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