Posts Tagged ‘believe’

My mom taught me never to talk to strangers growing up. Preschool and DARE reinforced that rule through my early years.

I needed this rule and boundary in my life. I am a huge extrovert. I talked to strangers all the time. I would even talk to mannequins in the department stores. (Alright that was more for the embarrassment of my mom.) Often times my mom would be looking for me, because I would have wandered off somewhere shooting the breeze with someone. I am a talker, plus I love people. This rule was for me!

I thought I was safe, when I might not have been. I thought all people were good not thinking they might have had other motives. That could have been bad news for me.

Jesus knows we need protection. We believe people when they are speaking lies. Jesus knows our tendencies to be lead astray.  In our search for life, he sees all the messages that bombard our minds. There are so many messages we filter through every day. More than half of those messages threaten his truth.

Jesus is the truth. He is the safest places we can be. His words are the words that keep us on the path to knowing eternal life. He is the only one who can lead us there.

The extrovert in me desperately needs the shepherd in him.

I need the truth that he is the gate, and the one leading me into life. There are so many threats and distractions from truth and life. Jesus knows that. All the more reason why we need to know his voice.w

We need to know his voice as the dominate voice to listen to if we want to recognize threats. We have red flags in life to help yell out “stranger!!

There are lots of things, and people, who would like to help define our identities. There are lots of messages that will tell you who and what to value. There are even people who would like for you to believe that they are the way to life. There is only one who is truth. It takes pursuing intimacy with him to really know what messages to discard.

It has taken me a long time to attune my ears to the shepherd. I am still learning to divert my eyes and ears back to him. I am so thankful to know truth.

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One of my favorite phrases in the scripture is, “I tell you the truth.” Even just saying it now makes me exhale. “I tell you the truth.” How freeing is that phrase?

It kind of sounds like a weird phrase to use when responding to a question or even accusation. Jesus would begin the majority of his responses with, “I tell you the truth.” I mean just in case there was any question about his integrity or the reliability of what he was about to say?

Jesus is about truth. He is truth. You have to admit that he said some illogical things. He told stories that seemed too wise for his own educational stature. Jesus performed miracles on the body and heart all the time. He healed the sick, multipied food to eat, raised the dead, made the blind person see in eyes and heart, and he redefined life as people knew it to be.

Jesus was about the “hard to believe.” His life looked and sounded like the “you’ve got to be kidding me.”

I tell you the truth” is such a comforting phrase for me. I see all the things that Jesus did in the bible and it leaves my mouth on the floor. I see what he still does in my life, as well as other people’s lives around me and my mouth is still on the floor. That is truth.

I have spent a lot of my life believing in what I thought was truth. I believed that growing up with a learning disablilty disqualified me from even writing this blog. I believed that because my father left our family that I was worth leaving. Out of that, I have believed that even the best people can not be trusted. Through raising myself in a lot of ways, I have learned to believe that life is up to me and self-sufficiency is the only way for life to work

I have been told “truth” and I have told myself “truth.” The truth is that I really didn’t know truth at all. So to even hear the words, “I tell you the truth” over and over again is so refreshing to my soul. God never makes me guess. Even though his truth looks so unbelievable and so illogical, it doesn’t make his truth any less truth.

Now, I exhale in hearing him say, “Tracee, I tell you the truth. You are my beloved and my daughter. You are wired just the way I made you. You are worth dying for and keeping close. Life is known in following and trusting after me.”

Truth takes faith and trust. Jesus has proved his truth to me. I’m not at all saying I really get his truth for me, but I am learning to hear it over what I have settled for as truth.

What is the truth you know?

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Life is filled with question marks. I honestly can’t remember a time where I didn’t have questions about my future, dreams, desires, seasons of life, and the what’s next. I seem to always be painfully aware of the unknowns  and question marks in my life.

The more I read the bible the more I am realizing that God is not a God of guessing. I am not the first person who has had questions about life and what’s next. I am not even the first person who is aware of the unknown.

In both the old testament and new testament, God talks about what the next thing is for his people. We often miss the message because it almost always has to do with our hearts and not location. God brought prophets with messages of his heart and desires for his people. His messages always included what would happen if people continued down the path they were going. He also included what would happen if people would turn their hearts back to him.

God instructed Moses all the time with messages for the nation of Israel. Some of those messages were directional, but for the most part the messages were about their hearts. Moses lead the people from Egypt to the desert by God’s leading. After Moses, Joshua explained to the people what was next as he lead them into the promise land.

God told Jonah where to go and what to say. God built the wall through Nehemiah, spoke wisdom through Solomon, and gave dream interpretation to Daniel and Joseph. God illustrated a deep love story through Hosea that includes everyone of us.

I can’t tell you how many times God called out the fate of the his people. He brought person after person to tell his people “what’s next” for their lives and hearts.

God even spoke through Isaiah to tell of the savior to come. He explained how he would save the world from sin once and for all. God told of his grueling death hundreds of years before Jesus came.

God told Mary what would happen through the life of her son if she would say yes. Even after Jesus was born, he brought confirmation after confirmation for her to rest secure.

John the baptist set the stage for Jesus. Jesus told of things to come by way of truth and the kingdom of God. Jesus talked about his death to come more than a few times. He talked about the holy spirit to be given after he rose again. Jesus explained the purpose of his death and resurrection. He explained how the world will hate us because of him and that we will know trouble.

With all of these stories I still miss his message. I wonder how my times God beats his head against a cloud because I miss his answers. He is not a God of guessing. He cares about the state of our hearts. That is why we have scripture to read to know him. We have a God who always reminds us about what life is like lived apart from him.

We don’t have to guess about forgiveness because he has already told us about his unfailing love. We don’t have to wonder whether or not he is the truth, because Jesus states that he is the “way, the truth, and the life.” We don’t have to question if he has a plan. Jeremiah already came with that message.

God cares about our hearts. He cares about us believing in him. We have questions marks and unknowns, but in that he still said, “seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all else will be added unto you.”

What’s he telling you about your question marks?

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I have been marinating for quite some time on the truth about God’s will. We all seem to ask life questions that revolve around God’s will. I have said a number of times that “I want to be in God’s will.

I have been working on shifting my perspective from a “do-mentality” to a “who-mentality.”

Jesus was constantly redefining this mentality in the people around him. Jesus repeatedly talked about the father’s will being belief in him. We are in God’s will when we believe in his truth and follow after him.

For me, there is also a second chapter that goes with this mentality shift.

I feel like there are times in my life when I treat God like the easy-button from the Staples commercial. One press of the button and I should have what I need.

I will admit that there are times where I feel like because I am a Christian, nothing bad should happen. It’s like all of a sudden because I accepted Christ, I should be filled only with an abundance of success, stress-less life, no heartache, no pain, no sorrow, no hardship, and even no trials. Let’s just be honest… that’s called entitlement.

What does the easy-button Jesus have to do with life and believing?

As I have been reading in John this time around, it has been in my face how much Jesus had no easy-button life. Jesus was hated by many, ridiculed by his own family, challenged constantly, dismissed every other second, laughed at, scorned, beaten, and killed for being IN the father’s will.

Jesus himself knew the truth of his own statement when he said, “in this world you will have trouble; take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Why should I think my life is exempt from any of that trouble? I have heard a great response to the question, “why me?” The truth is, “why not me?

I hear tons of heart-breaking life stories all the time and I always find myself asking, “how would you even get through this without God?

That is the point. When we believe, it doesn’t change the world and it’s troubles, but it changes who we are in those same troubles.

What is God’s will? It is to believe in the one he has sent. He has no easy-button benefits.

How is God an easy-button for you?

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Yesterday, I had some questions peculating in my heart. I still do. While I was thinking through these questions, God had some questions for me.

His questions:

– If I take you down a path that looks illogical, will you follow and trust?

– If my dreams look different then yours, which will you choose?

– I made the heaven and earth and hold them in the palm of my hand. Do you believe I hold you?

– My ways are not your ways. Which ways do you cling to and why?

– Do you love me?

– Do you trust/believe I love you?

– Who do you say I am? Does your life look like that?

– Are you willing to wait? Are you really willing to wait?

– Why won’t you surrender totally to me?

– Have I ever disappointed you?

– Have I ever not fulfilled a promise?

What is he asking you?

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Last week I was having a great conversation with some friends. We were talking about our overseas experiences. I love traveling. It seriously changes my life every time I go somewhere. I love listening to how others are stretched through their overseas experiences. I love watching as passion flows out of the heart as someone talks about their experiences.

As I was thinking about my different experiences, one thing kept coming up every time. I have noticed that people ask different questions when being introduced. Seems like a no brainer thought, but it’s worth noting. Each culture gets to know someone in different ways. In the US, we ask a series of three questions to one another. We ask one another: where are you from? Where did you go to school? And what do you do? The answers to these questions mark our identities. These three questions shape the conversation. We can even make judgments by how these questions are answered.

What I have noticed about everywhere else but here is that those questions do not even come up. I can remember three distinct areas where the questioning was different. I have traveled around the Middle East, spent a semester in Spain, as well as spent time in South Africa. Where ever I was, people asked me about what I believed. I was so taken aback by how often I was asked that first. We, in the US, do not even go there. In other cultures, what you believe defines who you are. That’s how it should be.

It seems like in the era of social media, there are so many places to read what people are “about.” Most people seem to have an “about me” page. Listed on this page are hobbies, movies, employment, education, and at least one sentence that describe the person. All these things make up the identity of someone.

But does it really?

Last year, I was teaching a group of high school girls about what their identity in Christ means. I realized that our identity in Christ is unchanging. We are his beloved. In him we are enough. We are saved by grace, forgiven of sin, and adopted as sons and daughters into the throne. We are children to the “Abba father“. This never changes.

Our “about me” changes all the time. There are some things that stay consistent, (I will always love to sky dive and bungee jump), but the other stuff changes. My “about me” does not define who I am. Where I live, where I went school, and what I do, does not define my identity. My identity has been defined for me by the one who died for me.

It seems that other cultures ask a great question – “What do you believe?

I can attest to some incredible conversations that have come from exchanging answers.

So what do you believe?

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One of the hardest attributes of God’s identity for me to grasp is his love. I have had great glimpses of what love resembles. I have experienced days and seasons of really understanding the character of God as being love. But I have a hard time trusting love. I can honestly say I struggle with the concept of love applying to me.

I desire to be a person who loves deeply. I really enjoy loving others. To love someone is so life giving for me. I have no problem believing love for another, but I just can’t seem to associate love with me.

God loves you” is a common phrase used in the Christian world. It is a very true statement. God loves us deeper than we can comprehend. He loves us so much that he gave up his life voluntarily. God loves me so much that he remains faithful to me when I am faithless. God doesn’t just love, he is love.

There are two crucial questions I have come across in the bible. The first is Jesus asking the identity question of “who do we say he is.” How I answer this question should be reflected in every area of my life. The second question comes from the Gospel of John. The very end of the gospel, Jesus and Peter are having a heart to heart conversation about Peter’s devotion to Jesus. Jesus asks Peter three times, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?

I understand that Jesus was asking Peter this question as a direct result of Peter’s denial a couple nights before. But I realized that Jesus asks us all the same question. Jesus asks me, “Tracee, do you love me?

This is an intense question. Intense because I think we toss the word love around flippantly these days, and it lacks sufficient weight. How I answer that question really does affect my life.

When Peter respond to Jesus with “yes”, Jesus said “follow me.” How we answer this question will affects our lives. I know I do not answer yes every time. The times in my life where I am most self-sufficient, most condemning of myself and others, the times in life where I feel like it is all up to me, are the times I respond with “no God.” My response affects the way I trust and follow God.

For me, answering yes, is a risk of faith. To tell someone I love them is a risk of my heart and trust. I want to give my heart and trust to him. God is the one person who knows how to be responsible with me. Answering yes is where my faith and active belief is going to come from. That is a hard challenge.

Love is not just knowing we are loved by God, but he desires to know that we love him.

How would you answer that question?

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