Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Importance of Sharing Your Story by Brook McGlothlin

The following blog post was written by Brook McGlothlin. If you would like to visit her website called 'A Life In Need of Change' click here. And while this post is aimed towards Christians, it is applicable to all.
the importance of sharing your story {or Come See a Man!}

How long has it been since you heard someone shout out what Jesus has done for them? How long has it been since you did the shouting?

The importance of sharing your story

The world loves to hate Christians, don't they? Those who don't share our beliefs love to prey on us, seeking out opportunities to destroy us by our own testimonies. Finding a Christian participating in sin is like finding a shiny $50 bill on the ground. The media takes every opportunity to make us look like nuts on television and in the news. And Christian leaders? Whew! To find one of those guys in sin is like winning the lottery. They'll be newsworthy for years to come, maybe even landing themselves a place in the history books (or Psyc books) so that students for ages to come can know how silly it is to make radical professions of faith about a God Who can't really change people.

What the world doesn't understand, is that failure is a vital part of our testimony. Failure is the very reason we need a Savior. And every single one of us has failed in the arena of life.

Each of us guilty before a holy God. The world sees our failures as proof that there is no redemption, no healing in Christ. But as Christians, we know that our failures are what drive us to the Cross. Our failures are what give us the opportunity to see God working and know His loving kindness. They allow us to feel the depth of His grace, unmerited favor for those of us who believe. Our failures lead us to repentance, and repentance leads us to forgiveness. Forgiveness is worth any amount of public ridicule or unfavorable infamy. Forgiveness is worth our all.

Come See a Man!

The Samaritan woman knew the weight of failure. Much like the weight of the water jug she carried in the heat of the day, her failures hung about her shoulders pulling her down and reminding her of who she was. An adulterer. Married five times and living with a man not her husband. She went to the well at the hottest part of the day to avoid the stares of the people who had watched her fail over and over and over again. She thought that day would be just like any other. Until she met Jesus.

In a world where Jews and Samaritans didn't mix, the man Jesus saw into her heart and gave her a drink of living water. With a few words from the One Who changes everything, the Samaritan woman went from hiding her failures to bursting forth into praise and shouting, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" (John 4:25). Shedding the weight of her shame she came out of hiding that day. She no longer cared to hide her sin. No, now she was proclaiming it! Giving glory to the One who knew her, loved her, changed her, redeemed her. And in her excitement she ran to tell everyone else.

Can't you just see her? Free from that heavy water jug. Free from caring what others thought of her. Free to dance. I picture her skipping, jumping, dancing in that freedom into the town...right into it shouting, "Come, see a man!" Like a little girl dancing carelessly in a field of flowers...

When was the last time you danced in the freedom of your forgiveness? When was the last time the joy of your salvation overwhelmed you such that you shouted to anyone who would listen, "Come see a man!"

Come see a man! (Who has saved me from my sin!)

Come see a man! (Who has saved my marriage!)

Come see a man! (Who has provided for my needs!)

Come see a man! (Who pays my bills!)

Come see a man! (Who has brought back my prodigal child!)

Come see a man! (Who has healed my sickness!)

Come see a man! (Who loves me and gives me favor!)

Come see a man! (Who shed His blood to give me righteousness!)

Come see a man! (Who gives me peace in the storm!)

Come see the man Jesus! The One Who changes everything. Who has changed everything for me, and can for you.

So what's your story? What has God done for you? Of what have you been forgiven? Of what have you been redeemed? Share it now, so that others can come see a man, the man Jesus, Who can do the same for them.

What's your story?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Time to Forgive Yourself

Have you ever been through or are you going through a period of change? I am. I haven't been updating this blog because the reason for writing had left me. Change isn't easy, and admittedly I allowed it to wear me down. Instead of standing resilient and firm I gave in to the pressure. I say that I gave in because we always have a choice in life. For example, we can go left or we can go right. We can give up or we can keep going. We can determine we're not going to do something or we can give into the temptation. The choices go on and on.

I write this not as a catharsis, but maybe to help someone else. In giving up I made some mistakes. There are issues that come with making a mistake, and one of them is unforgiveness. The unforgiveness of yourself weighs heavy on your heart and mind. It reminds a person of their wrongdoing constantly. Like a scratched CD, by repeating it over and over in your mind, unforgiveness keeps the guilt from the mistake alive and well. You want to move past the mistake but you can't seem to let it die because unforgiveness keeps etching its sad song into your brain with its constant repetitions of, "Why did I quit? Why did I give in? Why did I make that bad choice? Why did I have to make that mistake?"

Guess what? Unforgiveness is not our friend. It is not a humble form of penitence. Instead, unforgiveness blocks progress. It hinders you and me from moving forward in life. For those who read the Bible and believe in the words written therein, recall the story of Judas. (For those who do not believe in the Bible, you may want to skip to the next paragraph.) Judas gave up Jesus for 20 pieces of silver. After understanding his wrong, Judas had a choice: forgive himself or die to the crushing weight of guilt. Judas chose death by hanging himself. Jesus is willing to forgive us our wrongdoing (i.e. sin). If He wasn't, the cross wouldn't be the pivotal point of salvation. Yet, despite Jesus' willingness to forgive us, are we willing to forgive ourselves?

How truthful the following is I do not know, but it is an example of how an unwillingness to forgive yourself works. It is an illustration on how to capture a monkey. First, a hole is made in a coconut or a gourd and the object is attached to a tree with a string. Then peanuts are placed inside of it. Monkeys like peanuts, so the monkey will reach in the coconut or gourd to get them. However, the hole isn't big enough for the monkey to pull the peanuts out with its hand. Not wanting to let the peanuts go, the monkey will hold on to them--sometimes for days. By the time the captors come for the monkey, it is too weak to fight back. It has given up its strength and freedom for a handful of peanuts.

That is how we are when we are unwilling to forgive ourselves. We become so focused on our mistake until we lose our freedom. Our freedom is in the knowledge that even though we made a bad choice, we still have the ability to make a good one. We don't have to continue making bad choices, and it is not required to constantly rehearse a bad choice. An unwillingness to forgive yourself decreases your freedom in life. When you're focused on your mistake, opportunities for progression pass you by. They pass you by because you're stuck thinking, "I made a bad choice once, and the cost for that choice was high. Will I do it again?" Hence, as you continue to replay and relive that mistake due to unforgiveness, your freedom in life is passing you by.

So go ahead. Forgive yourself. Continue to move forward during this time of change. Progress lies ahead, but holding onto unforgiveness will only leave you where you are.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:12, 14-15 KJV)