Is it OK for Pastors to Be Rich–and Fine? Let’s Rev’ up!

“He’s so fine.” I heard a young woman sitting behind me say of a certain pastor who arguably looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s full of charm and charisma, slick hair, decked in shirts that tease some chest and flaunt buff biceps, tight Kim-Kardashian-for-guys jeans, I couldn’t deny I, too, found myself having to fight off similar thoughts and focus instead on what he was saying.

This incident happened over six years ago, and it wasn’t even a year before I packed up my spiritual bags and left that club-like environment that initially drew me because of its youthful “passion for Jesus,” but eventually left me hungry for a more authentic reflection of what it means to have a relationship with the Holy, Holy, Holy, God Almighty described in the book of Revelation, of whom often, when He’d appear to believers, would cause them to drop almost dead in fear and awe of Him.

The Church says we want a revival of those coming to Christ, and that is great, but what about those who have already confessed Him as Lord, but are wallowing and drowning in sin? Reverence has become taboo at best and downright offensive and altogether avoided by many in the Church. But sisters, if a Church tiptoes around or evades entirely the topics of holiness, sanctification, hating evil and loving good, then you are on a spiritual diet that is highly lacking in necessary and beneficial nutrients for growth. Please indulge me a little longer.

Is your character stagnant? Do you find yourself struggling with the same sins, feeling very weak, vulnerable, tempted, etc.? What are your Christian leaders like? Is everything “positive and uplifting?” Is Church service this fun time that’s full of inspirational jargon?

Encouragement isn’t evil–but in the wrong hands it’s deadly. In fact, what you’re hearing at many pulpits is actually flattery and deception. We are not even close to being worthy of God and His forgiveness and love. It is by His grace, which means “UNDESERVED FAVOR” that we have been saved. There’s nothing we can boast about regarding ourselves yet many pastors will parade on a stage like they’re all that and tickle your ears or flat out tempt you with their “spiritual” sensuality. You know, those pastors who are evidently very concerned with their outward appearance because they spend hours in the gym, always have their hair cut and styled on point, and “dressed to kill” as my grandma says.

Do you know what Paul said about himself and the other Apostles, the head honchos of the first church?

For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us—and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.”-1 cor 4:7-13

So many pastors are living like kings–and far from being “poorly clothed–spending a million dollars on a home when they could still very comfortably live off quite less and give more. These career pastors often “preach” messages that are universally accepted, easy to tolerate, and relatable to the majority. Yet biblically, we see the gospel and the standards for Christians as taught in the bible are focused heavily on living for God, pleasing Him, loving, serving, and honoring others. And how can you know if you’re pleasing to God or “acceptable” to Him if you aren’t reading His Word much, but heavily relying on your pastor’s word? How can you know if your pastor is teaching you how to please God, or if he’s teaching you how to please yourself?

See, these pastors and teachers enjoy making the bible seem secondary and optional at best. They love this because then, in your hunger for spirituality and positivity, instead of finding it in the Bible, you’ll buy their books. Think about it: they make a profit off of teaching you “spiritual truths.” If, in your search for answers, you relied heavily or solely on Scripture, then you wouldn’t need their books and then there goes their millions.

These guys are smart. There is a successful business model in pursuing a pastoral career. Make yourself look good, be charismatic, don’t preach or emphasize the bible too much, be as cool as possible, as positive as possible, flatter as naturally as possible, give out free coffee, and your church will grow. When you’ve got a big following, then you pump out and market your books to them and bam, your chances at becoming a millionaire are deliciously accessible.

Caveat: Recently, I pulled my own spiritual books off of Amazon, leaving just my fantasy novel, and posting the relationship advice ones for free on Wattpad. I’m just not comfortable selling spiritual advice. The apostles said it was okay to survive off of the gospel, but that’s for missionary men and women to have their needs met, that wasn’t an affirmation for inspirational “pastors” to become rich off of the gospel, teaching and making disciples, and then living lavishly. In fact, Paul said specifically in his day there were many peddling the gospel and preaching for “dishonest gain” (2 Corinthians 2:17, Titus 1:11). And, there’s still lots of them today who hypocritically say, “Well, I got rich off of my books, not church tithes, so it’s okay if I spend this money lavishly on myself.” Can you imagine what Paul would say to some of these men? And many of them come out as having some serious sin or accept really, greedily high salaries.

See, there’s no reverence. There is no fear of God, which the bible says is the beginning of wisdom. Many in the church are walking around just as Paul warned us not to: foolishly, when he told us to be wise, knowing what is acceptable to the Lord (Ephesians 5:10). Many don’t even know these warnings about walking worthily (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12), seeking if you’re behaving acceptably to God, even exist in the bible. I make my case: these men don’t want you to know they exist! Because then you might become “woke” to their fake-ness and greed, having the biblical discernment to see right through them and then totally pass on buying their books and other goodies.

God wants us to, “work out our salvation with fear and trembling,” (Philippians 2:12) because it’s “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” (Hebrews 10:31).

Jesus said the path to destruction is wide and there are MANY who travel it, but the road leading to life is, “narrow and difficult” and there are “few who find it,” (Matthew 7:13-14).

I pray in Jesus’ name that you–and myself–are among the latter.

Dear Ex, I Never Really Loved You

Worldly “love” comes natural. It’s that Eros “love.” It’s erotic, sensual, and highly appeals to the flesh and the emotions. I’ve fallen in this kind of “love” with several guys. And the more physically and emotionally intimate I was with the guy, the more “in love” I thought I was.

No no. I didn’t think I was in love. I was convinced I was in love. But praise Jesus, His Spirit taught me what real love looks like.

See, the Eros love is how people who don’t truly know Christ love. They do not have His Spirit within them, so they love in a purely human and unspiritual way. This love is broken, limited, and extremely harmful. This love is desperately selfish, even when it looks like it isn’t. This love craves what the other person has to give; their attention, their affection, their adoration, their body. This love stems from the heart that is consumed with Self. A heart that is concerned about its own happiness, not the other’s true well-being. And that is why it is dangerous. Because it is not pure love. It is earthly, sensual—dare I say—demonic.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?-Jeremiah 17:9

If before surrendering to Christ, the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked how on earth can it deny its true nature and love another in a pure way? A godly way? The answer is simple: it can’t.

But when a heart is given to Christ and regenerated by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, now this heart can love in the agape way. The unconditional, selfless, pure, sacrificial way.

Firstly, the regenerated heart is no longer seeking to please Self, but God. This new heart prompts the Christian to delve into the Scriptures and get to know God’s heart. This heart is powerful because the Holy Spirit now lives within it and causes it to be like and obey God.

Before I surrendered my heart to Christ on February 22nd, 2009, I truly thought I loved my ex more than anyone. I believed that because I felt such intense burning desire for him, thought about him often, and wanted to see him all the time, I loved him.

This wasn’t love. I was like a human leech, sucking whatever I could out of my ex because it pleased MY flesh. It made ME feel good. I was addicted to him, not in love with him, because like a drug, he gave my flesh a good high.

But after giving my heart to Jesus, things changed. I’ve been married for almost four years (September 10th <3), and hubby and I don’t fight anymore. I mention this first because in so many worldly relationships fights are natural and usually often. Outbursts of wrath is a fruit of the flesh. You get upset because in that moment, your boyfriend isn’t making YOU happy. Your Self acts out because it’s currently not getting a good high.

But with hubby, now of there’s ever any tension, one of us lovingly submits, and the one who was thinking selfishly at the moment quickly repents and there is immediate peace, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. I give in to him, he gives in to me, and without a fight. We just lovingly give ourselves and this evades conflict. It’s not all about what I want to do and it’s not all about what Jonathan wants to do. We understand one another and are 99% of the time, gentle toward each other, which is another fruit of the Holy Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-23‬ NKJV)

When two people have the Holy Spirit, and are letting Him lead, this is the outcome. Real love doesn’t have moments of feeling good, it is good. Sacrifice isn’t this painful, horrible notion that is never even conceived of. Sacrifice is given freely because we seek the well-being and benefit of the other—not ourself.

It’s extremely tragic when Christians are in worldly relationships. It begs the question: do you really have the Holy Spirit in you, because the fruits of your relationship are fleshly. They look just like the world, except maybe they attend a weekly service or two together.

My prayer is that Christians in a worldly relationship will repent. It will certainly hurt their selfish flesh, because the relationship can be so pleasing to it at times, but in the long run, they’ll spare not only their souls from judgement (because being in sinful and hurtful relationships isn’t pleasing to God), but will be free to experience true love, agape love. And when you begin loving someone in a Christ-like way, and he or she loves you likewise, you’ll understand what you’ve been missing all this time.

Dear Sincere Democrats, the Only Candidate Who Can Provide a Utopian Social Democracy

Dear sincere democrats, who truly want the impossible social democracy preached to them by their political leaders who parade themselves as saviors, please read the gospels or at least inquire of Jesus, the only One who can guarantee a perfect utopian society. Unfortunately, on this hell-ridden earth, utopia is impossible. Walls will always need to be built, penitentiaries established, laws and punishments for breaking them, security cameras, guns and a military for self defense, and a host of other protective and defensive measures from those with the free will to choose to hate good, aka God, and hate those made in His image. If you want a social democracy, a 100% safe world with no threats of evil and their attacks, there is a future city that Jesus has been preparing for millennia, the New Jerusalem, aka Zion, with a brand new earth that not one, fellow, fallible sinner in political power can ever offer you.

Here’s some of Jesus’ campaign promises:

“Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”-John 10:7-18 NKJV

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.-John 14:1-6,

I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.””-John 18-21 NKJV

#VoteJesusToday

Ladies, Who Should You Fight For?

Sisters, do you view Jesus as someone totally worth living for, worth listening to and obeying, worth spending time with; worth loving? 

We love because He first loved us. Love literally is not possible in a world where Jesus does not exist. He showed us what love is and it’s Him! Plain and simple: God is love, Jesus and God are one. Outside of them, there is no perfect love. (1 John 4:16-19)

That means there isn’t a single human being on the planet–including yourself–who can “complete” or fulfill or love you sufficiently. 

True love paid the price to forever love you perfectly. Jesus died so if you stopped looking elsewhere for love, and instead trusted in His love, you can be forgiven for every single sin you’ve ever done or thought, and be freely welcomed into heaven where He will faithfully love you for all eternity! 

If He isn’t worthy, then who or what is more worthy than Him? What or who deserves more devotion and attention? 

I’ve been getting this conviction more and more to live to please Jesus. The world, movies, books, TV shows, music, it’s the most popular message out now: you should be pleased, you are number one. Humanism is really all about the human and his or her goodness and worthiness. The problem is, who in the world decides what’s good and why, and who is worthy and why? 

God is the whole reason behind morality. Without God, morality will eventually crumble and decay until there’s nothing left of it. Don’t believe me? Take a look at our society and how much we’ve fallen. We are now becoming evermore what this biblical prophecy described would happen in the last times:

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires.(Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.)-2 Timothy 33:1-7

Today I will fight the devil and my own selfish desires that shout, “Live for you! Do what you want!” And instead, I will fight to love and please Jesus. Will you?

Do People Who Commit Suicide Go to Heaven?

Suicide has become a controversial topic. But after watching a film that promoted assisted suicide as a positive thing, I am reminded of the truth that the God of the Bible, that Jesus Christ, is a God of love and hope. And this isn’t a topic that should be side-stepped; this is people’s lives and souls.

I know it’s controversial for good reason: when someone kills himself, it’s a tragedy. It is heartbreaking and pitiable to think someone was so down and out that he couldn’t bear to go on. That is the epitome of tragic and it seems almost worse than if someone had murdered him or her. So I pray I come across gently because I cannot imagine the depth of pain someone feels when a loved one commits suicide. This I write for the sake of those still alive…

When a person ultimately decides to end his or her own life, that person is declaring that there is no hope and that he or she does not love himself. For:

“In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.”-Ephesians 5:28-30 NLT

To kill one’s own body is an act of self-murder, and ultimately, it is to hate one’s self. And the Bible says:

“Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.”-1 John 3:15 NLT

If someone professes to be a Christian, but then murders herself, eternal life, the Holy Spirit, salvation, sadly, did not reside within her heart. Confession of following Christ is one thing, but “fruit” or evidence of following Him is the definitive measure by which we can observe if someone genuinely has eternal life within them—or not.

The Bible warns in Romans 8:5-9:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”

Because of these verses and many others that command us to take charge of our minds, of our thought lives, I do not believe mental illness is a disease that is unfixable or something we cannot control. It is the result, the consequence, of not obeying the above Scriptures, which promise that being fleshly “minded” literally leads to death, but if we pursue being “spiritually minded” we will have life and peace–the opposite of suicide and depression.

There are certain sins that lead to eternal spiritual death or destruction. Then there are ones that don’t. Murder happens to be one of those sins that separates us from heaven and there’s only one other eternal place for the unrepentant murderer…hell. There’s no repenting from self-murder because you are no longer living and able to make the choice to trust in Christ and stop murdering…

It’s difficult to hear because we pity the victim of murder, but again, very tragically, the person who kills himself is not only the victim, but the perpetrator. Being the victim of one’s own act of suicide does not negate the fact that you also became your own murderer. And again, murder is a sin that leads to an eternity outside of heaven and in the eternal place of destruction. If you destroy yourself, even if at one time you were a confessing Christian, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says you are ultimately destroying God’s temple and there are devastating consequences for that:

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

Our body is God’s temple and it does not belong to us who profess to be Christians:

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”-1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Killing yourself is also not glorifying to God, but rather, it is the opposite. The Bible is rife with verses about God being the source of our hope and joy, about Him having good plans for us and our future, and that He is the God of all comforts who strengthens the weak.

However, when we commit suicide, we are declaring that none of that is true. And here’s the thing: it IS true! If you do not know it as such, then you are believing lies (and all lies come from Satan), and you are not living in the truth, in the new abundant life Jesus promises to give to those who truly trust in Him:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”-John 10:10

This doesn’t mean someone who is depressed or suicidal is automatically disqualified. You can go through that dark valley of thoughts, but it’s the person who is eventually overcome by them, who no longer has the faith to keep standing in Christ, but throws in the towel or throws out their faith who is disqualified. That is why Jesus also warns us to endure until the end and to persevere. He declares that only those who “endure until the end” will be saved (Matthew 24:12-13).

I pray this opens your eyes to the sad truth that those who commit suicide may be freed from the torments of this life, but tragically, they have now transported themselves to a place of far worse, eternal torment because they did not know or believe the truth that would have set them free…

I pray if you are believing the lie that suicide is your way out of the pain of this life you will see that according to the Bible, according to Jesus, it is murder and is only a door to far greater torment in hell and there is no escaping that place after you’ve left this world.

As God pleaded with His people before:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days…”-Deuteronomy 30:19-20

And may you pray this prayer to God the Father in Jesus’ name:

How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.-Psalm 13:2-4

That this reality may be yours:

“You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”-2 Corinthians 4:5-18 NLT

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Are You Making A Significant Impact?

So twice this past week I got insomnia. The second was the worst because I literally didn’t sleep at all. I pulled an all-nighter, just awake in bed, and finally I just gave up and went to the living room.

I think I’ve been looking too much at likes on Instagram; checking my goodreads page for my book to see if I got any new reviews and if people are liking it; checking my blog, seeing if people are liking any of my posts; checking my Wattpad to see how many reads my stories are getting and if anyone has voted for it, etc., etc., etc. That sleepless morning, the thought hit me in prayer that I’m believing I’m not significant or being useful for God if I am not doing this online thing or my books etc.

My mind and heart need renewal because what would I do without the internet? What did the godly women of old do? Submitted to their husbands, loved them and their children, and took care of their household. Period. Seriously. Wow.

I’ve bought the lie that if I’m not doing all the other things then I’m not making an impact for the kingdom; that being a faithful wife and mother is not enough.

After praying about it, God reminded me of the passage we named Arrow after, a passage I had forgotten…

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.”

Psalms 127:3-5 NKJV

Maybe that’s you: you believe that you must be this or that and do this or that to be significant and make an impact for the kingdom. But all you have to do is choose to love Jesus and others. It doesn’t matter what you did in the past, God removes your sins from you as far as the east is from the west. What matters now is what you choose to do today. That is why, “God’s tender mercies are new each morning.”

Every morning is another chance to walk in God’s will. And the beautiful thing is that it’s simple: Love. Choose to love.

And love takes sacrifice. Choose to deny yourself and love those around you. That is all God asks you to do. Love Him. And love others. He doesn’t ask or expect anything more than that; He doesn’t care about riches or how well you can speak or quote scripture. He only cares about if you are loving Him and others.

I don’t care how much you serve or what ministry you lead in. At the end of the day, if you just choose to love God by obeying His command to love others, firstly being your spouse and children if you have those, then God is pleased.

Loving Him and others is extremely significant to Him. In fact, it is the fulfillment of the whole law. Even if you didn’t know every rule God has ever given, if you love Him and others, the Scriptures say you’ve fulfilled the entire law.

I pray in Jesus’ name we come back to that simple truth. Yes, it can sound childlike and not super deep and mystical, but that’s just how God wanted it: He made His will so simple that yes, even a child can grasp it.

Love you.

-Natasha