Our Souls Reek (The Solution)

Readers,

On the train yesterday, consumed with thoughts about my health and my future, a homeless man came on the train. He looked absolutely disheveled. His hair was a mess, one pant leg was raised to his knee, his clothes had holes, and he acted like he was high, drunk, or both. Immediately I looked upon him with pity and felt helpless. I had no food to give him. Others on the train offered change and dollar bills, averting eyes the whole time. 

As I watched him walk through the train, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “How he looks is how your souls are.” Without Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Father, our souls are dirty, homeless, high/drunk people. We reek without Christ. Although we attempt to put our dirtiness aside and present a clean image to the world, God sees our hearts and souls. Both are wicked. Both are dirty, without Him. 

So don’t you look down upon a homeless person and judge them for what they look like they do (drugs, sex, alcohol), when you know your soul looks just like that. Although you put on a clean mask for the general public, Christ sees the truth. But, with Christ as your Savior, God looks upon you as clean. He sees you through the lens of Christ. You are spotless in His eyes.

Last night I saw a documentary called “Liberated” about the new “sexual revolution.” It was made by a Christian filmmaker and it poses various questions about the way our youth culture relates to sexuality, relationships, masculinity, and femininity. After I watched that documentary, I was left feeling disgusted with our culture, this “hookup” culture. It’s so damaging and disruptive to the holy way that God fashioned us to express our sexuality.

I must admit: I am not perfect regarding my sexuality. No one is. We are all sexually broken people, looking for something to give us that fix, make us feel alive, and temporarily satisfy us. Some of us find it in casual sex with random people and others find it in porn and masturbation. I fall into the latter camp. Although I’ve gotten a good hold on this temptation for the most part, there are moments where the temptation is strong and I give in to it, always feeling like it’s someone else. It’s not really me. My true self is the one typing this blog post. My sinful self is a whole other person. I always hate myself afterward, but there’s grace for me. God has grace. God understands. Jesus was tempted in every way, which means sexually, yet He never sinned. He understands the temptation.

There is nothing wrong with wanting sex. Most of us want sex, unless there’s some severe brokenness that prevents us from that natural desire. We yearn to be united with another. That is holy, in a marriage between a man and wife. Outside of that frame, the picture is distorted. But no matter what sexual sin and brokenness you’ve fallen into or have been victim to, you are a victim no longer. You are no longer a slave to sin. You are not ruined. Never! Christ can and will redeem you. Call on His name and let Him heal you in a way specifically designed for you.

Beloved, if you find yourself sexually broken, I recommend checking out Mo Isom’s new book: Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot. It hasn’t hit stores yet, but you can pre-order it on Amazon.com. Be encouraged. We’re all sexually broken. Some of us have same-sex attraction. Some of us have other sinful attractions, things that we don’t even want to speak about, like attraction to children or incestuous feelings. Be strengthened. God’s grace covers you and His love covers your sins. Yet He does not wish for your sin to remain where it is. He yearns to repair and revive what you thought was long dead. 

If you find yourself watching porn, masturbating, texting sexually explicit things to another person, having casual sex, having unnatural sex, there is hope for you. There is always hope. That hope is in the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He is the Messiah, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. Through relationship with Him, you will be restored. Beloved, it is a process, so be patient with yourself and God.

I’m always here if you need a chat. ❤

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

 

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 New International Version (NIV)

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

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Typical “Women’s Ministry” Fails Women

Readers,

I am absolutely fed up with typical women’s ministry as it’s practiced in church settings. Typical women’s ministry is best understood as groups of women who gather together to discuss their difficulties as mothers and wives. Or, we’re subjected to Scripture study of very specific books like “Ruth” and “Esther” and the primary idea to be grasped is that we have to be Godly women, wait on the right man, and our Boaz will come along eventually. 

Too often, women’s ministry encompasses the following topics:

  1. How to best support your husband as he leads you and the family
  2. How to be a Godly mother
  3. How to balance your time and your duties in the home
  4. How to serve at the church (typically behind the scenes and with children, if there’s a children’s ministry)

In case people don’t know, not all women are wives and mothers. Some of us don’t even want to be wives and mothers. That does not diminish our womanhood or femininity. We’re not incomplete as women because we’re single and childless. We are able to offer just as much to the kingdom of God as any man, no matter our marital status or the state of our wombs. It is not the end goal of a woman’s life to be married and have children. That is a patriarchal way of thinking. Tear it down.

Let’s consider the multiple ways that the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles treated women. First and foremost, Jesus Christ is the best feminist ever. He fully supports equality between the sexes. A man is not greater than a woman. A woman is not greater than a man. Both equally reflect the image of God. Both have value and purpose in this life. We see how Jesus responds to women multiple times throughout Scripture, whether that’s saving the woman caught in adultery,  gently forgiving the woman with several husbands, showing kindness toward the Gentile woman with great faith, and healing Mary Magdalene of all of her demons and accepting her as one of His followers. By follower, I mean that she quite literally followed Jesus, right alongside Peter and John. She left everything she knew to serve Jesus and followed Him. Luke 8 tells of the several women who financially supported Jesus’ ministry. Clearly, the Lord loves women!

Now, as far as His apostles go, there is often talk of the Apostle Paul being misogynistic and backward in his way of thinking about women. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything that the Apostle Paul had to say about women must be understood in the proper cultural context. For example, when Paul said that women should “remain silent” in the church, he did not mean that women should literally never speak. He was pointing out a problem that happened during church services. Women would hear Paul preach and, during the service, ask their husbands what he meant. Paul says that this should be reserved for the home, because they were simply interrupting the service and distracting everyone.

The Apostle Paul is the one who famously said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” – Galatians 3:28. Here, Paul is not saying that the differences between men and women don’t matter, or that we have no differences, but he is saying that the old way of thinking, the patriarchal way of thinking, has been abolished by Christ’s sacrifice. In heaven, we are all equal and because we are citizens of heaven living on Earth, we must be equal here as well.

Let’s consider then how we should approach women’s ministry. What can and should women contribute to the King’s work on Earth? Well, pretty much everything. Although I agree with Scripture’s prohibition regarding women serving as senior pastors, women can serve in virtually any context. Worship leader? Yup. Small group leader? Definitely. Missionary? Yes, please! We need more of you on the mission field. Outreach and evangelism? Absolutely. Prayer coordinator? No doubt.

You get the idea.

I want to be a part of a women’s ministry that is focused on training women to be better image bearers of Christ. I want to be taught evangelism. I want someone to show me the best ways to do outreach. I want to be trained as a missionary! Let’s gather together and talk about theology, doctrine, and apologetics. Let’s discuss how we can serve the world with our incredible gifts as women of God. Let’s talk about our own struggles with pornography. Can we get into how hard it is for WOMEN to be sexually pure?

Ladies, we are not defined by a ring on our finger or a baby on our hip! We are defined by Christ Jesus alone and we have as much responsibility to bring more of God’s kingdom on earth as any man. We will be held accountable for our actions on earth and I’m not just talking about sin. When we behold the face of Jesus, the last thing we want is to ask ourselves, “Why didn’t I do more for Him?” You are a Kingdom-chaser and a warrior for Christ. Let’s start acting like that, husband or no husband.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

 

 

Relating to God as Father (When You’ve Been Abused)

Readers,

This is a painful topic. I suppose I should insert a trigger warning for any abuse survivors. I won’t go into too much detail about the abuse that I suffered, but I will mention it in slight detail. This piece may bring back painful memories for you. I’m right there with you, friend. We’re in this together.

 

Alright, well here’s a bit of my story. I was born into a tumultuous family. My father had undiagnosed bipolar disorder and his own long history of abuse in all its sick forms. Many people hurt my dad when he was a child. Typically this is what happens. Someone is abused and they, in turn, abuse their own children, often unknowingly.

I was abused. I was emotionally, verbally, spiritually, and financially abused. Common occurrences in my home were these:

  1. I would come home from school and find at least two family members engaged in a screaming match.
  2. Dad would become so angry that he would punch holes in walls and break things in the home. One time he threw my dog against the wall. I will never forget that. 
  3. When I asked for money, it was given with much reluctance and often I felt indebted to my father. I had to perform in a certain way to pay him back. This is something I struggle with to this day.
  4. Often, my parents would threaten to divorce at least once a week. One time I became so fed up with the arguing, because I was studying, and I said, “Just divorce already or don’t because I’m studying!” I was 9 years old.
  5. Sometimes Dad would leave for days on end, after a big fight with my mom. If he didn’t leave, he gave her the silent treatment for a few days. As my brother and I grew older, he exhibited this behavior toward us as well. 
  6. I’ve been called a bitch, evil, a burden, etc. Cutting words.

Readers, this abuse is something that the Lord is slowly lifting off of my heart every day. With each morning, I feel that God is calling the abuse out of me, calling to my mind the painful memories so we can work through them together. Every time I see my therapist, I receive so much healing and validation. I love therapy. I highly recommend it!

Now, this piece is about relating to God as Father when you’ve been abused, especially by a man. I never realized that I had an incorrect and incomplete view of God as Father until recently. My Christian walk up until age 23, my current age, has been about legalism. I always wanted to “do the right thing” and “be a good Christian.” I wanted to please God. I wanted Him to be proud of me. I want my Dad to be proud to be my Dad. I didn’t want God to punish me. 

I never experienced that light freedom that comes from loving Christ and being loved by Him until recently. Actually, you know, picturing Christ in my mind when I thought of God was easier than thinking of the Father. This could be because the Father seems a bit removed from us in the sense that He does not have a body. He is Spirit. But, Christ has a body, so it’s easier to relate to Him. That’s so genius of God to send Christ. 🙂

But, this is how my walk has been. This has been how I related to God. I can’t quite pinpoint what really happened to change it, but one night I was reading Romans 4 and the realization of God’s holy grace rushed over me! The Holy Spirit came upon me in a powerful way and I wept for hours, finally realizing that God loves me because He is love and because He made me, not because I’m “good.”

For those of you who struggle with viewing God as Father, listen to me. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I don’t have this all figured out yet and I won’t until I join the Lord in heaven, but it gets easier. My recommendation is to:

  1. Deal with the memories when they come up (as long as is healthy for you)
  2. Seek therapy (whether that’s formal counseling or some type of counseling from church)
  3. Pray to your Father
  4. Read the sections of the Bible where the Father is mentioned as loving, patient, kind, and understanding
  5. Wait on the Lord. He will heal you.

 

Friend, what happened to you was not something unknown to God. He knew it would happen. He didn’t want it to! But, we have free will. However, what Satan meant for evil in your life, God will turn it around for your good! You will be a blessing to yourself and to others. God will bring you to a place where you can speak to others about your past and your healing. Many will come to the Lord through your testimony. Many will find healing. I firmly believe this. Rest in God. Let HIS strength be Yours. He loves you because He’s your Abba. ❤

 

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

Nabeel Qureshi

Nabeel,
I knew you were going to a place where everything would be made right.
Your body would be restored.
Life would be renewed.

A place where pain no longer ruled
And sickness was a forgotten foe.
Where humans didn’t kill each other
Over religious beliefs or skin color.

Yet you didn’t want to go.
Not many of us do desire to leave
Although what’s awaiting some of us
Is divine glory beyond comprehension.

But, the cancer ate away at your body.
The doctors removed your stomach;
Left you bare.

I wonder if you remembered what food tasted like,
What it was like to drink something cool and refreshing.
Or had you become accustomed to the tubes
That kept you with us, although you were suffering?

Nabeel,
In this world, you left the old life for the new.
The only promise you had to cling to
Was the promise of God’s ever-presence.

We are not ensured health in this life
Nor wealth, although we try
To keep a firm grip on both.

Nabeel,
You showed me what it meant to be a Christian.
To suffer, to be sick, and to love Jesus regardless.
You’re in the Lord’s arms and that brings comfort.
But we’ll miss you and the work you did for the people you loved.

Nabeel,
You are enjoying everything new.
New body.
New mind.
New home.
We just wish you didn’t have to go.

 

 

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. – John 11:25

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. – Philippians 1:21

And Then I Got Sick (God Allowed It)

Hey readers,

If you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning, you know that my family has dealt with many illnesses this year. My dad had a pulmonary embolism in April and discovered that he had an enlarged heart, my brother had a severe bone infection in his leg in July, and my aunt who has Lupus isn’t doing so well.

In an odd way, I sensed that all of this was God. God allowed these things to happen for a reason. I began to see my friends and friends of friends become sick. One of my friends’ mom is undergoing a hysterectomy soon. This friend also has a friend with lung cancer. My old roommate was diagnosed with a spinal cord infection and possibly an auto immune disease. My half-sister’s grandma was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer.

All of this happened within the past few weeks.

So, I was kind of waiting for my turn to get sick. Now, I had been dealing with some acid reflux symptoms but chalked it up to stress from family issues and every doctor I saw confirmed this. A couple of weeks ago, my acid reflux became so painful, that I went to the ER and the doctor informed me that I could either just have terribly bad acid reflux or potentially an ulcer.

Yesterday, I had an upper endoscopy and the doctor found 2-3 small ulcers and a nodule on my esophagus. They’re doing biopsies of everything. 

I’ve never heard of a 23-year old having ulcers and nodules or anything like this. I only know one other young person who has had an ulcer. As a result of my ulcer, I need to completely change the way I eat and drink.

I’m not just talking about eating healthy foods. I typically eat very well. But there are some foods and drinks I can no longer take and if I can, they must be in small amounts.

Here’s an example:

  1. Black tea (MY BELOVED CHAI!!!)
  2. Onions (the best)
  3. Garlic (yum yum)
  4. Eggs (my typical breakfast)
  5. Anything fried (bye, bye chicken fingers)
  6. Alcohol (see ya, beloved whiskey and wine)
  7. Caffeine (adios, Coke Zero)
  8. Citrus fruits (nature’s candy)

There’s probably more, but it’s trial and error for me and my stomach.

Why did this happen to me? I don’t know. The biopsies come back next week. It may be the result of an infection and it may not be.

What I do know is that God let this happen. For some reason, God allowed me to have ulcers and nodules. What I’m resting in is the sweet sovereignty of Jesus. He is in control. He dictates what happens to me and what is kept from me. I trust Him with my life. I have to trust Him with my life. Because it belongs to Him. One day, I’ll no longer eat and be in pain. I’ll have a new, healthy body in heaven. Can God heal me of these ulcers and nodules? Absolutely. Will He? Maybe. Is He wrong if He doesn’t? Nope!

 

Let’s see what God does with this…

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

My Thorn

My dreams often times run wild and free. My dreams…what are they? From where do they come? Is it just me in there? Or does my Father sculpt them? Perhaps it’s both blended together. God’s influence and my talents working as one. That’s the ideal, but is it true for me?

My worst enemy will always be me. Pulling against Him as He extracts the rotten growth. Those roots run deep. They’ve woven themselves around my heart and traveled between the curves in my brain. I pray and wait for Him to set me free.

But perhaps this is just my particular thorn. Everyone’s got one, I’m sure of that. When I grasp the rose that is God’s heart, my thorn cuts deeper in my palm, but I squeeze tighter. Regardless of the pain I let the blood trickle down. It’s not mine. It’s His. It cleans me as I hold on. My thorn forms the crown He wore.

I was blessed by my Lord with a big heart. It burdens me as I live, move, and have my being. This heart of mine, it isn’t mine anymore. I gave that ownership to another, to the Only. A heart for His purposes must not be filthy; it must be purified. But, it must always be broken.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

Using Freedom as License to Sin

Hey dear readers,

Lord, so many things have happened lately around the world. My heart mourns for those in South Asia and Texas who are suffering the ramifications of devastating flooding.

 

This morning’s post is going to be about something entirely different. It’s more personal, more painful. You all know I’m a Christian and I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Brother, and Heavenly Husband. I love Him so much and I want to do the right thing, but here’s something I’ve learned about myself recently.

 

I struggle with legalism. Yes, I know we all tend to be a bit legalistic, but my legalism was pretty bad.

 

From ages 15-23, I operated under a legal system in relation to God. I would force myself to do “good things” because I wanted to be good. I wanted Abba to love me more. I wanted to be a perfect Christian. As a result of this thinking, I would come into the presence of God without any sense of freedom and hardly from the posture of a loved child. It was always fear. I always felt like I was coming up short.

 

Lately, God has completely broken that. It honestly feels as if I’m getting to know God for the first time! I love it and am so grateful that He broke my legalism down. I remember the night He did this. It was two Sundays ago and I read Romans chapter 4 before bedtime. I can only explain what happened next as the Holy Spirit overcoming me, but all of a sudden I began weeping, sobbing, crying, llorando like never before. Suddenly I realized how much God loves me. Me! How He gave Christ for us and it is through faith alone in CHRIST’S work on the cross that we have forgiveness of sins and freedom. Now we can call Him, Abba Father!

 

Before this revelation, I went a bit wild for a few weeks. I’m not ashamed to admit it, because it was necessary for God to show me how a wild lifestyle was not the answer. I drank too much, watched inappropriate things on my computer, and considered having sex with an almost 40-year old man who certainly doesn’t love God. I literally considered it. It wasn’t just a passing thought. I was mere steps away from planning a tryst with this man.

I did this all in the name of freedom. Oh, since Christ loves us and saves us, we can have fun now, right? It doesn’t matter what we do because it’s all about Christ. Right?

 

Nope.

 

I got so low because of my behavior that Christ ushered in that Sunday night, loved me with his presence, and brought me to my knees before Him. Day by day, He is teaching me what it looks like to have a love relationship with Him, not a relationship built on fear.

 

Readers, our freedom isn’t license to sin. But, sometimes, we get so off track that God Himself has to snatch us up from ourselves and teach us what true freedom looks like. I don’t have the answer for that, but I’m excited to learn more about my Abba. My loving, patient, forgiving Abba. ❤

When Satan Comes At Night

At my most vulnerable, at my most fragile, he comes. When I allow the doubts to creep in, he makes his presence known. He doesn’t come in the form of a terrifying fallen angel. Oh no, he comes in the form of a lover, an amante, a desire, a forbidden passion.

As I walk around my quaint neighborhood, admiring the clusters of houses and little gardens, he comes to mind:

“Maybe you should text him.”

“Perhaps you were wrong to reject him before.”

“God could have sent you to show him the Way, couldn’t He have? God can do anything, right?”

 

Washing my hair and listening to Latin music, I picture us dancing to the tune. I don’t change the song.

Hearing the Spanish love songs I adore and imagining him wanting me like the singer wants his muse.

The sky falls, the sun drops, the stars peek their heads into the wide God-fashioned expanse.

“Text him. You can’t stop thinking about him, so it must be a sign from God.”

Five months had passed since we last spoke. His ridiculous romantic advances were disgusting to me and I had rejected him.

But, the connection.

But, the feeling.

But, the passion. 

We exchanged pleasantries for a few moments before the former flattering words spewed forth from his mouth. 

“What do you want?” I asked.

“All of you. I want to know everything about you.”

Now, this man doesn’t know Christ and he is almost 40-years old. Everything in me told me not to respond to that, but I did. Why did I? He promised love. He promised passion. He promised fire. His words stirred the desire in me that I had suppressed for so long.

After a night of forsaken sleep and fervent text messages, the Holy Spirit spoke clearly to my heart by giving me a feeling of utter disgust with this situation. I felt it in the pit of my stomach and it gurgled up to my throat. I texted the man and restated that I’m not the one for him.

Not today, Satan. Not today.

When Satan comes, he doesn’t come as a figure of fear or destruction, WHICH IS WHAT HE IS. He comes as your greatest fleshly desire. In my case, it was romantic love and physical passion. Remember that Satan is the father of lies and all he wants to do is steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He prowls around, looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8). Who does he want to destroy? Believers. He hates us with an everlasting hatred because we are God’s beloved, and he hates God. 

Brothers and sisters, there is hope. That hope comes in the person of Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God. Through His sacrifice on the cross, we no longer have to identify by our sins and shortcomings. I am not Gabrielle, the girl who succumbs when a man sweet talks her in Spanish. I am Gabrielle, daughter of the King, furtherer of God’s kingdom, and heavenly princess. Your sins do not define you if you believe in Jesus Christ. Accept His free gift of healing, liberation, and peace. This gift is something we believers must accept every day. Every day we have to say NO to identifying by our sins and say YES to identifying by our God. Preach yourself the Gospel every day. Lord knows I need His Good News every moment.

You will be tempted because you are human and prone to sin. We all are. But, God promises to give us a way out of temptation. That is through Himself. (1 Corinthians 10:13).

 

Be encouraged. You are NEVER too dirty or too much for God. He made you and He LOVES you!

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

Being a Bruja Isn’t Cute

Dear readers, there is a disturbing trend going around the young Latino community: Brujeria (witchcraft). Now, brujeria has been in Latino culture since the African slaves came to the various Latino countries and brought it with them. Latinos have mixed brujeria and Catholicism together, culminating in a different religion called Santeria (still witchcraft). I have a previous blog post on Santeria, which I’ll link here:

https://parakajol.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/restoring-distorted-family-legacies/

 

In this post, I want to discuss the trend that is becoming popular lately. Young Latin women are “reclaiming” the word “bruja” (witch) and using it as a way to identify themselves. To them, “bruja” means a strong, assertive, culturally-aware femme. Some of these women may participate in brujeria, but some may just use the term to describe themselves.

Readers, being a bruja isn’t cute. These modern-day brujas have turned withcraft into an aesthetic they can try on for a while, but they are certainly not prepared for the intense spiritually evil ramifications that come with this “play”. They play with crystals, tarot cards, and Ouija boards, thinking that they’re connecting with their culture.

To be frank, if a person calls themselves a bruja and they engage in brujeria, they are inviting demonic spirits to inhabit their bodies and ruin their lives/the lives of those around them. Even if the person claims to practice “white magic” (magic for the benefit of people), magic is magic. Magic is evil. Magic is wrong. Just because a culture claims it as a cultural practice does not mean that it’s beneficial for you or for anyone around you. The spirits may be your friends in the beginning, but they will turn on you and abuse your mind and body to get what they want, which ultimately is human destruction.

If we’re honest, we have to admit that not every aspect of every culture is beneficial or positive. I’m sure no one would argue that the gender inequality in the Middle East or South Asia is acceptable because “that’s just their culture.” So, why are we accepting witchcraft as a potential pastime for Latinos just because it is a part of our culture?

Whether you believe brujeria is real or not, whether you think the spiritual realm exists or not, I pray and hope that you understand that brujeria is not the way to get what you want. It is not the way to find the peace your soul seeks. We all want control; we want to feel like we have some say in what happens to us on Earth. This life is so hectic at times and we wonder what the purpose of it all actually is. Readers, the only One who can give you peace beyond human understanding is Jesus Christ. 

Jesus Christ says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

 

Here’s what the Bible says about witchcraft:

https://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-witchcraft.html

I pray that you read this article with an open heart and mind. If you’re caught in witchcraft or know someone who is, call out to Jesus to set you free! He will answer those who call on His name in earnest.

 

Here’s the story of one Latino man who was caught in brujeria:

 

 

Blessings,
Gabrielle G.