Posts Tagged ‘invitation’

I loved listening to stories growing up. I love them still. There is life in the form of story. My imagination would run away with me listening to illustrations and tales of life being learned.

I am a very visual person. I see so much through the eyes of story. I hear truth through story. I see between the lines of what is not being said.

I have understood so much truth reading through stories of the bible. My heart has been camping out in one in particular.

I have been asking God for wisdom and revelation for my heart to know him better, but I was not ready for an immediate response.

Jesus tells a story to a group of local leaders that not only captures my heart, but unveils her fears as well.  

In Luke 14, Jesus is eating at the house of one of the prominent religious leaders. He tells them the story that introduces real humility, as well as, redefines honor for their lives. Jesus tells them that when invited to a wedding feast, do not assume the place of honor or someone more distinguished then you might have been invited. In humiliation, the host would have to ask you to give up your seat. So when you go to a wedding feast take the lowest place, so when your host comes, he can move you up to a better seat.

This story has pierced my heart. God has shown me my own heart through this story. As I attempt to unpack my heart, please know that I am not translating the story in the actual context it was meant for, but a story that illustrates me.

You see, I have deep fears in my life. Part of my fears depth comes from early family brokenness that still leaves me winded. Other parts are the make-up of life’s wounds and broken trust.

I find my lost heart in this story as I fear so much being replaceable. I fear being a meantime friend until someone better comes along. One lie I struggle to get off of repeat says, “Tracee, you are only good enough until…” Sadly, I have known too much of the “until” places in my life. I have been shown the message of replaceable with my heart.

Naturally my fears surface the most in deep and intimate friendships. When the “place of honor” is invited by my closest friends, I sit and wait, expectant to be moved. I am like that person who has their own row on an airplane, watching to see if the next passenger boarding will ask me to move over.

I sit, fearful of humiliation.

There are times I wrongly defend that place. Trust is dismissed and manipulation takes over. Not saying it’s my finest hour, but it’s real.

The flip side of waiting fearful is dismissing the place of honor all together. Sometimes to risk sitting in that place is so fearful that I can dismiss it all together. I can seatbelt myself into the lowest place and dismiss my loved one’s heart for me.

Dismissing the place of honor is crushing to those who want you in it. Love and trust have no place when that invitation is dismissed. The fruit of defending the lowest place is an unquenchable need to be reminded you are more.

There is no room for faith and trust in fear. Fear paralyzes and bonds, while risking to trust provides freedom. At least that is the hope.

I am working on my fears now that I see them a little bit more clearly. God is gentle and patient with me.

Any stories that are showing you your heart these days?

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Sometimes I just feel like I only have a voice shouting to God from a distance. Sometimes I just see through the lenses that are filled with wounds, scars, and sin. My jaded self-perception gets stuck on seeing the old me; the dirty and weighted down me. Sometimes I see a me that only seems to reflect the lies of being the “un-able.” Through those jaded lenses, I see a me that is un-lovable, un-ownable, and un-worthyable. Those are the “un-ables” in me.

I will admit that sometimes I only have the guts to yell out to God from a distance. I see the state of my heart and keep my distance. It’s in those times I have missed the reality of who Jesus really is.

Through reading the story of the Ten Leper’s, I see myself through the eyes of one.

Leper’s are the outcast and disgrace of a community. They are forced to live outside of the life and love of the “clean.” I find myself there so many times. My heart is messy.

One night, ten leper’s had a chance to connect with one who was not only clean, but one who could make them clean again. So they shouted from a distance, bringing the only thing left to bring, their voice. Jesus stopped, took time to meet them where they were. Jesus used his voice to make them well.

One man recognized his deep healing. One man recognized that Jesus’ voice made all things new in him. One man took that same voice used earlier from distance and knelt before Jesus. A voice redeemed. A shouting voice now spoke softly on it’s knees praising the salvation of a savior.

Jesus took one voice, who only knew worthiness only from a distance, and drew him close. Jesus only heard a voice of his beloved. Jesus only saw a man who was his child and worthy of healing.

I have been a voice begging and shouting from a distance. I have experienced times of only being able to see through fogged covered lenses. Jesus hears me, always, and invites me to himself. I have a choice to hear his voice and go on with my day, healed, but empty. I also have the choice to return to the voice of  my healer.

We have two choice: to either experience the healing or experience the healer.

Which will you choose?

Do you have the guts to call out?

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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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If someone were to ask me to describe myself, one thing I would say is that I am a wanderer. Sometimes I feel like a Nomad in life. I am restless 90% of the time. I love traveling. I have been to many places all over the globe. I can honestly say that every trip has changed me my life significantly. I am also not a person who can stay in one place for a long period of time. I get antsy and feel the need to go some where about every six weeks. I try and attempt a trip overseas every summer.

I am a wanderer.

Wanderer would also describe my “prone to wandering” I have with the Lord. He is constantly nudging me to keep my eyes focused on him. You know that whole, “seeing something shiny” effect. God reminds me, through his faithfulness, that he is the light I crave.

In light of my personality, I saw it fitting to include a song I love by Marc Broussard called, “The Wanderer.” The words are so great. In particular, I am drawn to the chorus.

I’m a wanderer,
I have no place or time,
I’m just drifting on this lonely road of mine,
If you like you can come along with me,
But I promise you that I am not the man I used to be”

These words also seem to connect with the other aspect of my personality of as a strong extrovert. I want to be a person who is always inviting people to do life with me. I am so grateful for those who are wandering with me.

Through the invtiation to knowing me, I can assure you, “that I am not the woman I used to be.”

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Lately, I seem to find myself in conversations on the topic of evangelism. Evangelism seems like an intimidating word. I think there are many stereotypes that can accompany that word. I know when I think of evangelism, I think of someone on stage, probably on television, preaching about God. That is very intimidating. I think that there is also a misconception that evangelism is only for those who have the “gift” of evangelism.

The word evangelism means something different to me. I do think that there are some gifted speakers out there who can communicate a relationship with Christ very well. I also think that every believer has a responsibility to communicate a true relationship with Christ.

The story of the first disciples in the gospel of John is one of my favorite stories. John explains evangelism in a way that gets me passionate.

In the gospel, John talks about what I describe as the “great invitation.” John tells the story like this: one day Jesus was walking by John the Baptist. John the Baptist points out Jesus and says, “there goes the Lamb of God.” Two of his disciples heard this and head out to follow after Jesus. Jesus then realizes he’s got company and stops to address the men. These two disciples ask Jesus where he is staying. Odd question, but alright a question at that. Jesus doesn’t explain to these men about his life or where he is staying. He simply says, “come and see.”  Three of my favorite words is the bible. Jesus invited these men to be a part of his life. Out of that invitation these two men were changed forever.

Jesus communicates the gospel by inviting people into a relationship with himself. Yes, Jesus had many stages, as well as, many crowds, but he invited twelve into the intimacy of life with him. Those twelve men did the same thing after Jesus was gone. Those twelve men also had many different kinds of stages, but I believe all invited people into their lives to know a true relationship with the savior. Actually, I love that you can see the first example of that between Nathaniel and Philip.

There is a risk with inviting others into your life. There is a real possibility of rejection. Jesus’ invitation was rejected all the time, but he never stopped inviting. The great thing about evangelism is that it’s not about having it all together,  having the “right” answer, or even being that much further ahead of someone.

Evangelism is about growing in an understanding that God died to save your soul and reconcile your heart to his. Evangelism is about offering the same invitation you were given to be reconciled, everyday, back to an original perfect relationship. What that explanation looks like is your life, lived out, growing in the understanding of grace and forgiveness. Evangelism comes out of offering to others the invitation to taste and see that He is God by your life.

This week I want to talk more about evangelism as ministry, being a second mile person, and the great commission.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Evangelism.

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