“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! 9 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.
Many Christians among my fellow Millennial crowd seem to have forgotten, or never known the reality of who we are as adopted children of God through Christ Jesus our *Lord*. The true Jesus is holy, and His inspired Word warned us that “without holiness, no one will see God.”
Holiness isn’t something we can create from our own strength, but it is something we can cultivate from the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ who dwells in His daughters. If we NEVER think about being holy, then do we really have His *Holy* Spirit living within us? Because if His Spirit is holy, would His Spirit then fill us with thoughts that only center on entertainment, lust, selfish ambitions, money, gossip, and our own happiness?
I challenge you stop, to turn off your phone or put it in another room, and to find a quiet, private place where you can stop and consider what the majority of your thoughts and focus have been recently.
Jesus said, where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. Is your heart on self attention? Is it on everyone else and their lives? Is it on politics? Is it on Jesus?
Do you ever think, “Father, how can I please you today?” or “Father, that wasn’t pleasing to you. I’m sorry, Lord.” Or, “Help me follow You,” or “What do you think about this?” Or “What do you say about this matter?” If not, then His Holy Spirit isn’t leading you, your flesh is. And the Bible is clear:
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”-Romans 8:6-8
As a daughter of God by means of receiving the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus’ Christ sacrifice and resurrection you never think about if you’re pleasing God or not, please pray and ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit and to help you be led by His Spirit. If you do this, and you are sincere, God will fill you and you will begin to notice changes in your thoughts that inevitably impact your actions. When you open the Bible, it will suddenly come alive. It’ll speak to you more personally, convicting you, encouraging you, challenging you, inspiring you, make your heart burn with passion for God. Then, you will begin to bear fruits “worthy of repentance,” and grow confident in who you are and who you are in the sight of God your Father.
I used to believe if you were called to marriage, God had someone specifically hand-picked just for you. But over time, I started questioning that belief. Today, it’s really official: I no longer believe there is one specific spouse that God “created for you.” I know this can be shocking to some, but hear me out…
Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:39 advises younger widows to remarry, saying:
“A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”
If that’s not plain enough, Paul is saying she can marry ANY Christian brother she desires.
This verse made me remember that God has given us free will and that love is a choice! It is not something we have no control over, like some spell that’s cast upon us that we cannot break away from and must love only one specific person in this life. Do you know Jeremy Camp’s story? His first wife died of cancer not long after marriage and after grieving his loss, he eventually found himself another wife whom he now has children with.
The truth is, if the person is a brother in Christ, and you both love each other and desire each other, you won’t have to later worry, “Oh no, what if this wasn’t that one person God designed just for me? What if this person isn’t my ‘soul mate.'” Soul mates are a worldly idea. And a dangerous one if you think about it. Because that means if down the road, you aren’t happy with your spouse, you can say, “My husband must not be my soul mate. I need to move on and find my true soul mate so I can be truly happy.” I wonder how many spouses commit adultery and deceive themselves with the idea that it’s okay because their fellow adulterer is actually just their true soul mate.
Jesus told His followers, “You didn’t choose me, I chose you.” God doesn’t just love one person, He loves us all, and died for us all. But only those who ACCEPT that love are considered His “bride.” If you believed in soul mates, a brother can convince you you’re his soul mate, even if you don’t really desire to marry him. Then, when you get married, you can have doubts and wonder or even get angry at God like, “But God! I thought this was the man you had for me!”
Peter, led by the Spirit of God, in speaking to the Church, commanded:
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…”-1 Peter 1:22
He isn’t speaking to just husbands and wives, but he is telling all the believers to love each other fervently. If there’s a brother in Christ you love and respect and admire, and if he feels the same about you, then it’s okay to pursue marriage. HOWEVER, I will caution you to always practice wisdom before marrying someone. There’s two things you can do to have confidence in your decision of choosing a spouse.
First, find out if this brother is really a brother in Christ.
And how can you discover that? By listening to your Heavenly Father’s voice and comparing His Word on what a true child of His looks like, to that potential husband. Firstly, is he an open Christian? Does he openly confess to anyone that Jesus Christ is his Lord?
Second, does he portray fruits of the flesh, or fruits of the Holy Spirit:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”-Galatians 5:19-24
Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit.” Be honest in your comparison. Leave a little room for grace, since we’re not all that mature yet, and some have been more sanctified than others by walking longer with Jesus and having solid discipleship. BUT if the brother is JUSTIFYING any fleshly behaviors rather than actively trying to crucify them, and showing that he is growing, then you should back away.
Next, ask your Heavenly Dad if He gives His blessing.
Many of us know the tradition of a man having to ask a woman’s father for permission to marry his daughter. If a brother has made his intentions clear and is pursuing you, bring that to prayer and ask God what He thinks of this child of His. Would you be good together? Or does your Father have someone else in mind for you?
See, it’s two-fold. God knows you and that brother better than either of you know the other, or yourselves. Therefore, I believe God can foresee and knows if you two would be good for each other, or if there’s a better “match” for you. So know that if you go to God about one of His sons who is pursuing you, and God tells you “no,” you can trust that He knows best and has reasons why He prefers you don’t marry the brother. But if God gives you a clear “yes” then go for it! Don’t be afraid if God has given you His blessing. Just make sure you diligently seek Him and are sure He blessed it, rather than you just running forward because you really want to.
Third, don’t be deceived by the lust of the eyes.
Just because someone looks good, doesn’t mean he is good. And just because someone doesn’t look that good, doesn’t mean you won’t deem him amazing down the road. Yes, I’m advocating that you give the lesser attractive brother a chance. If there’s a brother in Christ who really loves the Lord in action, it’s not just lip service, and he brings you joy and you admire his relationship with the Lord, and he really wants you to give him a chance, then give him one! If after a few outings and spending time together serving, you don’t find yourself starting to desire him, then IT’S OKAY to let him know you still just want to remain friends. You’re NOT leading him on if you let him know off the bat that he can try to win your heart, but you’re NOT making ANY promises.
This may sound weird, but sisters, this is how most men operate. They are natural-born fighters and you better believe if a man really wants a woman to be his wife, he WILL fight the battle of winning her heart. If his strength is in the Lord, if he loses that battle, he will get back up again and find someone else. That’s not your business or burden. But if you give him a chance, you might be surprised just how much you end up loving and desiring him to be the man you not only spend the rest of your life with, but raise up godly children with. Because remember, whoever you allow to have you as a wife, he will someday be the father of your children. Is he worthy? Will he truly raise them up in a way that’ll please God?
So don’t let the excuse of waiting for your soul mate hold you back. If no guy is pursuing, well, that’s on them, and it COULD partly be on you. Go to your Perfect Daddy in Heaven and ask Him why no one is pursuing you. Ask Him to please show you and reveal to you clearly what is going on. Trust your Daddy. He loves His daughter and may know you aren’t ready. Maybe there’s a few things He wants to work on first. I believe God will give you your hearts desire if you wish to marry a godly brother. Just keep praying AND listening to your Daddy. His timing and will are PERFECT!
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.
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