Love — Reflecting on Making Jesus First & Living Second

Reflecting on Week 7, Day 3: Love from Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First {buy it here:  Live Second and bonus! If you buy before December 15, author Doug Bender is offering an amazing bonus which you can find here.}

Check out: Mark 12:28 – 34

I chose this topic to kick off my posts because when I think of living second, I think of loving God first.  And I also think of loving others before myself.

When I was younger I used to think of love as being this amazing feeling, you have it all the time.  Everything is happy.  Everyone is happy.  Life is good.  Love will make it all better.

Then, I got older.

Life happened.  I realized that life is not always happy.  That love sometimes doesn’t last.

But love can last.  Even through the icky stuff.  It’s that euphoric, over the top feeling that will never last.

Every relationship I have ever had (parents, siblings, children, dating, etc) goes through changes.  It’s that ebb and flow of life.

There is a person in my life, whom I love so much.  I have known them since before I had memories, they are a big part of the fabric that makes up my life story.  My life wouldn’t be what it is today if they were not a part of it.  But our story is not all happy.  There has been deep and immense pain in this relationship.  Broken trust.  Some of my greatest pain has been born from this person.  Times of not feeling love.  Times when I really truly felt that I didn’t ever want to see them again.  Deep wounds that have healed, but left a scar on my heart.

Thankfully I have another person in my life, who also loves this person and loves Jesus.  They consistently spend time in prayer for us.  Offer a shoulder to cry on when they pain gets too much.

But healing has come.  It happened slowly.  After a devastating event, I cut myself off.  No calls.  No visits.  No nothing.  I did not want to see them or talk to them.  This went on for six months (an eternity for us).  Through the prayers of a small little girl, my heart began to heal and soften.  Contact was made.  Redemption.  It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but it gets better most days.

Over the years, a lot of reading, and even more prayers I have learned a significant truth.  Hurt people hurt people.  And only God can bring the kind of healing that will mend those hurts.  But sometimes people are so shut off that they don’t want to hear about or from God.  It’s easier to wallow in their own hurt and self-pity.

That’s where love comes in.  Our love for them.  Our love for God.  I could not love this person in my life the way that I am able to without God.  Humanly, I couldn’t do it.  It’s too hard.  But God breathes this beautiful love for them into my heart, that sustains even when the happy love feeling is no where to be found.

And because God has given me this beautiful love, I can show them that love.  But I had to make a choice.  A choice to accept the love God has for me.  A choice to show that love even through my own pain and hurt.  And sometimes I don’t make the right choice.  But thankfully God continues to work on me and His love is unconditional.  Available.  And it redeems the broken.  Overcomes the wrong choices.  Offers healing.

In the devotional, Doug Bender, writes, “Love is not a feeling.”  Amen.  It’s not a feeling at all.  Sometimes it comes with a feeling.  But love itself is not a feeling.

He goes on to say that love is, “The reason for our creation and the foundation of all relationships.”  If we don’t accept that, our life’s purpose will be unfulfilled.  Our relationships will end without that foundation.  Life is meaningless without God’s love.

I hope that you have chosen to accept God’s love for you.  To live for Him first and foremost.  Because in living second, there is immense freedom.  There is joy where it seems impossible; hope in the darkest of places; and healing in the most shattered and broken places.

Love Jesus.  Love others.  Live Second.

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I am Second Book Launch!!

Soooo exciting!!!

Today is the book launch for the new I Am Second book, Live Second 365 Ways to Make Jesus First.  If you want to buy the book — which I HIGHLY recommend, check it out here.

I also recommend signing up for the 22 Day Challenge.  You can find that here.

I will be posting four blog posts, plus a book review over the next week.  And on Friday, December 14, I will be interviewing the author, Doug Bender.

Lots of awesome, great, exciting things to look forward too.

And if you want to change your life, I suggest buying this book.  It’s incredible.

Book Review: Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Journey of a Thousand Miles

Book Review:  Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Basic Info…

Title: Crazy Love

Author: Francis Chan

Publisher:  David C. Cook

ISBN-10:  1434768511

ISBN-13: 978-1434768513

Website:  Crazy Love Book

My thoughts….

I love how easy to read this book was.  It was well written, soundly based in Scripture, but it still remained easy to read. For me, when a book has a lot of theology and Bible verses and explanation of those verses using history and Greek/Hebrew translations, it’s not something I pick up when I only have a few minutes.  Don’t get me wrong, I think those books are extremely important.  But Francis Chan easily conveyed significant verses with real life examples and made this book life changing and powerful.

I am a huge fan of listening to Francis Chan preach, but this was the first book of his that I have read and I can’t wait to get his others.  I love…

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It’s About Giving

I am now a blogger for Compassion International!!  This is my first assignment from them…  The #itsaboutgiving party just kicked off and we are going to be focused on giving! Yay!

First of all, Compassion has set a goal of $20,000 to reach by Christmas to help children living in poverty.  To do your part, visit Compassion and check our their catalog.

I give because I love Jesus.  And He has called me to give.  For me, being authentic and really following Christ, means giving.  Always, with my whole life.  It cannot be an after thought or something that I do because it gives me warm fuzzies.  It’s been written on my heart, to love and to serve and to give to others.

I have always been inclined to give at Christmas, but it’s become so much more this year. And this year I am poorer than I have ever been.  Which makes giving a bit more creative, there’s more thought and more intention behind each act of giving.  It also means getting over my pride and accepting blessings from others.  Being the recipient of a gift is much harder for me than giving a gift, but I am blessed to have a God who loves me enough to meet my every need.

Because my non-existent finances (I survive on $175 a month and I have a ten year old daughter) for most of the last year, I can’t just write a check.  Therefore, I have been forced to really look at what giving is, what God expects of me.  While I do give financially, that gift is very small.  But…I do have lots of stuff and I have found that instead of bring me joy, it just stresses me out.  So, I have very intentionally went through my closets and cupboards to find nice, good quality items to bless others with.  It’s a way to give, with intention and love.  I want to bless people, to show them the love of Christ.

My daughter and I also are doing Random Acts of Kindness to celebrate Advent this year.  Every day we do something to show others love.  It might be giving time to serve the homeless, it might be taping quarters to candy machines, it might be picking up litter, or raising money to buy stamps for an at-risk youth ministry.  But it’s all about giving and loving others.

The phrase “#ItsAboutGiving” to me really is talking about life.  Life is about giving.  It’s not just a Christmas thing, God expects us to give all the time.  Our culture tends to focus on giving at Christmas, which is awesome.  But I think we need to do a better job the other eleven months of year.  We don’t get off the hook for the rest of the year.  I have learned that being a Christian is consistently giving of ourselves, it’s always been focused on loving others.

Why do you give?  How do you give?  Is giving significant?  I want to hear your thoughts.  God bless.

A Life That Matters.

Isn’t having a meaningful life something that we all aspire to?  Each of us has our own path, our own skills and talents, and our own life goals.  But really at the end of the day, we want to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

It’s so easy to become discouraged and burned out.  Pushing through the hard days is sometimes almost too much, especially if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  People let you down.  Dreams die.

Whenever I am feeling especially discouraged, there are two things that I do.  First is to remind myself that usually really great stories have a trial in them somewhere.  If life moved along perfectly smoothly, it would be easier but I think that we would miss a lot of things.  Amazing things can be born out of darkness.  A sunrise wouldn’t be so special and amazing if there was no night.  A rainbow wouldn’t mean as much if there was no rain.  The joy after the suffering is special, it reminds us just how good joy is.

And secondly, I remind myself that in trials, there are lessons to be learned.  And I really push myself to try to figure out what lessons I can learn and grow from.  If I think that life in Spokane is difficult, what will I do in Uganda?  No family, different culture and language, none of the luxuries I take for granted every day.  Same God.  It’s learning how to deal with anxiety, loneliness, sorrow, joy, love, all of those emotions and feelings and most of all, relying completely on Christ.

When we can rely completely on Christ, focusing our attention and energy on Him and what He has called us to do that day, that is when we will begin to impact and change the world.  We will have a life that matters…no matter where we are or what we are doing.