Tag Archives: Christ

Colton Dixon, American Idol & Jesus

23 Mar

Did anyone else get giddy when American Idol Contestant Colton Dixon talked about God on Live TV a couple days ago?

I sure did. Check out this article about it if you missed it!

http://www.christianpost.com/news/top-9-american-idol-colton-dixon-keeps-god-talk-alive-says-god-use-me-on-live-tv-71947/

I’m so excited about Christians being on Idol and sharing their faith. Anyone remember Kris Allen a few years ago? Another Christian! I hope these people continue to walk with Christ and not stray because of fame. They could reach SO many lost and hurting people! If Colton doesn’t win Idol, I want to see him get signed to a Christian label…it’d be awesome.

Jen

My first love, my identity, my before and after

13 Feb

As I sit here in a dim living room on a cold winter night with one of my favorite Pandora stations playing, I realize we’re just hours away from the most romantic holiday of the year: Valentine’s Day. As I think about this holiday, I notice that some people consider it the perfect occasion to show the ones they love just how much they are loved, while others shrug their shoulders in bitterness and call it “just another Hallmark holiday.”

My original idea for this post was to write an encouraging blog for young women who don’t have a valentine, but honestly, what single girl wants to hear, “it’s okay, maybe you’ll have a valentine next year”? Nope. I certainly don’t. So let me tell you this: you DO have a valentine.

What?

While some of you reading this might think the phrase “Jesus is my valentine” to be tacky, that’s basically what I’m about to tell you, in less child-like terms. So get ready.

I’ll start by pointing out the (to some, not-so) obvious. We should consider Christ to be our first love (guys reading this, this is for you, too) because he gave EVERYTHING so that we could be saved. He rescued us from eternal destruction by dying on the cross. He loved us in a way that no one else could ever even attempt. Ever. While I believe in true love on this earth, I also know that we are to love GOD above everything and everyone else. And he’s the one who holds the characteristics that we should look for in earthly love anyway! Characteristics such as trust and faithfulness (Psalm 40).

One thing I have noticed in observing others, and even in my own life, is that when couples begin to date for long periods of time, they tend to find their identity in the person they are with–the person who loves them. But if we call ourselves Christians, our identity is in Christ alone and how he loves us. (Have I already mentioned that he loves us?) When we put our trust in the One who loves us more than any person ever could, we can be completely secure! Before love–and before Christ–we were just wretched sinners. Because of Christ we are saved and perfectly loved. Check out these examples of how Christ’s love has transformed me and helped me to find my identity (in HIM) ┬áin the process. I hope you will read these before and after’s and begin to see how he has worked in your life, too!

I once was bound, but now I am free.

Before realizing how much my God cares for me, I felt that I had to be a certain way. To look a certain way. Then maybe I would feel a certain way, maybe I would feel happy or pretty or lovable. Just because Hollywood sets an example for how women, and even men sometimes, are supposed to look and act doesn’t mean we have to follow suit. It’s a pretty common insecurity for girls, but many hold onto it for their whole lives and they don’t have to.

Maybe you’re bound by insecurities or maybe you feel bound to a relationship in your life that you shouldn’t be in. Maybe you are even bound by addiction. It doesn’t matter what it is. God is bigger than that thing. Remember in 2 Samuel 11 how David had an affair with Bathsheba and even killed her husband? Later on, the scriptures describe him as “a man after God’s own heart”! He was transformed. He was bound by his sin, but he found freedom in Christ.

I once was worried, but now I have peace.

There have been many times in my life where I have felt the need to plan and control everything I do, especially when it comes to the future. Not knowing where I’ll be working next year or even next week is a scary thought, but trusting God with my post-graduation job hunt has been the biggest burden reliever! I am still actively looking for a job, but I am no longer worrying about how I’ll pay my next bill. He is faithful and he will provide. (Luke 12:22-24 is an example I mentioned in a previous blog, and one worth revisiting.)

I once felt lost, but now I know who I am.

This is the most important before and after of all. Before Christ, I was lost. A sinner headed for an eternity in hell. But now I am a sinner saved by grace! Who I AM is a follower of Christ. Nouns such as “daughter,” “sister,” “friend,” “aunt,” “writer,” and “leader” are just things I DO. They do not define me. I have been found in Christ and HE alone defines me. (John 1:12 tells us we are children of God and Isaiah 43:1 also tells us that we belong to him and he has called us by name!) Everything else is just the icing on the cake and roles I am blessed to be given.

As you think about the ways Christ has transformed you and as you put together your own before and after’s, I hope you realize how much you are truly loved by your creator. It’s better than any Valentine’s Day gift, even a box of chocolates.

I was caged in, then You opened
Every door that held me bound and You gave me the key
No more pressure I can just breathe
The girl I tried so hard to be, has always been me

My strength alone will never be enough
But Your arms keep lifting me up

You tell me I’ve been made free
You give me everything I need to walk in my dreams
You whisper words that free my soul
You’re the reason I have hope
You’re everything I need and more

(Free – Dara MacLean)

By the way, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Jen

When I just don’t feel like loving others.

7 Feb

Today I rediscovered something that I learned the hard way when I was 17 years old and about to graduate high school: first of all, people can be mean. But most important, love and forgive your neighbor, your brother and even your enemies always.

A few weeks before the end of my senior year, I went to a CVS to pick up some makeup. After paying for my items, I went to walk out of the store, but I set off the security alarm. Confused and not sure what to do, as always, I took a few steps back and made sure it was okay for me to proceed. After all, the woman who had just rung me up was still at the cash register and I didn’t think I had any items with security tags on them. To me, it was no big deal.

But this older woman didn’t seem to think the best of the situation like I did. She accused me of stealing and told me that if I didn’t empty my oversized purse, she’d call the manager to come to the front of the store. I told her over and over that I didn’t have anything in my bag, but she continually said to me, “if you don’t just confess now, this will get worse.” Needless to say, it was the most horrible experience of my teenage life. Although I hadn’t stolen anything, I was scared to death that something was going to happen to me! Most of all, I was really upset at this woman for jumping to conclusions and thinking the worst of me, whom she probably saw as some teenage brat trying to steal hair color or something. Anyway, she went through my purse and found nothing, so she let me go. Later that night at home, I discovered that I had a magnetic chip clip in my purse that had set the stupid alarm off.

So why am I sharing this seemingly insignificant anecdote? That night I came home crying and thinking to myself, “why are people SO rude and just plain mean?” I was a naive little high schooler who hadn’t yet discovered how mean the world can be. I, little goody-two-shoes Jen who had never told a lie, would NEVER have stolen anything from anyone, yet this woman thought the absolute worst of me. I just couldn’t fathom it. But then I realized that I myself was judging the woman who had judged me.

You see, she thought I was stealing, so I automatically wrote her off as a cranky, bitter old woman who probably hates kids and teens. She had jumped to conclusions about me, and at the very same time, I jumped to conclusions about her.

I haven’t seen that woman since that day, but today I had an encounter that reminded me of that day. Today at Speedway, I was slowly driving around trying to find an open pump. Once I discovered the only open pump, I had to step on the brakes to allow two pedestrians to walk in front of my car before pulling into the spot. As I waited, a black mustang whipped around from behind me and took the open pump. I didn’t even have a chance to hit the gas once the pedestrians had walked by. He beat me to it. Then, after he pulled into the spot, he didn’t even get out of his car. He sat there, talking on his cell phone. I was pretty ticked, but another spot opened up. However, as I rounded the corner to ease into it, a young woman in her SUV whipped into the Speedway lot from the busy street and stole it right before my eyes. Running on fumes, I decided to give up and risk running out of gas to just get home.

It’s taken me a few hours to really see the whole picture and be able to sit here and write about it. For some reason, this really irritated me more than it should have today. While I didn’t outwardly show my frustration, deep inside I was thinking unkind things about those people, and I certainly wasn’t thinking like a Christian.

You see, we don’t know everyone’s story and we never will. Maybe the man in his Mustang got an emergency phone call after he pulled in to the open pump. Perhaps that woman was rushing to get gas so she could go buy formula for her hungry, crying baby. I don’t know their stories, and I probably never will. But here’s the point: it doesn’t matter. Even if there were no excuses for their behavior, I still have to see them the way Christ does and love them, even though it’s hard.

There are tons of scriptures in the Bible that tell us how much we should love others and put them before ourselves. Philippians 2:4 tells us:

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Another great one is Luke 6:35:

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

I guess what I’m trying to prove is the importance of not judging others, jumping to conclusions or thinking we’re always in the right. And, even after we are wronged, we must not want to wrong others in return. Instead, it should make us want to show them the love of Christ even more (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

I have to remind myself of this all the time. Even though we all know we’re supposed to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” it really isn’t just some little memory verse from kids church. It really is what we’re supposed to do! Remember that Christ died for your sins and loves you without condition. Don’t you think we have to learn to love and forgive others just as Christ loves and forgives us? (Colossians 3:13)

Our sacrifice is little in comparison to his.

Live it today.

Jen