Why Christians Should or Should Not Pursue Their Dreams

dreams...

Certainly, God is in the business of making things fall into place as they should. However, the way they fall into place is often based on the condition and motives of our heart.

As an artist, one who writes, acts, sings and directs, it is easy to think I have what at first glance may seem to be “good” intentions. But we have to have genuine faith in Christ, not in ourselves, if we are going to first please Him and be used by Him for what really matters.

As a Christian and an artist, I can sometimes get off focus and start concentrating on and pursuing worldly desires, not Christ’s desires. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with desiring to provide for your family. In fact, it is a godly desire, since God too delights in providing for our physical needs. However, it is certainly a lesser need and one that should ALWAYS take third place in the life of a Christian.

When Jesus was weakened by hunger, and His disciples left Him to sit and rest at a well while they searched for and pursued their physical needs (food), Christ pursued God’s greatest desire first. He chose to draw a broken and sinful woman to Himself, extend His forgiveness and salvation to her, and transform her life with the power of His love. When His disciples returned, still focused on their physical need for food, this is the lesson Jesus taught:

“Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for *eternal life*, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.””
‭‭John‬ ‭4:33-38‬ ‭

Beyond a doubt, Jesus was more concerned with the eternal souls of a lost village than with His need to eat. Too often we are primarily concerned with how we are going to pay the bills than how we are going to bring souls to Christ.

Our gifts were not essentially given to us in order to earn income. Sure, God can use them to provide financially, but again, that is always third place. First thing we are commanded to do with the gifts God gives us—with all that we are—is to love Him, to seek to please Him. Next, it is to serve others for the purpose of edifying them in love. Lastly, it is to earn income to physically provide for our loved ones and others in need. When those priorities are shifted, we are missing the mark, we are not doing God’s will.

My prayer, my plea, is for every Christian artist out there to just stop and examine your heart and really discover the primary reason for why you are doing what you are doing. If it is first to promote yourself in order to provide for your physical needs, remember that is not supposed to be the primary desire and thus, repentance will be necessary.

Repentance is a change of mind. It is when you agree with God totally and then choose to obey Him. The amazing and beautiful thing about our Lord is that He is faithful to forgive when we repent, and He then pours out His Spirit and gives us all we need in order to accomplish His good desires to save souls and transform them with His love.

As Christians, we mustn’t seek our dreams first unless of course those “dreams” are truly and primarily the goals of Jesus: sharing the gospel and making disciples. In fact, I genuinely dislike the whole, “Pursue your dreams,” and, “believe in yourself,” phrases. 100% of the time, these phrases are encouraging you to put yourself first and to trust in yourself to do what you want to do. Let’s face it, that’s exactly what satan taught Eve, and continues to preach to this day. Jesus, on the other hand, says deny yourself, believe in Him, love others, and put yourself last!

Many self-proclaiming Christians tragically buy into the self-serving dream-pursuit message, and don’t even realize they’re serving themselves instead of Christ; they’re building up themselves, instead of bearing fruit for His kingdom, i.e., bringing souls to Him and/or strengthening the hearts of those who are already His. As a parent, that is certainly something I want to be mindful of.

As much as I love Arrow, I cannot support or enable him to pursue selfish desires. When he’s an adult, if he chooses that route for himself, I will pray for him, but I will not cheer him on. I pray his gifts and his life are always offered up as a sacrifice to God first and foremost. I pray he loves and fears Jesus first and I pray my husband and myself model that example for him for as long as we live. May my goal always be to love the one who loved me first, to give everything to the one who gave everything for me. To live for the one who died for me that I may truly live forever with Him. And I pray the same for you, beloved.

Sharing My Testimony With My Neighbor Panned Out Differently Than Expected

My God is an amazingly graceful and loving Father. Yesterday, I shared about my self-disappointment in my nervousness at sharing the gospel and what Jesus did in my life with my neighbor; how instead, I settled for a church invite that she immediately declined.

Shortly after our encounter, I read about the bold and unashamed faith of my brethren getting maimed and beaten for sharing the gospel in hostile villages, and here I was, scared to share it with my elderly neighbor.

Well, this morning I repented. I didn’t care anymore about possibly ruffling her feathers. She needed to know I don’t have some religion or cult, but Christ Jesus, God Himself, love Himself, and that she could have Him too! So I apologized for doing a disservice to her, and I asked her to hear me out which she patiently and attentively did.

She was actually very touched by my relationship with the Lord and my testimony, and said it was a lovely message. She also began sharing with me some of her own faith journey. She basically said she was certainly going to think about and work on it, giving God that mustard seed and seeking Him out. She was the complete opposite of ruffled! She was happy and thankful and even surprised at some of the ways God proved Himself to me.

Today has been a wonderful blessing and I feel the love of God in a greater way than I did yesterday morning. Sharing the gospel, the message of God’s incredible and sacrificial love, remembering as you share your testimony all that He has done in your life, boldness is inevitable. It is when we keep quiet that boldness is snuffed. But when we share, compelled by His love, we speak with confidence because we really DO know Jesus! We have a genuine, amazing, experiential love with the Savior of the world—not a religion.

Oh how amazing it is to know Jesus and be a vessel of His to bring others closer to His arms. Thank You, Father.

I’m Hesitant To Share The Gospel While Others Are Getting Beaten And Killed For It

Reading about my brothers and sisters in Christ in India, Nigeria, and Egypt, and I’m so stirred by the love of Jesus within them. One man had his arm chopped off by Boko Horam terrorists, his other arm was hacked at, and after witnessing the same men shoot his wife to death because neither he nor her would deny their faith in Christ, the terrorists took his cell phone and left him for dead. Christian elders came to my brother’s aide and through Voice Of The Martyrs he’s been recovering well. From his brother’s phone he called his own, and told the terrorists God had spared his life and that he forgives them. He forgave the men who killed his wife of over 20 years, maimed him, he now has to pray he’s well enough to go back to planting yams to provide for his five children and yet, he forgives them but not just forgives, agrees to meet with them in person.

Another brother, a pastor in India, went into a Hindu Fundamentalist village to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. They kicked him out. At first he was discouraged, asking God why He sent him if they weren’t going to receive him? But he believes God wants him to go still, even if they’ll become angry, and to share the gospel with them because they need it.

He goes back. They beat him almost to death. He blacks out and they throw him in a ditch. One of the men was guilt-ridden, having never attacked an innocent man like that before. His wife rebuked him and said, “Go bring him back here into our home so his God does not become angry with us since he was a good man.” The attacker did just that, and his wife tended to the pastor’s wounds. He couldn’t speak the first day, but the next, when asked why he came to the village, he shared the gospel and said God heals and cares for the poor. The wife immediately brought her sister who’d been sick for months, and after sharing the gospel and praying for her, she was well in two days. News of her healing spread, and many came to visit the pastor—many who attacked him. He shared the gospel with them and forty of them gave their lives to Jesus and a church was built in the village. The pastor is now the pastor of that church and travels by a bike he received from Voice Of The Martyrs.

A sister in Egypt was watching the news months ago when Islamic State terrorists beheaded the 21 Coptic Christians. One of them was her 27-year-old husband. She said she was proud of him for not denying Jesus and that she forgives IS and prays for them to know the love of Jesus.

A pastor in the Nuba Mountains where they’re often bombed, 3,700 times since 2012, visits the same Muslim terrorists in prison and brings them food and the gospel. He gives of his food, loving his enemies when he sees infants and young children being killed from their attacks. He said without Jesus, it would not be possible to love his enemies.

And here I am, in America, nervous to share the gospel with my neighbor across the street. I settle for inviting her to church and when she declines, I tell her I’m here for her always for prayer. Did I share the gospel? Nope. The bible says to be ready in season and out, when the time seems favorable, and even when it does not. Am I really more worried about ruffling her feathers than sharing with her the amazing love that has set me free, that I lavish in daily, that can be hers if she so chooses?

I hate this hesitancy, this passivity. My brethren are getting beaten and killed for sharing the gospel and they KNOW that will happen to them, but they do it anyway! And if they die, the faith of other Christians is only strengthened and even some of their enemies repent.

If I’m cautious about sharing the gospel with the older lady across the street who offered to help me build a garden for our home, how will I fare if my life is threatened? Or my husband’s or child’s?

If you are reading this and you don’t know Jesus, I am telling you right now, He is God. He is Lord. There is no other, He IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the only way to the Father, to heaven. He loved me enough to die a brutal death and be rejected and despised by men, so I am not ashamed to say that yes, I am a Christian. Yes I believe and know with absolute certainty He is alive and is exactly who the bible declares Him to be. I pray you come to know that freeing and most important truth. There is no greater fact, no greater or higher knowledge we can attain as human beings than that God is love, and He gave His only Son that absolutely anyone who repents, and trusts in Christ will be forgiven and freed, and granted eternal life, by the goodness and grace of God the Father. Nothing in life matters more than knowing Jesus. Nothing.

My Gay Cousin Asked Me To Write This

A few months ago, my homosexual cousin asked me to write a blog about this. At the time, he and his then-boyfriend were attending gay services with a homosexual pastor. My cousin felt that it was wrong, but said the opposing views had him confused. He wanted to know what the bible really says about homosexuality. So cousin, the following bible verses are all from the New Testament, after Jesus died on the cross and resurrected.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (‭Romans‬ ‭1‬:‭26-28‬ ESV)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭6‬:‭9-10‬ ESV)

We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral and homosexuals, for kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching based on the glorious gospel of the blessed God … (‭1 Timothy‬ ‭1‬:‭9-11‬ HCSB)

In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them committed sexual immorality and practiced perversions, just as angels did, and serve as an example by undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (‭Jude‬ ‭1‬:‭7‬ HCSB)

Homosexuality is a sin, and when Jesus died on the cross and then resurrected from the grave, He defeated all sin.

The bible teaches that those who are “born again,” who deny themselves—their feelings and opinions—and choose to follow Jesus, these people receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is Christ’s very Spirit. He sends Himself in Spirit form into your heart. When His Spirit is united with your heart, your desires naturally begin to change. 500 years before Jesus promised He would send the Holy Spirit to believers after His resurrection, God told His people through His prophet Ezekiel:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (‭Ezekiel‬ ‭36‬:‭26-27‬ ESV)

And in the book of Jeremiah, God says:

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭32‬:‭27‬ ESV)

Whether it’s drug addiction, pornography addiction, depression, premarital sex, money addiction, prostitution, compulsive lying, stealing; whatever your sin is, God’s Spirit is stronger. His love is greater. His fiery passion for you pinned Him to a cross and kept Him dead for three days. His love for us rose Him from the grave. His love for us crucified all of our sin. The bible says the sins of the world, the iniquity of us all, was laid upon Him. He died for it, but then conquered it when He rose again. He sends the same Spirit that resurrected Him from death into our hearts. Christ Himself lives in us, giving us the power to likewise crucify our sin and overcome it, raising us to new life. That is why I know people who once struggled with homosexuality and now are completely delivered from it. Jesus changed their heart, because He’s powerful enough to. His love conquers our sin, it consumes it and incinerates it.

In Christ, there is no desire we cannot defeat. Our sinfulness is not stronger and never will be stronger than His Spirit. If we simply surrender those desires to Him and just focus on knowing and loving Him, He takes care of our sins. We’ll look back and see we no longer want what we once wanted. We are free to walk in the good works God created us to walk in. We are free to know our true selves: a son or daughter of God, cherished and loved, made for eternal glory.

Anyone can be set free to be who God made them to be. It’s just up to us to decide if we want Him or our sin. Forgiveness or condemnation. Light or darkness. Freedom or chains. Life or death. Heaven or hell.

Precious cousin, I pray you choose Life, I pray you choose Love, I pray you choose Jesus.

Christians Are Called To Be Superheroes

A few days ago, someone I knew from middle school shot himself in the head. Twenty-five years old. Last week, another twenty-five year old that I knew from high school overdosed.

We as Christians can get so distracted from the greater reality: we are in a spiritual war. Depression, anxiety, pornography, sex trafficking, rape, all satanically influenced. People’s souls are being brutally fought for in the spiritual realm and we are seeing it plain as day in the physical realm. Our best friends, co-workers, and family are on what Jesus called the path of destruction. My generation, the Millennials, are so lost.

Christian, there’s walking dead people all around us, and you’re concerned about career? You’re concerned about becoming rich? You’re concerned about getting a wife or husband? Worse yet, you’re enjoying the short-lived pleasures of sin and walking like the dead, absolutely useless to God who desperately wants to rescue them and died to rescue you—not just from hell but from the bondage of sin! You’ve been set free yet you’re living like you aren’t.

We are the superheroes of our world. In our community, God has specifically placed us as watchmen. Even greater is our mission than the superheroes we watch in films. They merely save the physical body. We are called to save the eternal soul! There’s a great villain who is destroying lives, wreaking havoc on the ignorant, and we are the only ones who stand in his way.

Are we fighting him? Are we winning? Or are we foolishly following him instead of God by staying in our sin while souls perish all around us?

We don’t wear costumes, but we wear the light of Christ. Is He being seen in you? Do those around you and those who encounter you know you’re a superhero, know that you’re a Christian? Are you walking in His power so you can save them?

Time is so short. We don’t know who the devil will take out next, but we know this great villain does not sleep, he does not relent. Only those who give their hearts to Christ can withstand and overcome him. That is why we must take our training seriously. Lives literally depend on it.

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Going To Church Doesn’t Mean You’re Saved

There’s been many times where I’ve asked someone if they knew Jesus and his or her response was, “My dad is a pastor,” or “Yeah, I go to church,” or “I was raised going to church.” But I was not asking them if they regularly attended a corporate Christian service at a building, or if their parents knew Jesus. I asked if they knew Him.

“Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew‬ ‭3‬:‭8-10‬ NKJV)

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”-(‭Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭21-23‬)

It is a tragic thing when people assume the sum of christianity is going to a weekly church service. This is not only tragic because they’re utterly missing out on the incredible reality of knowing Jesus personally and experiencing Him daily and having His love completely transform you into who you were created to be and leading you into your destiny through the power of the Holy Spirit, but they’re on the path to destruction, not realizing Jesus isn’t going to allow people into heaven on the basis of their church attendance but on whether or not they truly knew Him, had given their heart to Him and loved Him not in word, but in deed and truth.

That word for “know” is the same word the bible uses when speaking of a husband and wife becoming one through sexual intimacy. It’s the deepest and most intimate level of knowing, and that is what God desires for us. He didn’t send His Son from heaven to live here and teach and walk among us and heal us for three years just so we can think He’s cool and go on with our lives. He wanted to reveal Himself to us, to have us know beyond a doubt what He’s about: love.

He taught us that He’s a loving Father who desires to reveal Himself to us, to adopt us as His own, to heal us, to transform us, to teach us, to use us to bless others and bring them into His family, to redeem us, to set us free.

When someone really knows Jesus, it’s evident in that their life is completely changed. They aren’t the same person. You see the transformation. And that’s my prayer for all those who think they are a Christian, but don’t really know Christ, and for those who have knowingly rejected Him. May you come to know and experience the amazing love, forgiveness, and transformation that I’ve known and experienced for the past six years. Not just so your life on this earth is incredible, but so that you can be saved from yourself and from the chains of satan and go to heaven.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (‭John‬ ‭14‬:‭6‬)

Do Those Who Commit Suicide Go To Heaven?

This is a touchy subject, but I believe it needs to be addressed. My mom told me a pastor had said he firmly believed someone he knew, who committed suicide, was beyond a doubt in heaven. I challenged this notion, pointing to scriptures that talk about the hope we have as believers. If we are so hopeless in this life, do we really believe the bible? Do we trust God’s word which says He never leaves us, nor forsakes us, and that we can come to Him with our burdens and anxieties and He will gives us rest, peace, and joy?

If one does not believe Christ is stronger than our depression, we do not have true faith. There’s a verse that says our bodies are His temple and if anyone destroys this temple, God will destroy him. I happened to read this passage in 1 Peter, which I believe strongly goes against the idea that suicide is forgivable and you’re able to instantly be free from the trials of this life and enter into the joys of heaven while the rest of your brethren on earth continue suffering. This is an extremely dangerous false doctrine that encourages Christians to kill themselves because if they do, they’ll be with Christ. Not so:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a *living hope* through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are *kept by the power of God through faith* for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you *greatly rejoice*, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that *the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ*, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, *you rejoice with joy inexpressible* and full of glory, receiving the *end of your faith*—the salvation of your souls.” (I Peter‬ ‭1‬:‭3-9‬ NKJV)

“And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are *if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end*.” (Hebrews‬ ‭3‬:‭5-6‬)

Notice that true Christians have joy inexpressible; even during various grievous trials they don’t give up. In fact, the trials are actually testing the genuineness of their faith! But if one gives up during these trials, they do not have true faith and thus, they cannot please God and enter heaven after committing suicide. But if through the suffering, they continue rejoicing, trusting their Redeemer is going to resurrect them one day, then they receive the end of their faith; the salvation of their souls.

If you have a loved one who committed suicide, I feel for you. But that was his or her decision, and know that God in His mercy and love reaches out to all mankind and accepts anyone who will genuinely believe the drastic measures He went through to save them: sending His only Son to die on a cross in their place. Everyone has a chance to receive Christ. He is not exclusive to any people group or caste system. He loves us all, but we have free will. If one chooses to reject His love, it is unfortunate, but that is on them. We can only pray, preach the gospel, and share Christ’s love with others and hope they turn to Him. We all want our loved ones in heaven, but unfortunately, many people reject Christ until their last breath, and rejecting Him means no access to heaven. This is why we must take our walk with Christ so seriously: souls are perishing all around us: our parents, our siblings, our cousins, aunts and uncles, friends. We have to speak the truth in love and keep praying for their eyes to be opened to the love we have experienced that they might turn from their sins and accept the only One who can cleanse and save them.

“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” (‭I Peter‬ ‭4‬:‭1-2, 12-13, 16-19‬ NKJV)

“For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (I Peter‬ ‭2‬:‭20-25‬ NKJV)

“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”(‭Hebrews‬ ‭6‬:‭11-12‬ NKJV)

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” (‭I Peter‬ ‭5‬:‭8-10‬ NKJV)

Only The God Of The Bible Is Perfectly Good

During prayer yesterday, my Heavenly Father gave me an awesome revelation that truly stirs my heart, making me love Him more:

Everything He commands is for our good, for our benefit.

Unlike the many false gods created by man, even in commanding worship, the One True God is benefiting us. In His great generosity, worship can deliver us from demonic strongholds, it can heal emotional wounds, it brings us Christ’s joy.

He never commands anything without giving us something beautiful in return. When we pray, He hears us and gives the answer that is best for us and others. When we serve and give, He takes note and prepares heavenly rewards. We even get a chemical release of happy hormones when we’re generous.

When He tells us not to indulge in any form of premarital sexual intimacy it isn’t to kill our fun, but to protect us from getting physically and emotionally hurt, to guard our bodies and our hearts.

Every command is good for us. And it’s no wonder, for God is completely good. There isn’t a drop of evil in Him. If we lay down our pride we will see that even in His judgments He is good and right. He truly is perfect; perfect in goodness, perfect in wisdom, and best of all, perfect in love.

“God is love.”-1 John 4:8

If you think God is evil in any way, I encourage you to read the whole bible or even just the book of Matthew alone from the New Testament before making that judgement. If your heart is sincere in discovering the truth about God so that you may worship the true God, you will undoubtedly discover He indeed is love and is perfectly good and worthy to be loved and worshiped. I can boldly say, of all the so-called gods man has created, or human beings man has exalted to divinity in their minds, none of them are an ounce as close as worthy to being loved and worshipped than Yahweh/Jesus Christ, the God of the bible.

Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.” (John 7:16-17 NKJV)

What Giving Birth Taught Me About God

Natasha image

Giving birth was the most painful, yet beautiful experience of my life (besides my wedding night). God granted all my prayers: that I’d have our baby at the birth center, my husband would be there through it all, that I’d have a Christian midwife, that she’d be available for my birth, that baby would come before his due date, that I would have the pretty sea-themed room, that I’d have a speedy labor—but one He denied: a pain-free delivery.

Six hours is definitely a short labor, especially for a first time mom, but with diarrhea speeding up contractions, coupled with vomiting, I was definitely in serious pain and quite weak by the time it was time to push. And O, did I have to push. It took an hour for our 9lb 1oz, 22 inch long baby boy to enter the world, and with each failed attempt, I grew more and more discouraged. In my mind, I begged God to let him come out already. I was so tired, so discouraged, just wanting the pain and pushing to end already. It took five different birthing positions and several tries. I asked God why He was doing this to me. The baby’s head had been crowning for some time and I was beat. But God’s grace was sufficient for me, and His strength was made perfect in my weakness. Finally, on February 19th at 1:21am, Arrow Jotham Sapienza made it through the birth canal and into my arms.

A day or two after I gave birth, before entering my time of praise and prayer, I read/prayed this passage over myself and Jonathan:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭3‬:‭14-19‬ NKJV)

I began my intimate time with the Father by thanking Him, and as I was thanking Him, these words flowed from my heart:

Father, I thank You for the pain. I thank You for the opportunity to be conformed to Your suffering.

I confessed that though that was six hours of intermittent agony, Christ suffered far worse for more than nine hours (and the pain was consistent). During my labor, I was just focused on me; my suffering, but Christ was looking forward to the joy set before Him. He was focused on the Father and on saving us. His love for God and for mankind was what kept Him going.

God answered my Ephesians prayer, and He used my temporary suffering to teach me a beautiful and invaluable lesson: a greater understanding of His love.

My pain was nothing compared to His, but to get a tiny taste of what it was like is an honor and a privilege because now I grasp just a little more how great Christ’s love really is.

My prayer is that God willing, next time around I’ll be thinking of the joy set before me: a child that will be dedicated to God, my gift to Him for all He’s done for me, rather than focusing on myself. [Yes, I plan on going all-natural again at the birthing center. I absolutely love that place! They love you and baby and treat the birthing process like it’s something sacred. And giving birth is. God said the purpose of marriage is to produce godly offspring].

I don’t know what you’re suffering through, but may you likewise come to this place:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭2-5‬ NKJV)

May our understanding of God’s love continue to grow so that we can become complete in Him.

Praying for you,

Natasha

How God Revived My Downcast Soul Within Three Minutes

Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (‭Psalms‬ ‭43‬:‭5‬ NKJV)

I experienced this exact thing a half hour ago. My soul was downcast. I felt so discouraged. I went into the baby’s room, sat before the Lord, and turned on Enter The Worship Circle’s, “You are so good to me.” Though throughout this song I was crying as much as I was singing, Christ’s love was strengthening me. During the next song by the same group, “Those who trust,” I was no longer weeping. His Spirit enveloped me. He wrapped His caring arms around me, and as always, I was encouraged by my God, my Father, my Husband, and my Friend.

When you’re down, may you remember to praise Him because no matter what you’re going through, He is faithful, He loves you. He never changes and He never fails. As you begin to focus on the truth of who Christ is and praise Him accordingly, I promise you too will be encouraged and renewed as I am now.

Praying for you,

Natasha