Tuesday, April 22, 2014

God is Kinda Like a Jealous Boyfriend

Meet Christian Singles!
Whoa, hold up a minute here Dacey. This doesn't sound like something that will bring people closer to God, or even to him. And while you're all thinking that, please refrain from panties getting into knots and hear me out. God is like a jealous boyfriend (or girlfriend). 

We've all dated one, or two, or ten. We all know what they're like. Controlling. Demanding. Breaching privacy. We hate it, yet we never leave. Why? Why do we just deal with it and stay and do what they tell us? Because we "love" them, right? That's what we tell our friends and family and even ourselves. "You can't help you love" is a phrase that has came out of our mouths in defense of our overly jealous partner.

So, how is God--the merciful, loving, grace-giving, the forgiving--like this? Well for one, HE SAYS SO!!
- Deuteronomy 6:15 says this, "for the Lord your God, who lives among you, is a jealous God. His anger will flare up against you, and he will wipe you from the face of the earth." 
- Exodus 20:5 "You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected--even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me." 

Ouch. This God doesn't paint a picture of mercy or grace or forgiveness. But why is God so serious about this? What is making him convey this extreme measure of how jealous he is? One word. Idolatry.

But Dacey, I don't commit idolatry. I don't have any little gods in my room that I worship or whatever. But don't you? Don't we all? Look at your cell phone, your job, Facebook, school, music, etc. How many times do we mean to sit down and spend time with God and then realize we don't have the time? Like, everyday, if you're me. But isn't that saying, "Well I was too busy today for God." We have let pretty much everything in life take over, and God is angry. 

Ever felt like God has left you? Abandon you? Doesn't have time for you? Take a step back and think about this, God NEVER EVER EVER EVER LEAVES US...WE LEAVE HIM. Boom, mind blow. When I feel alone, abandon, and like God has forgotten about me, it's 1000000% of the time because I left God, I abandon him, and I forgot about him. Not because he did. I let things take priority over God and my life began to reflect that. God doesn't throw pity parties guys, we do. So leave your pity party and come on back to the G-O-D. Make time for him! 

So why does God get jealous? This question irks me. It's that question that gets under my skin and makes me wanna drop kick people, seriously. God LOVES us. He has everything and all he wants is priority of our lives because he wants us to have the very best of everything! He sent his Son to die a gruesome, brutal death so that Jews and Gentiles could be equals! (Sorry for my Jewish friends reading this) I can't even convey how much God loves us, to try to would be a whole different post. So yeah, God wants everything from us. He has given everything FOR us, what right do have to tell him no? He gave us life, freedom, and eternity. Why not make him our everything?

So yeah, God is like that jealous boyfriend. Except he isn't a taker, he's a giver. All we have to do is accept and respond. It's not a checklist of do's and don'ts here. God will give you the desire to do his will, trust me.
Meet your Christian Valentine

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Paul or Saul?

Let me introduce everyone to a guy named Paul. For those of you who don't know who Paul is already, Christians tend to view him as the Christian of Christians. In our faith, we look to him as an example of what a Christian is. Paul is a super-Christian. He wasn't a disciple of Jesus, but instead an apostle. He wrote many, many books in the New Testament and his love for God was just massive. In short, Paul is that person we look at and say, "Man, he really has it together. I wish I could be like that."

Everyday we are confronted by people who see as this super-Christian. They look like they have this perfect life and God has just blessed them, and everything is just really going for them. I know for myself, that those people are the ones I couldn't stand. Their life was so great and God loved them so much, and here I was doing everything I was supposed to and my life was a wreck. It just didn't seem fair. Why should I have to have this crappy life and someone else get the life that I wanted and deserved? Even as Christians today, we sometimes look at Paul and think, "Why can't I be like that?" or "I'll never be good enough to like that." Sometimes I find myself being jealous and getting mad at the person Paul was because I feel like he really had it all and I just don't.

But pause. Everyone knows the saying, "don't judge a book by its cover". So we know what Paul's cover is, but read into his life. Before he was Paul, he was Saul. You know what Saul did? He killed people. Hunted them down and brutally murdered them. And Saul didn't kill just anyone, oh no, he only killed Christians. Now wait a second, am I seriously telling you that this guy who is some kinda super-Christian is the same guy who killed people for being Christians? Yes, I am.

See, that's the beauty of God's grace. When God called on Saul to his will, Saul heard it and because he chose to trade his life in for one that God would give him, God used him in incredible ways and completely changed his life. Suddenly Saul became Paul. I say this to illustrate two points: (1) God can and will use anyone for his purpose, but it is our decision to answer his call or not. No matter what we've done, God will use it for his glory, even if you've killed people. (2) No one is a super-Christian. Everyone has a past, and everyone is going through stuff. Just because we don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there. You never know what someone else is going through, and you might very well be the person who can help them. God might want to use you to help someone else that you don't even like, and it really breaks my heart to see other people suffer and if I can help just one person not feel the way I do, I would be so happy. Be aware that you're actions towards other people could be adding to their problems and causing them more hurt.

Okay, so Saul became Paul and God made him this great Christian and gave him this great life right? Nope, wrong. Paul had a pretty crappy life. He wasn't rich, he didn't have a house or family, and his friends backstabbed him and abandon him a lot. It's safe to say that Paul didn't have a perfect life. He was alone, oftentimes homeless, and betrayed. But he gets a happy ending, right? His life gets better and it all works out in the end? Well, technically he gets a happy ending. He goes to Heaven and gets eternal life. But in a stereotypical happy ending kinda way, no Paul doesn't get one at all.

Paul was imprisoned multiple times throughout his life for the sake of preaching God's word. While his death is not found in the bible, we do know that he paid the death penalty for being a servant of the Lord. We know this due to the epistles Paul wrote and historical records. At some point in time, being a Christian was unlawful and the association with Paul was a crime as well. So many people turned their backs on him, and he was made fun of and left with very few, (and by very few I mean less than 5) friends. So how did it end for Paul? He was a prisoner, ridiculed, friendless, and then murdered.

I say this to point out that it is so easy for us to look at someone and think "they're life is so perfect" or feel as if they're acting like their better than us because they're a Christian. When in reality, that's probably not the case. Not even the guy that Christians view as the greatest Christian ever had this great life or was this perfect person. I struggle with this everyday, I let my perception of someone blind me from seeing who they really are. No matter how great we think someone's life is or how perfect of a person we think we are, odds are who they are and how their life is, is just as bad as ours. Remember that you're never, ever, ever alone and there is someone who is suffering and hurting the same way you are and that someone might just be that person you don't like because you think they have a perfect life. Don't cheat yourself out of having a friend who will love you, support you, and help you through the hard times. Because in the end, that was all Paul had left aside from his love for God.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Not Good Enough Can Kiss My Backcrack

I want to first start off by saying how excited I am to post this. I had a totally different idea to post and God just really laid this one on me. It has honestly helped me so much and I'm so happy to be able to pass it along. I do get a little personal in this one, and I do ask that if your someone who knows me, that you respect this. My past isn't a secret, but I use my testimony and my past to Glorify God. If you abuse the information I shared you are also abusing God. Sorry about the length. 

Let's all take a moment for some personal reflection. Reach deep, deep, down there and ask yourself what is it that you want the most in the whole wide world? 
And don't give me those cop-out answers. I want you to really think about it. 

For me? Love and happiness. I'm such a lover, man, and I have so much love to give people and all I want out of life is to be loved back. I know that I would perfectly happy if all I had in this world was someone who loved me back. Call me a sucker for romantics, but I'm a believer in the "one" and "true love". And being with that person as a hobo would make me happy. Because I'd have someone who just gets me, who loves me back at the same capacity I love them, and builds me up. 

Which brings me to my next question, where is your happiness? In what do you find your identity? What is it that we believe is going to bring us what we want? 

Myself? It's how people view me. No, not their opinions of me, I know I'm weird I don't care about that. To be specific, my identity was in how the male race viewed me. And how do you snag a man? Become a sex object. See, my identity was found in being desired. I thought that was what would bring me that love I craved. 

And it goes beyond guys, I wanted to be someone who people wanted to be around and envied. I wanted people to love me. I wanted my friends to love me. So in this mindset that I had to be a certain type of way, I created a whole persona and life for myself centered around what people were drawn to and what they considered fun and what they wanted to be around. 

Those who have known me my whole life began to look at me differently. Suddenly I wasn't that weird horse girl. I was this confident, hot, good timing, party girl. I was fun and I had tons of friends and tons of guys who desired me. So why wasn't I happy? Why did I have everything I wanted, but still felt like I was missing something? 

See, that identity I became was nothing more than a facade. It was a covering. I was pretty and fun and happy on the outside, but on the inside, I was dead. My heart was in the wrong place. My motives and thoughts were all wrong. I was selfish, mean, and I hurt people. And I didn't care. 

Now, being raised in the Deep South, we ladies pride ourselves on being girls to take home to momma. But I wasn't that. I was nothing more than what I let people and things define me as. I wasn't someone you would want to marry and cherish. I wasn't a good friend to have. I was a good time. My happiness and my identity was being controlled by everything and everyone around me. 

If you tell yourself a lie long enough, you will begin to believe it. That's what I had done. I was so wrapped up in this person I thought I had to be, that I became that person. I forgot my dreams, I forgot my goals, and I ultimately lost who I truly was. I had no substance. I was something nice to look at. I was something to be used. I was something fun. That's the whole point, I became a something and was no longer a somebody. I was cold and mean. I became okay with being a something because that's where my identity was. That's where I believed my happiness would come from. 

Now, let's take a step back for a second and look at the bigger picture here. Why did I believe that? 

It all comes down to one word: worth. 

I knew I wasn't a good person. I knew I wasn't anyone that any decent person would want to be around. My worth was less than a person. I was trash, and that as what I believed was my worth. I wasn't worthy of a good man, I wasn't worthy of real friends, heck, I wasn't even worthy for my own family to like me. 

I began to despise those who I saw as more worthy than myself. I hated anyone who tried to help me. When someone tries to tell you that they "see something" in you, that you have "so much potential", or that you are "worth so much more" and you believe that you are worth less than a person; trust me, you don't want to hear it. I wasn't a charity case. Everything good in my life had been taken away, I wasn't loved, and I wasn't happy. I was bitter and angry. That bitterness and anger manifested in my heart and grew into hate. I hated anything deemed "good". I resented my family and held grudges against everyone who had ever hurt me. My thought process was that everyone is going to hurt so I needed to not care about anyone or anything other than myself. I became conceited and self-righteous. 

Instead of filling that void I had with positivity, I filled it with hate, anger, and selfishness. 

Today, while reflecting on what you want, where you find your identity, and what defines who you are, take a good hard look in the mirror and ask yourself, how much are you worth? And what do you believe you deserve? Does your self-worth affect the person you are? Your motives? Your thoughts? Does it affect who are on the inside? Are you trying to fill a void with everything around you that tells you will fill it? Are you letting what and who is around you define your happiness and your identity? Do you feel like you lost yourself? 

Personal insight here, if you feel this way as well...REALIZE YOUR WORTH! 

"But Dacey, it's not like I'm meaning to believe that I'm not worthy." 
Yeah, I get it. I am right there with you. We create these lives and we stuff them with things the world and society tells us will make us happy and loved, and (for me at least) not even realize how we are constantly discounting ourselves. We don't even have a second to think about our worth because we're too busy trying to be happy and stuffing our lives with whatever the world tells us will work. Being a "something" has become the norm, and being a "someone" is a lost concept. 

We, as a generation, have been convinced that being out for yourself what's best. We justify self and immediate satisfaction at the expense of others. All because society tells us that selfishness gets you success, and success gets you happiness, joy, and love. We have allowed ourselves to become numb to our natural moral code.

Let's have a wake up call! Let's be different. Let's be independent, confident (not conceited), free-thinkers. Let's be humble, selfless servants. 

Ladies, let's be ladies! Let's be women of strength and honor. Let's demand the respect, love, and honor of men by our actions. Let's be examples for the younger generations and for our future daughters. 

If you've made it to this sentence, I'm going to assume that you're dealing with this too. So you know how empty and dead this life we've living is. You know how it will literally kill you. You know how it will rob you of everything you've ever wanted, and convince you that you simply can't do better. 

Forget that. Screw all that. 

You were created. God literally breathed life into you. You were made in his image and in his likeliness. You think you have dreams? God has had dreams for you since the beginning of all time. 

Psalm 139:13-16 says this, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Everyday of my life is recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." 
*Sidenote: Psalm 139 is absolutely beautiful and I encourage everyone to read the whole thing. 

No, this verse isn't saying God has your life planned out for you. This verse gets manipulated so much with people using that. This verse is saying God has a plan for you. See the difference? It's ultimately your choice. Don't believe, look at Samson. He was given the gift of super human strength, and he even knew what God wanted him to use for. Instead, he used it for his own personal gain. In the end, he feels so guilty about his selfishness that he dies in order to fulfill his purpose to God. This just illustrates the commitment we have to have to God in order to be in him, and that it's never to late to answer his call. 

Back to the main point. Just take in that Psalm for a minute. Here we have this all knowing, perfect being and he's taking the time to make you and breathe life into you. And it doesn't stop there, he has dreams and a whole life that he wants to give you. FOR FREE! How beautiful is it that God specifically, individually made you, and has this wonderful life customized to you that he is begging to give you...and all we have to do is turn away from those things that kill us and deprive us. Why is this so hard? Worth, my friends, worth. 

I know I didn't think I deserved anything better than a life that was empty and lead to death. And in all honesty, we don't deserve anything but that. But, once again, God says differently. 

God sent Christ to be hated, spit on, beat, and hung on a cross by his own people for you and me. He did this because he wants for us so desperately to have life! He wants us to be happy, and to be loved, and to have peace and joy. 

The world and society will tell you that you aren't good enough, that you aren't worthy, that you're not even a person. But God, your creator, says you are special and beautiful and perfect. 

I'm a big believer in actions speak louder than words, and just look at what God does for us. Not only did he specially make us, he has dreams for us, he sent Jesus to die for us so we wouldn't have to pay the death penalty, and regardless of if you believe in him or not, he's always with you, he literally holds you in his hands all the time. And if God taking on human flesh and dying a brutal death because of what we would do in the future isn't enough to convince you that God says you're worthy of his love, think about this. We nailed Jesus to the cross. I am the reason that my Savior was nailed to the cross. I don't know about you, but if I were Jesus I'd be like "well you caused me to die a gruesome death, I'd say we're even." But he doesn't do that! Jesus says, "your sins nailed me to the cross, but that's not enough. I love you so much that I also want all your pain and hurt and anger and struggles because I don't want you to have that. Let me take the bad stuff and I'll give you rest." I don't know of one person that could say that they love me, cherish me, and think I'm so worthy to die for and then also want to take away any of the icky stuff that comes with life. 

We are not worthy alone. We are worthless by ourselves. It is only in God that we are redeemed, freed, forgiven, and made worthy of his love. 

If God says that we're worthy of HIS love, then why do believe that we are worthless? That is a lie from Satan himself. 

"Oh but Dacey. You don't know what I've done. God can never forgive me. I could never do what he asks because my sins are really really bad." 

That voice that tells you that, the one that says that no one will love you because of what you've done, that's the enemy. He hates you. He wants you to die, and when you believe his lies, you give him power of you. C'mon! No one like the Devil! He's the DEVIL!!! He's evil and ugly and Hell isn't exactly the top pick vacation spot. So why let him define you? Why let him take away your happiness? Why let him control you? 

Tell that voice to kick rocks. I swear it'll work. We are created by God and his Spirit is always in us. Satan can't defeat God. No one can defeat God. That voice has to shut up because God's Spirit commands it to. 

And, oh! But the guilt we have for our sins. We hate doing the things we're doing and it makes our hearts just feel weird. Churches call it convictions. It's all the same. Wanna know why we feel guilty? Listen to how awesome this is: 

When we sin, no matter what it is, it's all the same in God's eyes. So whether you stabbed someone 90 times or told a teeny white lie, boom. Death. You gotta pay that. That's the rules. God can't be in the presence of sin, and he has to cast our souls away because we can't live in him if we're in sin. Where do our souls go when we can't go to heaven? Yep, hell. 

But wait, Jesus already died for us. That guilt or conviction you feel when you sin is the literal pull of Satan and Christ on your soul. 1 John 2:1 says this, "...but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father." When we sin, our souls are condemned, but because Jesus died for us already he holds onto us and begs for God to not cast us into hell. No matter the sin! 

And satan, he wants you to die. He despises you. He wants your soul there with him. And when we feel guilty, it's because Christ and the enemy are legit battling it out for your soul. 

Still feel unworthy? 

I'm sorry this post got super lengthy, and if you made it to this sentence I sincerely thank you. I just have one more thing. Promise. 

When we make that choice to turn away and die to our own selfishness and submit and follow God, it isn't a magic formula that makes our lives 100% better. Life still sucks. Bad stuff will still happen. I love God with everything I have and would follow him to wherever he leads me, but my life right now, blows. It sucks so bad. Jesus never said it would be easy. In fact he said we'd be homeless, have nothing, and we have to sacrifice everything to follow him. That's not easy. God is going to test you, he's going to cause struggles and hardships, but he's never going to leave you. He has a plan and clinging to the cross is a lot better than being lost in the storm. God holds our hands if we let him and in time he will reveal the beauty he's creating with the ashes. When our lives feel like they're falling apart, sometimes it's God putting our lives together and in place. 

I challenge you this. For one week, seven days only, every morning when you wake up look in the mirror and say "God says I'm worthy." That's it. Do it while your brushing your teeth. You don't have to open a bible or pray or anything. I'll do the same. Just see if it affects your life in some way. It can't hurt to say four words once a day for a week. 

Thanks for sticking around. I just get really excited about how much God loves us. :)