Saturday, March 26, 2016

I used to think the greatest story ever told was that Jesus died for my sins. And well, it was. My sins were many, and when I learned about sin itself, it was the greatest story. But the thing about that, is that it was a closed story. If the story of salvation ended with Jesus' death, we would have to earn our way to eternity with Him from the moment we chose to follow Him.

But thankfully, He knew well that we are unable to do so. We are still fallen and live in a sinful nature. We are prone to it. So the story continues.

The greatest story ever told was that He died, but rose again conquering all that death represents.... which is sin.

Jesus was given all authority in Heaven and earth, and with that He chose to wash feet and go to the cross. He chose to lower Himself when He came to earth. He chose to go even lower and die a sinners death. Having all authority, He could have claimed His throne when He was brought before the chief priests and scribes and Pilate. At any moment during His beatings and mockings being spit on, He could have taken His rightful place that He stepped out of. But He chose to go to the cross.

We are all living in places where we think we know what love is all about. But we haven't a clue. We don't like to be told what to do so we challenge authority all the time. But here is Jesus taking on all that we deserve, and He's taking it on obedience and love. Two of the things we don't like to be challenged with.

So He gave His life. And He rose again. He defeated death so we don't have to face it. He defeated sin so we don't have to be bound by it. And though we continue to do it, and though we continue to be prone to it in this world, it does not have victory over us. Jesus let Himself be covered will all of our sin, and He broke free from it breaking the chains. HIs resurrection broke the shackles off of our hands and feet. The empty tomb is proof that we can put those sins to death every single waking day. The empty tomb shows that His forgiveness stands faithful and just. And it covers us.

The empty tomb is the greatest story of all.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

I've been watching a lot of Once Upon A Time lately. I've seen all of season one and part of season two when they first showed... but didn't really watch after that. I don't usually pick back up watching a show after I pretty much give up on it... so I don't know how it happened that I wanted to see it again. But I did, and now I am. And I love it just as much as I did when I first started watching.

But this isn't about that show. I'm laying in bed watching it on netflix and drinking tea when I read a fact about how being good at flirting is more effective than being good looking. Interesting. It reminded me of how I once told a friend I would challenge her to a duel of who can more numbers in a bar. I've no doubt I would win. She argued it and really tried to press the duel to happen.. but I declined. While it sounds like fun, it's not something I'd really engage in. I'm not out there trying to break hearts or be heartbroken. I'm not out there trying to deceive anyone on account of winning a contest. But it still remains that I've no doubt that I'd win.

That's not me being arrogant... that's me being honest. While my friend has the flirt factor in her favor, I like to say I have natural charm in mine. I don't need to pretend or spit game to get somewhere... I'm just myself really. And I've gotten a lot of what I want from just doing that. You see, I know how to work people. I know what to say to them, how to be with them, how to put myself in their life. And I'm good at it. Why? because I'm a manipulator.

No, that doesn't mean I'm that way with people... I'm saying I know how to be that way with people. I love people. I love because Jesus loves them... and because He loves me. So my love for others isn't a fake or seducing one. If it was, you'd probably end up feeling quite taken advantage of after a while.

I've been able to get what I want from a lot of different people a lot of times. I know how to seduce people into giving me what I want. It's happened more times than I'm wanting to admit... which, one is just that. You'd be surprised, but then again... you might not be if you knew me long enough. Again, I'm not proud of it.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I was posting to instagram when I typed out how I loved myself. I don't think I've ever plainly said that before.... actually, I don't think I've ever actually said that before. But it's true. It's weird to say it because I always thought it sounded arrogant and ridiculous to say it.

I love myself.

It's actually not as hard to swallow as I thought it would be. If I saw someone being the manipulator that I can be, I probably wouldn't like them much. But I'm commanded to love others.

The point I'm trying to make here is that, I love myself even though I can be awful. Here I am letting you in on this secret sin of mine that I've put into play many, many times. I'm forgiven of it.. and I'm still loved in spite of it. And I want to love the way God loves.... and that includes even loving myself.

For a big part of my life, I hated myself. I hated what I did... and I hated myself for doing things... and because I hated myself for doing them, I did those things even more... which resulted in bigger hate. It goes on and on. I hated the way I lived my life. Hating myself made me hate a lot of things around me. It's easy to not be happy with everything else when you let yourself be unappy with one thing. And I know a lot of people who still live this way. When you live in this state, you wonder how anyone could ever love you... or how you could ever love yourself. It's exhausting really.

But, I love Jesus.. and the main reason I love Him is because He loved me first. I love because He did. If I'm to love the things He loves, I have to include myself in that. He commanded that we love Him with everything... and then for us to love others as ourselves. I used to think that was a way of saying that we have to think of others the way we think of ourselves. But the verse doesn't say to think of others as ourselves, it says to love others as ourselves.. If we're going to love others as ourselves, we have to love ourselves. God wants the very best for each one of us because that's how He loves us.

The relationship you have with others comes second to the relationship you have with God. Love Him with everything. Why? Because He loved us first. That relationship establishes that you are loved first.. So you love back. And then you love others the way that He has loved you.

All I'm trying to say here is that it's okay to love yourself. So give it a try.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I chose number two.

A little while ago, I posted a question asking people to tell me what sounded better for a chapter title. I gave two options and sat back. Then I asked a couple more times throughout the day.

The first choice was "Coffee Shops and Heartfelt Talks"

And the second choice was "Coffee, Cakes, and Creative Space"

There were a lot more votes for number one. I guess I found myself wondering why so many thought that sounded better, and I'm thinking it was the heartfelt talks part.

I ended up choosing the second one. I had thought up number one a good few weeks ago while I was working. I needed something catchy to connect and that just settled. But I think deep inside, I knew it wouldn't stick. I wasn't at peace with it. There are often times I'm set to do something and just can't think of what. Whether it's a gift for someone, a place to go, a talk to have, a book to write, or make a decision on something big. Usually I think up the things without the how and I'm stuck til something fits. If I'm at peace with it, I go with it. If I'm not at peace, I'll still make the decision based on the right thing to do. So with this, it just wasn't hitting that peace mark.

So, not long after I thought of number 2. I liked the way it rang better. I don't know why, it just did. But I was still undecided so I asked what would catch the peoples attention since they would be the audience and pay the money. And again, I wasn't at peace with the outcome. Actually, I was in a sense. Two people answered number 2. These two people are friends whose wisdom I've dove into. Two people who have shared vulnerabilities and weaknesses and still pointed to Jesus. Those two people are the ones whose input I would consider more than most. That's probably due to their wisdom more than anything. It's loving and gentle and stern and raw.

You see, you're going to come into contact with a lot of people. You'll be friends with a good bunch of them. But you also know who you trust and you know the reasons why. I liked that these two people chose the same things, but I trust them because they're not "yes" people. You know, the kind of people who agree with everything and jump with the crowd. I believe with all my heart that they would say no if they really didn't think it was a good idea. And not just the no.... the kind of no that comes with valid points. Discernment is an amazing thing. Make sure you have people that have it.

So when these two said option 2, I thought about it again and felt peace..... so I chose it. I also chose it because it fit more with what I was trying to say.

We all have choices to make.... some will be tough... some will be easy. Only you can decide what route to take sometimes.. but if you're going to listen to someone's input, make sure you're actually listening. Don't just listen to the yes people that go with what sounds good.... or what you like. Listen to the people who are honest... who are real... who are vulnerable. Who speak about what is right, not what you want to hear. Everything sounds good when said the right way, but that doesn't mean it is good.

Not that both of my titles were good or bad.. I'm just saying, there's a reason I make the choices I do sometimes. Just make sure yours are for the right reasons.