it’s only 30 seconds, maybe 45. This is better than those seconds I could ever get. You know what? This is where is saying, “Go girl!” this is where God is pleased, this is where God is saying, “Come on, preach! Get the world. Build up my body. Minister to the people.” I am in the place that God wants me to be.
And when you’re in the place where God wants you to be, it might be talking to the men at la bodega, but when you do it you’ll feel so good in God, you’ll feel so fulfilled, you’ll know that you are where you need to be at the right time, the right place, doing the right thing.
And, my sisters, in Christ and I think we’re going to close with this, as I know that time is moving on a little bit, turn to Colossians, 2 verses 8 through 10 because the Colossians had some trouble with singleness also. There were issues there too that Paul had to address. Obviously this was a problem in the first century, just like it’s an issue these days. Paul had to keep writing these letters to address all these problems he had in the church. And in Colossians there were some false teachers in the church that were teaching that some people could marry, some people couldn’t marry, some people could have sex, some people couldn’t have sex. I mean, they even gave specific rules about having sex or not having sex. Some could eat certain foods, some couldn’t eat certain foods, so they started adding to the Gospel of Christ.
So Colossians, 2, starting in verse 8, Paul says this: “Beware less any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ, for in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, for you are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power.”
And this is what Paul is saying, forget about all these people that are teaching you should get married, you shouldn’t get married, you should do this, you shouldn’t do that. In Christ Jesus you are a complete person, if you’re single you are complete, if you are a married person you are complete, if you’re a young person you are complete, if you’re an older person you are complete, in Christ Jesus you are completed.
Nobody can complete you. Nothing can complete you. A husband cannot complete you. Children cannot complete you. Your job cannot complete you. Your house cannot complete you. People and things can complement you but they cannot complete you. The only one that can complete the void in you is Christ Jesus himself.
And the word he uses for complete is the word plero that means fully developed, perfected, mature and I love this definition, put a patch and stop the leak and through this world and some of the things some of us have been through we had a whole lot of leaks all over the place.
Your heart was leaking, your mind was leaking, your emotions were leaking, your sensuality was leaking, but he is saying, when you come to Christ, he takes a big patch and he puts it on your heart and stops it from leaking. He takes another patch, puts it on your mind and it stops your mind from leaking. He takes another patch, puts it over your sexuality and stops your sexuality from leaking, because God does not want us leaking here, there and everywhere. God is saying, “I’m patching up the holes. I don’t want my people leaking, I want my people to be complete, to have dignity, to have honor, to have self respect, to have self esteem, to have confidence in who they are, to know that they can do whatever I ask them to do, to know that I can lift them up, I can turn them around, I can move them forward. God takes the base things to shame the wise. God takes the weak things to shame the powerful. God takes the little things to make them big things in the hands of a mighty God.
So, you are a complete woman. You’re a completed woman. You’re patched up, you’re all bandaged up in Holy Ghost, and the only water flowing in you is the presence of the spirit of God. And God is saying, “Don’t let it leak out and start feeling incomplete and inferior, because I have made you complete and what I deposit in you is for you to develop in you. Develop your me. Develop who you are. Develop who I need you to be. Develop where I want you to go. Building up the gifting that’s already in you. lift your head up high, know you are completed whether you’re married or not, whether you’re single or not, whether you’re young or not, you are a completed woman in Christ.
I am not missing any pieces. When I came to Christ I was a mess because the world messed me up. I was like Humpty Dumpty who sat on the wall. Remember Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall? Remember he fell and they couldn’t put him back together? I was like an egg all messed up.
But God took, piece by piece, he took my mind, my emotions, my past, my sexuality, my person, my gifting, my heart, my me all together and I am completed in Christ Jesus. I’m not lacking anything. If I meet someone and become a we, then that person will complement me not complete me. And if I never meet anyone and never become a we, then I’m still a good me because I’m building up the me this morning.
And God is saying to each and every one of you, “I have called you to be a woman of dignity, of honor, of self respect, of confidence, a woman sure in whom you have believed.
Paul said, “I am convinced, he who began a good work in me will bring into completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” I’m not perfect yet but I’ve come a long way and I know I’ve got a long way to go. But in the meantime I’m all patched up and I’m not missing and leaking anything, because I’m a completed woman in Christ. I am a woman, hear me roar. I am a completed woman in Christ Jesus.
Now, God told me, pastor Meche and I shared a little bit, and the Lord put something strange in my heart. I know it’s a little late buy maybe, hopefully we could do this quickly. I want you all to stand up.
I don’t know where you are in your walk with Christ. I don’t know if you’re an old Christian, or a new Christian, or not a Christian at all but you happen to be here today, whatever your status is, single or married, young or old, Christ is saying to each and everyone of us “I want you to leave this place today knowing that in me you’re not missing anything because I have called you to be a completed woman, a competent woman, a self assured woman, an actualized woman, because in me you can do all things.”
And so I want you to make a determination today that from this moment on, single or not, you’re going to start building up the me. And those of you who are married you’re going to have to tell your husband, “Listen, put the TV on a little bit” and tell the children, “Go and read your book for homework, because I’m going to take some time for me, because I need to spend some time in the Lord to build the me up, because I need to be strengthened in Christ Jesus. my mind needs to be complete, my heart needs to be complete, my emotions need to be complete, my sexuality needs to be complete, my life need to be complete in Christ.
Now, I don’t know how many of you know something called the shoe covenant. In the book of Ruth, remember when Boas went to redeem Ruth. When you made a shoe covenant, you had to take off your right shoe and you had to give it to someone as a sign of forming a covenant.
You had to do it before witnesses so when Boas gave his slipper, gave his shoe, the custom was that you had to walk in front of the witnesses, you had to limp a little bit and as you did that the people that were witnessing had to shout out blessings, so if you read it:
“When Boas gave his sandal the elders started screaming be blessed you and your house. May your seed be blessed, may your seed feet be blessed, may everything you touch prosper, may you have long life, may you have good health, may you have peace, may you have joy, may you have good finances, may you have a big home, may you have all your needs met, may your rising and setting be blessed, may your going and coming be blessed.
So God put a strange thing in my heart, pastor Meche, I want you to lift up your right shoe to the Lord because we’re going to make a covenant to the Lord and the covenant is this:
From this point on I’m going to work on the me before I become a we and if I never become a we, and if I become later on in life, in the meantime I’m building up the me. So, I’m making a covenant with God that I’m going to build me up, that I’m going to take care of me, that I’m going to meet my needs, that I’m going to be the woman he wants me to be, I’m going to go where he wants me to go, I’m going to do what he wants me to do, I’m going to say what he wants me to say, I’m going to speak what he wants me to speak, I’m going to give what he wants me to give, I’m going to be everything he wants me to be, and as we’re doing that we’re all going to shout out blessings for each other, blessing of peace, blessings of prosperity, blessings of hope, blessings of a future, blessings of life, blessings of health, peace and joy, blessings for your children, blessings for your children’s children.
So, this is what I want you to do. You’re going to come out of your seat. We’re going to walk around the temple and as you’re walking, because you have to limp, as you’re walking we’re going to shout our blessings to each other. I want you to start right here, start walking around and just start yelling out peace, joy, health, finances, long life, your children, your children’s children, your house, your neighbors, your job, your coworkers, everything you touch, your risings, your setting, your going, your coming.
Joy, peace, health, strength, your destiny, your past, your present, your future, everything God has, every blessing, every promise. Sisters, come on, come this way. Keep it going, keep it going, and from the middle isle, and everybody you see bless her.
Peace, joy, hope, strength, good life, finances, your children, your children’s children, your home, your neighborhood, your job, your family, your country, everything. Everything God has. Come on, bless somebody today. Bless somebody today.
Prophesy life, prophesy health, prophesy peace, prophesy joy. Alleluia! Prosperity, health, peace, Alleluia!
Alleluia! Joy, peace, health, long life. Alleluia! All the promises, all the promises of God, each promise of God, each promise, because I’m going to build up the me. Come on, hold the shoe; I’m going to build up the me. I’m going to build me. I’m going to lift up the me. I’m going to take time for me. I’m going to minister to me. I’m going to work on the me because I am me and I’ll always be me. I’m going to build me up. Build up the me. Build up my me.
Alleluia! Come on. Wave that shoe. Thank you, Lord. As you go back to your seats go waving. Here it is, Lord, I’m making a covenant, I’m making a pact with the Lord Jesus Christ and from this point on, from this point on I’m taking care of the me. It’s going to be me, I’m going to build me up, I’m going to take time for me. I’m going to encourage me, I’m going to speak to me, I’m going to build up my level of confidence, I’m going to lift up my level of confidence, I’m going to take care of my appearance, I’m going to look good for me, I’m going to feel good for me. I’m going to eat well for me, I’m going to take a rest for me I’m going to build me, because this is what the Lord wants me to do, because I’m complete in Christ. Husband or no husband I’m complete, children or no children, I am complete, house or no house I am complete, money or no money I am complete, degrees or no degrees I am complete, because God has called me to be a completed woman.
You are complete in Christ Jesus. It doesn’t matter where you were; all it matters is where you are now and where you’re going tomorrow. I’m walking here now and I’m going towards tomorrow, because I have a covenant with God and I’m going to be the woman he wants me to be. Come on, give a shout to the Lord. Shout to the Lord. Come on, shout to the Lord because God is good.
I am a me. Sister, you are a me. This afternoon we’re going to talk about the we but in the meantime, you’re the best me there is. Tell yourself, I’m the best me there is. And as a matter of fact, wait a minute, I know this is Boston, and I’m getting older, come on do it like if you were in the Bronx, I’m the best me there is. I’m the best me there is.
Listen, better than Beyoncé. All the single ladies, all the single ladies. Come on, all the single ladies, oh, oh, oh, all the single ladies, because I’m the best me there is.
|Sermon delivered by Lilian Gutierrez June 4, 2011 at Congregación León de Judá||Listen|||||View(100K)|||||View(400K)|
View more presentations taped June 4, 2011