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Sharing Your Story

Sharing Your Story 

I have heard many stories through my life.  Stories that inspire.  Stories that make me sad.  Stories that elicit laughter.  Stories that confuse, hurt, or even shame me.  A well-told story can be a game changer, and there is nothing quite like an impactful story told at the right time.   

It is time to be bold and proclaim what God has done in your life.  Share your story.  Think about the different ways God has impacted your life for His good.  What has He done?  How did He change you?  Who might be impacted by your story?  Every story is different, yet every story can be boiled down to three simple steps. 

First, we must answer the question of what was your life like before Christ?  For me, I knew about Jesus, but I lacked a personal relationship with Him.  Yeah, I did the church thing growing up, but we never talked about religion much outside of Sunday, and my family was consumed by the numerous activities and sports that we participated in.  It was not until my mid 30’s that I really found out who Jesus was. 

I was newly married.  My first son was born, and as I was learning about fatherhood and marriage, I began to believe some dark lies that Satan was whispering to me.  I felt like a failure.  As a father.  As a husband. Even at work as a teacher.  These stresses began to consume me, and I was slowly falling into a dark pit called depression.   

This was totally new to me!  I had never been there before, and the feelings of hopelessness and despair began to spiral me into a dismal, chaotic place.  To make matters worse, I was unable to get my stress out through any physical activity due to severe lower back pain that was torturing my spine.  I tried chiropractic work, physical therapy, and even resorted to attempting surgery where they burned nerve tissue.  None of it worked.      

I came home from work one day, and my wife had a gift laying on the couch for me.  I opened the package to find a onesie that said, “Big Brother.”  That’s right, we were pregnant again!  Except this time it wasn’t necessarily planned that way.  Sure enough, our second child was born, and I thought God was giving me more than I could handle.  I began to drown, and although I knew I needed help, I didn’t know who to turn to.  That was when Jesus stepped in to save me.  

On to part two of my testimony: How did you find Christ?  Well, truth be told, I didn’t find Jesus.  He found me.  I was broken.  Frustrated.  Hopeless.  That precious summer of 2012 Jesus stepped into my life and told me how much He loved me.  I welcomed His healing touch.  There was no specific moment when I threw up my hands and accepted Christ in my heart.  It was more of just a gradual sanctification that led me to begin giving Him pieces of my brokenness.   

God began to remake me into something new.  I began to savor time with Him each morning, praying, opening the Bible, journaling, and reading Christian books to further my relationship with Him.  Before I knew it, I began to enjoy fatherhood.  My marriage began to heal, and my back miraculously felt much better.  The icing on the cake was when God blessed me with the most caring group of students I had ever taught in the fall.  It felt as if I was an entire different person! 

It was winter when I decided I needed to celebrate my new life through baptism.  On February 9, 2013, I was rededicated in front of my closest friends and family.  Pastor Darren Wade led me in taking my confession of faith an immersed me into my new life.  Before I had one foot in the world and one in heaven.  Now I was all in!  This is the most fun part of my story to share.  Part three: What Christ has been doing in my life since?   

God began to open door after door for me following that day.  I joined the Saturday morning men’s Bible study group at Legacy.  I began a prayer group with colleagues at work on Friday mornings.  I started writing a blog for Christian teachers at www.theteachersdevotional.com.  Then there came the morning when I felt called to pray for one of my students.   

I had no idea why I was praying for him, but one hour later I found out.  There was a knock at my door, and the same boy that I had prayed for walked tentatively into my classroom.  He ducked his head shyly and asked me a question that I will never forget.    

“Mr. Daniels?  I was wondering … Do you think I could start a Bible study in your classroom on Monday mornings?” 

I was blown away at God’s timing.  Before I knew it, there was a small group of six or seven boys that infiltrated my room every Monday morning from 7:00 to 7:30 am.  I couldn’t participate in their studies, but I savored watching them grow together, and as they took dynamic spiritual leaps forward, an idea sprung in my head.  What if they could grow their small group into something so much bigger?  What if they could reach out to the entire school? 

That group of boys became something special at my middle school that fall.  They started our first Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle, and since that storied day, FCA has impacted the lives of hundreds of Indian Trail students.  All because of the courage of one boy who wanted to start a Bible study.  All because Jesus was there for me at my weakest moment. 

All for God’s glory. 

Your testimony can be boiled down to three easy steps: your life before Christ, how you came to meet Christ, and how He has impacted your life since.  Share your story with reckless abandon, giving all the glory to the Lord.     

Shame, Shame

SHAME, SHAME

 

Shame is a feeling that plagues the lives of many, and I know I can personally attest to that fact. Many of us are in a daily battle of hiding our mistakes because we feel too ashamed to tell anyone, and especially too ashamed to confess our mistakes to our Father in Heaven. We tend to go about shame in completely the wrong way – our shame tells us that we are unforgivable, unable to be cleansed, forever dirty, and that how we feel about our past and current sins is just the way it is.

My brothers and sisters, know that there is redemption and cleansing at the feet of Jesus.

We see the effect of shame in scripture as early as Adam and Eve. When they committed sin and ate the forbidden fruit, their first instinct was to hide because of their shame (Genesis 3:7-11). They felt vulnerable and seen. We, like Adam and Eve, also fall to the enemy’s deception and try to hide from our God who sees all.

In John 4, we can read about the woman at the well who tried to pretend she was living in a way that she was not. She tried to conceal the truth of her sin when speaking with Jesus. But Jesus already knew all that she had done, and yet He still chose to speak with her and share with her the gift of Living Water that she be saved.

Many times, our shame carries on further than guilt over what we have done, but it does so much as to convince us that we are what we have done. The enemy wants us to run with our feelings and allow them to influence the way we see ourselves and the way we believe God see us. We ALL fall short of the glory of God, but Jesus tells us that if we confess our sins, we are cleansed and redeemed from our guilt and our shame.

What does shame look like for us?

Shame can manifest in different ways. We can feel shame because of something we said or did, by our own actions, that causes us to feel ashamed and guilty. Some of us have also been on the receiving end of human evil that has left us feeling unclean. Me? I have been both of those.

We create facades and masks in which to hide our shame. We hide in relationships, jobs, religious practices, solitude, social media, distractions. We hide our shame from those who love us and those who would keep us accountable. I felt shame in the aftermath of my experience with an abusive relationship so I hid that feeling by seeking attention in ways I should not have, and I have felt shame in current sins by hiding in my busyness and distracting myself. Sin is alive in us – we are full of pride and ashamed of our failures and weaknesses.

Where do you hide?

The good news is that Jesus’ cleanness is far more powerful than any dirt we can bring to Him, He has more grace than our offenses, and He has more forgiveness than our number of sins.

How can you know that you are cleansed from your sin and your shame? The cross.

On the cross, Jesus took the full extent of my sin and of your sin. This doesn’t mean that we won’t ever feel shame and feel unclean, but we have the Truth to rest in and fight with. Praise God!

To you, the person reading this – there is no place that His love can’t reach. You are not too far gone because of what you’ve done. I know how difficult it can be to confess and how scary it can be to be vulnerable in prayer and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I don’t know if you are hiding in shame because of things you have said and done, or if you are hiding in shame and wrapped in a feeling of dirtiness because of something that was done to you. If anything from this post sticks with you let it be this – you are not what the enemy wants you to believe you are.

This topic has been an area of deep heartache and struggle in my life, and to any of you who are currently feeling the weight of shame, I would like to leave you with a prayer.

Lord, You are powerful beyond our wildest imaginations, but your loving grace runs deeper than we can fathom. Give us the courage to confess and the strength to speak. So many of us are buried in our shame, hurting and feeling dirty. We fear You will see us differently because of what we’ve done or what has been done to us. Grant us the wisdom to know the Truth, that You gave Your Son so that we could live in the freedom of salvation, that we don’t have to hide. Bring us comfort, for we know You love us like no one else ever will. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

-Kayley

CHARACTER FEATURE: JONATHAN

CHARACTER FEATURE: JONATHAN

 

When we think of prominent people of the Bible, we tend to mention the obvious – Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Noah, David, Paul, among others. One name I personally don’t typically hear or talk about is Jonathan, but he’s a figure from the Bible that we really should be talking about. Jonathan has a story of friendship, selflessness, humility, and trusting God’s plan.

Who is Jonathan and what’s his story?

Jonathan was the son of Saul – yes, the same Saul who was killing priests and throwing spears at his own son – making him next in line for the throne Israel. Jonathan, despite his father’s ways, was the exact opposite. He was a man full of faith, devotion to God, and integrity.

Jonathan had a deep friendship with David, who also became his brother-in-law when David married Jonathan’s sister, Michal. Jonathan loved David as he loved himself (1 Samuel 18:1) and made a covenant with him, exemplifying true friendship.

In 1 Samuel 18:6-9, we see the beginning of Saul’s bitterness and jealously toward David. The people began to reject Saul as King and celebrate David instead. Saul’s jealously grew and burned against David, so much so that Saul attempted to kill him. Jonathan protected David from his father’s murderous intentions so that David could flee, even though David’s death would have meant Jonathan taking the throne for himself.

Saul continues on a rapid downward spiral, but Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David in 1 Samuel 20:16 saying, “May the Lord hold David’s enemies accountable,” which included his own father. Jonathan relied on God for his victories, and obediently put God’s will above his father’s will.

Why is Jonathan’s story important, and how does it have meaning to us today?

Jonathan’s story gives us the perfect example of when it is right to obey God instead of man, regardless of who it is. If people, even those closest to us, want us to go against something that God has commanded us to do, God’s will should always be our winning choice. Jonathan is a prime example of not being defined by who we are related to.

Jon Bloom (dessiringGod.org) writes that perhaps the only thing harder for prideful humans than humbly wielding power is humbly yielding power. Jonathan not only yielded his own chance at the throne of Israel to David, but he also did everything in his power to help him.

God’s will for you someday may be to yield your position to someone else. But, not only are we called to yield, but to love the one in the place we thought we would have. God wants us to seek first the kingdom, not our prominence in it. Our relationships and friendships should be edifying and give glory to God. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

How can we “sharpen” our friendships and relationships? We can fellowship, spend time together, be vulnerable, hold each other accountable, pray, lovingly admonish one another, support God’s will in each other’s lives – and, as Colossians 3:14 tells us, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Jonathan may not be a commonly talked about biblical figure, but as I mentioned before, he should be. He cared deeply for his friend and was able to serve and love as strongly as he did because he followed God’s will above all else. God loves when we strengthen one another’s faith with humility and selflessness. Let us have the same mindset as Jonathan, that we make ourselves nothing to become Christ-like in order to serve God and love others.

-Kayley