Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tactfulness and Technology

Turns out, it's very difficult to keep up on blog posts when your computer is toast....

Following a myriad of hashtags and usernames on Instagram takes me to interesting, and often frightening, places. It never ceases to amaze me what some people put out there for the world to see. Teenagers smoking weed, large women twirking, unsanitary living, boobs, boobs and more boobs. How is it that my generation left discretion in the dust and decided to publicize their misconduct? Why the heck is it “cool” to share our disgusting, and sometimes illegal, activities with everyone???

I’ll admit. When I was a partier, I posted pictures on my Facebook of ragers and drunken friends. I still don’t get it. Why did I do that? Why did I want everyone to get a glimpse of the misery that was my “fun”? What’s wrong with the social media generation? Each and every one of us has someone out there that looks up to us. That models their decisions after ours. How are our pictures of underage drinking going to affect their future?


Be careful little devices what you post. I’d like to challenge my friends to think twice before they advertise their unscrupulous activities to the public. You never know who’s watching you. Do you really want to start a precious little one down the path to destruction? 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This Hope

I'm going to be honest. The last year has been one of the most difficult of my life. So much has happened. Sometimes it feels like my heart is breaking daily. There has been too much cancer, too many close calls with the lives of infants, too many murders,  way too many deaths. I'm starting to lose count, but in the last year alone, I believe 7 people (maybe 8) have died. People I know, people I care about. Most recently, my kind, gentle Uncle Dave. The cancer won in the end, and there was nothing that could be done. I'm going to miss him, so much. His crackly voice, one-of-a-kind laugh. He was cantankerous in only the best ways. He was one of those guys that would give you guff with a twinkle in his eye. He was a great guy, and he will be missed...by so many.

It is so hard to say goodbye so many times. So hard to stand strong and carry on through pain. Some days I don't know how I'm going to make it through. But then I remember. Hope. I have hope, as an anchor for my soul (Heb 6:19). My soul, the core of my being is securely fastened in the loving arms of Christ. No matter what happens, no matter how hard things are, He is always there. He will never let me go. And he will never give me more than I can bear. I know I can get through anything that comes my way, because He believes in me. He knows I can withstand the storm. He knows how much strength He's given me.

Pastor Levi said something today in his last point that really struck me: "It is an incredible honor to be trusted with pain." His message was about Paul. I mean, think about it. Of anyone on this earth, Paul probably had the worst year/years/decade imaginable. He suffered so much (if you're unfamiliar with his story... read your Bible...it's got some good stuff in it). Yet he persevered, he never blamed God. He knew. God uses the hard times as a tool. He will put to use the pain. When things are unbearable, I need to remember: God is TRUSTING me through this. He believes in me, He believes that I'm a heck of a lot stronger than I can imagine. I am a valued child of His, and I'm probably doing a lot of things right.

When we are proving ourselves worthy to be called God's children, Satan attacks...with a vengeance. He doesn't want us to be making progress for the Kingdom of God. He wants us to be hiding in the corner in the fetal position, sucking our thumbs. He wants to hit us where it hurts and make us never want to get back up and fight. Honestly? Satan is SCARED. He is SCARED OF ME. He's using his darts to rip into my heart. He's trying to slow me down, he's trying to keep me away from the work of God. Well guess what? I'M NOT BACKING DOWN. I WILL NOT COWER! I will carry on, no matter how hard it gets. I can't let him win. He has no power over me. I am a child of God, and HE will guide me to finish my race.

I'm not going to lie...I'm scared. Terrified of what's coming next. There are so many people I care about in this world, that I simply couldn't stand to lose. But at least I know, God will provide me with what I need. He will be there with me. He will guide me. I don't have to be alone. I can't imagine what it would be like to go through life without that hope.

Always,

Jaci

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Condition of the Heart

Meet Naomi:


She was born a week and a half ago. She's beautiful, sweet, perfect. What you wouldn't know from looking at her? She has a severe heart condition. It's called pulmonary atresia. This sweet one had open heart surgery one week after she was born, and will continue to have heart surgery for the rest of her childhood. To the naked eye, she looks perfectly healthy.

That's how it is with all of us. Each and every person on this earth has a severe heart condition, an invisible monster, chipping off years of joy and peace. We are all selfish, hurtful, demanding. We want people to do things our way, bend over backward, serve us fully. We want to be happy, no matter what it costs someone else.

When we become Christians, we are saying, "I am putting Christ and others above myself." But we still struggle. As a Christian, we face years of open heart surgery. God knows our weaknesses, He knows where we need to grow. He knows what part of our hearts is focused solely on serving ourselves. And He knows how to teach. Many of us are slow learners. We need a cold, hard slap across the face to realize what we're doing is wrong. For myself, it's taken a year of heartache to discover the patience and trust He has been teaching me. And it's not over yet. By no means have I learned all that I need to about these things.

Being a Christian isn't easy. It isn't a crutch. It doesn't make the pain go away. Being a Christian gives us hope. Hope that when newborn babies have a life-threatening heart condition, no matter what happens, God has a plan. His plan is to prosper us, to grow us. His plan is to teach us how to be more like Him, no matter how incredibly painful those surgeries can get to be.

Be open to God's plan for your life.

Always,

Jaci

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Do Something


Rock your city. I dare you. Rock it. What do I mean? Be a light, make a difference! My church is knee deep in the middle of an annual, state-wide volunteer project that we call Rock This City. We are joining with churches in our respective communities and being the hands and feet of Jesus. Practical application of our faith. It’s a pretty fantastic event! But the thing is, we shouldn’t be waiting for August to roll around to be putting our faith in action. We should be serving those around us ALL of the time!

James 2:17 sums it up best: faith, if it has no works, is dead (NASB). We are commissioned be there for the humans we encounter every day of our lives. And I’m not talking about things that we are “required” to do—like donating for charity jeans day. Or the things that we like to publicize to make ourselves look good—on Facebook, Instagram, etc. Especially not the things we are asked to do an grumble about the whole time. We are to do these things with a joyful heart. If somebody asks you for help, and you complain bitterly during the entire process, you are not being an example of Christ’s love.

I am inspired by a group of wonderful ladies who have decided to take a collection at Bible study every week to help people or charities that they know of in our community. The best part? They’re planning to stay anonymous. They’re not doing this for their own glory, they’re doing it to better the Kingdom of God.

If you’re poor (like me), don’t fear! Being a servant to others certainly is not only for those who have money to spare! We can serve the Lord with our time as well. Joyfully donating your time to projects is just as valuable in eternity.

To my fellow Fresh Lifers—I’d like to challenge you to keep serving your community after RTC is long over. To my other readers—get out there. Make a difference. Don’t be the one who could have, but didn’t.

Always,
Jaci

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Through Thick And Thin

A lot has happened in this past year. A lot of good. A whole heck of a lot of difficult. But it's amazing to look back and see all of the wonderful people that God has placed in my life to help me through. Whether it was friends who gave me stuffed animals, flowers and hugs in the many times of mourning. An amazing mother to call and pour my heart out to. Friends who dropped everything to come be with me when I was sick. A roommate who saw me depressed, called in sick, got me ice cream and Channing Tatum movies. Someone who held me close while I cried over the distance of my family. Or even the people who just made me laugh, told me God has plans for me, high fived me at church, made my life a beautiful place. I've had so many selfless, supportive people by my side. I just want to say thank you. To all of you. I love you all so much, and I'm so lucky to have you in my life.

These people are an amazing example of what God wants for us: to love our neighbors. Everyone goes through stuff. We all have our struggles, our pain. That's why we need each other. We need to be the kind of friends who are there when nobody else will be. Not like Job's friends, like Daniel's friends. When things started going bad in Job's life, his friends turned away and mocked him. They stabbed him in the back and dug the knife deeper. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when Daniel and his friends found themselves in the worst situation of their lives? They stuck together. They followed God wholeheartedly, and when they were on the verge of being killed for their beliefs-they endured.

No matter what is going on in someone's life, they need someone to stand by them and be there for them. They need real friends. Loving your neighbor isn't simply being polite to the people you don't like. It's being genuine and real, willing to look past differences and see the plans God has for both of you. Don't be a faker. Be a true friend. God will bless you. Even if you don't see it now. Don't let selfishness get in the way of His plans. Love your neighbor.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Get A Life

What are you doing with your life? It's a menacing question. Some might get offended, "Who are you to ask me what I'M doing with MY life?" But it's a question Christians should be asking each other daily. WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH OUR LIVES? Are we living each day to the fullest? Or are we falling prey to the monotony of the daily grind?Are we doing everything we can to make a difference in our world? We should be. So many people have so many reasons, "Well, my job ties me down. So I can't do much for God." "My children take up all of my time." "I try to talk about God, but nobody listens." The list of lame excuses continue on and on. You can make a difference in the world without being an international evangelist, bestselling author, recording artist, etc. God doesn't expect us to impact every person in the WHOLE world, He expects us to impact the people in OUR world. You don't have to be a public speaker or stellar writer to make an impression. Live for God, surrender even the most mundane moments of your life to Christ. HE will make the difference. When people see the way you treat your children in the grocery store, they will notice. When you smile at someone at work who really grinds your gears, and wish them "Good morning", people will notice (I need to work on this one). When people see you tackle even the most basic of daily activities with joy and patience, they will notice! Believe me, encountering a truly joyful person in this world is like finding a daffodil in the desert. It is an experience people remember.

In the Bible, humans are compared to sheep. A. LOT. We're followers. It's what we do. A new trend comes out, and a herd of people throw down their life's savings to fit in. When there's something interesting to see, a flock of humans gather around to check it out. The same goes for a variety of actions in life. If someone sees you behaving in a godly manner in your daily life, they're likely to pick up some of your Christ-like habits. Others will pick up on their newly found good behavior, and on and on. Before you know it, a whole crowd of people are serving others in their community because of the one time you cared for someone else.

Every action you make every day of your life can have an eternal impact. Don't let the constraints of your current circumstances hold you down. Get out there. Life your life. Make a difference.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Nothing Can Compare

It's so easy to do. In fact, we all do it. Every day. In our age of social media, smart phones, and celebrity stalking, comparing our lives with the lives of others is a daily, if not hourly, occurrence. She's got the most amazing car, best wardrobehe works out all of the time, has the perfect familythey look so happy together, have such great photographic chemistryetc, etc, so on and so forth. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like are constantly shoving our inadequacy in our faces. It's hard to keep in touch with reality when we're busy floating through cyber spacestacking up our various failures. We need something to ground us, to keep our feet in the dirt and our heads out of the clouds.

Lets face it, most of those things our media friends havethat we so desperately long forare really just a giant prop in their lives anyway. She might have a sweet car, but she's drowning in the payments. He might have the perfect family, but he's really struggling with infidelity. They might be photogenic, but behind the smiles, they're broken inside. Nobody has a perfect life. Perfection is unattainable. We need to learn to be happy with what we have and who we are, because who we are is the exact individual that God created us to be. He put a lot of thought into each and every one of us. He calls us wonderful (Psalm 139:14). He doesn't care what kind of possessions we have or what we look like, he only cares where our hearts are (1 Samuel 16:7). We are precious and valuable to Him (Isaiah 43:4, Luke 12:7).

He made us different on purpose, He knew what he was doing. The Bible says that he knew us before we were even us. He knew exactly who we would be and what kind of gifts we would have (Jeremiah 1:5). Those gifts are our means of spreading His Glory, and we were each given a different array of gifts on purpose (Romans 12:6-7). The world simply wouldn't work if everyone had the exact same abilities. Think about it, if everyone were good with computers...who would be left to be an athlete? If everyone was a grammar Nazi...who would teach math? Don't question God's reasons for making you who you are. He knows what's up. I promise. He's much smarter than you or I.

Comparing yourself to someone else, someone who is blessed with different talents than yourself is unwise (2 Corinthians 10:12). Quit it! The world, the church, your community, wouldn't function properly if you were any different than you are now. Who cares what anyone else thinks? You are exactly the person God designed you to be. He thinks you're amazing just the way you are (and thought so before Bruno Mars did). His opinion is the only one of any sort of importance (Galatians 1:10).

I leave you with the words of Priscilla Shirer from The Resolution for Women: "You are the only you the world has." Embrace that. You're special. To the world, to God.

Always,
Jaci

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Just Say No To...

I know there are a lot of people out there that simply don't have a lot of time on their hands. Me either. I have work, church, softball, boyfriend, small group, gym membership, Bible study, another job, and a friend or two. Things that pile up and make for a busy life. A common topic in messages, study books, sermons, etc. lately has been the importance of time. I've been taught that, when I dip my toes into too many things at once, the tasks that I'm performing are being done inadequately. I'm not putting my all into the important things, because I'm spending too much time juggling everything. As a result, people and projects fall by the wayside. One way to relieve some of this stress in my life is to learn how to say no when I'm asked for a favor or invited to do something. It's a hard lesson to put into practice.

But I've realized, there's more to it than just learning to say no to others. I don't know if anyone else ever feels like this... But sometimes, the HARDEST person to say no to? Myself! There are just SO MANY things that I want to do! A lot of times, when someone invites me to do something, I struggle with saying "no" because I WANT to say "yes"!

This is where God comes in. I need to learn how to say "no" to the things that I want to do, and focus on the things that He wants me to do. Now, that doesn't mean I can never go to dinner with friends because I might not be witnessing to anyone at that exact moment. It just means that, if there is something more important I could be doing for Jesus at that moment, than I sure as heck better be picking that over pizza and Coke Zero. The only way to really know what God's will is for those moments is to spend time with Him. And here it comes, full circle. The more of my precious time I give to Him, the clearer he will make my path (Proverbs 3:6). If I give Him the time that I have so little of, He will show me what things I can eliminate from my day, thus freeing me from the stress of being overworked.

So simple, yet so difficult.

Don't let your own plans for your life get in the way of God's. He's always right, and He's in control.

Always,
Jaci

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Who Gave You The Right?

We've had a guest speaker at my church the last few weeks, doing a series of messages he's given at his own church in the past. This man is Pastor Craig Groeshel, the messages are based on his book: Altar Ego. The most recent message pretty much slapped me across the face. The whole thing was about giving up our "right" to be offended. I don't know about you, but I get offended about a lot of things. I'm offended when someone leaves their shoes in the middle of the floor for me to trip on, uses a clean cloth to wipe up a dirty spill, accuses me of something I didn't do...but probably my biggest source of irritation is when somebody treats me like I am beneath them or less intelligent than them.

Let me give you a little background—growing up I didn't really see myself as having many good qualities. I was kind-of a weird kid, didn't have many friends, wasn't the best at anything. In my mind, the one thing I had going for me was this: I was smart. The things people said to me confirmed this fact in my mind, as did the awards I won at quizzing competitions, my grades, standardized tests, etc. My quick wit and sharp mind were my one claim to fame. Growing up and going to college, then on to full time work has helped me realize that I am, perhaps, not the brightest bulb in the world. But hey, I still have some pride when it comes to my ability to quickly learn almost anything I'm taught. So, because of this slight superiority complex I developed as a child, it really grinds my gears when people treat me as an inferior.

Enter "that guy." The one that constantly talks down to me, pretends I haven't got the faintest clue what I'm doing, lets me know through his words and actions that he essentially thinks I'm an idiot. Queue Jaci the raging jerkwad that needs to look in to anger management classes.

Welcome to my life as of recently.

And from stage left, Pastor Craig Groeshel waltzes in with his sermon. Helllllllloooooooo conviction. Am I really that important in this world that everyone should treat me like a princess? Yeah, not so much. Granted, the way this guy treats people is HORRIBLE. But. It's not my place to tell him how to behave. It IS my place to be humble, patient, loving toward those around me (Ephesians 4:2). I don't know what's going on in his life. He may have scars of the past, pain of the present, apprehension of the future—leaving him crippled every night in fear. I should give him the benefit of the doubt. As Pastor Groeshel said, "I should have thick skin and a soft heart, too often we have thin skin and a hard heart." I should have compassion for this guy. I should pray for him, and whatever has happened/is happening in his life to make him act like this. And even more difficult, I need to forgive him. Without him asking for it. On my own. As a human, I have done so many things to hurt the people I've come in contact with. Most of all, I've done so many things to hurt God. I do so many things that hurt Him EVERY DAY. He forgave me for everything, how much easier it should be for me to forgive this man that has done something so small in comparison (Colossians 3:13, Matthew 6:14-15, Ephesians 4:32). "Forgiven people forgive people, because it's not about us, it's about Him." -Groeshel.

I need to get off of my high horse, quit thinking of myself as superior (Romans 12:3) and let Christ's love shine through me.

Always,

Jaci

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cause and Effect


Every time I read Romans 5:3-5 I’m struck. By the word HOPE. “…We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, HOPE. And HOPE does not put us to shame…” No matter what we’re going through, how hard times can get—we have hope. Everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is simply to develop you as the person God wants you to be. Every heartache, sorrow, fear builds your personality and demeanor. How you face these challenges in life shows your courage, endurance. God is seeking brave souls to fight His battle in this world, take on hardships as a way to develop your battle skills.

We know that in spite of everything, there is hope. Hope for a future, hope for life (Jeremiah 29:11). Everything in our lives should be straining toward that hope. At the forefront of our minds should be the desire to share that hope. Our world is a lost and lonely place, all humans (whether they admit it or not) are seeking happiness. And the only way to true happiness is through the hope we’ve found in Christ. Without it, we would be wandering aimlessly through life pointed toward a meaningless future. Without Jesus, life has no purpose, it is a journey filled with misery to an empty final destination. The world around us is filled with people wandering through the dark, searching for something they can’t see. Help them find the light—give them HOPE.

Always,

Jaci

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Freedom!

This Memorial Day I read a pretty cool post on Instagram that said something about how all freedom comes with a price. American soldiers died for our right to freedom and Christ died for our freedom from sin. It got me thinking, and I'd like to take it a step further. Freedom isn't guaranteed. Just like, as a country, we can't sit back and quit training military personnel in the hope that no country would ever want to invade; as Christians, we can't just sit back and pretend that Satan doesn't want our heads. We can't allow those sacrifices to be in vain. We must FIGHT! The battle is real, Satan's advances are life threatening.

Our fight is supernatural, it is a war for souls. Our mission is to wade through hardship, sorrow, temptation, shame, and keep our heads above the water enough to witness to the world around us. The battle is not against the humans surrounding us, but against the sin controlling their lives (Ephesians 6:12). We MUST stay alert and watch for the enemy's influence in our lives. If we become sluggish and lazy in our Christianity, his traps will so easily ensnare us. Jesus will always be there to help us (Psalm 91:1-6), but we need to do our part in the battle (Ephesians 6:13). We need to prove our worth, earn merit. When there is hardship infiltrating your life, stand firm in your faith and fight to reach the souls around you (1 John 5:4-5). There is no greater witness than a Christian submitting to God and giving Him their all during a struggle.

With God on our side, nothing and no one can stand against us (James 4:7).

Soldier up.

Always,
Jaci

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Excuses, Excuses

Everybody likes to place blame. Very few people want to admit when they're wrong. They pass the buck and blame everyone else around them. "My marriage didn't last because my parents are divorced and didn't give a good example of what love should look like." "I hook up with every guy I meet because I was raped 5 years ago." "I do drugs because my father wasn't around." On and on and on it goes. But hey, guess what? We're all responsible for OUR OWN actions. Man up! Quit blaming your circumstances for your problems. We aren't meant to dwell on the past and leave our present by the wayside. Sure, the past helped to form who we are today, but we can't let it define us. We need to leave what is done behind and look toward what is before us (Philippians 3:13).

I've had my fair share of experiences. But I don't let them consume my life, my thoughts, my attitude. I'm not a product of divorce, I'm a loving daughter. I'm not a survivor of bullying, I'm a successful college graduate. I'm not a heartbroken ex-girlfriend, I'm a hardworking writer. Choosing to rise above is simple, it only takes a bit of motivation. To define yourself by the good things, rather than focusing on the bad. Grief is a natural process, we all go through it; it's when you let that pain control your life that you've gone too far.

Quit living in sorrow and blaming others for your pain. Get up and do something good with your life. Get over the things that you can't control. What kind of a witness are we if all we can do is wallow in self-pity? Live your life for God, not for yourself.

Always,
Jaci

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Just A Bunch Of Junk

Stuff. We, as Americans, have a LOT of stuff. We put so much pride in our possessions. Everybody has something they find valuable on this earth. Some of us more than others. I, personally, have a lot of things. Things I don't need. Things I would have a hard time giving up. I love my clothes, my shoes, my furniture, my car. My love for those things is prideful. I love them, because I love how they impress other people. I love when somebody gets into my car and says, "Wow, this is pretty nice!" or looks at my outfit and says, "You look cute today!" I love these things because they give my selfish heart a rush. Ever hear the phrase, "Pride goes before a fall"? Yeah, pretty much setting myself up to crash and burn (Proverbs 16:18).

We can't take it with us. What good is all of this junk going to do when we die? It will stay on earth, get divided up, given away, sold, become a big old hassle for our loved ones to deal with, etc. Everything of this world that we could ever gain is utterly meaningless in eternity (Ecclesiates 2:11). We aren't to waste our time stock piling riches on earth, we are to fix our eyes Heavenward and build up treasures for eternity (Matthew 6:19-20). 

How do we do that? Invest our time and resources on PEOPLE, not OBJECTS. Human beings are the only things we can take with us to Heaven. If we pour ourselves into lost souls, we can help them find their way into the arms of Jesus. Shouldn't that be our focus in life? To direct our friends and family to Heaven, to ensure that we will spend eternity with them? What's a pair of new shoes (even if they are beautiful blue suede platform wedges) compared to a loved one (or even stranger) gaining eternal life??? Possessions won't last into eternity, most of them don't even last our lifetime. Don't waste your time loving objects (1 John 2:15-17). We are called to love people  (John 13: 34-35). 

"People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed- never throw out anyone." -Audrey Hepburn

Always,
Jaci

Monday, May 6, 2013

Love, Actually

What is it that we long for? What drags us out of bed each morning and guides us through the daily scavenger hunt of life? The desire to be loved. Unconditionally. Whether we can admit it or not, the longing to be loved is deep within us all. The problem most people face is this: there is not a single human being out there who can love another human being unconditionally. There is no happily ever after-save that for the fairy tales. The closest thing I've ever experienced on this earth to untainted love is the love of my mother. She stuck with my broken self through it all. She cleaned up after me when I was sick, prayed for me when I was backslidden, cheered for me when I was in competitive activities, encouraged me when I embarked on the next step of my life, etc. But even the love of a mother is conditional. As a human, she needs to feel some sort of reciprocation in order to pour herself into her child. If I never called her, never wrote to her, backstabbed her, actively participated in breaking her heart, I feel like she would have a hard time loving me unconditionally. It would probably take a lot (my mom is pretty flipping awesome) but it would still be a possibility. It's human nature. We are ALL naturally selfish creatures. If we give all of ourselves to someone, and receive nothing in return, it's hard to nurture a growing love for that person.

So what then? Are we just screwed? We'll never experience the depth of love we all desire? Good news! Someone out there loves each and every individual on this planet. Completely unconditionally. God loves us in spite of all the horrible things we've done. He sees the good in us, He knows our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). No matter what we've done, no matter how far from Him we are. He pursues us, longs for us, loves us. Written word is such a limited means to communicate the unending depth of His love for us. I mean, honestly, as human beings, we are so bad at love that we just don't get what it really means. But He sacrificed everything for us. He allowed brutal men to beat, spit on, and murder His prized son-the only perfect human to have ever walked the earth. Why? In order to save us from death and torment (1 John 4:9-10). He loves us so much, He went through physical pain and death to give us a future. That's just crazy. Crazy awesome.

What you're searching for, desiring, it's been there all along. Jesus is there, waiting for you to realize it and give your life to Him. It just takes one courageous choice to find everything you've ever wanted.

Always,
Jaci

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Discouragement and Distractions

When you are following God's Will for your life, Satan will use every means necessary to change the course of your path. He knows exactly what it is that gets under your skin, that tempts you to sin. He installed those "buttons" and knows the best times to push them. He knows the areas that you struggle the most in, knows what will discourage you. Stand firm! Because God won't allow you to be given more than you can handle (1 Cor. 10:13). Cling to Him, and you will ride out the storm.

A sin is anything that keeps you from doing God's Will for your life. So, for instance, part of God's plan in my life-currently-is being involved in my church and our outreach programs. We had a massively impact-full event called Skull Church down in Albuquerque, NM, last weekend. Thousands of people showed up, hundreds of lives were saved. It was INCREDIBLE. Heaven and earth rejoiced that night! Satan was not terribly pleased, to say the least. His retaliation was to wreak havoc on our trip home. He attacked almost every individual who made the long journey from Montana to New Mexico. Why? Because he wants to scare us away from ever doing something like that again. Guess what? IT'S NOT GOING TO WORK! The pure bliss of meeting new brothers and sisters in Christ far outweighs the flat tires, cracked windshields, and snow-driven hotel stays. At this point, it would be a sin for us to back down and stop sharing the gospel across the country. So try as he does, Satan will not distract us with this kind of discouragement.

Another common distraction in my life is boys. I tend to get all "oohhhh shiny" if I like a guy, or start dating one. I find myself "not having time" for the things God wants me to be doing (reading my Bible, praying, going to small groups, etc). He is teaching me in this season of singleness that I need to focus on Him, NO MATTER WHAT. And I shouldn't be with someone that isn't as on fire and #allin (yes I used an Instagram hashtag in my blog) as I am.

There is more to life than whatever it is Satan is using to distract us. We have Heaven waiting for us, and there are so many people on this earth that I would love to see in eternity. The reward outweighs the cost. Keep your eyes on the prize (Phil. 3:14), it will be more glorious than all the riches of this earth!

Always,
Jaci

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blessed Beyond Belief

This week, I am absolutely awed by what God is doing in this town. The fact that He has chosen me to be a part of it is utterly humbling. The amazing, talented, big-hearted group of people that I have the privilege of serving with never cease to amaze me. These people gave up their entire holiday weekend to serve Jesus. They put in HUNDREDS of man hours over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday (not to mention the hours of poster-hanging and invite-giving) so that His name might be praised.

Can I just brag on these people a little bit? They're incredible. They love Jesus. A few of them gave up their familiar lives and moved to Billings just to plant this church. They all gave up their Easter holiday to reach the lost in our town. Because of their selflessness, hundreds of people heard the gospel, dozens went forward and gave their lives to Christ. Every job filled by every volunteer played a part in those lives being changed for eternity!

The point is, this life isn't about us. It's not about what we can do to make ourselves more comfortable. It's about LEAPING out of our comfort zone and proclaiming the Good News to the world around us! Don't let your fears hold you back. Jesus will use you in any situation. He can use EVERYONE. Even someone as screwed up as ME.

I, personally, am honored to know this incredible crew. Their faithfulness gives me strength to keep on trucking when exhaustion, frustration, or doubts surface. Live for the Lord, serve Him in every way that you can, and you will be amazed how much it will mean to those around you.

Thank you, Fresh Life Billings for putting Jesus first in your lives. You are ALL truly a blessing in my life. <3

Always,

Jaci

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Truth and Equality

Something on Facebook caught my eye tonight. An acquaintance of mine posted the following: When Christians stop being judgmental...there will be true Equality. Until then...let the hypocrisy roar! -Signed by a Christ Follower.

Well that's interesting. As a Christ follower myself, I believe the Bible. I believe that everything that the Bible says is Truth, God-breathed. That being said, there are some activities that God says are sin: murder (Exodus 20:13), drunkenness (Isaiah 5:11), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27), divorce (Mark 10:2-12), hate (1 John 3:15), theft (Exodus 20:15), and a whole lot more. I believe I've said this before...SIN IS SIN...no ifs, ands or buts about it. No matter how much people scream and cry about how their particular sin should be tolerated. It's still sin.

An important thing to recognize here, we ALL SIN (Romans 3:23). My lies and arrogance are just as sinful as the next person's hate and sexual promiscuity. We are instructed to love one another (Romans 13:9), not to hate those whose sins are different than ours. Personally, I hate sin, not people. (May I just throw in for good measure that I am friends with a murderer, many homosexuals, alcoholics, divorced people, etc... and I LOVE them just as much as I LOVE any other friend of mine.) Those who are not saved are lost in their sin, it is our job to encourage them, love them, and bring them to the One who can help them out of the mire. Only then can they break free from the sins that bind them.

On the other hand, Christians who openly stew in their sin, or support those who blatantly show their sins to the world, are basically slapping God across the face and saying, "I know better than you do." To encourage and love those who are lost in their sin is one thing, but Christians should know better than to participate unrepentantly in these sinful activities. If a Christian gives in to their sinful desires and does not repent, we are to treat them as an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 5:11).

 Again I say: sin is sin. We are all weak and fleshly, and to give in to temptation and repent with a remorseful heart is one thing. To openly participate in or support someone else's sinful habits is another.

Always (in love),

Jaci

Monday, March 18, 2013

Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing


Quit worrying about everything. There are so many things in this life that can cause us concern. We stress about so many things, each and every day. Where are we going to find our next rent payment? Who are we supposed to date? How are we going to get everything done at work? What are we supposed to be doing with our lives? The weight of decisions in our life pile up; can be crushing if we allow it. But God tells us not to worry about what tomorrow will bring (Matthew 6:34). Leave the big stuff to Him. While it is necessary for us to make choices in this life, and ultimately put a little elbow grease into what happens next; if we look to God for His Will and follow the path He makes for us, He will open the doors necessary to move forward. He loves us too much to crush us with the weight of our worries (1 Peter 5:7). If we cast those cares on Him, He will guide us through and give us peace (Phillippians 4:6-7).

We need to realize that there is absolutely nothing we can do to make things work exactly how we want. If we freak out every time something goes wrong, or every time we don’t know what to do next, we will exhaust ourselves in panic. The world is beyond our ability to control. Luckily, it is within God’s. If we simply trust Him and seek His Will in all situations, He will provide EVERYTHING we need. Why waste our strength on things that are out of our hands? Instead, let’s put our energy into seeking God.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.- Corrie Ten Boom

Always,
Jaci

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Animal In All Of Us

It really seems like God has been testing me so much lately, and teaching me through it all. I must admit, I am quick to judge other people. I shouldn't, it is absolutely not my place to do so (pretty sure I went over this in another blog). But, though I am trying very hard to overcome this problem (with God's help), it still happens. God showed me how wrong I've been in judging a certain group in particular. That group? Criminals. It's funny, how quickly we "upstanding" citizens jump to conclusions about those who have been arrested. I, myself, tend to look at their mug shots and think, "Well, yeah, just look at them. It's no surprise that they're in jail." Or, "What a horrible person, I hope they get punished severely." Holy reality check. To find out that the hilarious, goofy, crazy, sweet-natured boy that I used to babysit was arrested, and for a triple murder...I was in shock. My only thought was, "How?" And then. The judgement. This time it wasn't from me. Everyone else and their mother, commenting on newspaper articles, posting on Facebook, etc. All of the opinions, "They deserve a public hanging"; "Those kids have no souls" ; "Their friends and families are the scum of the earth." It went on and on. Holy man. I never realized how our words hurt more than just the person we are judging. It can hurt those that care about them. Being judgmental certainly even hurts our own hearts. Hoofta.

The thing I've realized, which I chose to ignore before...is that we are ALL criminals in God's eyes. We've ALL sinned (Romans 3:23). To hate someone is to murder them (1 John 3:15). People in prison need Jesus just as much as people outside, if not more. Every human being on this planet has a soul, a soul that will spend an eternity in one of two places. An inmate's hope for a future on earth is pretty bleak (especially if they're serving a life sentence). For some of them, hope for an eternal life with Jesus is the only thing that will keep them going through the years of imprisonment.

I know God has a purpose for all the pain. I'm not certain what that purpose is, but maybe part of it is to minister to those who are going through something difficult. God's been making me more aware of those around me, of the sufferings of the world. He's softening my heart, and I will be a friend to someone who most people will despise. I will do my best to show Jesus' love to him. And maybe it won't change Tanner's life, but hopefully sometime, somewhere down the road it will make a difference to someone. I know, with all of my heart, that God will use these trials for His Glory.

Always,
Jaci

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Be Different

Fun fact. I'm not perfect. I make mistakes every single day. I say mean things, judge others, give in to temptation. Thank goodness Jesus didn't call the perfect people, he called forgiven people. We have to be forgiven because of how ridiculously imperfect we ALL are (Romans 3:23). But listen up! We can't use our inherent imperfection as an excuse to live a lazy, sinful life. We are to strive for perfection, to live up to God's glory (Philippians 4:8). We are to be an uprising of honor in a disgraced world.

God wants the best from us, he wants us to shine our light into a sinful world. To be different. Worthy to be called His children (Matthew 5:16). That means, if you find yourself in a questionable situation? GET OUT!!!!! Just do it. Don't question it, don't dawdle. Get off your butt, and get yourself the heck out of there! The world will question your motives, they will ridicule you. They will talk behind your back, and say hurtful things to your face. They will make you miserable, make you question everything you believe. But if you are in the right, if you are following God's handpicked will for your life--their opinion has no value (2 Corinthians 4:8 &17).

Maybe you're like me, you stay in a less than desirable situation because you think God might be using you to reach those in that same place. That's just not the case. He can use us more when we are where he wants us to be, His light reflects on us brighter when we are closer to Him.

We are to love those of the world, but we are not to live under their standards.

Always,
Jaci

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Finding Your Worth


I'd like to tell you a story. It's about siblings, a boy and a girl. Close enough in age to share experiences, not so close to have the same group of friends.Their father was a hard man. He wasn't easy to please, and expected a lot from them. His idea of being a good parent was raising children who went to graduated high school, went to college, and obtained a satisfactory career. He wasn't terribly loving or sentimental, he expected what he expected—and  that was it. The boy despised the ideals his father had set up for him, he rebelled. He filled his life with drugs and music and struggled to hold down any job for more than 2 years.His father was furious, let everyone know what a failure he thought his son was. The girl followed a different path, she strived to do everything her father expected of her. She held good grades through high school, earned a college degree, and found a good job shortly after graduating. Not once in her entire life did her father ever tell her that he was proud of her. She did everything required of her, and still failed to receive the one thing she really desired—affirmation. What did they have in common? A desire to be noticed. A burning desire to find their worth. The thing is, they were. By everyone else. The girl had people in her life that praised her and told her how proud they were of her. And what the boy didn't know was that, every time he dropped acid or snorted coke through a straw at a bar, he was gouging deep scars in his sisters already raw and broken heart. He may have been trying to "stick it to" his father, but instead he was hurting those who truly loved him. People that wondered every day if this would be the day that they would lose him forever.

We are worth so much more than we know. So many search for value in jobs, marriages, the approval of others, etc. But if those things are the things that give our lives meaning, we will never be happy. There will be days that our jobs suck. Marriages will be tested. People will not always approve of everything we do. The only true purpose to life is God's purpose. His is the only perfect way, it is the only purpose with no flaw. Without purpose, the world is a bleak place to live. 

So many of us plod through each day with no real rhyme or reason. Too many people believe that the sole purpose of life is their own pleasure. That's a dangerous belief. Then it doesn't matter what they do, they could rape, plunder, murder—and as long as it quenches their desires, they don't care who gets in their way. But see, there is more to life than carnal pleasure. Each and every one of us has been called to pursue His purpose in our lives (Romans 8:28). He has bigger plans for us than we could even imagine. We just have to take the plunge, give up the sinful nature that we are so desperately clinging to. He will hold us close, and bring us greater joy than we could ever imagine.

Believing that God has a worthwhile plan takes courage, but it is worth it. His purpose is far greater than anything we set our finite human minds to. His plans for our lives have been in the works since before we were even an inkling of a thought in the minds of our ancestors (Jeremiah 1:5). All it takes to find true purpose in life is one giant leap of faith.

In the words of a FANTASTIC book called The Resolution for Women:

I am Good
I am Necessary
I am Important
I am Worthy

Always,
Jaci

Monday, February 11, 2013

You Won't Make It If You Fake it

There's a lot of phony in this world. We're surrounded by playgrounds with plastic forests, synthetic body parts, lip synching, artificial smiles, and "NO, of COURSE you don't look fat in that" statements. As humans, we've perfected the art of imitation. But here's something that absolutely, 100 percent can't be faked: being a Christian. I mean a REAL Christian. Sure, you can say, "I believe in God." Hey, guess what? So does Satan. He is certainly not one of Jesus' disciples. And you can put on the mask of a Christian. You can memorize verses, go to church, join a small group, volunteer...I mean, you can fool EVERYONE. Except God. He knows what is in your heart (John 5:41). So while the rest of the world looks at you and sees all the great things you do, God knows what's inside. And what will he say to those that try to pretend their way into Heaven? "I don't know you or where you came from. Away from me, all you evildoers!(Luke 13:27)" Ouch. That's definitely not the first thing I want to hear after I die. I'm striving for more of a, "Welcome home, good and faithful servant" kind of greeting myself.

Jesus said if you reject him here on earth, he will reject you in front of his father in heaven (Matthew 10:32). So what can be done to prevent this horrible fate? Be real. God isn't looking for someone who simply goes to church and acts like a nice person. He wants someone who worships him with their everything (John 4:23). Believing that God exists simply isn't enough, He wants you to surrender your life to him. He wants you to stop dwelling on the cares of the world and buy stock in his eternal kingdom.

Maybe you're one of those that acts like a Christian on Sundays, but is afraid of what their friends at work might say Monday-Friday. Facing rejection from humans can be tough. But facing rejection from God? That would be worse than anything imaginable.

 I know that the troubles of this world are hard to face. But here's the thing, you don't have to do it alone. And if you TRUELY give your life over to the God of the universe, he will be with you every step of the way. He will NEVER abandon you (Deuteronomy 31:6). And he has overcome the troubles of the world (John 16:33).

Always,

Jaci

Monday, February 4, 2013

I Will Run

It's time to get real. To peel back the protective layers and bare my heart. For those of you who know me, I like to hide behind a barrier of laughter and fun. But sometimes those walls crumble away.

Last night-I fell apart. Completely. My "everything's ok...really" smile wore out. In the afternoon, my dad called to let me know Uncle Dave has been hospitalized. It wasn't welcome news. Hours later, I leaned into the shower wall, slid into a crumpled heap on the floor, and simply broke down. And I let out ragged, choking, gasping, heartbroken sobs. I didn't ask why, didn't dwell on how "unfair" life can be, I just let myself feel. I laid there. Shattered and completely broken. With the water pooling around me, when I had become still and quiet, I felt it. "Surrender yourself." So I did. 

He lifted me up, and helped me carry on. God promises to strengthen us when we are so very weak (Isaiah 40:31). He didn't take the pain away, but made it something I could bear.

Then he gave me a sweet moment of peace. And pure joy. Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin started to play on my Pandora station. He sang:

know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies is always by my side
The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies is always by my side

My strength is in Your name
For You alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory
Whom shall I fear?


And I had a mini-worship session right then and there, waving my toothbrush through the air.

God wants our everything. He wants us to surrender all of ourselves to Him. Every last bit. And sometimes. Sometimes. Our ability to surrender lies dependent on us being completely shattered by life. Brokenness leads us to the cross. And that's where He wants us, surrendering everything at the feet of Jesus. Giving our all to Him who gave his all for us.

Let your troubles lead you to the Lord.

Pastor Levi had an incredible message this weekend, it always amazes me how God gives you exactly what you need to hear right when you need it. Check it out at: http://vimeo.com/58854504 

I'm running with horses. Cue the eagle!

Always,
Jaci

Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Time Is Now

Contentment. It's something almost everyone I know struggles with. As humans, we have such a hard time simply sitting back and being satisfied with the season of life God has placed us in at this point. So many single people (including myself at times, I admit) have such a hard time finding joy and purpose in being single. They want someone to share their lives with. Granted. That's not a BAD thing to want, but if it distracts from what God wants you to be doing with your life, then it's wrong. Once married, so many people want kids. Once they have kids, they want them to be in school so they can have more free time. Once in school, they want their kids to be out of the house so they can retire and enjoy life. Once the kids are grown up, they want grandkids. Etc, etc, so on and so forth. Why is it so hard to simply be satisfied? Discontentment is a weed, once sprouted, it grows and grows and spreads and chokes out the joy in life. It causes us to spend all of our time commiserating on what we DON'T have rather than rejoicing in what we do!

Don't be an overgrown garden. Stop the weeds before they take charge.

Some of us (*cough*me*cough*) don't like to face our problems. We spend all of our time finding activities to distract us from the work we need to do in our own lives. I'm busy. All of the time. I plan out my days, leaving very little free time. Leaving very little time to be one on one with God. I give myself a few minutes every night to read my Bible and pray, but the rest of the day I'm so caught up in everything I've planned, that I let Him sink into the background. Because if I have even a few minutes to just sit, with nothing to do, it's so much easier for loneliness to creep in. If I just learned to refocus my time alone from thinking about what I don't have (my family, some super rad man, etc) and started to thank God for what I DO have (amazing friends, a good job, a place to live, mad skills, etc.), I wouldn't have to be GO-GO-GO all of the time.

I even get so caught up in ALWAYS having something to do, that I don't realize what things might look like to the outside world. Like, sitting at a bar with a good friend. I might not be drunk, but that doesn't stop someone from seeing me and telling everyone about it. How does that look to people who expect me to live a holy life? "Well if Jaci can be out getting drunk all of the time, so can I!" Poor choice on my part. Far be it from me to willingly lead someone astray. Time to get a grip on my "need" to be busy all of the time. The more time I have alone, the more time I have to spend with God, the easier it is for Him to mold these areas of my life that need so much work.

I'm reading a book called The Resolution for Women. It's pretty fantastic. And eye opening. The very first resolution? "I do solemnly resolve to embrace my current season of life and will maximize my time in it. I will resist the urge to hurry through or circumvent any portion of my journey but will live with a spirit of contentment." Holy wake up call! It's time to start living life NOW, not living for the future or past! God wants us to stand up for Him no matter what is happening. If we are too focused on what we don't have, we won't be able to share what we do have: Jesus.

Be a light for Him today, in the life He has given.

Always,

Jaci

Monday, January 21, 2013

When It Hurts Like Hell

On Friday, I got the news. "Uncle Dave's cancer is back. It doesn't look good." It was a crushing. Literally crushing. I love him so much. My whole family is so precious to me. I don't want him to go through this pain. My heart simply aches for him and the hours of treatment he has to endure in the upcoming months. It hurts.

Three years ago, I got the text, "I'm leaving. I can't do this anymore." After half a year of dating, 5 years of being graduation-party-sharing, death-twarting, "I'll-love-you-forever" best-friends, we had two fights and Matt informed me via TEXT MESSAGE that he was packing up his car, moving out, and launching on a road trip to "find himself." It was a breathtaking, gut-wrenching kind of pain.

Just over a year ago my good friend Ali was taken from life at the ripe old age of 26.

The list goes on. And on. And on.

Life hurts. It's a simple fact. There's nothing we can do to reverse that fact. But we can change our perspective. There is a purpose for the pain. It may not be a purpose that we are ever made aware of, but that doesn't make it any less real. Every experience is molding you, shaping you into the person you will become. The way we deal with pain can bring us to a place living closer to God, or can drag us away. Bitterness and frustration will never lead us to take part in the greater joy that God has planned for us. Trusting God and allowing Him to reveal His plans through the pain will ALWAYS lead us closer to Him, and to His Glory.

God has a plan for our lives.He knows what is happening. He knows why (Jeremiah 29:11). We don't need to understand. We need to trust (Isaiah 55:9-11). Something Pastor Steven Furtick said this past weekend, "Faith is believing God’s promise is bigger than your perhaps (or uncertainty)." Everything He does is with purpose. His plans are for good, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).  "God is standing for your future, in your present, redeeming your past," Pastor Furtick.

As I said, we may never know the purpose for the pain. Sometimes God reveals His plan down the road, sometimes he doesn't. I know that had I married Matt as I (not God) had planned, I would probably not have found my way back to His loving arms. I would probably be at rainbow-fests (or whatever they're called), doing ecstasy and painting my body like some sort of a fruit loop while wearing a panda-inspired fur hat.

If Ali had not been in that accident, I wouldn't have the passion for sharing Jesus' love with the people I care about, because I wish I'd taken the chance to with him.

I may never know the purpose for Uncle Dave's cancer.

But through the anguish, I trust my Savior. He will be with me always, though everything is falling apart, I will be safe in His arms (phenomenal song to be playing right now in Off The Leaf).

As for me, I will live for Him. Heart and soul. When things are good, when it hurts like hell. Heart and soul.

Always,
Jaci

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I'm Not For Everyone


Posting this from my phone, as our Internet has been down for two weeks now...

Something I’ve always struggled with is wanting everyone to like me. Even if they don’t want to be good friends, I just don’t like the idea of someone DISLIKING me. So act like a fool, trying to please people. Making them laugh, going out of my way for them, mulling over the things I’ve said. No matter how much effort I put into trying to get people to like me, there will always be someone out there who doesn’t. Why? Because I’m not for everyone. My temperament, humor, personality are never going to mesh with absolutely everyone in this world.

I think my childhood played a big part in creating this desire. Growing up, I didn’t have many friends. So I would do weird things, dress strangely, act like a goon to try to get people to notice me. Of course, they did. But because I was so odd, they didn’t want to be my friend. They made fun of me instead.  So then in college, I went the opposite way. I tried to be as “normal” as possible. I just wanted to fit in. I did, and I had a lot of “friends”. None of them were REAL friends. Honestly, that’s the biggest problem with partying. People want to party with you, but outside of the weekend, they don’t want to be your true friend.

So I grew up, graduated, and got over it. Though I still struggle with desiring the approval of others (especially those I will probably never get approval from). I have learned to embrace my weirdness. And the strangest thing, I actually have more REAL friends now than ever before! Strange how that works, isn’t it?

My church, Fresh Life, has a “code” that we as members/leaders are encouraged to follow. The second to last point is, “It’s not for everyone. We know not everyone will get it. We are okay with that. Because the stakes are high and time is short, we refuse to back down.” So maybe our way of approaching the Bible and outreach doesn’t appeal to everyone. Oh well. That’s fine. It doesn’t mean we are going to stop doing it. It applies to my personal life too. Just because not everyone in my life is interested in becoming a Christian, that doesn’t mean I should hide it or back down from sharing.

Uniqueness is one of the most beautiful aspects of God’s glorious creation. I need to learn to embrace it. That doesn’t give me the right to be rude or hostile toward people, it just means that I’m allowed to be me. Wherever I want, whenever I want. And if someone doesn’t like the way I am? Well, that’s just tough cookies.

Always,
Jaci

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Big Problem

There's something that has been on my heart for quite some time, and I've been putting off writing about it. I want it to be just right, to get my point across thoroughly. It's time to jump in and just write, see where it goes. The topic is judgementalism within the church. Let's face it. It's a problem. A big problem. So big, that it turns people away from the church, keeps unbelievers from even finding interest in the church. It's outrageous, some of the things Christians do in the name of Christ. I'm sure most of us have experienced it. For me, having grown up in the church, I didn't see it often as a child. It really hit in high school. I was a bit of an oddball in high school. I wore bondage pants from Hot Topic, lots of black band tee shirts, and studded belts and jewelry. Dyed my hair blue, purple, red. Those kinds of things. Some of the people at my small town church thought I was going off of the deep end. And honestly, at that point in my life, I wasn't. I was putting my toe in the water, trying to figure out what kind of a person I wanted to grow into. But because I wore all of this dark clothing, some church leaders decided I wasn't welcome to participate in certain church events unless I dressed "normal". Honestly, this kind of judgement was part of the reason I turned away from Christ, from the church. I thought if I was drunk and crazy enough at parties, people would accept me for who I was and keep inviting me to party with them. It worked, I went to a lot of parties, acted like a buffoon a lot, kept getting invited back. The hard part was when I wasn't at a party, my drinking friends didn't want to be REAL friends. They wanted to get drunk together, then live our separate lives during the days. It was more than lonely. It was heartbreaking for someone who was just looking for a place to belong. So after a few years, Jesus found me in a lonely, crumpled heap, crying out for someone to love me. He always has, I just couldn't see it through the sludge being thrown at me by judgmental Christians. Hypocrites really. The Bible (which is to be our standard of living) tells us in Matthew 7:1-5: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

I understand, we are all sinful humans. But I really feel this is one aspect of our lives that, as Christians, we should be EXTREMELY careful about. We have a higher standard of living. Yes, every person on this earth has a problem with judging others. But as a whole, we shouldn't be known for excluding people just because they are different, or just because we think they are being sinful. How is that helpful for anyone involved? It makes the church look pompous, and makes the person being judged lose interest in the One who sacrificed it all to save us from those very sins. Sin is between a human and Christ. The church, as a whole, should be there to support someone struggling with sin. If the sin is dangerous to others within the church, then something should be done. But excluding the person from the fellowship that encourages them to seek Christ, the ONLY Savior from their sin? Absolutely the wrong approach.

A very close friend experienced horrible judgement at the hands of her church some years ago. At this point, she was experimenting with some difficult things, drinking, drugs, the like. One night, she and her best friend were out partying, and her friend decided to drive them home drunk. They were in a terrible car accident, and her best friend passed away. After this tragedy, my friend was completely broken, both inside and out. Her church didn't stand up to support her, be there for her, help her through this hard time, or find help to remove her from this sinful lifestyle, as any Bible believing church should (Matthew 25:35, Galatians 6:2). Instead, they told her that she should "take a break from church". In her darkest hour, the place that should have been there to provide comfort for her, dumped her in the street. Talk about opposite of God's teachings! So now, 3 and 1/2 years later, she is taking the first steps of potentially attending a new church. (P.S. Remember what this blog started out as? Me wanting to invite people to church. Well, this fine lady is my first success! WOO!!!) Anyway...while Christians are encouraged to reprimand each other in love (Galatians 6:1, 2 Timothy 4:2), we are not called to throw those who need us the most out the door.

I understand, it is difficult living in times like these. Times where we, as Christians, are judged to the extreme. Sometimes it is hard to be public about our faith, for fear of snide remarks, sideways glances, etc. Welcome that judgment, it means Satan is feeling threatened and doing his best to cut you down. God never said being a Christian would be easy. He just said it would be worth it.

To the person seeking the hope and joy of Christ—not all Christians are as hard to please as those mentioned above. It's the bad apples of the group that make the rest of us look bitter. Please don't let the Pharisees keep you from the only true peace you will ever find. Keep searching, the Lord will direct your path.


Christians—live up to the higher standard He expects of us. Accept those who are different from you (Romans 14:1-4) People will notice a difference in you and seek what God, through you, can reveal to them.

Always,
Jaci