Posts Tagged ‘christian’

I would consider myself to be a big picture person. I can get lost all day in big vision. I love me some day dreaming. I think about what is next all the time. I think about life as it could be and not much about what life is presently.

I have been wondering if the great cloud of witnesses I read about in the Bible struggled with restlessness as much as I seem to be.

I think about Abraham and the big things God had for him. Moses led the captive Israelites free. David entered the scene the exact time he was supposed too. Peter was wired to start the church. John the Baptist had dream to prepare the way for the Messiah. Paul brought the message of salvation to those considered to be outside “God’s people.”

God had specific things in mind for specific people.

Sometimes I can focus on the big things of God. He made the earth and everything in it. He holds the world in the palm of his hand. God is the beginning and the end! That is big!

God is also specific. He paints every stroke in every sunset. No sunset is the same. God knows all the hairs on my head. He promises not to let a sparrow fall the ground without knowing. God has specifically knit each person together in the womb. He is specific.

I can forget that he is specific for me. I can so easily get caught up in looking around and comparing myself to what God has specific things for others. I miss what he has specific for me.

There is a reason why I am not a song leader for a church. I cannot sing. I can’t play a note of anything, let alone combining both. Leading other people in song is not my specific.

It is when I see other people exceeding at the dream I am so eager to know. What is hard is when I see glimpses of my dream being played out in other people. It is then that I lose sight of a big God who is also very specific. He has something just for me. If he had a number of hairs in mind for my head, he has something specific for my life.

I can’t tell you the exhale that comes from remembering that God has not forgotten about me. He has something just for me. With that exhale comes freedom. I am still working on the hope part, but there is a release of pressure.

Remembering God enables God to be God in me. I want his specific. I want to be who God knit me in the womb to be.

My hope is that you can remember, and believe, that he has specifics just for you.


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Last week I attended a cultural training class at my church. It was definitely an early three hours on a Saturday morning. I do not do mornings well at all. So for all the information that did not stick, one sentence did. It was one of those phrases that makes you stop whatever you are doing and look up.

Our instructor was talking about the differences between cultures, and one thing she said was that, “Americans believe in God, but Africans rely on God.”

What! Oh my dang!

I have been marinating on the differences between believing and relying. Both words include the confidence that something or someone exists. Both words also carry a level of trust in that existence. Belief is one level of faith that let’s us know that we are just enough out of control, but relying takes submission and dependence.

I had to ask myself the question, “Do I rely on God more than just believing in him?

I believe. I believe in God. I believe in my friends. I even believed in Santa Clause at one point, (until yesterday! Okay just jokes. I had an older brother. No chance to believe past the age of three.)

I digress

My belief in God lacks reliance. Too often,  I renege control of me. It is a wonder why life is not working so well. I have had glimpses of how great depending on God has felt. Those times of dependence on him have changed me. I want more than glimpses. I want a life that resembles someone who has been with God. You know you can tell when people have been with God. I want that to be me!!

I don’t just want to be able to “have an answer” for who I believe God to be. I want to know because I have an active dependency on him. The fruit of reliance is a heart that is obedient and intimate with God.

What is the difference between believing and relying for 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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There have been some pointed times in my life where I can hear God. Those words are usually in bite size sentences. Whatever the words, they stick. Sometimes he just asks a question. Sometimes he speaks tenderly to me. Lately, I have been hearing his soft tender voice with simple words that get into my core.

As I have been thinking through this season of life I am in, I keep hearing the repeated question of, “Tracee, am I enough?

My knee jerk reaction is to say, “of course you are Lord.” Almost like Peter saying to Jesus, “you know I love you”on the beach that day. But is he?

Maybe I need to be asked three or more times like Peter. A repeated response can start to make you think.

I have talked before about my struggles with knowing that I am enough, but what about God? Is he enough for me?

There are conversations in the bible where God says, “I am with you.” The same is true for someone who follows after him. This is a promise.

So why do I dismiss the promise? What keeps me from believing?

For me, my lack of belief stems from different things. I have old patterns of life that keep me on the path of self-sufficiency. Out of that place, I choose the way of control more than trusting in him. I can depend on my logic verses faith that believes in what is unseen.

I also struggle with beliefs about my self-worth. If I am being honest, I question being someone who is worth staying with. Therefore, it seems easier to dismiss the promise for me.

Another subtle way I can dismiss the promise is by asking others to pray for me. I also realized that I can depend on the prayers of others to talk to God for me rather than believing in his words for me. As if saying that someone else is more worthy of the promise than me. God says to me, “Tracee, I am with you.” Those words are for me.

To really grasp the understanding of God being WITH me would change my life and perspective. I know my life would look so different if those words took on weight. Those words matter. Those words should be everything to me.

I want God, and just God, to be enough for me. I think about how much pressure, and even sometimes demand, would be removed from other people if I believed God was enough. There is freedom, even for myself, when I surrender to the promise that He is enough.

He is working on me. The more I understand that he is enough, I will know that I am as well.

Is God enough for you?

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Distrust has been one of those strongholds in my life. I have a hard time trusting other people on many levels. Distrust seems to be a knee jerk reaction for me. This is not a character trait I want to hang around in me. Distrust in my relationships starts from my distrust in  my relationship with the Lord. If I have a hard time trusting others, it is because I have a hard time trusting God.

God is always gentle with my heart. He is patient with my deep fears of distrust. He has remained so faithful to me. I am prone to wander because of my fear of trust. When this fear kicks in, my natural bend is to become self-sufficient and self-protective. It is usually out of this place where I become unfaithful to him. I take control of the reigns and take off.

God shows himself even more faithful to me when I am unfaithful. That is so humbling. I have been praying a lot about his faithfulness lately. I have a quieting going on in my heart as I try and grasp what “abiding in him” means. This has been a humbling process.

God is truly faithful. He always meets me where my heart kneels down. This week he has blessed me with little things that seem to be just for me. At various moments I will recognize little unique reminders just for me of his faithfulness. I exhale that he loves me so much that he knows my little things.

He is so faithful. I feel humbled by his faithfulness. The little things matter. They are there.

How do you recognize God’s faithfulness?

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I am a big movie quoter. I love pulling lines from movies for certain situations. There some really funny scenes in the movie “Dumb and Dumber.” I always chuckle at the part where Jim Carey is standing with his co-star at the airport. Jim is her limo driver to the airport. He gets out of the limo and gives Mary this huge hug and states, “How I hate good-byes.” It is a very funny and awkward moment in the movie.

As funny as that line is, I really do hate good-byes. I am not a fan when things end. I don’t like saying good-bye to good times with friends after a good meal or a coffee date. I get bummed when a fun party or barbeque ends for the night. I hate when things end such as: good movies, sunsets, vacations, adventures, good conversations, and even some life dreams.

We are constantly experiencing things with endings. After these things end, we move on, we carry on to the next thing. The only common denominator going to the next thing with you, is you.

There is an invitation Christ gives every person that goes against our experiences of endings. Christ invites every person to “abide in him.” This invitation has no end. Conversations with Jesus never have to cease. His invitation is to remain in him. The invitation is not even to abide WITH him, but IN him.

How do we shift our mentality from the experience of endings to the infinitely on going?

There are many things that might have enabled a person to dismiss ths invitation. One reason could be a lack of understanding for the invitation. You might have experienced disappointment in the inviter. Maybe you only said yes to the invitation because out of fear, or because you were in the middle of a crisis. Once those things settled down, you might have moved on. Maybe the blessings you once enjoyed have become trite and lost.

I have experienced many of the above. I have not fully understood the invitation. I admit that I still do not fully understand what abiding really means. What I do know is that when I find myself in a place of wondering where did that abiding go, it is because I wandered and not because the inviter has changed the invitation. When I wander I miss out on the blessings of abiding him.

God invites us to remain in him because he loves us and wants us for eternity. God wants us to experience unbroken communion with him. There is such intimacy and depth to be known if we would accept the invitation and abide in him for life.

What does it mean to abide in him? What does abiding look like?

Abiding looks like living your life after his example. It looks like choosing integrity when a circumstance might tempt you to choose otherwise. Abiding is serving him above all else. It looks like believing in what he thinks about you more than others. It is caring about what God thinks overall. Abiding is being faithful and committed to your relationship with him. If wandering looks like a lack of understanding than abiding is pursuing understanding. A person, who abides, fights to keep unbroken communion with the inviter.

I crave knowing communion and intimacy with God. I crave the exhale that comes from a life freely lived IN him. I know abiding in him would be a surrender of control. My prayer is for me to really understand what it means to abide in him. I desire to live a life that looks like that.

What keeps you from abiding IN him?

What choices could you make to abide in him?

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I am definitely not a patient driver. I can go from singing a nice Christian song that’s on the radio to yelling, arm motions and all, at another driver. I am even known to call a  time-out on the phone to yell at another driver. I don’t know what that is. I can’t help but wonder where that comes from in me. I am not a very angry person, in fact I really don’t like being angry. But in the car…dang!

The thing about the car is that my anger is very much a double standard. I know I cut people off, or make decisions that affect someone else’s ignition of road rage. I am not the best driver, and in times of confession, I drive while texting. I can pass people in their cars, who are talking on the phone, and hear myself say, “GET OFF YOUR PHONE!” and two lights down the road I get on mine. What is that!?

I know this attitude and mentality plays out in more areas of my life. Some things I am aware of and some are still surfacing in me. I am not the best at extending grace after I have received the huge blessing of grace and forgiveness. I resonate all to well with the parable of the unmerciful servant. Embarrassingly, I catch myself slamming others for the things I do.

I feel convicted this week by the words of Jesus as he confronts Simon and his friends. In Luke 7, Jesus is hanging out at Simon’s house for dinner. At that dinner, he loved a woman and forgave her of her many sins. Jesus ends the discussion about the woman by saying, “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

Those words are piercing to my soul. I know I do not get the depth of forgiveness and grace for me. The woman forgiven that night by Jesus knew the depth of forgiveness. I can speculate that from that night on she loved deeply and forgave freely. This woman loved much and knew much forgiveness.

Forgiveness and love are connected. Jesus doesn’t say,”to whom little is forgiven, the same forgives little.” Jesus harnesses the depth of how one loves with the understanding of forgiveness. By taking the time to look my heart over, I see how much I don’t get forgiveness for me. I am one who shows little love because of my lack of understanding. That wrecks me inside. I am really learning how much the two are connected together.

I crave being a deep lover of the heart. I so desire to understand how much that was sacrificed to forgive me. This requires humilty on my part. That is really hard for someone who is a professional at being self-sufficient.

How we love has everything to do with our understanding of our own need for forgiveness. Out of this place will we be able to forgive others. Everything stems out of our relationship with Christ. Forgiveness does not have two categories. Meaning forgiveness of self and forgiving others. I think that the ability to forgive others comes out of our own understanding that we are forgiven.

The more I have been marinating on forgiveness the more I find myself knee bound. I can’t seem to say “forgive me father” enough. There is humility in that recognized need. My heart feels soft and my love big.

I know I will teeter back and forth for a while. But this week I can honestly say I have “tasted and seen that the Lord is good.”

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