To Serve [In Church] Or Not To Serve…?

You go to church services on Sundays, maybe on a weekday as well–or more. You like the people there, you have some friends there, you like your pastor and the music so one day, you decide you should serve. So you do.

Question:

1.) When serving–or after the fact–do you find yourself wiped, frustrated, grumbling, or complaining about your experience?

OR:

2.) During and after the fact, you feel good, you enjoyed it, and can recall good experiences and can dare say you’re starting to–or already do–love it?

There’s usually two kinds of reactions to serving in your local church:

A) You feel used or frustrated, but you also feel obligated to serve because, well, it’s just what you should do, isn’t it?

B) You love the people in your church and find it a joy to help them out.

Check it:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.-Philippians 2:1-8

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.-Philippians 2:14-18

Ask yourself: Which kind of volunteer am I and why am I this way? I’d say this, if we aren’t the joyful one, doing it from love, we aren’t walking in love…And maybe that’s because we haven’t truly trusted in Christ and thus, we don’t really have His Holy Spirit living in our hearts, who makes us more loving and Christ-like. Or, we’ve allowed the devil’s lies, who is the author of division in the church, to creep in and embitter us, when once we really did love and enjoying serving, but overtime we started looking down on others or thinking they were taking advantage or not appreciative of what we do.

We as Christians aren’t perfect. It’s why Paul wrote that if anyone has an offense against another to forgive each other as God in Christ has forgiven us. Besides, we do it not because we deserve it, but because we love Jesus and He desires us to use the gifts He gave us to strengthen and serve and build up His church which ultimately is serving Him. If you really think someone is mistreating you, first pray about it. Ask God if this notion is true, or if it’s a lie from satan, or your own misunderstanding. Ask Him to make it known to you. And if afterwards, you still believe the person(s) are being mean or wrong, confront them about it–in a gentle manner. Share how you feel, don’t hold it in, or bring it up to a higher authority. Be honest in your confession of how you feel and what you see and experience. Sometimes it’s just perspective, or sometimes someone really is being out of line and needs correction.

Always remember the above passage, re-read it and really consider it. Jesus and a real love for Him and others should be what compels us to serve–nothing else. And if there is a different reason, we have to confess that our heart isn’t in the right place, and ask God, in Jesus’ name, to forgive us and help us get to that place, that we may shine as lights in this world.

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Fat Shaming Vs. Beauty Vs. Reality

Hey precious ladies. First, let me say being cruel or unkind or mocking someone because of their appearance is foolish and, well, mean. God via the Bible has lots to say about kindness and the words we speak.

I’ve seen plenty of what I believe to be beautiful plus-sized women who look great and healthy. Call them, “curvy” or “voluptuous,” they’re not “skinny” and that’s totally okay!

But just as there are some who are unhealthily skinny, there are some who are unhealthily overweight.

For example: I have a grandmother who is obese. She was always “big-boned” which was fine. I believe she lived a healthy life in her earlier years. But then she got remarried after divorcing my grandfather…

Her second husband, “Liked fat women,” so he encouraged her to eat up and eventually, she became 200+ lbs–and the number has climbed and climbed. Nine years ago, she almost died from a blood clot which had to do with her weight and immobility. Currently, my grandmother is basically bedridden. With swollen legs, very heavy and hard to move, getting out of bed is a serious workout and she’s fallen more often because of muscle weakness (again, laying in bed means no real exercise of her limbs and without strengthening by means of use, eventually, our bodies grow frail).

She’s been eating better, thanks to my sister who cares for her and has been trying to help her lose weight so she’s more healthy and mobile. But there are people in the family who say to let her be because she’s happy. In reality, she’s quite the opposite, and though eating junk-food and however much food she desires momentarily releases happy chemicals, doesn’t mean she is truly happy and if anything, it sure is a cheap happiness in comparison to the simple but greater happiness of being able to move around and do necessary things like walk to the restroom, bathe, and not be bed-bound. She’s terrified of falling and has grown all the more bound to her bed because of it.

Many Americans are what doctors call “obese” or unhealthily overweight. You don’t even have to be visibly that “fat” in order to have clogged arteries, diabetes, and the like, but the point is that, at a certain point, “fat” can be more easily defined as unhealthy or potentially unhealthy and when a person is medically obese, encouraging them to stay that way, applauding it, etc. isn’t helpful, but harmful…

How many young people suffer from asthma and diabetes, or die prematurely from a heart attack because of fat build up? Again, I’m not for mocking anyone, but I am for being lovingly honest and offering solutions to what sometimes is just ignorance of how unhealthy certain stuff really is, and the addictive chemicals and whatnot in those foods that keep you coming back for more, or often, over-eating stems from deep, unresolved issues so encouraging the person to continue being unhealthily overweight is also encouraging them to ignore the deeper reasons as to why they’re placing their comfort in food.

Now we can offer help and support without openly embarrassing someone. We should be able to voice any concerns if it’s done so with the genuine intent of helping another person. I appreciate those who are honest with me about my issues and sins and offer advice and help me get through. No one is perfect, but man, the honest words and assistance of others can be such a blessing.

So yes, let us be kind to one another, but let us also offer support and help those whose weight has gotten to the point of being problematic to their health, rather than encourage them to continue embracing an unhealthy lifestyle. Not everyone desires to be helped, but we still love them anyway. Our love shouldn’t be dependent upon a person taking our advice or not, love is unconditional, but it also gently speaks the truth.

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What are your thoughts on this topic? Feel free to leave a comment. ❤

Here’s what to do if your boyfriend is hurting you.

Sister, you’re sad, you’re hurting, you’re upset, you are more angry than you are happy.

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for your sins have brought you down.-Hosea 14:1

You blame your boyfriend, but who is deciding to be in a relationship with him? Who is choosing to stay with him? Your free will and choice to remain where you’re at–your sins–have brought you down. (I love you, that’s why I’m so real! So hang tight, sisters and know this is tough-love speaking, not angry judgement.)

So what should I do, Natasha? I’m glad you asked, princess:

Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord. Say to him, “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you our praises.-Hosea 14:2

This is a simple two-step process to SERIOUS restoration, deliverance, and supernatural empowerment!

1.) Bring your confessions to God.

Sister, God already KNOWS all about your sinful relationship, but there are several reasons why He wants you to confess it to Him. For one, it places you in a position to receive closeness and intimacy with God. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. He draws near to those who draw near to Him. And even in all your sin, with all the dirt covering you, He tells you to come close to Him so He can wash you clean. Think about that. God isn’t trying to expose your nakedness to anyone (but if you keep hiding from Him, after a while, He will expose you. Why would He do that? Because tough love is better than no love, and if it takes big consequences or firm punishment to get you to stop sinning i.e. destroying yourself, He will do what is necessary. But that’s why me–AND GOD–plead with you NOT to push Him to that point. He’d MUCH rather clean you up behind closed doors rather than have you stripped naked for all to see and come to Him completely broken in shame).

God is VERY patient, but like I said, there comes a time where that patience turns to punishment. Do you wanna be like those protestors who start pushing against the authorities, who at first just try and push them back with those clear shields, but after a while, the authority has the right to start swinging his knight stick. Don’t force God to knock you out, to lay you flat, to push you so hard you break because you won’t listen to Him otherwise. Bring your confession to Him instead and don’t wait another day.

2.) Return to the Lord.

Turn back to Him. That means you need to turn from your boyfriend who is standing in front of you, who is all you see right now, and walk away. And you’re not just walking away to nowhere, you’re leaving his selfish arms and walking back into the arms of TRUE Love Himself, Jesus Christ!

3.) Praise Him.

Once Jesus takes you back into His loving arms i.e. “graciously receives you” your natural response should be praise. You’ll finally have this joy that wells up inside of you and causes you to thank God. You will experience forgiveness, cleansing, and healing and this will be the full result of doing all three of these commands:

The Lord says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon. My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon. “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”-Hosea 14:4-9

Natasha nugget: You’re in the arms of a man who hurts you more than he helps you because you have yet to run to and remain in the arms of the Perfect Man who holds you and heals you and never lets you go.

Whenever someone rejects or hates you, know this…

As a writer–and a human being–there are times when God needs to remind me that no matter how bad or good my writing is, ultimately, it is He who gives favor.

“For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.”-Psalm 5:12

“And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs…”-Daniel 1:9

“But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”-Genesis 39:21

“The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.”-Proverbs 21:1

 

How good is God? Being accepted or rejected is one less thing we have to worry about because ultimately, God knows how to deal with that. And how about Jesus Himself, literally the only perfect person ever, was even accepted by some while rejected by many others–both in His time in human flesh and to this very day!

Jesus knows rejection firsthand, better than anyone on the planet. He’s experienced it millions of times throughout history, and every single day whenever people refuse to follow Him, but instead, follow themselves or someone else.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good, or kind, or awesome you are, people will still reject you. After Jesus raised up a man who’d been dead for four days there were still people who rejected Him and actually wanted to kill Him! Indeed, some people will never ever be pleased or satisfied with you, and you know what, it doesn’t matter, because when you run to Jesus, when you bow to the perfect King, He accepts you, whoever and wherever you are, and transforms your life with His incredible love. He opens His arms and tells you not to fear people, and reminds you that He knows exactly what being rejected, mocked, belittled, despised, and hated is like, to the point of being murdered! So no matter who rejects or hates you, always remember:

 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures[a]: ‘They hated me without cause.’ 

26 “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. 27 And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.”-John 15:18-27

Jesus promises never to forsake us. He has sent everyone who trusts in Him to save them His very own Spirit, to live in them and be with them forever. And when you die, or He returns, He will gather you to Himself, where you will be with Him for all eternity in paradise, surrounded and filled with peace, joy, and love.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”-John 14:1-3

This Trial Is Dragging Me Down, But This Is My Certain Hope

Precious sisters, when trials got you down, I beg you to remember God’s lavish goodness toward you and I:

To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ … According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter‬ ‭1‬:‭1-5‬)

I know when we are going through a trial the days can seem longer, but remember that at any moment that day can end and you will receive the inheritance Christ has been storing up for you in heaven—the best of which is Himself!

When you are struggling, imagine that face-to-face meeting when you will fall to your knees before His glorious, shining presence, and He will take His nail-scarred hand and gently wipe your tears away. Then with that beautiful hand, He takes yours and leads you to living crystal waters, as Revelation describes. After you drink from that incredibly refreshing spring, you turn to Jesus and He extends a smooth stone to you. On that stone is a special name, one you haven’t known, but that He’s always called you. The name lights up your heart with even more joy, though you didn’t think it was possible to be any happier. Then He smiles at you and gestures toward a gorgeously lush tree with twelve kinds of fruit and tells you to have your share. All the while, everything around you is teeming with light and life and vivid colors and fascinating sounds you’ve never seen or heard on earth. Surrounding you is a vast number of your fellow brothers and sisters, all rejoicing to finally be home with their Father, Friend, and King.

This isn’t a fantasy. This is a reality. We are pilgrims in this broken, sin-sick world. This is not our home. Our home is nothing short of awesome. Live with home on your mind, where Christ waits to blow your mind.

Love you sisters.

You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith — more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence. For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (‭1 Peter‬ ‭1‬:‭6-9, 13-21‬ HCSB)

Christians Don’t Have A Right To Be Offended

Earlier this morning I sent a few sisters a Scripture from the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble. (‭Psalms‬ ‭119‬:‭165‬)

Later on, I decided to read from this devotional I’ve had for years, but never finished, and just started reading again a few days ago. And wouldn’t you know, Psalms 119:165 is today’s verse, but in the King James Version:

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (‭Psalms‬ ‭119‬:‭165‬ KJV)

The author of the devotional writes about how much better we take it if a friend or stranger criticizes us, but if our husbands mention any slight imperfection, or wound us, or try to iron-sharpen-iron us we get very hurt and offended. Then she says this profound little nugget of truth:

We who have been forgiven by a holy God have no right to be offended. The only “right” we have is to share the grace God has given us with others. Where grace enters, peace abounds.-To Love And To Cherish

I thought that was a great application for us to give grace to our husbands, but also to anyone who offends us. I didn’t contemplate that when we are offended, it’s actually our pride.

“How dare you. Who do you think you are?” More like, “Who do I think I am?”

I’ve been guilty of getting offended, but I never stopped and considered, “I’m upset not just because of her words, but because of my own pride.”

As Christians, we don’t have a right to be offended.

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians‬ ‭13‬:‭4-5‬ HCSB)

Jesus commands us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. Nowhere does Jesus give us a concession to be bitter against another soul. In fact, if we hate someone, we are called murderers, and as the Apostle John wrote, no murderer has eternal life in his heart.

I read a book called Murder By Family, a true story of how the oldest son of a family plotted their murder. Both the mother and younger brother lost their lives, but the father (and obviously the oldest brother) lived. The father said as he was laying on the hospital bed, the Holy Spirit told him to forgive the murderer and he did. His son wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger, but he helped the killer (his college friend), get into the home and both were put on death row. The father had every right to be hurt and upset, but he wasn’t allowed to commit murder in his heart against his wife and son’s killers. Yahweh dealt with both of them, and it wasn’t the father’s job or place to render vengeance.

I know vengeance is an extremely popular theme in films nowadays, but Christ doesn’t condone His children avenging themselves. He is our Avenger. All those who have rejected Him and practice evil will be judged. No one is getting away with anything—unless they have accepted Yahweh’s plan of forgiveness and surrendered to Christ.

Let’s not forget that at one point, we also were enemies of Christ:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! (‭Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭1-5‬ HCSB)

So just as we didn’t deserve Yahweh’s grace, yet He granted it to us anyway, we must likewise give grace to our enemies and those who offend us.

Why do you think Christ said, “If anyone wants to follow Me he must pick up his cross, deny Himself and follow Me.” We as Christians deny our old ways of operating; we crucify them and walk in the new way of life, the way Christ commands us to. Out of love for Him, we obey His words. He alone is worthy of anything good, and deserves our complete devotion for all that He willingly suffered and gave up so that we can be forgiven, freed, redeemed and saved.

Let go, love, and let Christ be your Avenger.

My Response To A Pro-Choice Advocate

I understand your desire for freedom of choice. However, heaven aside, there is an earthly order of things: laws that are set up for the protection and peace of mankind. Murder is a crime in every state of America. My zeal is intensified by the fact that humans get punished all the time for murdering another human being, but abortion is the very same thing, and millions have gotten away with it and there is no justice. Each of our mindsets have an extreme. The end of my extreme is all human beings repent of their sins which harm not only others but themselves as well (abortions significantly increase the chances of breast cancer and future death when the woman decides to give birth to a child), embrace God’s plan for forgiveness and redemption; His perfect son who lived a sinless life, dying on a rugged cross for the sins of all humanity, and his resurrection from death, that whoever trusts in and gives their heart to Jesus, will receive forgiveness and likewise be able to resurrect a new person with godly desires through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in all who choose to follow Christ, and will resurrect to life after they die, that if everyone embraces the loving sacrifice of Jesus, they will, by the power of His Spirit, be able to obey God’s command which Christ taught was firstly: love God with all your heart, mind and strength and second love your neighbor as yourself. If the world actually embraced the amazing gift God gave to humanity to redeem them, no one would be murdered or robbed or raped or cheated on, because love does not do these things. The end of your extreme is let everyone do what they want because it’s their choice whether wrong or not. So if ISIS decides to come to America (which they already are here and have created murder plots against innocent lives) and they decide to destroy humans, let them. They may be wrong, but hey, it’s their choice, their belief, who am I to judge? We have a judicial system that is supposed to judge and penalize wrong-doing, and maybe if someone tried to murder you by slicing you into pieces, you would feel differently about the helpless children being murdered by abortionists.

What if millions of Americans decided people on welfare or needing food stamps are an inconvenience because the money for those programs is coming out of their paycheck so they decide to kill everyone receiving funds from these things? Will you stand against that? Or will you allow injustice to create utter chaos and a highly dangerous environment for you to live in?

Dear woman, love does not turn a blind eye to the helpless, it protects them. God instituted laws for a reason: capital punishment began with him. He considers all of his offspring to be made in his image. He is just and the avenger of all evil. If someone murders his creation, there are penalties, and his word, the bible, calls us to defend the voiceless and helpless:

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.-Isaiah 1:17

Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.-Jeremiah 22:3

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?-Micah 6:8

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.-1 John 3:17-18

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”-Matthew 7:12

Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭31‬:‭8-9‬ NKJV)

There are many more verses on social justice, and that’s just my main point: we can desire and preach justice for ourselves if we are attacked or someone murders our loved one, but we will be hypocritical because we deny other humans the same right to justice because instead of living in their mother’s apartment, they’re living in her womb.

Love is not words alone, it is not sitting back and watching innocent lives be apart of genocide. It is sacrificing your own comfort, your time, your social status or even your own safety in their defense, because you love them and don’t want their precious life to be punished and snuffed out for no fault of their own.