Posts Tagged ‘Peter’

Life has a way of being very unpredictable. It is full of mountain tops and valleys. It is shocking sometimes how close the tops and valleys are together.

Have you ever felt like one day you are on top of the world, and the next the top seems so far away?

The bible has some extreme mountain top and valley stories. Some of them are just dang funny.

For example, let’s look at Elijah. Elijah was a prophet of the Lord, who strutted some faith confidence. He did not hide his belief in God, but actually called a dual to all those who were following after the false god, Baal.

Elijah challenged Ahab to go toe-to-toe, (god-to-God), on who’s God was the real God. He gathered everyone possible together as to not miss this. Elijah was so confident that God would show up that he started trash talking with taunts. Both Ahab and Elijah set up alters for fire to rain down. The fire would prove which God was actually God. Needless to say, God showed up for Elijah and the hearts of the people where turned.

Not too long after that amazing display by God’s power did Elijah’s valley appear. Ahab returned word to Jezebel, who was killing all prophets, what had happened with Elijah. Jezebel sent a death threat to Elijah, and Elijah was afraid and ran.

WHAT! These two stories are back to back. Where was Elijah’s trash talking now? He had just witnessed God’s power, and now he was running afraid. How quickly he forgot the abilities of the one who just rained down fire.

Elijah is not the only story with this crazy disconnect. David defeated the giant Goliath and then ran in fear of Saul. Moses saw God’s power all the time and yet responded in fear. The disciples experienced God’s power when they were sent out to do amazing things in his name, and then had no idea how to feed 5,000 people. Peter experienced Jesus intimately and yet denied him three times in fear.

We can be so quick to forget.

Fear has a way of creating a disconnect from what we know to what we perceive. Sometimes we can treat God as situational, and think he only has enough power/skills for that one thing.

I can look back at my life and see many ways I have treated God as a situational God. I can look back and see how I have treated God like the Batman signal – I need help and the God light goes up in the sky. God is not situational. He is the all powerful and the all able.

The story of Elijah has confronted my disconnect with who God really is. He is able. I am starting to look at my fears in a different way. When I feel like running, I want to remember that God is the same God in both the mountain tops and valleys.

Have any stories of experiencing God’s power and then running not too long after?

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I cannot believe that another school year is starting. I think that September marks more newness in our year then New Year’s does.

I admit that this year, I wish high school would bust out of it’s stereotypes for adolescence. I wish there were no categories designated for people such as: cool, poplar, jock, nerd, band geek, and Emo/Goth. I wish there was not one person this year who felt the sting of rejection in high school.  I wish there was just acceptance and unconditional love.

Alright back to reality. Reality is that everyone can think of a time that they felt the sting of rejection. You were either on the receiving end of rejection or you were administering the blow.

I was in that middle ground group. I have always loved people, so I liked to have multiple groups of friends. I knew both sides of rejection very well. I remember in eighth grade I said yes to the, “will you go steady with me?” question.

What does that really mean in eighth grade? It meant you dated through friends.

Poor Noah. He lasted less then a week when my friends told me that he was not in the cool crowd. Noah got the ax.  (He was only “poor Noah” until I put him in his locker for calling me the B-word.)

I digress…

I am realizing how much of our lives we spend guarding against rejection. No one wants to know the sting of rejection. But what happens when following after God places us purposefully on the receiving end of rejection?

I have been rocked by this concept today reading in 1 Peter. Peter reminds me that Christ redefined rejection in our world. He states that, “as we come to him, the living Stone- rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.

Jesus was the living Stone of rejection. The more his life of ministry grew, the more it was met with matched rejection. As we come to him we are going to know rejection.

I have spent my life defending against rejection. Now I am supposed to choose to sign up for it.  If I want intimacy, and a life of following after him, then rejection is a real thing I will know.

Peter goes on to say that, “to you who believe, this stone is precious.

Rejection has now gone from something guarded against to something embraced and valued. The promise is that as we come to know him we will know rejection. There is value in that.

Jesus knew rejection all the time. As we pursue a relationship with him, people will reject God in us. He promised that “the world will hate you, because it hated me first.” Hate is a strong word. When God is seen and heard in us, the potential to feel that same hate and rejection, is great.

I look at Peter. He was a man who rejected Jesus three times. He is also a man who rejoiced over being flogged because he was “considered worthy of the suffering of Christ.” Peter learned the value of rejection, and he responded with invitation. He learned that his value was consumed in one who was already rejected.

Jesus is a stumbling block to those who do not believe or value him. As we commit to a life of following hard after him, guess who becomes a representation of that stumbling block? The more the disciples looked and sounded like their savior, the more they really understood rejection.

Rejection is inevitable when saying yes to God. I want to change my mentality that looks like a glutton for acceptance, and value rejection. I want to rejoice in my rejection and smile at being considered worthy of his suffering. I love the idea that rejection tells me that I am doing something right.

How do you handle rejection?

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I love those times when I just “get it.” I cling to those times where revelation has carried stored up information from my head and turned it into the “Aha!” of my heart. I love when I read something a thousand times and can still walk away with thoughts like, “where has that nugget been!?

I feel like I am a Pez dispenser of aha moments these days. It is changing my sight. Isn’t that the way it should be after getting something?

Life should look, feel, taste, smell, and sound different when we really get something. My life has changed drastically the past fifteen years since God has been in me. Even after “so long” I love that I still have those moments where I finally find freaking Waldo, and really grasp something. (I used to have an excited dance when I found Waldo).

I can already see and feel my words and thoughts being changed by what God has helped me to get. These moments feel like small miracles for my heart.

Peter is one of Jesus’ disciples who I think really gets what I’m talking about. The B.C. Peter, (before Christ), was pride filled, strong willed, hard headed, and a big talker. Peter operated out of self-sufficiency a lot. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter was a changed man. Peter went through a time of really just getting it. The information that Jesus was ingraining into his mind finally hit his heart. Peter really believed.

He believed not just because of all that he has seen Jesus do, and heard all the things Jesus said to the crowds, but because his heart was changed.

During those three years of walking with Jesus, Peter’s life was changed inside. His character looked different. He grew in humility and gentleness. Peter even started to listen first before speaking his mind. That is hard for a leader.

There is one story in particular that illustrates a different Peter to me. It takes place in Acts chapter 3. You see, Peter experienced not just miracles seen, but a miracle known in his own life. He acted like it.

One day Peter and John were walking up to the temple courts to pray. There was a man being placed by the gate entrance who had been crippled his whole life. This man had been placed there every day to beg. It had become his life’s routine.

So Peter immediately walks over to this man and addresses the real need of his heart. Peter had experienced the power and life of what Jesus offered to him, and he offered that known miracle to another.

After experiencing a miracle work in my life, my confidence and sight changed. Miracles give you sight to see different. Aha moments change your life in lasting ways. I know, for me, I can’t help but want to give that out.

People who know that a miracle has been done in their life and heart offer differently.

Peter looked at this man and told him that he does not have the tangible, but he has something better. Peter offered this man the miracle of Jesus from his own life. Peter acted like a miracle. Even if you just read the first three chapters of Acts, you will find a different Peter then you might’ve read about in one of the gospels.

Believing in God will change your life. Believing has caused me to speak, think, and understand different. That is what I want my life to offer.

What you believe dicatates how you will live your life and that will be inevitably what you offer.

What are you believing that enables what you offer?

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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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I love people watching. I could sit for hours and people watch. I love wondering about their lives and where they have come from, or where they are going. I even love eavesdropping. I admit that I will sit somewhere with my headphones on and no music playing just so I can listen to other people’s conversations. It’s fascinating.

As I admit to eavesdropping, I will also admit that I find that I compare myself to the people I am wondering about. I compare styles of clothes and conversation. The truth is that we all compare ourselves to other people. Somewhere along the journey of life we took on the pattern of deciding whether or not people fall above or below the line of ourselves.

The comparison habit involves all things about another person. We can compare ourselves to the outward appearance of someone else such as: clothes, hairstyle, walk, politeness, car they drive, job status, popularity, or house they live in.

We also compare ourselves to what is no the inside of a person. This one might be tricky to identify, but they are there. We can compare ourselves to another person’s attitude, how they treat others, favor or blessings on their lives, attention, ability to lead, content of conversation, thoughts on love, money, relationships, and world views. We can even compare our relationship with God to another’s.

All this comparing is exhausting.

Every time I catch myself playing the game of comparison, I remember a statement that Jesus made to Peter. In the last chapter of John, Jesus is talking with Peter regarding the restoration to his calling, as well as giving Peter a preview of his death. Jesus asks Peter to “follow him.”

Do you think Peter responded by saying, “ok, Lord, I’m in, I will follow you?” No. Peter turns right around and starts comparing himself to John. Peter asks Jesus, “what about him?” Peter is asking Jesus what will happen to John? He is wondering what kind of life, calling, and death will John get compared to Peter.

Jesus reminds Peter of his place. He looks and Peter and says, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

These words pierce my heart. I hear these words whenever I start to go down the comparison road. The minute I start to compare myself to another person, I hear Jesus’ words, “what is that to you? You must follow me.” Whenever I grow jealous over the favor or blessings I see for another, I hear, “you must follow me.

Everything in our culture feeds off of comparing. Jesus once again goes against the culture and asks us to trust in his plans for us. He simply asks us to fix our eyes and follow him. There is freedom in surrendering our bars of comparison. It also allows us to celebrate instead of envy another person. I want freedom and not slavery to the bar of comparison.

How do you play the comparison game in your life?

How is Jesus asking you to follow him?

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Restless” is a pretty strong and present word in my life. I can honestly say I am restless most of the time. I feel that restless feeling deep down in my soul. Complacency doesn’t last long for me. I get too bored with comfortable. I will most often choose the daring and crazy over the safe.

Being restless can serve a great spark of momentum in my life. It is in the times where I am most restless that I find God is moving in me. Restless is my momentum to pursue the things that are risky for me. My restlessness opens up the senses of my heart. All of a sudden I find myself risking to go after the things that hard and crazy in logic.

When I think of restless momentum, I always think about Peter walking on water. Think about it. Peter was a hard headed man, who wanted to experience all he could. If Peter wanted normal and comfortable, he would have stayed on the lake fishing. But Peter dropped everything to follow after an unknown. This is risk, passion, and serious restlessness.

The night Peter walked on water changed his life forever. I can picture Peter sitting fidgity in the boat as he and his friends waited for Jesus. Hours went by. He had a lot of time to think about life and what he was doing before Jesus showed up. I wonder if he was restless for more? I wonder if he went back and forth about the choice he made to follow Jesus? I wonder if he thought about returning to a life that was comfortable?

As the music of my scripture movie scene changes, Jesus enters the scene. Jesus is walking on water up to the boat. Do you think Peter shied away in fear? I don’t think so. I think the corner of Peter’s mouth curled up in a smirk as he leaned his hands on the side of the boat for a better look.

One of my favorite conversations comes next.

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Restlessness moved Peter to risk. Restlessness moved Peter from the logical to a hunger for the illogical.

How bold a statement from Peter, “tell me to come to you on the water.” I want to be this restless. I desire the illogical way of life for me.

I agree that there does need to be a balance between restlessness and being still. I am working on that, but for now movement and risk to walking on the water is what I need.

What do you do when you are restless?

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In light of my current lazy weekend of watching football, I love listening for analogies. I love sports. There are so many truths that come from half time speeches, and good announcers. The funny thing is how they don’t even realize how much truth they are actually speaking.

I love watching football and getting into a close good game. There is something so intense about a good game. I like to yell as if they can hear just me in there head. Today seems to be the day of “hearing footsteps.” This is a term used when someone is about to catch a perfectly thrown ball, but in one split second the fear of being painfully hit takes their eye off the ball. Drop! The unified “OOOOH’s” from all over the stadium, as well as in my house, can be heard in stereo.

I think about the story of Peter walking on water. The man had Jesus in his sight. He was so bold as to ask Jesus to call him out on to the water. Peter was WALKING ON WATER!! In the midst of walking towards his Savior, he heard the footsteps of the wind, the waves, and the reality of where he was. Peter started sinking in fear.

How many times do I hear the footsteps of the world around me and I sink in fear. Even when I pray for Jesus to move me, I still hear the footsteps of logic, when I crave the life and voice of the illogical.

My footsteps look like fear of rejection, looking stupid, not being enough, relying on my own strength, independence, and self-sufficiency. Footsteps look different for everyone, but everyone hears the footsteps at one time or another.

One encouragement about dropping the ball is that there is soon to be another chance to catch it!

Are you hearing footsteps?

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